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STEM in the First Grade Classroom

A few years ago I began Genius Hour on Fridays to incorporate STEM into our classroom.  STEM (which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is an engaging, hands on way to get students to communicate, collaborate, be creative, think critically, and exercise compassion.  These are all important skills for life and even your littlest students can do it.

teaching STEM; STEM materials

This summer I was looking into getting more STEM materials for my first graders.  They were so expensive that I had to limit what I got. But then I had an idea.  STEM doesn’t have to be expensive.  I began collecting materials at home. I keep a bin in the garage and place the items there so it doesn't clutter our house.

⏬Here is a list of materials to collect.⤵


An easy way to begin STEM is to create grab bags.  Grab bags are just that.  A bag with a set amount of supplies {I prefer around 10} given to a team or group of students.  Each group has the same challenge to do.

Here are some basic challenges to get you started:

💙Construct a tower.
💚Construct a circular {tall, short, wide} structure.
💙Construct a vehicle.
💚Construct a vehicle that moves.
💙Construct a bridge.
💚Construct an animal.
💙Construct a building.
💚Construct a catapult.
💙Construct something that could hold _________.

Once you have the supplies and decide on a task, it time to begin. Before we begin I remind students of the challenge and the 5 C's: communication, collaboration, be creative, critical thinking, and compassion. I place students in groups, or teams, and then we start.

  1. First, teams need to decide what they are building.
  2. Next, they come up with a plan and assign jobs.
  3. Then, they build.  I give them a set amount of time (20-30 minutes) and give frequent reminders of time remaining.
  4. After the time is up, we do a gallery walk of all of the projects.
  5.  Last, it's time for each group to share out.  We talk about the process and which of the 5 C's was the easiest for the group and which one they struggled with.

I love to display our projects for the whole school to see.  We talk about what we did with our 4th grade buddies.  This helps students share the process and solidify which of the 5 C's they need to continue to work on.  They also just love to share about what they did.
So why not begin STEM in your own classroom?  I promise you it will be fun and you will love this time.  

I have some amazing STEM and Literacy resources in my TpT shop.  These are all student tested and teacher approved!

Check these out:

first grade literacy

Book Builds - Literacy and STEM Jabari Jumps


Stem in first grade, literacy

Book Builds - Literacy and STEM Doug-Dennis & the Flyaway Fib


Book Builds - Literacy and STEM A Bike Like Sergio's

first grade, stem, literacy

Book Builds - Literacy and STEM Roxaboxen


Another fun way to incorporate STEM into your primary classroom is to make Grab Boxes of materials and picture cards.  When students finish their work early, or you need a time filler, you can use these activities.  

Want it for your room?  Get it here.

I'm always learning and love to hear other ideas.  Please comment with how you incorporate STEM into your classroom or with any questions you have!

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