10 Easy S.T.E.M. Activities for Your Homeschool

10 fun and thrifty STEM activities

 

 

Have you heard of S.T.E.M.?  I hadn’t heard of the term until my husband and I coached a F.I.R.S.T. LEGO League team in Alaska.  I wasn’t completely sure what it meant, you know, I know what the acronym stood for but didn’t understand why exactly science, technology, engineering, and mathematics needed to be “special“.  I had always thought of these areas of study as a natural connection.  While we were coaching our homeschool F.I.R.S.T. LEGO League team I soon realized that while the boys saw the connection they still were not putting the subjects together.  While that has been said, it is fair to mention that our team did win First Place for Engineering.  Other then joining a LEGO Team, I do suggest forming one, I have listed 10 easy S.T.E.M. activities  for your homeschool that you can do with materials around house and with little expense.

10 Easy S.T.E.M. Activities

  1.  Read.  You probably new that would be the first choice , we are Book Bound, after all .  Some suggestions for S.T.E.M. reading are:  Anna, Kid Engineer by Dr. Shenek Alston, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkawmba,  my son’s favorite, The Wild Robot by Peter Brown.
  2. From The STEM Laboratory you can use the LEGO Challenge Cards and other fun stuff.
  3. Straws! I give these to little boys at the restaurant I work at when it looks like their parents are getting tired  of entertaining them.  I cut them up into a variety of lengths and challenge them to build something and show it to me after they eat.  If you want to get serious you can visit Play Dough to Plato about building straw bridges,
  4. Playing Cards.  Not only can you have hours of fun using critical thinking and math skills you can build houses and towers with them!
  5. Did I say VIDEO GAMES?  Yup, Enter the National STEM Video Challenge using SCRATCH, Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, where you can design “interactive stories,  games, and animations” for free.
  6. For the future pilot in your home join the Aircraft Engineering Challenge and construct an aircraft at The Homeschool Scientist.
  7. Years ago, when my middle son was around 8 years old, we gave him a box that was filled with Duc Tape, foam board, craft sticks, paper clips and anything we could find that we thought he could be creative with.  You probably have made one before but now there is a cool name for it: S.T.E.M. Inventors Box.  Our little friend Anna from Anna, The Kid Engineer has an inventors box too.
  8. If you don’t have a marble run you can make one from paper towel tubes!  It looks like a lot of fun to put together.  Hmm, I think you could construct a straw bridge to this project.
  9. This wouldn’t be the easiest activity but it would certainly be a challenge.  What are your thoughts on toothpicks?  We already built bridges and houses with straws how about a pyramid with toothpicks?
  10. Here is my favorite!  It’s my idea however the idea was not as unique as I thought. I did find several resources for this science project and this Build the Three Little Pigs houses I found to be better used in a homeschool setting.  The idea came from this Build A Tiny House .

S.T.E.M. science books, reading, read

These 10 simple activities will make bringing S.T.E.M., science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, easy to bring into your homeschool. What other ideas do you have?  There must be more. .  .

 

Anna Kid Engineer
ANNA, KID ENGINEER a wonderful book for inspiring S.T.E.M.

 

Everything You Wanted to Know About the Book FRIENDS WITH BOYS

Books to read

Graphic Novel Book History

 Since the late 1980’s there has been a rise in the popularity of the graphic novel book. Not to be confused with the comic book. As much as I have enjoyed reading graphic novels myself when I was younger, much younger, the content has not typically been what I would have my son read. The purchasing of such a book has been avoided. Then my son received a graphic novel book as a gift. My mind has been changed after I read the book Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hick, published by Square Fish in October 2015. This 225 page book is intended for 12 to 16-year-old kids who want a fun easy read.

Maggie, the Homeschooler

It was surprising to me that I would have enjoyed a book as much as I did Friends with Boys. Young Maggie, the main character is relatable as a teenage girl. Her fears of the first day of high school are creditable because the author connects the idea of being the new kid and a freshman with the building maps showing were the classrooms are located, the cafeteria and the locker bay where kids sleep. Okay, so an area where kids sleep? That is an idea that should be shared with your local school board. There’s no one to talk to, have lunch with, she is alone. Until she meets a girl named Lucy and her brother Alistair. Lucy and Alistair have their own story and what they look like is shown in the graphics which really conveys their personalities.  I liked being able to  see the characters which is different for me because I prefer words to pictures. I found it interesting how the artist was able to show the personalities. And wait until you meet Maggies’ three brothers. You have the twins, Llyod, Zander and the oldest brother, Daniel. These brothers really care about their sister, Maggie.

Lucy and Alistair

Then we have Lucy and Alistair. These two have not been homeschooled. Their experience in high school seems realistic. I seem to recall seeing my friends go through what this sister and brother go through. Another reason to love this book! If you are a homeschooled kid you get a peek at public school. As the reader you see that Alistair does what’s right and stands by his little sister. As a parent this is something we want in a story. A story that shows the character doing what is right which is often not the popular thing to do. Faith Erin Hicks gives Alistair a fault that many people have but she shows the reader that even if you do the wrong thing at first doesn’t mean you can’t make the right choice in the end. Who can’t relate to doing that, right.

The Oldest Brother

While I like all the character’s in this book you might be surprised who my favorite character is. It’s not Maggie, although she is wonderful. It is the oldest brother, Daniel. I have seen him somewhere before, haha. I wonder if there weren’t an illustration how would he be described and would it fit my vision of him. I can say that his appearance fits his personality. He is funny, caring, easy-going, and it is obvious that he cares about his sister.  It is great that he is involved in theatre.  In my home school experience many of our kids get involved in theatre.  I don’t know why that is a “thing”.  I guess there is a lot of talent out there.  But I digress.

 

The Story

The story is set in today’s time period in what appears to be a small town. Maggie, who used to be homeschooled, is off to public school and entering her freshman year. Yikes! As she has to tackle all these first year new kid issues she also has a ghost following her around. This character, the ghost, has remained a mystery to me. I kept reading portions of the book where the ghost is featured but while I kind of know who she is, I just don’t feel like her story, the mystery, was resolved. The ghost is important in bringing Maggie and Lucy’s families together. She is an important character I just don’t have any solid foundation about her. Solving the mystery as to why this ghost is following Maggie around is the BIG problem. It is the mystery that brings both families together.

The Message

I loved the message that this book has for siblings and families. First off, we meet Maggie and her dad who is the new police chief of the town. He is portrayed as an easy-going man. His wife left him after all the kids were ready to attend high school. I did not like that at all because I thought the author was going to put home school families in a negative light. I am glad I was wrong about that. Her brothers are funny and act as I would expect them too. The entire family is encouraging and let’s Maggie know that they are there for her. Loved that!

A Book Worth Reading

Friends with Boys surpassed my expectations!  Shoot, how many times did I say “loved” in this review.  Wonderful example of morals and values.  Of how we can make mistakes but we can redeem ourselves too.  A big THANK YOU to Faith Erin Hicks for creating Friends with Boys.  I am ready to read her next book.

15 Books Every Boy Should Read

 

It Can Get Overwhelming

Finding quality books for our boys to read can be a dauntless task.  You may search curriculum catalogs, ask the local librarian and talk with your friends.  Sometimes it can get overwhelming, right. That’s why I created this simple list of 15 quality books that every boy should find time to read.

How The Books Were Selected

To help with this issue my friends, homeschool moms, decided to form a group that had been inspired by a methodology called a Thomas Jefferson Education.  We would study the books that our children would read in the future to be prepared for future discussion.  This is a literature approach to education that I will share in a later post. The following book list is the result of a couple of years reading and discussing books’ that I believe every boy should read. (Note: There are few title additions that the book group did not read.)

I have linked the list of books to popular websites that have the best price for the book.  I am not an affiliate.

15 Books Every Boy Should Read

  1. The Chronicles of Narnia (series) by C.S. Lewis Science Fiction/Fantasy Reading Age 8+
  2. The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois Action and Adventure Reading Age 8+
  3. Peter and Wendy, or Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie Fantasy Reading Age 8+
  4. A Wrinkle in Time (series) by Madeleine L’Engle  Science Fiction Reading Age 9+
  5. Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers by Ralph Moody Historical  Reading Age 10+
  6. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes  Classic/SatireReading Age 10+
  7. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson Action Adventure Reading Age 10+
  8. The Indian in the Cupboard (series) by Lynn Reid Banks Science Fiction/Fantasy Reading Age 10+
  9. The Giver (series) by Lois Lowery Science Fiction/Fantasy Reading Age 11+
  10. The Hobbit: or There and Back Again (series) Classic/Fantasy Reading Age 11+
  11.  The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis Satire/Religious Reading Age 13+
  12. The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain Classic Reading Age 13+
  13. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe Classic Action/Adventure Reading Age 14+
  14. Fahrenheit 451 Science Fiction Reading Age 14+
  15. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells Classic Science Fiction Reading Age 14+