Recess Queen – Full of STEAM!


screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-8-07-47-pmAlright – let’s dive right in! When we first got started, the only knowledge we had of utilizing a STEAM station in the classroom, was what we read.  We were a bit nervous at first because the task seemed daunting and oh…we had ZERO space for all of the things we thought we needed! What we discovered, however, was that the setup was much easier than we had anticipated. We each chose a corner in our classrooms devoted to creating. Laura’s was called “Tinker Town” and Jess called hers “Imagination Station.” We filled it with things we already had in the classroom.  We basically searched for easily manipulated recyclable items to put in bins (ie. q-tips, cotton balls, yarn, pipe cleaners, paper towel rolls, cardboard, tape, etc.)  Our STEAM stations became the perfect place to house those extra odds and ends we always saved in our closets because we would “need it someday.”

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We knew we wanted the creating to be authentic, so we decided that each STEAM activity would connect to a piece of literature. We started simple.

At the beginning of the year, we read “Recess Queen” by Alexis O’Neill. After diving into the book with thinking maps, thinking routines and writing our own class books, Our first STEAM challenge was to create a crown that will fit on your head using pipe cleaners. We gave each student five pipe cleaners and let them get to work. Their creations were both amazing and adorable. We knew we were on the right track!  It was the perfect introduction to get the creative juices flowing in our classrooms!

Soon after that, we introduced the design process and began showing our students how to layout their thoughts, ideate, plan and create and most importantly, reflect!

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We saw excitement, engagement, persistence, and a palpable feeling of enthusiasm. As our favorite pirate says…screen-shot-2017-01-23-at-7-07-37-pm

Thanks so much for reading our second blog post! We are truly excited to share our ideas, successes, failures and passions with you! Stay tuned for our next “Full STEAM Ahead Friday” activity where we will continue our journey of creating, exploring, and innovating!

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Jess and Laura

Today’s inspiring thought to ponder:::

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#ihaveanidea is born!

#ihaveanidea was born out of the friendship, camaraderie, and vision of two ambitious, free-thinking, optimistic educators. It’s become a morning ritual to start the day by opening our adjoining door and nine times out of ten, our first words to each other would be, ”Oh my gosh- I have an idea.”…or “okay, so I had this idea…” and thus, the creating began.

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We have been together for barely two years, yet the similarities in our teaching styles are hard to miss. The first thing we noticed about each other was that we both lean toward hands-on, project-based learning. We both hold firm to the opinion that when it comes to developmental appropriateness for first graders, creative projects that tie the curriculum together and spark curiosity, fun and engagement, trump worksheets every time. With that in mind, we decided that this year we were determined to start a STEAM center in our classroom that would be used often, in an orderly and organized fashion, that challenged kids to think, plan,create, write, reflect and persist time and time again. We knew we wanted our students to follow the design process so that they would have an organized method for creating. We knew that in this way, the learning would hold value. We were not sure what this would look like, but we were determined. We began with the end in mind (thank you Stephen Covey) and looked at the heart of the learning we were trying to expose our students to.

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Here is one list that outlines the benefits of using Design Thinking in the classroom. This was written by a man named John Spencer and found on George Couros’ Twitter page(@gcouros). George is our new hero! 🙂

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John Spencer (@spencerideas) says:

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We hope you enjoyed our first blog post as much as we enjoyed writing it! Please come back soon. We are so excited to share our teaching experiences with you!

screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-2-31-12-pmJess & Laura