Full STEAM Ahead Friday- Livin’ A Dog’s Life!

The journey through STEAM continues…

Led by the determination to tie STEAM to literature, coupled with having a required reading series to follow,we decided to try it out on Mudge, our favorite, big, messy, lovable dog from author, Cynthia Rylant. This was the week’s story and we needed a “FULL STEAM AHEAD FRIDAY”  challenge to go with it.


We also wanted to give our students a design process to follow in order to give them a simple method to use when designing. If you’ve taken some time to search, then you know there are many design models out there. From the D- school at Stanford, to The Nueva School in San Francisco…

screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-10-51-16-am                       screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-10-51-39-am

Having used these models before with different projects, we knew that they hold value, but none of these felt like the perfect fit for our first graders to use on a weekly basis. We searched for one that they could really use.

Here is one we found and love:


Prior to any STEAM activity, we go through this process with students so they can really think about the task they are being given, write a plan and ideate. These thoughts are housed in the students’ STEAM Notebooks….

We also taught them a song to remember the process! (Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, Experiment, Improve – to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It”)

With  that said, let’s get back to Henry and Mudge!

The task at hand:

“How might you design a dream doghouse for Mudge?”

The kids were SO excited!! They immediately went to work  imagining, planning, and ideating.

In the end,we saw everything from sweet, cozy backyard doghouses, to those that had a doggie swimming pool ( constructed in a shoebox with straws and blue tissue paper!), and even one that had a rooftop deck, for the times when Mudge needed some peace and quiet…LOL. Most importantly, however, we witnessed the PROCESS of creating, which is genuinely more important than the final product.The activity and engagement in our classrooms was evident.

The problem-solving, collaborating and THINKING as they become six-year-old designers is an experience that we look forward to each and every week because we witness it’s value. We, as teachers, hope to always lead our students with inspiring and thoughtful experiences, but allow them to take the reigns and become the owners of their learning. This is exactly what Full Steam Ahead Friday has done for us.


Thus, another Successful Full Steam Ahead Friday comes to an end. To witness the smiles, creativity, critical thinking, and genuine LOVE for learning is something that we  strive for everyday. When it happens, you can’t help but share it with the world!

Until next time…keep steamin’ along!


Jess and Laura

Words of Wisdom for the day…



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