There are so many places that teachers can gather information. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have made professional learning networks so accessible that teachers can connect in real-time from all over the world. I often see posts in these groups like “I’m a new teacher and don’t know where to start – please help!” or “I have a certain budget to spend on STEM but am not sure what I need”. I’ve put together a list of my favorite elementary STEM products that are easy to integrate, even if you’re completely new to STEM! Looking for secondary STEM teacher must-haves? Check out my second part of this series here.
Code & Go Mouse is the perfect introduction to robotics for early learners, K-2. The goal is to program the mouse to get to the cheese. Students click the arrow buttons on the mouse to enter their code and then the mouse follows this pattern.
Code & Go Mouse requires very little setup and allows students to create their own mazes, making it a great open-ended activity. Challenge students to come up with their own intricate patterns for the mouse to follow. After using the mouse, they’ll be ready for next-level programming, like drag and drop block coding.
Already have Code & Go Mouse? Check out Botley here!
I like Ozobots for all ages: K-Gray! I have yet to meet anyone who didn’t love these little bots right from the start. These robots are programmed to follow a line and interpret different colors combinations as actions like “Tornado” or “Moonwalk”. The coloring aspect makes it exciting for the littles, but older students can explore Ozoblockly, the online programming website. The code within the drag-and-drop platform is easy to understand for young students and includes higher difficulty levels for older students. Additionally, they offer games that can be done without the robot in case you can’t invest in an entire class set.
If you’re not sure how STEM and STEAM differ, check out my STEM verses STEAM article here. The gist is that they’re basically the same, and adding the arts just gives more context to STEM. For example, the shape of the pyramids is an art while the construction is an engineering feat!
Young kids love art and this is a great way to integrate STEM ideas. I like squishy circuits, where students can build their own items from their imagination and illuminate them via the conductive dough.
I also like classic spirographs, where students can draw beautiful geometric shapes using gears. This is a great way to tie in the arts in math!
Looking for more STEAM ideas? Check out these other awesome kits here.
Snap Circuits are exactly what they sound like – circuit pieces that snap together via buttons. They’re inexpensive, portable, and include lesson plans that range from easy to advanced. They aid in teaching the fundamentals of circuitry which set the stage for later more complex circuits, like those found on PC boards. The instruction manual is easy enough to follow along that students need little instruction from the teacher, making it a great product to pull off the shelf and use right away!
You can’t spell STEM without the E! Engineering is a huge part of STEM and new science standards like NGSS are embracing engineering principles. Keva Planks are the most open-ended engineering kit you can invest in. They are just small wooden blocks, but together can be made into engineering masterpieces.
When I was teaching, I used to challenge my students to make a Rube Goldberg machine out of Keva Planks. They created intricate mazes for marbles to span tables (and the whole classroom!) using only these planks. They’re a must for any STEM class or makerspace!
What are your favorite STEM items for elementary students? Share your ideas in the comments below!