STEM & Stories: Activity to Support Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

During my first year as a STEM teacher, I lead a club weekly on Thursday for the entire year. I ran 6 different clubs, the last being a Makerspace Club.  

While planning this club, I kept my live for literacy and picture books in ming. In fact, My growing STEM & Stories collection integrates books and a corresponding STEM activity that works for multiple grade levels. 

Let's dive into how STEM is integrated after reading the story Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. 

**All links are clickable to purchase through my affiliate link. No extra cost to you, but I get a little bonus if you purchase through it!**

After reading the story Not a Box {or listening to it online on YouTube}, students will first plan how they will create a marble maze or game out of cardboard and limited materials. I did just a marble maze since I had limited time with my 1st-5th grader club {45 minutes} and they were able to listen to the story, plan and build. Their planning can be done either on paper or digitally. 

They can also utilize the Design Thinking checklist to help them keep track of their progress along the way through this challenge. This is also helpful if you need to extend this activity into multiple days or even during different time blocks in one day. 

Keeping their plan in mind, they can build their design and make modifications when needed to have their game work. The maze is the most simple of the two challenges; all you need are straws {bonus points if they are neon}, masking tape, marbles and cardboard. With a basic sized shipping box from Amazon, you can get 12 pieces from all the flaps and sides. I had 24 students in my club so two boxes was all that I needed. 

Again, for a harder challenge that will most likely take longer, they can also create a different type of game using cardboard and materials of your choice. I have a couple of videos for inspiration that they can watch and reflect on before planning. 

Once students' designs are built, I would encourage students to create rules to their games as well as gain peer feedback. This is of course, depending on the time you have for your challenge.  

Of course, reflection is essential for continuing a growth mindset, and students can write, draw or even record using a tool like Seesaw, how the Design Thinking Process through this STEM activity worked for them. 

My STEM students always get so proud of their creations and want to take their work home. For this challenge, I let them take their work home since they created it out of consumable items. The marbles were fairly inexpensive any way and I let them keep that as well. They were soooo excited about this! 

I even sent home this sheet {that you can get for free!} with other resources that will be helpful and continue to spark their cardboard creativity. 

 Using Seesaw, I often have students take a video or photo of their work so they can continue that conversation at home with their families. 

Seesaw is always free. However, you can get bonus features with Seesaw Plus through my link. 

This is a great STEM challenge that has so many possibilities depending on the amount of time you have, the age of your students and materials you use. You can grab all of the printable and digital student sheets, here. There is also a bonus anchor chart for taking clear photos of your work as a student guide. 

How do you integrate STEM and literacy in engaging ways?  Let me know and send me a message on Instagram @marvelousmsm

Stay marvelous!

Naomi from Marvelous Ms. Meredith 

Click here to grab a free printable to send home with families to encourage cardboard building and Makerspace at home! 

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