STEAM : How to make moving noodle robots

School starts back up for me at the very end of August but today, my youngest grandson, age 21/2, and I decided to spend a little time over in the classroom.  I have piles of odds and ends stashed around the classroom that I have collected to use for when school starts back up. One of my collections includes the materials needed to make noodle robots that really do move…

How to Make Moving Noodle Robots

To make a moving noodle robot you will need to collect a few items but first, I want to mention that I am planning to make a set to keep in the classroom so our children can explore the materials in different ways through out the school year.

Materials needed

To make one noodle robot, I used….

  • 1 swimming noodle (cut down to size)
  • 1 AA battery
  • 1 battery operated toothbrush purchased at the Dollar Tree
  • Duct Tape
  • Stickers or markers to decorate your robot however you (or your students) wish.

How to Make Moving Noodle Robots

What to do

The ONLY kind of battery operated toothbrush that I found that works for this is to buy the cheap kid’s $1.00 battery operated toothbrush from the Dollar Tree.

How to Make Moving Noodle Robots

I opened the toothbrush and removed the entire battery case out of the toothbrush.  I saved the toothbrush for a different use in the classroom later on.

How to Make Moving Noodle Robots

I placed one battery inside the battery case and made sure it is working properly by switching the power on. Be sure to keep the battery in place by covering the entire battery (case and all) with duct tape…

How to Make Moving Noodle Robots

I wrapped the case with about two layers of tape so it would fit snuggly (not tight) into the noodle robot…

How to Make Moving Noodle Robots

Go ahead and decorate the noodle with stickers or markers.  One long noodle should be cut down into smaller sizes using a sharp knife. You will want the noodles to be just shorter than the length of the battery case. I made mine look like a robot by using some stickers my grandsons had gotten in their kids-meals at Chic-fil-a. After the noodle is decorated or designed to look the way you (or your students) wish, then just place the battery pack inside the center of the noodle and turn it on…

How to Make Moving Noodle Robots

And now the fun really begins. At least this is where it did for my grandson and I.  My grandson spent the longest time exploring the moving noodle robot.  He began by just learning how to turn the power on and off. Click-click, click-click, buzz-buzz! He did this over and over again and set it on the table on occasion to watch the noodle robot move across the table. As he adjust the battery around, the noodle robot would spin or move differently…

How to Make Moving Noodle Robots

Then my grandson also wanted to take a closer look at the battery pack. He asked if he could take it out and I said “Of Course!”  That’s another reason I covered the pack with layers of duct tape…

My grandson spent the longest time deconstructing and constructing the noodle robot, turning the power on and off, and then letting the robot roam across different surfaces around the room just to see what would happen. He LOVED it and so did I! It was so cool watching my grandson be able to explore the mechanics or workings of the robot all by himself…

How to Make Moving Noodle Robots

I put together this short video of the noodle robot in action!

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By | July 21st, 2015|Categories: Engineering, Science and Nature|Tags: , , , |24 Comments

Spools of fun!

Cardboard spools are such a fun resource to upcycle into all kinds of uses in the preschool classroom. The children and I started saving different sizes of cardboard spools about half-way into our school year and once we had a nice collection, we put them to good use…

Spools of Fun by Teach Preschool

When I say I collected all sizes of cardboard spools, I mean ALL sizes including these really big cardboard spools I found at our local box recycle place. There were six very large spools in all that someone dropped off so I gathered them up to add to our spool collection…

Spools of Fun by Teach Preschool

The rest of the cardboard spools I saved were mostly empty ribbon spools…

Spools of Fun by Teach Preschool

Now that we had a nice collection of cardboard spools it was time to put them to good use. One of our first uses was to engineer up a fun painting process. The children made their own paint rollers by pushing a small dowel rod through the center of one or more spools…

Spools of Fun by Teach Preschool

Once their paint rollers were put together, then the children rolled the spools through paint…

Spools of Fun by Teach Preschool

And then rolled their spools on paper…

Spools of Fun by Teach Preschool

This process is a great way to bring STEAM into the classroom as it combines the engineering of a painting tool with the creative art experience of painting with the painting tool…

Spools of Fun by Teach Preschool

For some of the children, the engineering aspect was what they found most interesting while others looked forward to the painting process…

Spools of Fun by Teach Preschool

I have some more ideas to share with you on how we used both our big spools and small spools as tools in the classroom so be sure to check back!

Spools of Fun by Teach Preschool

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By | June 25th, 2014|Categories: Engineering, Painting|Tags: , , , |2 Comments

Lining up colored craft sticks

Earlier in the week, I shared some of our line up activities. Lining up colored craft sticks was one of my favorites…

Lining up colored craft sticks by Teach Preschool

I had previously told you about our class reading and enjoying “The Line Up Book” by Marisabino Russo. This is a fun book about a little boy who lines up all of his toys from his bedroom to the kitchen on his way to lunch. Along the way, his mother calls for him over and over. Each time, he says, “Just a minute.”   After reading our story, we brought out a large box of colored craft sticks for a math activity.  Each child was given ten craft sticks…

Lining up colored craft sticks by Teach Preschool

The children began this activity by counting their craft sticks. Once it was determined that all children had ten, Deborah and I asked them if they could make a square out of four craft sticks…

Lining up colored craft sticks by Teach Preschool

Once they had all made their squares, we asked the children if they could make a triangle with three craft sticks.  A few children figured out that they could place their triangle on top of their square to make a house…

Lining up colored craft sticks by Teach Preschool

Deborah and I asked them to make a few more shapes, before encouraging them to create something unique on their own…

Lining up colored craft sticks by Teach Preschool

The children made some really unique creations…

Lining up colored craft sticks by Teach Preschool

When the children were finished building their craft stick creations, we asked them if they would like to line up their craft sticks on the floor, similar to how the little boy in our story had lined up his toys.  They enthusiastically accepted this challenge…

Lining up colored craft sticks by Teach Preschool

A few children decided to line up their craft sticks on our three types of lines that were taped on the carpet…

Lining up colored craft sticks by Teach Preschool

The children were clearly enjoying this activity!  They loved seeing how far they could line up their craft sticks and they also enjoyed playing the role of the young boy in our book.  Deborah, acting as the mother in the book, asked the children over and over if they were almost finished. The children would all emphatically reply, “JUST A MINUTE…”

They couldn’t have possibly had more fun…

Lining up colored craft sticks by Teach Preschool

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Links to grow on:

Building shapes by A, Bee, C, Preschool
Exploring craft sticks by Teach Preschool
DIY magnetic craft sticks by Teach Preschool

By | February 14th, 2013|Categories: Mathematics|Tags: , , , , , , |1 Comment

What does STEM look like in preschool and what is STEM anyway?

When Rae Pica from Bam Radio wrote me and asked me to participate in this next radio show, I looked at the topic and immediately knew that I had no idea what the topic was even about.  I mean, you may have heard of the acronym STEM before but I hadn’t heard of it and I sure didn’t want to talk about a topic that I knew nothing about.  Or did I? Come to find out, I know quite a bit about STEM and it is something that I bet you know more about than you think too!

Rae Pica with Dr. Sherri Killins, Lilian G. Katz, Ph.D.,Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed.

First of all, if you haven’t ever taken a minute to listen to one of the Bam Radio interviews I have shared here before then this one is a must do!  Just listening to these ladies talk motivates and inspires me to get busy teaching!  Today’s discussion is titled, “What, Teaching STEM in Preschool, Really?”  Click here to listen!

What is STEM?

According to Dr. Sherri Killins, “What STEM does is give a label to what you are already doing… helping children to explore, observe, ask questions, predict, integrate their learning…  its what we’ve always done in early childhood education.”

The Distinction between Academic Learning and Intellectual Learning

Dr. Lilian Katz says, “It is important to know the distinction between academic learning and intellectual learning…. and most people don’t get that.”

Academic learning “by definition is the stuff that is clear like the alphabet, it’s no logic, it just has to be memorized… and it does have to be learned eventually.” (Lilian Katz onBam Radio)

Intellectual Learning “has to do with reasoning,  hypothesizing, and predicting, theorizing, and so forth and that’s natural.” (Lilian Katz on Bam Radio)

You want children to learn their academic skills in the service of their intellect so when they come and say, show me how to measure this or show me how to write that because they are doing an investigation – which is an intellectually based activity and it comes so naturally to all children.”  (Lilian Katz on Bam Radio)

How to apply Stem in your preschool classroom

Our experts give the following advice…

  • Become more intentional about what you are doing.  If you start by reflecting on what you are doing already, you will find you that you are already doing things in STEM and with an increase in your language and your ability to support children to predict what might happen next or explore or question, you will already be advancing those ideas of science, technology, engineering, and math.” (Dr. Killins on Bam Radio)
  • Remember that “The basic dispositions of science are asking questions then predicting what the outcome might be and then saying, ‘well, what data do I need to find out which is the right answer?’ and that is what children do in project work starting at age 3.”  (Dr. Katz on Bam Radio)
  • Do with things that are available that are in front of you. What isn’t in the best interest of advancing this knowledge is to imagine an ocean if you don’t live near an ocean or imagining a pirate that doesn’t exist. Use what is in front of you to create this learning and explore so you can test and try.” (Dr. Killins on Bam Radio)

How to learn more about STEM

  • Think about something you want to know about and explore it and look up more information and then share this information with your children.  Use your natural curiosity – go into the concept of STEM by using your own sense of curiosity. (Dr. Killins on Bam Radio)
  • Put ideas into action, reflect on them, then figure out how you can take this idea or process up another notch to invite even more exploration, questioning, hypothesizing, observation and you will see that there is always another way.

The importance of play

“There are no greater natural scientists and engineers then young children. Inquisitive learners who learn STEM concepts through play. High quality early learning environments provide children with the structure in which to build upon their natural inclination to explore, to build, and to question.”  Once again it comes down to letting the children play! (JD Chesloff shared by Rae Pica in “What, Teaching STEM in Preschool, Really?“)

The benefits of STEM

The link between early childhood and STEM is indisputable. Early exposure to STEM – whether it be in school, at a museum, a library, or just engaging in the natural trial and error of play – supports children’s overall academic growth, develops early critical thinking and reasoning skills, and enhances later interest in STEM study and careers. (JD Chesloff in Sparking a Child’s Interest in Science and Technology.”

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