Kindergartners and second-graders at Bayville Primary School joined forces for a fun STEAM-themed project on March 28 and 29. In an activity designed by kindergarten teacher Kelsey Burns and second-grade teacher Dani Schatz, students constructed houses to protect their paper models of the Three Little Pigs from a fan disguised as the Big Bad Wolf.
Students were divided up into groups of three or four, consisting of both kindergartners and second-graders, with Burns and Schatz creating the groups based on students’ personalities. Schatz prepared her students for the project by having them write letters of introduction to their kindergarten counterparts before they made their way to Burns’s classroom.
Once the project got underway, the kindergartners took control of the house-creation process while the second-graders guided them. Groups were given lists of supplies they could use, including popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, foam blocks and small cardboard boxes. The handouts had space for illustrations of what they hoped their house would look like, and of the final product.
Schatz said that the project was part of the STEAM coursework — science, technology, engineering, arts and math — that her class has been working on the entire school year. It served as a way to meld STEAM learning with creativity, she said, making her students much more passionate about subjects that are consistently growing in importance.
“With all of the [jobs] that involve science, technology, engineering, art and math, they are incredibly important skill systems to learn,” Schatz said. “Starting this young, it leads them to further success in the future and, as a teacher, that’s all you can really hope for.”
Burns said that her class had been working on STEM projects for much of the year, with each project giving students progressively more freedom in terms of how they can achieve their goals. She explained that these projects coincide with their classroom word, “persevere,” as they help students learn from their mistakes and figure out how to fix them.
“My goal in kindergarten is to create ease, and even when things are hard, you persevere,” Burns said, “so with the STEM [projects], it’s nice seeing them learn and be more hands-on and work together.”
According to Burns, the students’ willingness to work together was a highlight of the Three Little Pigs project, which introduced her class to the art component that turns STEM into STEAM.
The students appeared to enjoy the project, which allowed them to display their individual creativity while working toward a common goal.
“I love it a lot,” said second-grader Eva Jaszczuk, 7. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Asked what her favorite part about working with the second-graders was, kindergartner Sophia Stern, 5, simply said, “Telling them what to do.”
When the time finally came to test their projects, every house managed to withstand the Big Bad Wolf’s breezy attacks, even at the fan’s highest setting. Schatz said that the students were all very excited about the results, and understood that it was their hard work that made them possible.
“I think the most important thing [for them] was letting go of control for a little bit,” Schatz said.
Burns said she was very pleased with her students’ efforts. “They were able to work together and share,” she said. “We’ve been working on that all year.”
Both teachers said that their students were eager to work on more creative projects with other grade levels in the future.