Teachers creatively combine holiday lessons with STEM opportunities

student makin playdoh toothpick treesMinisink Valley teachers routinely look for ways to provide instructional opportunities which blend a variety of subject matter and purposes.

In this instance, when Marjori  Bobish’s Minisink Valley Elementary kindergarteners recently learned about holidays around the world, she incorporated a STEM project into this seasonal lesson.

“We have learned that the Christmas tree is a symbol for a holiday celebrated in many countries,” Mrs. Bobish said. “In fact, the tradition of the Christmas tree began in Germany and came to America around 200 years ago.  We learned that Christmas trees are actually evergreen trees because their needles or leaves are always or forever green.”

student making toothpick treesTaking the lesson a step further,  her hybrid and  remote kindergarteners took their newly acquired knowledge about dimensional Christmas trees and applied that to two- and three-dimensional shapes. Their task was to build an evergreen tree using toothpicks and playdough.  The challenge was to see how tall they can build one without it falling over.

“The base has to be big,” said Greyson Keppler.

Added Gregory Hammerman  : “It should be a cone shape.”

Toothpick trees also offer the young students  a chance to work on their fine motor skills, too.  Fine motor skills are the ability to make movements using the small muscles in hands and wrists. Their small size encourages the little students to use and strengthen their fingertips.

“This is cool, but not so easy,” said Colin Flately, while working on his tree.

Fine motor skills are used to do many school-related tasks like holding a crayon or pencil, drawing pictures, writing neatly and using scissors, rulers and other tools.

To see more photos, visit the district’s Facebook page.