Kids love to build and create. A bunch of blocks can quickly become a work of art. My children have shown an interest in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Technology) activities and hands-on building and constructing. They love building with their wooden blocks, and this activity kept them creating and thinking all afternoon. All you need is a handful of blocks and you are ready to begin!
I have created a set of over 50 S.T.E.M. building challenges to compliment this activity and keep kids busy, while learning and problem solving, as they build and create at home or school. These printable cards are available through Teachers Pay Teachers. (Link at bottom).
When in school, I teach over 100 kids aged 3-6 every day. Everyone enjoyed this STEM building challenge and it is easy prepare. I have also used the activity with older children, and at home. STEM challenges are a great way to encourage children to problem solve in a hands-on way.
I found a bunch of mini building blocks at a local dollar store. I gave each student one set of the blocks (36 blocks). To start, I gave everyone 5 minutes to build and explore with their blocks. I try to do this free exploration any time I introduce new materials because once children have had a chance to play freely with it, they are then more ready to learn and follow directions.
After the 5 minutes, I challenged students to build a house using their blocks. This was a pretty simple place to start, and students created some great homes. I gave students roughly 5 minutes for each STEM building challenge.
The next challenge was my favourite. I asked everyone to create a staircase. At first, some students were discouraged. They could picture a staircase in their mind, but not build one. However, once they started putting blocks together and trying different things out, they came up with a variety of staircases.
Some were almost flat to the table (shown above) but it still resembled a staircase. I was amazed how I ended up with over 20 different staircase designs – yet with each one you could tell it was a staircase!
I continued to give different challenges, including building a tower with exactly 16 blocks, building something with their eyes closed for 2 minutes, and building a boat.
This activity easily filled an hour, but children were ready to do many more STEM building challenges.
STEM Extension Activity
Since students were so eager to build and create with the blocks, the next day I incorporated the blocks into our activity again. I began by reading the popular book “The Three Billy Goats Gruff”. After I finished, I challenged students to build a bridge for the goat. I handed out a bag of blocks to everyone and also gave them a small wooden figure. This was the represent the troll. The only rule was that the troll had to be able to fit under the bridge.
Their creations were very impressive! All of the bridges looked different, but they all worked as a bridge for their troll. It was a great learning activity and children really enjoyed building and working to create something. For over 50 STEM building challenges click the link below for printable cards to compliment this activity at home or school. (Available on Teachers Pay Teachers.)
Try out some other STEM building challenges: