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STEM Challenges with Classroom Buddies

Have you ever considered starting a buddy program? I did and I loved it! Older students act as mentors to younger students and both groups gain from the experience. Younger students get the opportunity to learn and grow with an older peer model while older students develop important skills like patience and understanding. Watching the learning that happens when buddies work together is amazing. Don’t forget to download your free resource at the end of this post!

STEM Buddies
A colleague and I had been discussing a STEM challenge that my students had done. She commented that it would be fun to do something similar with her kindergarten students, but that she would need some extra hands to make it work. This is where the idea for STEM buddies originated. 
STEM challenge
How it Works
Choose a grade level to buddy up with and plan to meet once or twice per month. Carefully and deliberately partner up the students. The goal is to have the students work with the same partner all year to help foster a bond. 

The beauty of using STEM activities when the buddies get together is that the activities can be done in groups of four. The partners stay together, but the pairs work with different students each time.

Each activity starts with a picture book, video, or another type of mini-lesson. Next, we quickly review the steps of the engineering design process: Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, and Improve. 
The students are reminded that they will plan a prototype, test it, make improvements, and test it again. Then the challenge is introduced, the STEM sheets are passed out, and the groups get to work. 

The STEM sheets can be copied for every student or one per partnership. If you decide to have one copy per partnership you may want to photocopy the pages when finished so that each student can have a set. At the end of the challenge, each student fills out a reflection sheet. I like to have each student fill one out.

First Meeting
I start STEM buddies at the end of September. I set aside two days for the first meeting. The first time the students get together is set up as a meet and greet. We introduce the pairs and complete some getting to know you activities. We meet again the next day to start the Bucket Filler STEM challenge. Fill out the form below to grab the Bucket Filler challenge and a bonus challenge for your class. 

We start by reading a book about bucket fillers. Then the students are challenged to create a freestanding bucket holder that can hold the most compliments. At the end of the activity, students are asked to share something that their partner did well. The discussion is lively and the positive spin promotes the theme of the book. 

Download your free STEM challenge lesson today!

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    My fifth graders LOVE working with their buddies. I love watching the connections between the students grow stronger throughout the school year. 


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    Teachers Love

    These are great and my student loves them! These Boom Cards are perfect for my students to provide extra assignments to continue reinforcing the skills they are working on in their general ed class (virtually). I wish I had the skills to create them myself!
    Stephanie R.

    Volume Boom Cards
    Stress-Free Teaching
    2020-09-22T20:19:10-04:00
    These are great and my student loves them! These Boom Cards are perfect for my students to provide extra assignments to continue reinforcing the skills they are working on in their general ed class (virtually). I wish I had the skills to create them myself! Stephanie R. Volume Boom Cards

    Teachers Love

    I love the way the graphic organizers are scaffolded so that students work on each step of a RACES answer. I'm a tutor who works with students with language LDs and this approach has been fantastic for them. Having the editable graphic organizers makes it easy for me to keep creating new and different pages for students who need to extra practice on a particular part of the RACES answer. Thank you so much!
    Kate M.

    Stress-Free Teaching
    2020-09-22T20:24:32-04:00
    I love the way the graphic organizers are scaffolded so that students work on each step of a RACES answer. I'm a tutor who works with students with language LDs and this approach has been fantastic for them. Having the editable graphic organizers makes it easy for me to keep creating new and different pages for students who need to extra practice on a particular part of the RACES answer. Thank you so much! Kate M. RACES Writing Strategy for Written Responses

    Teachers Love

    These are AMAZING!! Highly engaging for my students, constantly spiraling, and also gives me the information I need to see what we need to work on. Thank you so much!!
    Kristi R.

    Stress-Free Teaching
    2020-09-22T20:25:15-04:00
    These are AMAZING!! Highly engaging for my students, constantly spiraling, and also gives me the information I need to see what we need to work on. Thank you so much!! Kristi R. 5th Grade Math Spiral Review

    Teachers Love

    Amazing resource! Students loved working on this to show their parents during fall conferences. Their faces lit up as they went through the slides and read aloud their goals for the trimester and what they were proud of.
    Jessica S.

    Student Led Conference Digital Portfolio
    Stress-Free Teaching
    2020-09-24T19:42:58-04:00
    Amazing resource! Students loved working on this to show their parents during fall conferences. Their faces lit up as they went through the slides and read aloud their goals for the trimester and what they were proud of. Jessica S. Student Led Conference Digital Portfolio
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    Stress-Free Teaching
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