Hi guys! Recently I had the opportunity to review some new STEM materials from a company named MindWare. MindWare is a division of Oriental Trading that focuses on brain games and has wonderful resources for STEM lessons. They also have a section on their website with free teacher lesson plans that go with their products! My review of their products is based strictly on my opinions, I was provided the samples free of charge from the company to give my honest opinions. No other compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.
This first products I received were the KEVA Brain Builders Packs:
I decided to put this product in my early finishers area, and it has been a hit! These blocks are always in high demand. The students started out looking at the cards that are included in the pack and building what was shown.
Now they are challenging themselves, and seeing how they can expand on their ideas, and make them even larger!
I also received the Brain Builders Pack that is for ages 7 and up. The activities looked really fun, and a bit more challenging, so I gave the pack to the second grade teacher, and they have been working on these activities during their early finisher time as well.
The last product I received was the KEVA Structures Pack:
This set includes 200 planks, and is great for STEM activities! I love the simplicity of the planks. You can do some very basic activities with them, but also really challenge your students to make complex structures. When I received this box, I let all of the teachers in my school know, and so far, I have done a lesson with them, and so has the 4th grade teacher, and our 6th-8th grade science teacher. I love that one product can be shared across so many different grade levels! The science teacher has requested that we buy a couple more boxes, so I will definitely be asking our principal to order those in the near future.
I decided to do a very simple project to start out our STEM activities for the year. I broke the students up into groups of 3-4, and simply asked them to build the tallest structure they could. I had them sketch out their designs first.
I used a form found in Brooke Brown's STEM pack from TPT. After we discussed what we wanted our structures to look like, we started to put our plans into action. I gave each group 40 planks and put no limitations on how the structure needed to be completed. I was amazed that each group had a different thought process!
After they built their structures, I went around and measured them with a ruler. The one that had just a single line of planks was obviously the winner, and the one that was done on the carpet did not survive : ) After we measured, we talked about strength, and I got to have some fun by going around and lifting up the tables to see if the structures would survive disturbance. The one that was highest fell over, and the other ones survived. This obviously lead into a discussion about having a sturdy base, and also about forces that might rock a building, like our California earthquakes! This also lead to a discussion about building codes, and how we have to make our buildings stronger in California to withstand environmental factors.
STEM is such a huge initiative in all of our school's right now, and with good reason! I'm glad that more and more resources are coming out to help assist us in implementing these lessons. I also very much appreciate when a company is thoughtful enough to include teacher lessons plans that go along with their products!
Here is a link to all of the lesson plans that go along with the MindWare STEM toys:
Thank you to MindWare for giving me this opportunity! My kids continue to love using these materials, and I love that they can be used for so many different STEM challenges throughout the school year!