This post originally appeared on the blog Whimsy Workshop Teaching.

Hi Everyone!

Here’s some real talk about my experience using S.T.E.M in the classroom.

When I am coordinating S.T.E.M. curriculum for grades 1-5, I observe many students exploring the S.T.E.M process who are truly engaged with hands-on learning.

For the most part, students LOVE it!

However…

Sometimes I also see students who are not yet comfortable with taking risks.

Some students are not emotionally equipped for dealing with the disappointment that arises when their great idea doesn’t quite work out the way they wanted.

Other students feel threatened by other students who have “better” ideas, and feel defeated rather than inspired.

For some students, there’s an emotional side of being expected to take risks, make mistakes, and collaborate with others. You can probably think of students you know who think their first idea HAS to be perfect. When it’s not, they might give up, or worse – act out negatively.

For these students, S.T.E.M. challenges can also be an emotional challenge.

So should we avoid doing S.T.E.M. with those students?

Absolutely not! On the contrary, it’s the perfect learning opportunity.

These students need some tools to help them cope with challenges, and I’ve found Growth Mindset concepts in particular to be a highly effective strategy to teach these coping tools.

 

How to teach STEM and growth mindset together for success

 

Growth Mindset and Stem

I feel that I owe it to my students to give them coping strategies; I am presenting situations that I know will be particularly difficult for some of them. I want to give them the tools they will need to handle it. Hopefully these tools will help them in many other life situations as well!

My solution to this situation has been to combine Growth Mindset concepts with my S.T.E.M projects.

S.T.E.M. and Growth Mindset concepts complement and reinforce each other perfectly, so teaching them together is a perfect match!

 

Growth Mindset and Stem

Growth mindset encourages exactly the kind of positive thinking that will help with S.T.E.M challenges.

For example, growth mindset thinking teaches us that:

-mistakes help us learn

-we can persevere through unexpected problems and disappointments

-sometimes, it takes several tries to solve a problem

 

Growth mindset concepts also foster an inner dialogue that is essential for ST..E.M exploration. 

For example:

-I can always improve.

-I’m on the right track.

-I can keep trying even when it’s hard.

-This may take some time and effort.

-I can build on previous ideas.

-I haven’t solved the problem – YET!

Teach STEM and Growth Mindset together with fairy tale partner plays!

 

Growth Mindset and Stem

We use fairy tales to explore both Growth Mindset and S.T.E.M!

Students love fairy tales because they are fun and familiar, so we begin by reading short partner plays together. You can easily write your own plays with student input, or pre-write simple partner plays like I have.

In our partner plays, the characters have either a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. After several readings and discussion, students become experts at recognizing which is which. I little humor goes a long way, too!

For example, in the passage below from Little Red Riding Hood, Granny has a fixed mindset, and Little Red Riding Hood has a Growth Mindset!

Students quickly learn how to tell the two apart:

Growth Mondset Fairy Tale partner plays all end with a STEM challenge!

Read about how STEM and Growth Mindset can be taught together through funny partner plays, and download a set of FREE STEM posters

We also do some writing and sorting to solidify the concept.

We use simple workbooks or flip books as shown below.

 

Growth mindset and STEM challenges are a perfect match. Read about some easy ways to combine them and download some free STEM posters.

STEM and growth mindset together using workbooks and flip books for a writing component

 Setting Up A Stem Challenge

 At the end of each fairy tale play, students are presented with a S.T.E.M challenge that directly relates to the story.

Here is an example of how the partner play ends with a specific S.T.E.M challenge:

 

STEM and growth mindset concepts are perfect to teach together through fairy tale partner plays. Download a set of free STEM posters to get started

 

In the above example, students are given the task of helping Rapunzel out of her tower.

Students now have a relevant purpose for their challenge!

Each table is given a bin of supplies, such as tape, cardboard, stir sticks, paper cups, elastics, pipe cleaners, and anything else I have handy.

Students plan, collaborate, and build! Here are some pictures of our creations for various fairy tale S.T.E.M challenges:

 

Teach Growth Mindset and STEM challenges together with this bundle of partner plays based on fairy tales. All the work is done for you.

STEM and growth mindset together using workbooks and flip books for a writing component

 

Here’s a few seconds of our class testing their catapults! I love to hear them encouraging each other.

 

I always like to have a written component to document our learning. This way we can also look back to past challenges to see if they might help with our current challenge. We use either WORKBOOKS or FLIP BOOKS to write about our S.T.E.M exploration.

 

STEM and growth mindset concepts are perfect to teach together through fairy tale partner plays. Download a set of free STEM posters to get started

Use fairy tale partner plays to explore growth mindset and set up STEM challenges (free STEM poster set download)

STEM and growth mindset together using workbooks and flip books for a writing component

5 Ways To Teach STEM and Growth Mindset together to support students' self-regulation and positive attitude towards risk taking in class. 5 Ways To Teach STEM and Growth Mindset together to support students' self-regulation and positive attitude towards risk taking in class.5 Ways To Teach STEM and Growth Mindset together to support students' self-regulation and positive attitude towards risk taking in class.

 

Adding Growth Mindset to your S.T.E.M lessons doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated. It can be as simple as making time for a class discussion to talk about making mistakes, improving designs, and all the feelings that may arise (ie. frustration, excitement, anxiety). It’s important for students to know that they are not alone in their feelings, and that people react differently to situations. 

 

STEM resources

Do you use S.T.E.M challenges in your classroom?

Are there students who would benefit from pairing Growth Mindset lessons with S.T.E.M?

You can create your own partner plays, journals, or flip books to go along with any fairy tale. Or, you could create your own growth mindset plays with students as the main characters!

If you’d prefer to try some of the examples I’ve shown above, they are available two different bundles:

Bundle 1 

Growth Mindset and STEM are a perfect match in this bundle of stem challenges paired with fairy tale partner plays that explore growth mindset.
This bundle includes 8 Fairy Tale partner plays, 8 S.T.E.M challenges, and 8 workbooks for both growth Mindset and S.T.E.M writing.

 

 BUNDLE 2

5 Ways To Teach STEM and Growth Mindset together to support students' self-regulation and positive attitude towards risk taking in class.
This bundle includes 8 fairy tales, 8 partner plays, 8 S.T.E.M challenges, and 8 Flip Books.

 

S.T.E.M for the Whole Year (Bundle 1&2)

STEM and Growth Mindset Mega Bundle for the Entire Year
This covers 16 Fairy Tales and lots of literacy opportunities to help students become experts in Growth Mindset and S.T.E.M challenges.

 

FREE RESOURCES TO GET YOU STARTED 

I have some free downloads to get you started with S.T.E.M and Growth Mindset in your classroom.

First, you can try a Growth Mindset flip book which can be used with any version of the Little Red Riding Hood. It is part of the preview for Bundle 2, so click the preview button to grab it HERE.

 

Growth Mindset Flip Books for Little Red Riding Hood 

Pin this free flip book for later!

This free flip book can be used with any version of the fairy tale, and explores both STEM and Growth Mindset concepts!

 

S.T.E.M PROCESS POSTERS

Are your students clear on the steps involved with S.T.E.M process?

I have posters outlining the steps on my wall so I can refer to them often during lessons and discussions.

If you’d like to download my posters to use in your classroom, click HERE to download!

FREE STEM poster set

 

Or pin the S.T.E.M. posters for later!

FREE pack of STEM posters to use as reference during STEM lessons or introducing STEM ideas in your classroom!

 

STEM resources

There are lots of other ways to create a GROWTH MINDSET classroom!

 You can write different ideas each day in Growth Mindset journals, fill your room with encouraging Growth Mindset posters and coloring activities, use Growth Mindset task cards and writing prompts, and even positive notes for students!

Click  HERE to take a look at all the options for your classroom.

Growth Mindset Classroom Bundle

 

Growth Mindset Posters and Activities

 

You can also grab two FREE posters and activities, and read more about Growth Mindset in the classroom, by clicking HERE

Click to download free growth mindset poster and activities

 

I hope you enjoy using S.T.E,M and Growth Mindset in your classroom!

If you have ideas to share, I’d LOVE to hear about them!

Pin this post for later!

5 Ways To Teach STEM and Growth Mindset together to support students' self-regulation and positive attitude towards risk taking in class.A detailed description of ways to teach STEM and growth mindset together for success in elementary grades. Lots of free downloads in this post!

 

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5 Ways To Teach STEM and Growth Mindset together to support students' self-regulation and positive attitude towards risk taking in class.Susanna has been teaching primary grades for over 20 years, with specialties in early literacy intervention, S.T.E.M, technology integration, and visual arts. She believes in a differentiated, hands-on approach that considers students’ social/emotional needs along with academics. She also creates teacher-friendly clip art to help other teachers create or sell classroom activities!

You can see lots of teaching ideas and free resources over at her website Whimsy Workshop Teaching, or check out her Facebook, Instagram or TpT store.