Saturday, October 1, 2016

STEM and Mindware

September is over-- and WOW it flew by! My little Kinders have been busy learning classroom routines, exploring, and getting into the swing of things! My school has an AMAZING STEM program, and we will be starting that up soon. I started doing some STEM activities in my own classroom and they are just eating it up! It is so exciting to see how engaged they are and see the amazing things they come up with!

Speaking of STEM... have you guys heard of Mindware!? It is an amazing company that has lots of "brainy" toys for kids that are a perfect tie into STEM and so much more!! Even more than that, they have lesson plans that align to different toys and games! 

I am using some Mindware toys and games with my kiddos and they have been having a blast! I wanted to share them with you all, and hopefully you can try them in your own classrooms!

1.) KEVA Brain Builders Junior (15.95)  Oh my goodness these are SO COOL and they are a huge hit in my room. The bag came with 20 KEVA planks which was the perfect amount for my kids. The set included awesome puzzle cards, which I hole punched and put onto a binder ring. The cards are fun and challenging... it was so exciting for me to watch the kids problem-solve and build different structures! I used the KEVA blocks during my STEM centers and the kids are also requesting to use them during play time! They have been following the cards, but I anticipate that they will start building structures without the cards too! 

In addition to STEM and play time, I used the KEVA blocks at my math centers for number recognition. As mentioned, Mindware has some great lesson plans that tie in with their products. I followed their number recognition lesson plan. I also had the kids MAKE each number out of the KEVA planks. So much fun! The possibilities are truly endless. 

You can grab the KEVA set that I have here  or take a look at some of the larger sets that they have by clicking here! I am so in love with these building blocks that I am planning on asking the PTA to buy even more for my classroom! 

Here are some pictures of the KEVA blocks in action!

2.) Pattern Play (29.95): This was another HUGE hit that I used at my STEM centers, math centers, and I am also putting out at play time due to popular request! This activity really encourages problem solving skills, mathematical thinking, anddddd since I had kids in groups... teamwork! It was interesting to see all of the kids interact and work through challenges. It really taught me A LOT about them as learners... which was invaluable at the beginning of the year.

Mindware had a fantastic lesson plan for color and shape recognition. This really helped me assess what students knew/ didn't know, which is super important in September. I called out a color/ shape, and students had to identify it! You can check out the lesson plan here

I plan on using Pattern Play all year long! Like the KEVA plans, the pattern play set comes with a set of numbered cards for kids to follow. The cards range in difficulty and really get kids to put their thinking caps on! You can grab the pattern play set by clicking here

Take a look at the pattern play game in action: 

3.) Qwirkle (24.95): This is a really, really, super fun group game that encourages strategic thinking, color/shape recognition, and higher level thinking! The game is a combo of dominos and scrabble, but with shapes and colors!

I introduced this game to my students one small group at a time. I wanted to teach all of them how to play, so that they could play without me throughout the year! We had a rainy day and the kids stayed inside for recess. When I came back, one of the kids told me that they took out the game to play! How awesome! 

Unfortunately, I didn't get time to snap any pictures because I was busy playing too! It is amazing how quickly 5 and 6 year olds can think! For those of you using the growth mindset, this is a MUST HAVE! It really encourages forward thinking. I plan on putting it out again this upcoming week and will get some photos of the game in action. Anyway, it is SO addicting that I actually brought it home to play with my family! Grab it here!

So...teachers and parents, head on over to Mindware and take a look at these products. They are totally worth it, and will really get your kids thinking!

This review is based strictly on my opinion. I was provided the sample free of charge by Mindware to provide my honest review. No other type of compensation was received. All ideas and opinions are my own. 

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