Tuesday, February 4, 2014

STEM at Home: Design a Valentine Card Holder

STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, is an important concept in schools nowadays. My 1st grader goes to a STEM school, so it's emphasized on a daily basis. I love the concept and I love how my daughter's day is more hands-on and less worksheet heavy. We try to support this at home as much as we can.

When I was contemplating making Valentine's Day card holders with my girls, I came up with several options. They were all standard crafts and would have been fun to do, but then it hit me... maybe I should let them design the card holders themselves. What would they come up with?

While they were off playing, I set out some supplies on the table. Each girl had two paper plates. I then added Valentine stickers, markers, scissors, yarn, a stapler, paint brushes, red and pink paint, paper scraps, glue, and cardboard tubes shaped into hearts to the table. I added a little note with the instructions. Step 1: Be an engineer! Design your card holder. Step 2: Construct your card holder. Step 3: Decorate. When they came to the table, I asked them to turn their two paper plates into a Valentine card holder.

They started bending and maneuvering right away. In my mind, I had envisioned stapling the two plates together into a pouch. (And that was what my project would have been if I had went with my original plan.) But of course, my girls don't think the way I do, nor do they spend time browsing through Pinterest to see all the wonderful Valentine's Day ideas that are shared. Miss First-Grader bent and stapled until her two plates resembled a mail box. Miss Preschool stapled and cut until her resembled a rather large platter. She must be expecting a lot of Valentines! I was impressed with their ingenuity and loved their final product. I will admit, though, that it was really hard for me to just step back and let them create without my input.

Once they were finished, it was time to decorate. I think they used about every supply I had on the table. They each added a giant string so that they could hang their holders from our highest curtain rod. They were proud of their card holders and, boy, did they ever have fun. I loved this project even more than I would have if we would have made my original idea. The girls were able to be creative, to design, and to be an engineer. It was a fun process and one that we'll do again and again.

The next time you want to do a craft, let your kids design it themselves. It's so much fun to see what they make!

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