Falling for STEM: Challenges for Thanksgiving

The holidays are upon us and I’m SO excited to dive into some fall and Thanksgiving themed STEM with my students! These challenges are perfect to keep your kids engaged and learning all month long, not to mention LOW PREP for you! Here are all the STEM Challenges I’ve got planned for this month.

Dinner Table STEM Challenge

The Dinner Table Challenge is simple to prep quickly and easy to differentiate across multiple grade levels! It’s also perfect to incorporate into a math or science center. Younger students construct models of dinner tables out of popsicle sticks and dominoes that will hold the most Thanksgiving food dishes on top, and older students measure the perimeter and areas of their table surfaces. This challenge is found in my Thanksgiving STEM pack. Check out my newest YouTube video below for a detailed overview of this pack and demo of all the included materials!

Mayflower Ship STEM Challenge

The Mayflower Ship challenge from my Thanksgiving STEM unit is perfect to incorporate with a history lesson about the first Thanksgiving! Students work with partners or small groups, using aluminum foil and Styrofoam scraps to construct a model of the Mayflower ship. Their ships must be able to float on water and also hold the most “Pilgrims” or pennies without capsizing. This is a great introduction to buoyancy and the important parts of ships. It can be supplemented with any read aloud about the first Thanksgiving.

Turkey Hideout STEM Challenge

The Turkey Hideout challenge is simple and engaging for all ages and is perfect for a Thanksgiving themed center! Students use any building manipulative such as base ten blocks, LEGO, linking cubes, or wooden planks to construct an enclosure for the turkey that keeps him from getting eaten on Thanksgiving. To make it more challenging for older students, you can give them a shorter time constraint or have them conceal multiple turkeys. This challenge is also found in my Thanksgiving STEM Challenges.

The Great Turkey Escape STEM Challenge

This special edition Storybook STEM challenge is BRAND NEW and I have a feeling it will quickly become one of our new favorites for November! This force and motion challenge supplements How to Catch a Turkey by Adam Wallace. Kindergarten and First Graders explore pushes, pulls, and friction by building simple marble mazes using either LEGO and baseplates OR geoboards and rubber bands to help the turkey (marble) escape! Second, third, and fourth grade students construct full obstacle courses for the turkey using a variety of materials as they experiment with balanced and unbalanced forces as well as Newton’s laws of motion. The Great Turkey Escape challenge is perfect to pack in the engagement if you still have a few days to teach (like I do!) right before Thanksgiving break.

Crow’s Construction STEM Challenge

If you’re needing a go-to fall challenge that isn’t associated with Thanksgiving, you’ll love our Crow’s Construction Storybook STEM challenge to accompany The Scarecrow by Beth Ferry. We absolutely LOVE this touching read aloud about unexpected friendships with beautiful illustrations. After learning all about how birds build their nests, students will take turns being “crows’ and “scarecrows” as they head outside to construct crows’ nests together!

Turkey Trot STEM Challenge

If you haven’t shared Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet (also a Caldecott winner), add this read aloud to your lesson plans right away! This book tells the fascinating story of the puppeteer who made the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade balloon floats come to life with his inventive and unique creations. As a follow-up, students construct their own movable Turkey Marionettes! This Turkey Trot challenge is found in our November Storybook STEM pack.

Gratitude Parade

If you’re wanting to extend Balloons Over Broadway even further, you can also check out my FREE Gratitude Parade! Students create their own balloon floats to showcase all the people and things that they are thankful for, and you can then hold a class parade using either robots or toy vehicles! This download is included in my FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY. Click HERE to subscribe and get access to all the goodies!

I’m so excited to “FALL for STEM” this month with these engaging challenges and I hope you are too!

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