Have you read the book ‘The Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell. This has one segment primarily on “why achievement gap is really a summer gap” and addresses the disparity between children who do nothing during the summer and those who tend to get educational experiences. Overall, my kids have some fun educational activities set up every summer, the kids have playdates, we do a lot of outdoor events as a family together and I enroll them in the summer camp for a week or two. But this year is different and it has made me think about how much more important it is to prepare activities in advance during their summer break. I came up with a plan to integrate lots of STEM activities following a conversation with my kids. We are just starting a bit ahead of time as the schools are about to close in June. For this week’s STEM activity, we decided to make a stick man using straws.
The setup is pretty simple – gather all the materials and lay them out beforehand. I gave the kids : couple of flexible straws, paper plate and thread. They didn’t have to use all the materials , but they did need to use at least 2. And of course, there were basic supplies like tape, markers and scissors.
The stem activity is to create a stick man with moveable arms and legs.
Stick Man – Model 1
My younger son came up with the idea of a puppet whose thread can be used to control the hands and body.
- Tie three straws close to the flexible end with a tape and attach all three of them to the back of the paper plate.
- The middle straw is acting like a stick man’s body.
- Then, tape two more straws at the other end of the middle straw. They’re acting like the legs of the stick man.
- Cut a small piece of straw and tape it in near the top center of the plate.
- Tape a thread at the end of each straw, the straws that are a stick man’s hand.
- Gather the other end of both the thread and loop it through the small piece of straw attached to the paper plate.
- Tape the threads together so that they don’t slide back down.
- Turn over the paper plate and draw the stick man’s face.
He did have a good time playing with it as a puppet.
Stick man – Model 2
My elder son took a different approach. He only wanted to use straw, and only the smallest number required.
- First, cut out the flexible section of the straw, leaving about two inch of straw on each side. This is going to be the body of the stick man.
- Split both ends of the straw in half, leaving the flexible section intact. These are going to be the hand and the legs of the stick man.
- Cut the flexible section of the straw out of another straw, leaving about half an inch of straw on each side. This is going to be the head of the stick man,
- Snip both ends of the straw in half lengthwise, leaving the flexible section intact.
- Bend the flexible section of the straw to make a circle and place both the snipped ends of the straw inside the hole of the other straw.
- Your stick men is ready.
This challenge will be a perfect activity to do after reading the book ‘Stickman’ by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. For younger kids, you can grab some twigs from your backyard and googly eyes to make their own stick man.
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Happy Learning !