5 S.TE.M gifts for coders, makers and computational thinkers

With only a few weeks until Christmas many parents may not realise they have a budding Henry Ford in the making who just needs a spark to light a fire to ignite ingenuity and creativity.

Today, we are going look at five gifts that offer your kids to problem solve, code, identify patterns and create algorithms to solve programs.  Whilst I am writing about these at Christmas they would obviously also be great STEM resources for the classroom.

I had one of these Electronic Kits as a boy and I learnt so much about how electronic circuits work and what different components can do.  So much to do here for under $50.00 and they are very durable.  Whilst there are clear instructions to follow it also offers much in the way of problem solving and algorithmic design.

Laser maze encourages kids to think and act sequentially to solve and avoid problems.  Plenty of logic required to compete and it even uses real lasers.  

Okay, I know this one is a pricey option but it clearly ticks every box for quality of product, educational value and awesome fun.  Build an incredible robot using the worlds most proven and versatile toy.  Command your robot by either coding the inbuilt computer which is incredibly versatile or just use the remote control.   Then when you are finished use your imagination to create a robot or machine only limited by your imagination.  These sets are hugely popular in schools and are already highly credentialed for educational value alone.

Camelot Jr.
$26.40

Basic building blocks are great, but this wooden-block puzzle game helps build even more skills for your budding engineer or architect. It includes 48 interesting challenges at four different skill levels, all with the goal of connecting the prince and princess by building stairs, bridges, and towers according to the "blueprint" laid out in the challenge book.

No, it isn't Wall-E or an expensive super LEGO robot but ReCon is a great little programming rover that uses all the common commands and of real coders.  Easy to pick up, very versatile and won't break the bank.

So there are five options to consider in this space.  If you have any other suggestions please leave us a comment.

Lesson Plans and Teaching Ideas about Toys

Fact:  Kids love toys.  So I have found a collection of lesson plans from schoolsnet.com about Toys that will hopefully engage and inspire our students.  Take a look below and let me know if you have found any other great lesson plans.

Lesson plan 1: Our favourite toys

Children will be able to describe the characteristics of modern toys. Children will be able to describe how their favourite choice of toys has changed as they have grown older. Children will be able to suggest who might be able to tell children about toys in the past.

Lesson plan 2: Toys when our parents and grandparents were young

Children will be able to describe the characteristics of old toys. Children will talk about toys that belonged to our parents and grandparents. Children will be able to ask questions about toys in the past.

Lesson plan 3: Toys and the more distant past

Children will develop historical enquiry by finding out about the past from a range of sources of information. Children will be able to identify different ways in which the past is represented.

Lesson plan 4: The Punch and Judy show

Children will be able to understand that oral sources and traditional displays can tell us about the past. Children will be able to ask questions about the way people spent their leisure time in the past. Children will be able to infer information about the past by experiencing a traditional show first performed over 400 years ago.

Lesson plan 5: Teddy Bears

Children will understand that design, materials and technology can indicate whether a toy is old or new. Children will recognise similarities and differences between old and new toys. Children will be able to use the language of time.

Lesson plan 6: Story Bears

Children will be able to recognise that events in people's lives can influence what they do. Children will understand that changes in everyday life can influence the way things are represented. Children will learn about some significant children's writers.

Lesson plan 7: Dolls and Dolls Houses

Children will be able to describe the characteristics of a range of dolls. Children will recognise similarities and differences between old and new toys. Children will understand that artefacts like dolls can help us to learn about the past.

Lesson plan 8: Making a class museum

Children will learn how a real museum organises its exhibits. Children will be able to sort and group objects and explain why they have grouped them in particular ways. Children will be able to make a classroom museum and construct a time line. Children will be able to produce labels and captions for the toys on display

Ten tips for using technology in the Classroom

I was sent a link to this video on YouTube from a friend and much like my previous entry this is a short, sharp burst of ideas for usng technology in the classroom from boxoftricks.net.  Hope you enjoy and check out the video below.