Next Generation Science Standards says that first grade "students will plan and conduct investigations to provide evidence that vibrating materials can make sound and that sound can make materials vibrate" (1-PS4-1).
That is exactly what launched our 1st grade STEM unit. In the unit, students put salt on a paper plate on top of the classroom CD player. As music played, students observed the rice vibrating. They quickly diagrammed it in their STEM journals. Then, they interacted with iPad apps to explore the inner ear and watch sound vibrate. Students then engineered various instruments, including pan flutes, guitars, and drums. After decorating their instruments, the students measured them with non-standard units (CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.1.MD.A) to see the relationship between length and pitch.
So, what does this have to do with Christmas? When you are a STEM school, STEM is embedded into everything; including the holiday musical.
Our music teacher selected Christmas songs from around the globe. As the kindergarten and first grade students learned the songs, they also learned how those countries celebrate Christmas.
Our computer teacher directed the fourth and fifth graders in creating the slide show for the musical. The students first researched the customs for each country. They then created a slide show for each country represented at the musical. The slide shows played while the students were walking on and off the stage.
Our first grade teachers have been teaching the STEM lessons. They have allowed their classrooms to become maker spaces as cereal boxes, coffee cans, and paper towel rolls piled up. The students played the instruments while singing in the musical.
Where did the students get the paper towel rolls and coffee cans? Our cafeteria staff supplied us with the necessary cans. Instead of throwing them away daily, they washed them and saved them for first grade. Our custodians provided the paper towel rolls. Again, instead of disposing of them, they saved them.
Today is the culmination of months of work....and the students couldn't be happier.
Merry Keshmish (Merry Christmas in Apache)!