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October 23, 2017

How to Catch a Monster STEM-Writing Activity

By Kriscia Cabral
Grades 3–5

    Scholastic Book Clubs has corralled together a fabulous collection for October called Thrills and Chills. The title alone gave me the itch for a classroom project and that is how my Halloween-themed, STEM-Writing lesson was born. Read on to find everything you need to implement this lesson during Halloween week!

    Begin by reading your favorite monster story. Here are a few of my favorite options:

    How to Catch a Monster by Adam Wallace

     

    I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll

     

    Monster Trouble by Lane Fredrickson

    The Writing Component

    Before beginning the lesson, I draw a picture of a monster from my own imagination. I do not share this picture with the students.

    I begin the lesson by reading aloud one or all of the books above. I then hold a class discussion with the kids about having a monster of their own. If they had a monster, what would it look like? I give them time to draw their monster inside their writer’s notebooks.

    I then ask the question, “What if it disappeared? How would you give an example of what it looks like?” This prompt prepares my students for fleshing out the characteristics of their monster on paper as well as setting up the STEM part of the lesson, which involves catching the monster.

    Next, I ask students to open to another page in their notebooks. I explain that I will describe to them a monster and I want them to draw a picture of what I describe to them. I proceed with a description of my monster and have students draw while I share. After I am finished, I show students the picture I made earlier of my monster and ask them to compare what they drew from my verbal description to the monster I have drawn.

    We compare the drawings and then discuss the words I used to describe my monster. Students then give me feedback on ways that I could have been more descriptive. We talk about types of adjectives that would have been helpful. I make a list on chart paper of words that we could use to describe attributes of the monster more accurately. At this point, students are ready to move on to the writing step. They are prompted to take the words we listed along with their monster drawing, and write a monster description. This will be the first draft of their writing.

    After students have written their first drafts, I have them pair up with someone, back-to-back, and take turns reading their descriptions to their partners. As they read, their partner will draw the reader’s monster and then the roles are reversed. Both students will compare partner drawings to the original monster drawing, and then discuss how each other could revise their writing. After changes have been made, final drafts can be placed on the WANTED paper.

     

    The Science Component

    The final activity comes when students are then asked to devise a plan to catch their monster.

    We are learning about simple machines so the expectation is that students will devise a trap with the inclusion of at least one simple machine. If you’d like to give your kids a quick simple machines tutorial before they begin, Scholastic Teachables has a neat Simple Machines Interactive Science Wheel that would work well.

    The planning starts with the following brainstorm questions:

    • What do you know about your monster?
    • What would make it hard to catch?  
    • What are your plans for how to catch it?

    Students are then giving the following pages to bring their project to life:

     

    • The Monster Fact Sheet — This is your starting place for planning. Students fill out everything they need to know about their monster and draw a sketch of their monster trap.

     

    • The Monster Wanted Poster — This poster template is for students to draw their final draft and write their final description of their monster.

     



    The final "Monster Traps" will be displayed on Halloween. Students will grade themselves using our student-made rubric. They will also be asked to respond to the reflection questions by celebrating their successes and commenting on their challenges and ways they plan to make changes for our next building project.

    What great projects to you have in store for Halloween? I’d love to hear how you integrate STEM in your classroom!

     

    Thank you for reading!

     

    Smiles,

    Kriscia

     

    Scholastic Book Clubs has corralled together a fabulous collection for October called Thrills and Chills. The title alone gave me the itch for a classroom project and that is how my Halloween-themed, STEM-Writing lesson was born. Read on to find everything you need to implement this lesson during Halloween week!

    Begin by reading your favorite monster story. Here are a few of my favorite options:

    How to Catch a Monster by Adam Wallace

     

    I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll

     

    Monster Trouble by Lane Fredrickson

    The Writing Component

    Before beginning the lesson, I draw a picture of a monster from my own imagination. I do not share this picture with the students.

    I begin the lesson by reading aloud one or all of the books above. I then hold a class discussion with the kids about having a monster of their own. If they had a monster, what would it look like? I give them time to draw their monster inside their writer’s notebooks.

    I then ask the question, “What if it disappeared? How would you give an example of what it looks like?” This prompt prepares my students for fleshing out the characteristics of their monster on paper as well as setting up the STEM part of the lesson, which involves catching the monster.

    Next, I ask students to open to another page in their notebooks. I explain that I will describe to them a monster and I want them to draw a picture of what I describe to them. I proceed with a description of my monster and have students draw while I share. After I am finished, I show students the picture I made earlier of my monster and ask them to compare what they drew from my verbal description to the monster I have drawn.

    We compare the drawings and then discuss the words I used to describe my monster. Students then give me feedback on ways that I could have been more descriptive. We talk about types of adjectives that would have been helpful. I make a list on chart paper of words that we could use to describe attributes of the monster more accurately. At this point, students are ready to move on to the writing step. They are prompted to take the words we listed along with their monster drawing, and write a monster description. This will be the first draft of their writing.

    After students have written their first drafts, I have them pair up with someone, back-to-back, and take turns reading their descriptions to their partners. As they read, their partner will draw the reader’s monster and then the roles are reversed. Both students will compare partner drawings to the original monster drawing, and then discuss how each other could revise their writing. After changes have been made, final drafts can be placed on the WANTED paper.

     

    The Science Component

    The final activity comes when students are then asked to devise a plan to catch their monster.

    We are learning about simple machines so the expectation is that students will devise a trap with the inclusion of at least one simple machine. If you’d like to give your kids a quick simple machines tutorial before they begin, Scholastic Teachables has a neat Simple Machines Interactive Science Wheel that would work well.

    The planning starts with the following brainstorm questions:

    • What do you know about your monster?
    • What would make it hard to catch?  
    • What are your plans for how to catch it?

    Students are then giving the following pages to bring their project to life:

     

    • The Monster Fact Sheet — This is your starting place for planning. Students fill out everything they need to know about their monster and draw a sketch of their monster trap.

     

    • The Monster Wanted Poster — This poster template is for students to draw their final draft and write their final description of their monster.

     



    The final "Monster Traps" will be displayed on Halloween. Students will grade themselves using our student-made rubric. They will also be asked to respond to the reflection questions by celebrating their successes and commenting on their challenges and ways they plan to make changes for our next building project.

    What great projects to you have in store for Halloween? I’d love to hear how you integrate STEM in your classroom!

     

    Thank you for reading!

     

    Smiles,

    Kriscia

     

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