STEM in the Classroom: PAPER SHAPE BUILDERS
STEM activities especially some of the building sets can be expensive and they don’t always fit in the budget at the moment. This is exactly what inspired me to create these Paper Shape Builders! I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and saw a fun creative building set. The forms were simple but allowed for exploration. There was also a limited number of shapes. I started playing around with shapes in power point and created Paper Shape Builders. I made more shapes! Unlike the plastic shapes, paper is flexible and it is not rigid plastic. You can create in a variety of colors. You can recycle it when you are done! The shapes can also be bent or cut something that you can’t do with plastic.
Paper is perfect for creating geometric shapes and putting them together in a variety of ways. It meets my criteria for materials: inexpensive and you can’t break it in other words…. it is very forgiving. You can make a lot of shapes and you are not limited by what comes in the box. I want students to have materials and have the opportunity to explore with the materials. I believe they need that exploration piece before they are offered a challenge or a problem. Sometimes our STEM activities go the opposite way…straight to the problem. Then we sometimes feel frustrated when the students are not interacting with the materials the way we envisioned. If students prep the materials by cutting out the shapes their interaction starts at the beginning of the process. They will begin to have conversations about the shapes and what they could create.
I cut out some shapes to show you how easy it is. I stapled some together but I glued most of them together with a glue stick. Easy and fun! One of my shapes looks like a building I could create a city with the shapes. Another is different geometric shapes put together. I started building up…I was hoping I had created a base that would hold the structure up. As with many activities the prep takes a bit of time but the end result is engaging and creative. Students will need to think about the number of sides the shapes have and how the shapes will fit together. Students love to create and design. This is recognized in the NGSS statement about the engineering process for our K-2 students.
It will be up to you and your students to develop your problems and design solutions. Paper Shape Builders are flexible and open-ended. You can pair them with an art, literature, math, social studies or science activity. Activities can lead to failures but failures lead to discoveries. The possibilities for you and your students are endless! Students that sometimes don’t shine in regular “school type” experiences gain the respect of their peers when engaging in engineering activities. They demonstrate their ability for deep thinking and their peers see them through new a lens.
I would love to see what your students create! This is a great activity for your STEM Night or STEAM Night as well. Here is your free download so you can get started with your students. Paper Shape Builders STEM Activity Share with me by email, instagram or in the comments. I can’t wait to see the exciting designs!