This activity helps children practice mathematical and engineering skills. The engineering skill we practice in this activity is building using only two things and a plentiful of imagination and creativity. Even though children have only two things to build with, they come up with different solutions.
Why is building important for children?
Building activities support the development of mathematical skills, especially geometry, and help acquire concepts such as equilibrium, size, shape, and force. Additionally, they help develop engineering skills such as visualisation, planning, precision, spatial orientation, and logical reasoning. Children develop the eye-hand coordination, fine motoric, and above all their imagination and creativity.
What do you need for this activity?
Put some toothpicks, apples, and plastic knives on the table. Older children can use the knives to cut the apples into pieces, and you can cut the apples for smaller children.
All the activities connect STEM subjects with English using the CLIL methodology.
Before the activity, repeat the numbers in English by counting either toothpicks or apple pieces. Then, the teacher says a number in English and the children put the appropriate number of apple pieces on a toothpick, e.g.
Count four toothpicks.
Show me one toothpick.
Put three pieces of apple on the toothpick.
Then, the teacher can introduce the prepositions on, under, next to.
Put two toothpicks on the table.
Put seven toothpicks on the chair.
Put three toothpicks under the table.
Put a toothpick next to your chair.
Language content is the following:
- Singular and plural of nouns: a toothpick – toothpicks
- Verbs: count, show, put
- Prepositions: on, under, next to
- Nouns: toothpick, table, chair
- Imperative: Put, count, show me
- Numbers 1- 10
STEM content includes numbers and spatial orientation (on, under, next to).
The objective of this activity is to count from 1-10 and to understand spatial relationships (on, under, next to).
Give each child a blue rectangle and a red circle. The children should put the red circle on their left side, and the blue rectangle on the right.
The teacher shows the blue paper and says:
This paper is blue. It is a rectangle.
This paper is red. It is a circle.
The teacher checks if the children understand the words ‘rectangle’ and ‘circle’ in their mother tongue. To practice the shapes, let children take turns and find an object in their surroundings that has the same shape. The children should name the shape in English or in their mother tongue.
Next, the teacher gives instructions in English to practice spatial relationships, e.g.
- Put five toothpicks on the circle.
- Put a toothpick on the rectangle.
To make it easier for children, the teacher can show the number with their fingers.
Then, we make a comparison between quantities, e.g. Where are there more toothpicks? On the circle or on the rectangle. The children answer either in their mother tongue or in English and the teacher responds in the proper way: Yes. / You are right. / This is not right. / No. / Here. /There.
- Shapes: rectangle and circle
- Imperative form and following the instructions
- Prepositions on, under, next to
- Comparison of quantities – more
The objective of the activity is to understand and follow the teacher’s instructions, distinguish between shapes, and understand the concept of comparison using ‘more’.
Building with apples and toothpicks
This activity is based on imagination and creativity and it requires no precise instructions. Give the children enough time and let them decide if they want to do it on their own or in pairs or even groups. This approach allows them either to rely on their own ideas or to use group thinking and enjoy the creative process together.
Additionally, pair or group work supports cooperation, exchange of ideas, and reaching a final solution through a consensus. When finished, the children show their work and explain how and why they built it in that way. Other children usually get interested and curious especially when they see something surprising or something they would never come up with.
You can see some of interesting results in the pictures below.
The objective of the activity is to let children develop their own solutions to the problem that can be solved in various ways. The children can perform the task on their own or in pairs/teams.
English Language Revision
Use flash cards with numbers.
- Show the cards with numbers from 1-10, say them loud, the children repeat the numbers.
- Show random cards and let the children say the number.
- Put the cards on the table/floor so that the number cannot be seen. The children pick up a curd, turn it over, and say the number.
- Listen to a number song, e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_lgJgBbqWE
- Review the prepositions. Divide the children into two groups. Give a ball to the first child in the line and say, e.g.
Put the ball under the table/on the chair/next to the blue chair/next to the green chair.
The first child to do it correctly, earns a point to their team.