How to Build a STEM Fort with Newspapers
Posted November 21, 2016 by Fort Magic
Despite video and online sources becoming a primary outlet for the news, parents can still encourage their kids to learn the value of a newspaper. Even the youngest child loves to mimic Dad as he eats breakfast while reading the paper. With encouragement, this behavior extends beyond a physical copying to an intellectual one. In addition, this fading everyday item makes awesome forts. The creation of geometric shapes as a fort, a complement to a Fort Magic build or a feature of it, promotes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills. Rolled newspaper pages transform into sticks with which kids dream and design. Discover how to build a stem wall fort with newspapers to get children reading and thinking.
The importance of encouraging STEM building with newspaper forts becomes clear as parents understand this much-talked-about area of interest. STEM as a philosophy helps children “integrate knowledge across disciplines, encouraging them to think in a more connected and holistic way.” This very concept relates to learning. Indeed, modern education involves an experience where connections need to be made across disciplines and settings. Gone are the days of thinking that teaching our children math comes separately from teaching them science.
As parents have known for centuries, investigation, exploration, and hands-on experience strengthen the lessons of worksheets and classroom work. These real-world activities provide views of the same material in new contexts and through differing lenses. Integrating academic disciplines through experience teaches subjects in ways they more naturally appear. After all, it is rare to sit at the kitchen table and solve math problems for the sake of resolving them. Instead, fractions and measurement arise in the kitchen alongside food science. Calculations accompany the building or repair of electrical and mechanical systems.
For children, this type of natural integration occurs in experience and play. In fact, research reveals the significant role of play and investigation from the early years both in skill and interest building. In other words, starting at a younger age develops and fosters STEM skills in our children. Plus, taking the initiative in learning helps kids learn these skills and create long-term academic success. Fortunately for parents, encouraging this learning comes fairly easy. Children’s innate curiosity leads to natural learning. Tap into this part of your child and the learning simply flows.
One suggestion from Sprouts Teaching Guide of The Boston Children’s Museum is to make children feel like the experts. Asking questions that encourage kids to observe, investigate, and form hypotheses or predictions grab a hold of their natural curiosity to get them thinking and learning. Typically, these questions begin with “what” and do not have a wrong answer. To get a bit more specific, check out these ideas for building STEM skills with DIY newspaper forts.
— Geometric shapes and designs inspire STEM learning. Think of the shapes contained in a rocket ship or castle with towers and turrets.
— Rolling newspaper into sticks to extend a Fort Magic fort creates grander designs.
— Newspaper sticks become architectural features such as turrets.
— Lattice or other newspaper designs mounted to a fort’s exterior teach geometry.
— For younger kids, think simple triangles, squares, and hexagons created with rolled newspapers.
— Use one of those spheres to play simple games of toss or shape naming games.
— Sheets of newspaper become fort exteriors. Adding several layers creates strong walls and roofs.
— Fort wall search games continue the learning when the building is done. Grab the highlighters and mark STEM words or articles across fort newspaper walls.
— Encourage kids to read an article from the fort wall and share a STEM fact before bed.
As your kids build, you just might find the action stalled as kids read a short article or find the newspaper funnies. Take advantage of this opportunity. Encourage the kids to find STEM concepts and articles before rolling the paper. Younger kids identify numbers or short words, even shapes. Older children may locate entire articles and read them. For instance, an article on NASA might appear, or a report containing facts and stats might catch a mathematician’s interest. The sports page offers facts and figures as well. Talk about how each STEM subject seems to overlap with other fields. Explore careers of interest among sports, business, construction and fashion pages.
Fort building itself develops the critical thinking and problem-solving skills that lay a foundation for STEM fields. These skills also promote academic and life success. Incorporate Fort Magic and newspaper forts in play and fun, and watch your kids develop a love of learning with a basis in science, math, engineering, and technology. So, what are you waiting for? Grab those newspapers from the recycling bin. Pull out the Fort Magic kit. Call the kids, and get your children started on discovering their STEM aptitude.
How do you get your children interested STEM topics and what role does fort building play? Do you have suggestions for encouraging STEM learning in children? Share your ideas with us below!
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