Our Favorite Back to School Read Aloud STEM Challenges

Our Favorite Back to School Read Aloud STEM Challenges

The lessons you teach at the beginning of the year are crucial for laying the foundation and setting the tone for the rest of the school year.

STEM challenges are the best way to begin building classroom community and teamwork. They also create a classroom environment where mistakes and failures are valued and viewed as learning opportunities.

The best part is, students LOVE them!

Download our FREE First Week of School Schedule to learn how to balance teaching procedures and building community with STEM at the beginning of the year!

First Week of School Lesson Plans

The following are 4 of our favorite back to school read alouds and STEM challenges to build community and teamwork at the beginning of the year.

1.) First Day Jitters

First Day Jitters Build a Lunchbox STEM Challenge


First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg is our favorite read aloud for the first day of school because it opens the door for conversations about feeling nervous. Students quickly realize that there are other students in their class with similar feelings on the first day.

After reading the story, begin building teamwork with STEM by having students work together in groups of 2-3 to build a lunchbox that can hold the most weight.

2.) What to Do With a Box

What to Do With a Box STEM Challenge

What to Do with a Box by Jane Yolen shares several creative ways to use a cardboard box. Challenge students to think outside the box to create a unique device out of a cardboard box.

3.) If I Built a Car

If I Built a Car STEM Challenge

If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen follows the story of Jack, a young boy with a big imagination. Jack is bored with normal cars so he decides to build the car of his dreams.

After reading the story, build teamwork with STEM by having students work together to build a futuristic car that can travel in more than one way. Will it fly? Will it float? The only limit is your students’ imaginations!

4.) The Big Orange Splot

The Big Orange Splot A House About Me STEAM Challenge

The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater is the story of Mr. Plumbean. Mr. Plumbean lived on an ordinary street with plain, ordinary houses. However, after orange paint gets dumped on his house Mr. Plumbean decides to decorate his house to look like him.

Build community in your classroom at the beginning of the year by having students design and build a house about them. Once the houses are finished, students can complete a gallery walk to see their classmates houses and get to know them.

Create a culture of collaboration and problem solving where students aren’t afraid of failure this school year with STEM! All of these activities are bundled at a discount in our Beginning of the Year Read Aloud STEM Bundle!

Want more STEM challenges and activities to get your year started right? Purchase our First Week of School Lesson Plans and have everything you need for your first week already planned for you!

First Week of School Lesson Plans

For more STEM ideas, inspiration, and collaboration with other STEM teachers be sure to join our FREE Facebook group Elementary STEM Teachers Club!

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