STEM at Home: Design a Valentine Card Holder

STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, is an important concept in schools nowadays.
My 1st grader goes to a STEM school, so it’s emphasized on a daily basis. I love the concept and I love how my daughter’s day is more hands-on and less worksheet heavy.
We try to support this at home as much as we can.

When I was contemplating making Valentine’s Day card holders with my girls, I came up with several options. They were all standard crafts and would have been fun to do, but then it hit me… maybe I should let them design the card holders themselves. What would they come up with?
While they were off playing, I set out some supplies on the table.
Each girl had two paper plates. I then added Valentine stickers, markers, scissors, yarn, a stapler, paint brushes, red and pink paint, paper scraps, glue, and cardboard tubes shaped into hearts to the table.
I added a little note with the instructions. Step 1: Be an engineer! Design your card holder. Step 2: Construct your card holder. Step 3: Decorate. When they came to the table, I asked them to turn their two paper plates into a Valentine card holder.
They started bending and maneuvering right away. In my mind, I had envisioned stapling the two plates together into a pouch. (And that was what my project would have been if I had went with my original plan.)
But of course, my girls don’t think the way I do, nor do they spend time browsing through Pinterest to see all the wonderful Valentine’s Day ideas that are shared.
Miss First-Grader bent and stapled until her two plates resembled a mail box. Miss Preschool stapled and cut until her resembled a rather large platter. She must be expecting a lot of Valentines!
I was impressed with their ingenuity and loved their final product. I will admit, though, that it was really hard for me to just step back and let them create without my input.
Once they were finished, it was time to decorate. I think they used about every supply I had on the table.
They each added a giant string so that they could hang their holders from our highest curtain rod. They were proud of their card holders and, boy, did they ever have fun.
I loved this project even more than I would have if we would have made my original idea. The girls were able to be creative, to design, and to be an engineer. It was a fun process and one that we’ll do again and again.
The next time you want to do a craft, let your kids design it themselves. It’s so much fun to see what they make!

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Terri is a writer and mom of two elementary-aged girls. She has a passion for learning and is always looking for ways to make learning fun. You can find her at Better Than Homework where she shares fun learning activities or Creative Family Fun where she shares art, craft, and family fun ideas.

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