A Meaningful, Hands-On Approach to “I’m done! Now what do I do?”

If every teacher received a quarter each time an early finisher asked the question, “I’m done! What do I do now?” we’d all be millionaires. Am I right or what?

The fact is: some students are fast finishers – even when given enriching, rigorous activities, so it’s our job to have early finisher activities ready to go. Which, let’s face it, isn’t the easiest thing to do. Of course students can always read a book, listen to a story, write in their journal, or complete an additional (dare I say lackluster?) worksheet. But, if you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for more hands-on, meaningful, and engaging activities that require critical thinking, problem solving, perseverance, and reflection.

So, that’s where the idea for Flip & Create STEM Books came in.

What are Flip & Create STEM Books?

Flip & Create Books are an all-in-one STEM early finisher resource geared to promote engineering, creative thinking, reflection, and play.

When to Use:

  • early finisher activity
  • STEM station/STEM challenge
  • Makerspace
  • morning work alternative
  • free choice
  • indoor recess
  • positive reinforcement activity
  • fine motor practice

How They Work:

When students finish their independent practice, they can grab a flip book, find a spot in the classroom (on the carpet or at a designated table, just as long as they aren’t distracting their neighbors), grab engineering materials, and get creating.

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The flip books encourage students to think like engineers and inventors. They are set up so students have ample time to design, build, and reflect on their creation.

About the Flip Books:

The layout of each book is the same. This is so students can spend more time creating and less time deciphering instructions. Also, this allows you to have more teaching time.

The books cover 10 topics. I will be adding new topics all the time. So far, there are ten books for each topic (100 books in all and more coming!):

  • Famous Landmarks
  • Things That Go!
  • Structures
  • Homes/Dwelings
  • Outside the Box
  • Habitats
  • Winter
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Fall

About the Materials:

You’ll want to have a designated spot in your classroom where students can gather the engineering manipulatives for their creation. You can use a storage tower, bins, tubs, or even Ziplocs. What is  most important is that students can easily access the materials. A lot of the materials I suggest are ones you probably already have on hand (example: index cards, tape, aluminum foil) or items you can borrow from a teacher. These labels are already made for you (I also provide an editable version for you too!).

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A Breakdown of the Steps In Each Flip & Create Book:

  • Step A: Accept the Task
  • Step B: Sketch It Out
  • Step C: Write Materials
  • Step D: Gather Materials & Build
  • Step E: Explain Your Creation
  • Step F: Reflect On How to Make It Better

Step A: Accept the Task

On this page of the flip book, a real-life photograph of what students will be creating is provided for them. Students aren’t required or encouraged to replicate the exact image. This is just a starting point. We want students to be innovative engineers. At the bottom of this page, students will learn a cool fact about what is shown in the photograph OR they will be asked to think about how they’ll build their creation.

Step B: Sketch It Out

On this page of the flip book, students will draw a detailed sketch of how they want their creation to look. They can label each part with the materials they’ll need OR they can just keep it about the picture.

This is their free space to brainstorm how they want their creation to look, what materials they will need, whether their creation will be 3D or not, how many pieces it will include, etc. A grid is provided for them to help them an accurate sketch of what they want to create.

Step C: Write Materials Needed

On this page of the flip book, students will write a list of materials they will need in order to build their creation.

Step D: Gather Materials & Build:

Then, they will gather their materials, refer back to their detailed sketch (and the photograph, if they wish), and begin building. Students will want to think about their plan for building, the size of their structure, and the materials they will need.

Step E: Tell About It

On this page of the flip book, students will explain how they designed and built their creation.

Step F: Reflect On It

And finally, students will reflect on their creation. They’ll write what they would do differently next time (materials, design, strength, size, etc.).

How to Prep:

To prep, you’ll want to laminate, cut, and hole punch the books. Place them on a ring and provide dry erase markers and erasers so students can use them over and over again.

You can hang them on a hook or you can place them in a basket/bin. It’s totally up to you! My suggestion is to use what you already have in your classroom. This is the least expensive and most convenient option!

FAQs:

How many books are included in this resource?

100 books so far (1o books per topic)! This resource will continue to have more and more books added.

What materials do you suggest I add to the tubs/bins/tower/Ziplocs?

  • Knex
  • wooden blocks
  • Plus Plus Blocks
  • Geoboards and rubberbands
  • index cards
  • tape
  • paper tubes (paper towel rolls and short ones)
  • aluminum foil
  • Magnatiles (wooden version and plastic are both awesome!)
  • play dough
  • craft sticks
  • foam balls
  • pipe cleaners
  • tooth picks
  • snap cubes
  • straws
  • cups
  • Tinker toys
  • Legos
  • pattern blocks
  • yarn
  • dominoes

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How would you suggest I use this resource with developing writers?

This resource is ideal for primary students (grades 1-2, some K students may be able to use them). Even if students are not able to fully express their thoughts in writing, we still want to encourage them to work through the engineering process. Encourage students to use inventive spelling, write using pictures, and model, model, model.

Want to try the books for free?

If you’d like to try the Flip & Create Books in your classroom for free, you’re in luck! Click on the freebie button below to download ten free books.

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I want this resource! Where can I find the Flip & Create Bundle?

You can snag this bundle at a deeply discounted buy-in price – just $15. As more books are added, the price will increase. Grab it ASAP before the price goes up!

Click here to buy it and get 60% off for a limited time!


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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Heather September 11, 2018, 1:34 am

    I love this! Thanks for sharing. Can you tell me where you go the wooden storage unit to hold everything?
    Thanks so much!
    Heather

  • Carrie September 11, 2018, 1:37 am

    I love love love love these Flip and Create Books. Did I tell you I love them?The only thing is, I teach Kinder so the writing and the reading would be out but I still think they could probably do the building. Any ideas on how I could use this with them? I am going to download them and see what I can do. Also, love they way all the materials are laid out. Thank you!

  • Karen Seward September 12, 2018, 8:18 pm

    These look fantastic. I am SO EXCITED to receive the 10 free booklets to try out with my students!! Thank you!

  • Brooke September 13, 2018, 2:42 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your awesome work!!!

  • Julie September 13, 2018, 3:47 pm

    This is a great idea! But, most of your ideas are great

  • Sophia Kersting October 5, 2018, 7:39 pm

    Any chance you have or know of something like this for middle schoolers? I love the idea of having a variety of engineering concepts plus the designing and sketching is great too!