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STEM and Fairy Tales
Looking for ways to integrate STEM into your curriculum? We just wrote a blog about integrating engineering and fairy tales that might be helpful at your grade level. The ideas would actually work for just about any story or novel, but we happen to love using. fairy tales.
Get Caught Engineering
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I love this idea, especially to really get girls involved in STEM!
Natalie Van Amstel
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I think that is a great way to integrate reading into STEM. Last year, my 2nd graders were learning about the five regions of Georgia. So I used a lesson plan from the Busy Librarian regarding the Fourth Little Pig. The problem was the students had to determine the best region for the 4th little pig (cousin to the Three Little Pigs). Students had to explain why they chose the region for their pig and build a house of various classroom materials (tissue paper, construction paper, clay, tape, foil, popsicle sticks, straws, etc.). The materials were priced and they could not go over their budget. One part of the room was set up with the materials called STEM Depot. The only constraint on the STEM activity was that they had to stay within their $20 budget. Afterwards, students built their houses as a group. The writing piece came in when they advertised their house via Power Point or some other multimedia. Then the Big Bad Wolf attempted to blow their house down (blow dryer). The kids loved this activity!
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Having kids solve the characters problems by building them a solution is such a great way for them to develop their STEM skills. It teaches them how to figure something out and think spatially and also how to put different materials together and distribute weight and angles. I will definitely be using this in my classroom. Thank you so much for the idea!
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I really like this idea, especially for primary grades. At the end of the year we do a fractured fairy tale unit and I can definitely see how incorporating STEM could definitely bring a new twist to the unit. We could pick a specific fairy tale, for example, Cinderella, and, dividing students into groups, create different ways the prince could have saved her with the materials around him, trees, leaves, rocks, etc. My idea wheels are already turning! Thanks!
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I absolutely love this idea! I am currently a pre-service teacher and am looking at ways to incorporate science and engineering into my lesson plans. This is such a neat idea and I can really see students being engaged in this lesson!
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I love this idea! I have to plan and teach a lesson for my language arts methods class, and I'm going to see if I can do this. My kids love integration between topics, and tend to find connections on their own. It makes sense to facilitate this for them, especially in such a fun way.
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I really like the fairy tell idea. It is always important to make connections across various subject areas. Also it can help take a concept that may be harder for little ones to understand and put it in more relevant terms.
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This is an awesome .. I have three sisters who teach the younger kids and shared with them...thanks
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What an Awesome Idea! I really love the website....a great resource!
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What a great way to use a topic that will draw the students interest! I also believe that this will increase girls interest in science and STEM activities.
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I love this site. I am an early childhood education student, about to begin my senior year/student teaching. Every year on campus we try to host a fall STEM Day and a spring STEM Day for an area elementary school. a couple of years ago we designed one of the STEM nights around the theme "Girls Just Wanna Have STEM". This would be a great girls night STEM idea to try this year. Thanks for the post!
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Thank you for sharing the site!
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I love the idea of thinking about the "before" and "after" of fairy tales!
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Thank you for sharing your blog. This is an excellent idea. I've enjoying exploring your website too!
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I think this is a great idea and great material! I believe that it will really engage girls within the classroom to become more interested in science, as well, rather than the bias that only boys like science.
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That is a great site! We are writing curriculum for a piloted program this year for 4th grade doing just this. We don't just stick to fairy tales though. We look for non-fiction books as well to create that connection between literature, science, math, technology, and engineering.
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Awesome! I never thought to use fairytales with STEM. I love the idea though, I think it is a great way to get the students interested and engaged; I mean who doesn't love fairytales. The girls will definitely love it, and I think the boys would be into it as well. Thank you for the idea!
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This is a great idea to getting STEM into the classroom. Since the idea of STEM is somewhat a new idea i'm glad this shows how easily it can be incorporated. I also like how this activity can be used with many different books or novels so as a teacher you don't have to struggle to get a specific book.
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I love this idea! I think it is a great way to engage students with STEM, especially young girls. Thank you for this resource! I am a pre-service teacher with a focus in STEM, so this is an excellent resource for me to look to as I begin thinking about writing my own lessons.
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I think my class will have so much fun learning about Engineering and Fairy Tales if given the chance to bring it "alive" through hands-on learning and technology. STEM education creates critical thinkers, increases science literacy, and enables the next generation of innovators! I believe that these STEM lessons will help my students become innovators, researchers, scientists and leaders!
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Thanks for sharing this....I like the new "enchanted"roles that they will portray in the classroom as collaborative learners. Definitely the girls will love this idea.
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I think this would be great to use. I believe that STEM needs to be expanded for our younger students and what better way than to incorporate engineering and fairy tales into the lesson. It's hands on and fun. Even though I'm student teaching currently in the fourth grade classroom, I can see myself using some of these activities with my older students who are kinesthetic learners.
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This is such a great idea to get literature intertwined with STEM. Also, with the statistics showing females have more of a lack of interest in STEM subjects than males, this is a great way to get girls interested!!
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I am currently a junior at the University of Northern Iowa and I am loving these ideas about fairytales and STEM! My elementary school was big on STEM when I was in high school so I am excited to see what I can do to integrate STEM into my future classroom. The fourth little pig and the Cinderella idea sound awesome! The blog is well written and has many great points supporting fairytales and engineering! I will use this resource in the future!
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This is such an awesome idea, definitely a must check since I am in a reading classroom during testing season and all the kids are exposed to each and every day is a drill and kill method of reviewing. Hopefully I can use this in my future classroom to integrate STEM and make reading fun and relevant again.
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I absolutely loved the article. I think as educators, we often forget that kids can use their imagination in science as well! Imagination is not only for the art or music room. I think it is wonderful that there is a way to let their creativity shine through an amazing subject. As a student teacher, I do notice that sometimes we (educators) get so caught up in teaching them right from wrong that we forget that they have an imagination and creative juices that need to flow every once in a while!
A question I am pondering is; how often would you recommend using this in the classroom? Would this count as a warm-up or hook activity before the lesson? Or a fun Friday type play? I would love to incorporate this into my future classroom as a STEM activity.
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Thank you so much for sharing. I love the fact that we are combining two learning's in one. Both of these were my favorite as a child and I would be incorporating more of the STEM activities into my lessons. This makes me excited because the students at any age enjoy building, and making spontaneous things that allows their creativity and learning to expand. Plus, it allows all students to be engage allowing them to relate their learning's ( fairy tales/novels) to STEM. Thank you for sharing.
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I am a student teacher from the University of Houston. I did not know what STEM was and I just recently learned about it. Although I understand more about STEM I am still not sure how it could be incorporated in the classroom. Specially now when some schools are getting rid of science to spend more time with reading/writing and math. Seeing your post and the link you shared helped me understand that I was overthinking it, and that STEM can be incorporated in multiple subjects. Thank you for sharing! Seeing the examples from the link helped me understand what STEM means. It really has some great ideas!
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This is a great idea to get the students interested!
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What a fantastic idea! I love the engineering ideas to solve the problems for the characters in the stories!! I shared this with my assistant principal who is trying to help teachers integrate more STEM thinking in their lessons. Thank you!!
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There are many way to cross curriculums using PBL's!
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I agree. This is a great idea to get everyone in your school involved in Science education, not just the Science teacher. This could easily be used as a building wide Science day.
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Wow, such an interesting idea. I love it! This is why education is amazing. Such creative people putting together wonderful ideas. I'm definitely going to look more into this.
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This is an interesting concept and very approachable. Thank you for sharing
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How creative. Thank you for sharing this.
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I love this idea! I will be using this in my class this year.
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Very interesting idea, and am excited to use in my classroom!! Thank you for sharing!!
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I love it also. I'm going to have a "Girls in Engineering" group after school and this will be perfect!
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Thanks so much for sharing! This is a really great idea that can engage and motivate students. I never would've thought of anything like this, but now that I've seen your post, I know that I will definitely incorporate fairy tales into my teaching (when I start teaching, that is--I'm still in college at the moment)! Letting students choose which problem to solve, instead of asking every child to come up with a solution for the same problem, is also a great idea since it'll allow the children to pick one that specifically interests them. It also might be a good idea to occasionally ask them to come up with their own problems, which they would then have to solve. For example, instead of asking them to create an elevator for Rapunzel, a teacher could ask them which fairy tale character they think needs help, and ask them what that character needs. Thanks again for sharing!!
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Thanks for sharing your Fourth Little Pig activity! I am a Senior working towards my Bachelors in ECE. I already have my AA degree in Theater and Speech in which I love. I am glad to see how drama can be used to help students approach learning in a fun & creative way. Thanks again. I bet you had fun too?
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What a great idea!! I think it would really help to engage the primary elementary grades in STEM, as well as the girls!
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This blog is very interesting and I love the idea that the students are able to use their imagination and problem solving skills. Such a great STEM activity!
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This is definitely a cool idea! This taps more into their schema and would eventually help them add the new information. It is familiar to the students. The more the students can relate to something, the more engaging it is for them. Once students are engaged, they are set for learning!
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Love this idea! Thank you so much for sharing.
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I think this is a fabulous idea to integrate STEM in the classroom, it incorporates reading and provides a common experience to the children making it meaningful to all of them. This idea also helps develop the different habits of mind, as they pose questions, think flexibly, create and imagine, etc… I will definitely try this out.
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I think it is great that students ideas and opinions are heard in the classroom. Everyone should feel like they are contributing in the classroom.
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Lakeshore has STEM kits based on Fairytales. Has anyone tried them?
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I love this idea! Such a good way to integrate STEM into something kids already love and further develop excitement about the topic.
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Y'all this is way cool! I can definitely implement some of these ideas into my own science/literature/writing curriculum!
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I think this is a fun and creative way to work from the students interests and at the same time not start from scratch. It is fun for the students and these activities align with the standards as well. It gets kids thinking outside the box with stories that are familiar to them, but being able to create new ideas on top of that.
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Wow! My kids would love this activity. Thanks for sharing! They will be having so much fun that they won't realize they are doing math and science!! Whoohooo! That's what it's all about!
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Wow, what a fantastic lesson. I love how many different concepts are covered in it!
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I love any idea that integrates science with literacy, especially for young kids. I have worked at many child-centered programs where the curriculum is based on the students' interests. With there being so much popularity surrounding fairy tales, I think you did a great job highlighting the importance of connecting curriculum to students' interest to make their learning more meaningful.
In college, while taking a class on women studies, we looked at how fairy tales portray women as needing saving. I love your lessons because it gives the girls, who are especially drawn to fairy tales, to be the engineering problem-solvers. We need all kids to grow up with a strong science and engineering practice foundation, so they can apply those same critical thinking and problem-solving skills to real-world problems on a larger scale.
"One of the things that I really strongly believe in is that we need to have more girls interested in math, science, and engineering. We've got half the population that is way underrepresented in those fields and that means that we've got a whole bunch of talent...not being encouraged the way they need to." - President Barack Obama, February 2013
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Agreed. A major component of fairy tales is the lack of ability that women have on their own end to save themselves.
One thing that I think could enhance this project even more in that respect is to not have students emulate new ways for the prince to save the princess, as in the Sleeping Beauty and Enchanted Engineering Problem (https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Sleeping-Beauty-...-1850753). Let's have Sleeping Beauty figure out a way to build her own platform bridge!
A seemingly nitpicky point, but if we're encouraging empowerment of our students, let's teach them that they don't need to necessarily emulate male characters to be powerful.
Additionally, I have done a fairy tale unit (not STEM-related) with students before, and my boys loved it; they had a blast writing their own fairy tale stories. I think it really depends on how it is framed. I had the class read The Paper Bag Princess (https://www.amazon.com/Paper-Bag-Princess-Robert-Munsch/dp/0920236251) together, and they were all stoked to take ownership of their tales after.
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This is a free online resource that may be helpful for connecting STEM and fairy tales.
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Thank you so much for posting my resource! I'm glad you're finding it helpful!
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The fourth pig STEM project sounds like an exciting and interesting way to help engage the students in their learning. Having the children thinking deeper is something that I'm struggling with this year with my group. They are not wanting to think beyond "is that the right answer" :(
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This is a great idea. I have never thought about incorporating fairy tales and STEM. Students can create alternative solution to fairy tales. Math can also be incorporated by using the story characters. They can engineer the stories house or setting using only a few resources provided by the teacher. Great forum!
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This is incredibly creative. So many students feel that their either a left brain or a right brain student and will only focus on either STEM or the arts. I feel that when you find a way to combine the two you're inviting all students to give STEM subjects a try.
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I love this idea and found it extremely interesting and very different from anything ive ever seen done. I love the engineering problems because it will help get students to use critical thinking skills to solve problems! I would love to give this a try!
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Thank you for the suggestion. I'm always looking for innovative STEM ideas.
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What a wonderful way to integrate subjects!
With ELA standards being very rigorous, it is becoming more difficult to create meaningful experiences for students. I am excited to use these ideas in my classroom this year.
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I just finished teaching the Stemulate Camp at UCA and one of my co-teachers taught a fairytale unit. She was able to find many great resources on teacherspayteachers.com to utilize in her class. The students loved how they could connect engineering to fairy tales.
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Thank you. I will check that out.
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I recently came across DIY Holograms with a smart phone on YouTube that could be incorporated into Earth Science lessons. Students can work in pairs or small groups to make holograms that they can use to view 3-D images like the earth and sun, etc. I think this could be an engaging activity.
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Very cool project. Can't wait to try it. Thanks for posting!
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This is great! I have used STEM Tales with grades k-5...so they are not just for the early grades. I have used them more as an engineering task....design a new bed for Goldilocks so she can visit the bears, design a new tower for Rapunzel now that she has found her prince, etc. I really like this lesson with the fourth pig because it is linked directly to a science standard. You can pull in science and math but also ELA...get those ELA teachers onboard. I will be using the fourth little pig idea this year. LOVE!
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I took part in a STEM day during my sophomore year that incorporated the 3 little pigs into the activity. It was by far one of my most enjoyable and memorable experiences of the day. Students were give a choice between a variety of building materials such as Popsicle sticks, straws etc. and they had to design a house that could withstand the big bad wolf. They had even dressed a large fan up as the wolf and used the fan to test the students designs. The students were engaged and excited throughout the activity and it was truly inspiring the creations they came up with.
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You activity sounds very similar to the one I did. I did it with varied ages so the results varied....but all students were engaged and excited to test their houses. It waas amazing to see what great constructions the kindergarten students built. Our Big Bad Wolf was a decorated hair dryer. : - )
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That activity sounds like a phenomenal activity for students that would definitely keep them engaged throughout. Thank you for sharing.
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I love this idea. I will definitely keep it mind when teaching my students next year. Can't wait!
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Such an interesting idea! I love this!
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That's a really good idea! I like how you broke down STEM into something simpler that all students can relate to. Most students enjoy fairy tales and if you can incorporate fairy tales into science than that can lead the way for a love of science as well as so many more potential scientists!
Grace Ann Burr
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I think that this is a wonderful idea! I think that incorporating fairy tales into a STEM lesson or unit would be particularly attention grabbing, especially for young girls that typically do not have a strong connection to STEM (at least in classrooms that I have experienced before and from personal experience). One activity I would have the children do would be to write their own fairy tale that incorporated some of the STEM concepts that they had learned over the course of the semester. This would not only qualify as an assessment of their STEM knowledge they have accumulated, but also as a writing assessment.
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I love this idea! I never thought fairy tales and science could go together. There can be a disconnect between engineering or science and girls because of the misconceptions that science is for boys. I think fairy tales could be a great way to help girls make that connections because they would be able to see that we can find a way to include science in different things in life. I like the idea about having students write their own fairy tale and using it to assess students' STEM knowledge.
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What an informative post. When I saw title I was already intrigued. I love the idea of bridging Language Arts and STEM. I think this may be the only way busy teachers can ever hope to fit it all in!
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I love this idea because it is an example of interdisciplinary teaching! This will always be helpful for students because it helps them make connections. It also helps make these scientific concepts more relevant when they can relate it to a reading/text or lesson that they learned from that fairy tale.
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Wow! those links were very nice and helpful!! I will definitely be referring back to them once i start teaching!
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What a great way to promote STEM activities within lower grade levels!
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Very helpful and such great ideas! will definitely be sharing with my CT and referring back to them once I have my own classroom.
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My school is actually starting this STEM project at school, I think it's a wonderful idea. The students are also so excited when they bring in recycled materials from home. We haven't exactly started yet we are in the process. I can't wait to start and then share my thoughts on it after, but I will share this with my cooperating teacher.
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Keep us posted. We started a STEAM lab last year also. Almost all projects were developed from cereal boxes, toilet paper tubes and odds and ends. Students just want to create and wonder! Good luck!
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Thanks very much for all of the great ideas. I agree that fairy tales and hands-on are a great match for our primary scientists and moving towards non-fiction literature for the upper grades.
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This is such an awesome idea! I think incorporating fairy tales in STEM is a great way to get students interested in science because almost all children are familiar with fairy tales. I think this would definitely help open their imagination.
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I think this idea is very useful as well as it helps bring girls interest into science! We are taught to bring students in with access to what they enjoy and adding fairy tales to curriculum would be a great idea! I love it! STEM would benefit from this point of view so much! Great Idea!
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An easy way to integrate STEM into any subject matter is to have students read a storybook and design a solution to a problem one of the characters in the story has faced. Students can read books that utilize the engineering component in STEM. One way to provide students with the opportunity to explore a real-world scientific problem is to give them a hands-on experience. An appropriate elementary education example would be pollution (science). Ask students what they think they can do as an elementary student to reduce the amount of pollution in their environment. Have them use technology as part of their research or for a resource. Ask complex questions and have students engage in logical reasoning to develop solutions for the real-world problem.
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I really enjoyed this topic. Getting girls involved in STEM! I love it. Having them think about what they would do is a great way to develop multiple perspectives of the subject. Thanks for sharing!
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What a neat idea! I love that science can be incorporated into any subject, that's how all our classes should be. I want to try this when I have my own classroom.
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Do a Google search for Three Little Pigs lesson plans and you will find lots of things in science to do for that Fairy Tale.
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This is really an interesting idea to involve Fairy Tale lovers! mostly, because right now there are several spinoffs of famous stories in Language Arts It would be great to combine science and LA with this topic.
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Great idea in integrating language arts with Science! Especially for those who always trying to juggle their instruction times of different subjects. Besides fairy tales, did anyone try any engineering ideas with Fables? For example, Aesop's Fables?
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I love using Fairy Tales for all subjects. Some great idea on
TPT site. Using FT with upper grades is great for developing
writing as well as applying Science. Thank you all for sharing.
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I am always looking for creative and inventive ways for students to develop their writing skills in my 7th grade writing class. This sound like a wonderful idea. I can see an expository writing in here too! The kids will love this.
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Here is a handout that I use in a class on integrating literature and science. It has several books that are related to various science topics.
Integrating_Science_and_Literature.pdf (0.12 Mb)
I think its a great and fun activity to have for STEM encouragement because it will engage students. Also, I love the idea that they will be creating. Activities like this can be great to do in class groups and students will definitely love to create technology for their favorite characters.
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What a great idea! This is something I would like to incorporate into my future classroom since the students can become so connected through the story line to the content across multiple areas. Do you have any suggestion on literature to incorporate for middle school students?
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What a fantastic resource! Thank you so much for sharing!
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This was very interesting! Thank you guys for sharing!!!
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These lesson ideas are such a great way to integrate literacy and STEM to make them both fun! I know the students would be very excited about these kinds of activities and that they could be adapted to nearly any story and/or subject. Giving students these opportunities to be creative is what STEM is all about.
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I love the way that this integrates STEM ideas cross-curricularly through Fairy Tales. It also brings engineering and nonfiction into the world of fiction, which could appeal to those students who love fantasy and fiction reading. I really like the problem-solving aspect of this idea as well as it can easily be incorporated to NGSS standards. Overall, this is such an awesome lesson foundation!
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This was a good article to read and it can provide an avenue for interdisciplinary work between ELA and Science or art in science. For example, the students can read the fairytales or review it in ELA. They can make predictions and or inferences, then in science think critically of what they can create to solve the problem. In art, they can design the tool and actually build it in science, whether with lego mindstorm or even 3D printing. The possibilities are limitless.
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I like the idea of including girls in STEM, but since I teach special education, self-contained students, mostly boys, I'm wondering how to include them in the conversation.
I absolutely love this idea. It is a great way of incorporating literature into science or vice versa. There is so much one can do with the combination of STEM and literature. I love the idea that it is fairy tales, that is generally geared towards girls and engineering, which is, unfortunately, geared towards boys. Like this, everyone is interested. It does not necessarily have to be a fairy tale. For those who have older students you can use the Harry Potter series. For example one can do slime or "magic" potions. For the Thee Little Pigs the students can build homes that will be able to stay up when the very bad wolf (blow dryer) comes to blow the house down.
Thank you for your post and sharing the link, I look forward to integrating this into my future classroom!
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Literacy can be tied into STEM very easily! When I taught 4th grade we would do a Cinderella unit where the students had to create the pumpkin carriage. The students had to use measurement skills to create it. We used art materials but never a real pumpkin (for expenses sake on my part!) but it would be really cool to give each student or maybe group students together with real pumpkins-maybe the mini ones to use in their STEM project as well.
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I'm a really big fan of everything STEM! Since my children were little I've looked for ways to engage them in STEM, and one of my sons is a huge bookworm. Integrating fairytales not only helps pull in those students that might not be at first very interested in STEM, it also helps attract the youngest of students.
I had never considered attaching fairy tales to STEM, but the idea of the children creating a pumpkin carriage for Cinderella is amazing. For children in older elementary school grades they could even dabble in robotics and let their creativity run free while they engineer Cinderella's modern carriage!
Vivian Del Cid
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I'm a big fan of connecting reading to other subjects because reading is such a fundamental part of learning. Being able to apply science should to solve a problem posed in these stories not only helps develop those skills but reading skills as well. Definitely a great strategy to utilize in the classroom.
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Thanks for sharing a great idea/resource. I really love this idea; I believe including fairy tales into STEM can make a intimating topics or concepts easier to comprehend for a variety of students. I am a preservice teacher and one of my professors incorporates fairy tales into social studies' concepts most students cannot relate to; such as complex economic terms. In his assignment, the students work in small groups to create their own fairy tale using specific terms provided by the professor. The students must define the terms within the story and share their story with the class but are free to work on the story however they please. It's a great way to review the complex terms with the students and include them in the teaching process.
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I believe this is such a unique way to incorporate science in the classroom. I also believe that it is a great activity to spark the interest of females in the science classroom because it integrates a familiar and fun topic with a learning activity. I agree it is a great way to incorporate and review complex terms with students and include them in the teaching process.
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I taught a unit to a group of 2nd graders last year. This was a matter unit that was aligned with both the NGSS and core literacy standards. I incorporated literacy by reading with them a book about matter and the different changes (reversible & irreversible). Then I had them create a book. They were required to introduce and conclude their book as well as define what a reversible and irreversible change is and then give examples of each of the changes.
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I think incorpoarating STEM and failry tales is a great Idea. I am currently a pre-service teacher and wanting to learn more about how to connect STEM across all subject areas. My students love making connections acorss subject areas so I can see my students being enaged and excited about this during a lesson!
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Incorporating STEM and fairy tales into the classroom is a great idea I think especially for the younger grades such as K-2. I am currently a pre-service teacher in a 1st grade classroom and my students love making connections to the real world. Incorporating this would help me learn more about STEM also and connecting it through all content areas. This would be a great idea for my students and I can not wait to learn more about it therefore, I can use it in my future classroom.
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I think this is a great idea. I love the combination of fairy tales and STEM. Even though I am currently placed in a language arts classroom, I am always looking for ways to incorporate other content areas. This makes the lesson engaging and hands on. I would be very interested in trying this activity in my classroom.
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Love this idea, I think not only girls would like this idea, also boy will do too. I'm a student teacher and I try this in my student teaching class ( 5th grade) those kids love it :) Thank you for sharing.
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This is such an awesome idea! I would have never thought of combining literature and science together, but it works! I would definitely try this out in class one day!
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I agree with the above post. This concept is such a great way to get girls involved in STEM and to help them acquire and develop a love for science. I really love how you even added different fairy tales as well as possible engineering projects to connect with them. I had never really thought about how fairy tales and folktales are already a part a curriculum, this is such an innovative way to include science and engineering and not take up any extra time. This is the perfect example of how to integrate different content areas together and also meet the interests of all students!
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I think this is an awesome way to integrate your whole class male or female. I know there are boys and girls just itching to figure out solutions to problems, and what a great way to intertwine two or more subjects into the lesson! I am glad I came across this idea!
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