Small Motor STEM


Small Motor STEM

What is Small Motor STEM?

We have all of these amazing small motor materials and let students explore them, which totally serves its purpose. I want to take it to the next level, though, and give students STEM challenges to complete with the small motor materials. Voila, Small Motor STEM is born!
Pixel Art is really trendy in edtech right now, so I was racking my brain to come up with a way to take it offline and do it in a way that is independent for students. 
Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn
Combining Pixel Art with design constraints and small motor materials means that these activities meet so many standards. This list is really just the beginning. If you combine any extra writing activities (planning and/or reflection) you can bring in even more!
ISTE: 1.b, 1.c, 2.d, 4.b, 4.d
CSTA: CPP.L1:3-04, CPP.L1:6-05,
CT.L1:3-03, CT.L1:6-01, CT.L1:6-02, CT.L2-07
NGSS: K-2-PS3-2, 3-5-ETS1-2
CC Math Standards: 2.G.2
CC ELA: SL.1.1, SL.1.2, L.1.6 SL.2.1,
SL.2.2, L.2.6 SL.3.1. SL.3.3, L.3.6 
Computational Thinking Practices:
Problem Solving

Getting Organized with Small Motor STEM

The cards are color coded for the level.
Level 1- Black outline
Level 2- Blue outline
Level 3- Orange outline
Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn
Level 1- Provide students with one of the Small Motor STEM Mats and the full pixel designs. Students will recreate the design using any material they have available.
Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn
  • Level 2- Give students design constraints by limiting their materials and providing them the pixel designs that require them to finish the image by mirroring the other half.
    Level 3- Require students to go without the grid and recreate the designs with limited materials.
    Collaborative Option- Students work in pairs where one holds the design card and dictates to the other student which color(s) to put in which spaces on the grid. Communication is key!
  • Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn
    Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn
cut, laminate the cards in the levels of difficulty you want for your students.
Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn
the cards on a ring or in a task box.
Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn

Materials to use for Small Motor STEM

The materials that can be used for these
tasks are nearly limitless. They just need to be relatively small and have the
right color selections.
Materials Ideas:
  • Pom-poms
  • Blocks of any kind
  • Perler beads
  • Craft beads and pipe cleaners or ribbon
  • Buttons
  • Hole punch dots
  • Foam balls
  • Snap cubes
  • Counting bears
  • Centimeter cubes
  • Counting chips
  • Lite-Brite
  • Markers/Crayons/Colored Pencils
Anything else you have on hand that has
enough pieces in the right colors
Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn
a place in your classroom where you store these materials for quick access.
students to come up with resources to complete the designs.

Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn
You can even do a life-size grid! I made this out of plastic cups and counting bears. 

Bringing in the Academics to Small Motor STEM

Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn
The vocabulary cards and recording sheet give you what you need for a mini-lesson about Pixel Art and following a “program” to complete the designs, as well as a reflection activity that asks students to write about their process. 
I recommend printing and laminating all of the vocabulary cards to have on the wall or displayed near your STEM or Makerspace area for students to use as a reference during their activity time. 
Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn
Here are some other photo examples to show the materials students can use. The possibilities are nearly endless!
Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn
Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn

Don’t have quite the right colors? No problem, just replace them with what you do have.

Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn

The grid isn’t a perfect 10×10? Challenge students to figure out how to still make the design proportional (something like if they choose to skip a space vertically they may or may not also need to skip a space horizontally).

Small Motor STEM Activities by Brittany Washburn
It would mean the world to me if you’d send me some photos (or post them on social media and tag me so I can see them) of your students completing these challenges. I can’t wait to hear what they think!
Small Motor STEM


Brittany Washburn

Brittany Washburn

Hi, I'm Brittany. I'm an educator obsessed with technology and passionate about teaching students 21st century skills. I'm so glad you came to visit my website.

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