15 Thanksgiving Activities That Integrate STEM

Lani deGuia, Guest Blogger and Curriki Member

turkey yumIt’s November! That means this month is full of all things Thanksgiving.

The history of the first Thanksgiving meal with Native Americans, turkey crafts, and daydreaming of all of the delicious food usually top the month’s festivities.

However, this holiday can also be a great opportunity to make learning STEM concepts in math, science, technology, and design thinking incredibly fun and engaging. Here are several activities that are perfect for integrating into your classroom or homeschooling curriculum. Most involve easy-to-find materials in the household, so they are also budget-friendly!

Turkeys Involve Math?

Pattern Block Turkeys
Mrs. T’s First Grade Class takes the traditional turkey craft to the next level by using pattern blocks to create “math-friendly” turkeys.

Candy corn athCandy Corn Counting
No Time For Flash Cards has a great counting activity for young learners. Use candy corn for basic counting or to illustrate math sentences.

Thanksgiving Math and Science Activities 
Little Giraffes Teaching Ideas offers several Thanksgiving-themed math and science activities, including making food graphs from Thanksgiving foods, and popcorn or cranberry patterns.

Candy Sorting Mats
Making Learning Fun has templates for candy sorting mats for all occasions, including a turkey for Thanksgiving. Using skittles or other candies, kids can sort, count, and then eat their work!

Thanksgiving Budgeting
What the Teacher Wants offers a Thanksgiving math activity to teach kids about budgeting. Using circulars and newspaper ads for Thanksgiving, students will plan and budget for a Thanksgiving meal.

Thanksgiving Tallying and Graphing Charts
Having a large Thanksgiving get-together? Loving 2 Learn offers fun printable tallying and graphing charts to find out what is the most and least popular pie, vegetable, and pumpkin treat of the season.

Let’s Talk Turkey: The Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner
Calculate the cost to put out that lavish spread.

The Science of Thanksgiving

How Long Do Leftovers Last?
Wonderopolis helps teach kids about refrigeration, bacteria growth and temperature by exploring how long all the parts of a Thanksgiving meal keep in the refrigerator.

dancing corn activityDancing Corn Thanksgiving Science Activity
Little Bins for Little Hands has an activity where kids can explore density, physical properties and chemical reactions with corn kernels, baking soda and vinegar.

Make Homemade Butter Thanksgiving Edible Science
Teach children about states of matter and food science by making butter from heavy cream. Then use the end product to butter rolls on Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Science Experiments
Turn ordinary pumpkins into science marvels! Kids make pumpkin slime, volcanos, car tunnels and more.

Candy Corn Catapults
Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls offers a hands-on activity in physics. Using common household items, catapults can be made with pencils, popsicle sticks, clothespins, and more to learn about trajectory, tension and force.

Study Seeds With Popcorn
Steve Spangler Science shows how you can observe seedlings and germination from popcorn.

Light Up Thanksgiving Turkey Circuit Craft 
Left Brain Craft Brain offers  a fun craft to teach children how to make a simple electrical circuit and a cute turkey at the same time.

Competition and Design

Thanksgiving STEM Challenges leftovers
Incorporate competition, design thinking, and math and science skills in these STEM challenge activities from Plans for a Better Tomorrow. Challenges include making a Mayflower boat and pumpkin catapults, and present Pilgrim building design dilemmas.

Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving-themed STEM activity? Please share! We hope your November is full of lots of learning!

LaniLani deGuia is a Norfolk, VA-based Educational Consultant with experience writing and developing curriculum and managing school technology.

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Why Is It Important For Students to Learn to Code?

By Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

Sept2016-Why CodingDid you know that students with coding skills make 33% more than those who don’t? And 7 million job openings in 2015 were in occupations that value coding skills – a full 20% of “career track” jobs.

If you have ever wondered why computer science is so important, a recent study commissioned by Oracle Academy provides clear answers. The study, conducted by Burning Glass Technologies, a job market analytics research company, found that across industries, computer science skills translate to added value and earning power.

The report — Beyond Point and Click: The Expanding Demand for Coding Skills — analyzes the market and highlights the magnitude of employer demand for coding skills and the range of opportunities that learning to code can open for students.
Data was culled from 26 million U.S. online job postings collected in 2015 and analyzed to determine the specific jobs and skills that employers are seeking.

Oracle Academy logoKey findings include:

  • Coding skills are in high demand, and not just for programmers, but across five major job categories:
    • Information Technology (IT) workers
    • Data Analysts
    • Artists and Designers
    • Engineers
    • Scientists
  • Coding jobs pay $22,000 per year more than jobs that don’t — $84,000 vs. $62,000 annually.
  • Coding skills pave the way for progression to high-income positions. Half of jobs in the top income quartile (more than $57,000 per year) are in occupations that require coding skills from applicants.
  • Coding jobs are growing faster than the job market, led by programming jobs, 50% faster than the market overall.

Read the full report.

Curriki’s partner Oracle Academy advances computer science education globally to drive knowledge, innovation, skills development, and diversity in technology fields. Learn more at academy.oracle.com.

Kim Jones is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Curriki.Kim Jones is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Curriki. Kim is active in driving policy initiatives and is regularly featured as an honorary speaker on the impact of technology in education at influential meetings around the world.

Avoiding Summer Slide and Keeping Summer Learning Fun

Lani deGuia

By Guest Blogger and Curriki Member Lani deGuia

Summertime is the perfect time for students to relax, hit the reset button, and enjoy long days of fun. That doesn’t mean that learning has to stop or that learning can’t be fun during the summer.  Some children may crave continued learning and some may not. However, it is for certain that children do not like to be bored. There may be downtime on road trips, plane rides, at the sitter, or during a heavy thunderstorm. Opportune chances can fill summer days for both experiential and academic learning, keeping students’ skills sharp and ready for school in the fall!  Here are some great resources for capitalizing on summer free time!

Preparing for Kindergarten

Summer is a great time for preschool students to solidify their skills before they enter the kindergarten classroom. Curriki member Sandy Gade has a collection of games from Duckie Deck that covers every pre-kindergarten topic including numbers, seasons, animals, ecology, and crafts.

Parents can also help young students through guided activities.  The following are from ReadWriteLearn and help students develop literacy and numeracy skills.

You can also help your child with communication with Family Learning Phonics Games. The site includes various activities to improve speech, pronunciation, articulation, and more.

Get Children Reading!

The International Reading Association Children’s Book Choice provides a reading list each year for K-12 students. WeAreTeachers also provides a great list echoing what children in grades 9-12 may be reading during the school year.

Learn Math Through Gaming

ABC MouseFor elementary school students, ABC Mouse Math Games  has a Pinterest board of activities to do at home.  These activities use simple materials found around the house and cover a wide range of concepts including shape sorting, number sense, money, arithmetic, and patterns. 56 Great Math Websites offers great resources for online math activities and games.  It even includes Manga Math, for those kids especially interested in Japanese animation.  The Money Games collection  includes links to online activities for practicing knowledge of currency and counting money.

Some additional math game websites include:

For students interested in interactive math and a more complex challenge, MathBreakers is a Common Core aligned role-playing. Students will investigate math concepts through a 3D virtual world. Scratch from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a free online platform where students can apply coding to create interactive games.

Make Time to Explore STEM

Code Fred: Survival Mode is an educational game that teaches about the human body systems.  It actually gives users the opportunity to jump inside a human body system to see how basic physiological processes work and help the body to survive.

See Social Studies in a Different Way

Mission US provides an interactive experience in learning history.  Users are engaged in transformational moments in American history through role-playing, all to encourage understanding of multiple perspectives, problem-solving, and judging evidence.

Meet me at the cornerMeet Me at the Corner is a series of video podcasts that provide virtual field trips on fun topics such as juggling, homing pidgeons, and puppeteering. Each episode includes a questions and activities.

Encourage the Use of Educational Apps

Just because your child has a mobile device doesn’t mean their apps can’t be a source of learning.  Curriki has several vast collections of apps that can keep skills sharp and help students explore their favorite concepts. Use these resources to help filter out amazing apps from those that don’t provide much of a quality learning experience.

  • Educational Apps collection:  This collection is categorized by both grade level and subject area (including Home Economics and Band/Choir).
  • iPad Apps for ELLs: If your child is learning English as a second language, don’t let the summer be a setback for all that was learned in the previous school year. Curriki Member Lisa Buccigrosse shares a detailed list of iOS apps effective in boosting language skills for ELL students.

Make summer a time for experiences, fun, and continued learning. Keep your child’s thinking skills sharp and ready for the fall!

Oracle Academy Expands in India


Oracle CEO Safra Catz

Reblogged in part from https://www.oracle.com/in/corporate/pressrelease/oracle-expands-commitment-in-india-20160212.html, which discusses Oracle’s expanded commitment in India, including Oracle Academy Expansion; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDagd9cMCD4

Oracle CEO Safra Catz met with Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi (12 February 2016) and announced three major investments that support the country’s global digital leadership. Catz unveiled a massive, state-of-the-art campus centered in Bengaluru, 9 incubation centers throughout India, and an initiative to train more than half a million students each year to develop computer science skills.

“Oracle has been in India for over 25 years and during that time we’ve grown our investments tremendously,” said Catz. “In fact, India now represents our second largest employee base outside of the United States, with nearly 40,000 current employees and an additional 2,000 current job openings. We are investing over $400 million USD in Bengaluru, opening 9 incubation centers, and training half a million students each year during this expansion phase to support India’s tremendous growth. We ‘Make in India’ for the rest of the world.”

“I’m particularly excited about the incubation centers which will house substantial software and technology capabilities, tools, and training to help launch new technology startups built utilizing Java and the Oracle platform,” said Catz.

“Increasing diversity and creating opportunities for women in technology starts with investing in STEM and computer science education for girls,” said Catz. “Student learning and training has been a focus at Oracle for more than 20 years, and we are expanding our curriculum to include girls-only programs.”

Nine Incubation Centers

To contribute to India’s “Start-up India” and “Make in India” initiatives, Oracle is opening nine incubation centers throughout the country. These centers will support entrepreneurship and development of innovative start-ups by providing software, tools, and training to new software and technology companies utilizing Java and the Oracle platform. These centers will be located in Bengaluru, Chennai, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Noida, Pune, Trivandrum and Vijayawada.

Oracle Academy Expansion

In support of the prime minister’s “Digital India” and “Skill India” programs, Oracle Academy plans to engage with local schools and universities to train more than half a million students throughout India in computer science each year.

Oracle Academy currently partners with more than 1,700 educational institutions in India, to advance computer science education and drive knowledge, innovation, skills development, and diversity in technology fields. Through these collaborations, more than 3,000 India-based teachers were trained in Java and database last year alone. With today’s announcement, Oracle Academy aims to expand its partnerships to another 1,000 institutions in India, with a goal of reaching 500,000 students annually.

Worldwide, Oracle Academy trains more than 2.6 million students in 106 countries. In the past fiscal year, the program delivered nearly US $3.3 billion in resources globally to help prepare students for life and work in today’s modern technology-driven economy.

Kids, Learn to Code!


By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Photo of Janet Pinto

Whether your child wants to be a fireman or a computer programmer, one of today’s most valuable skills is learning to code. Even if your child isn’t interested in creating websites or new apps, coding is a great exercise in problem solving skills.

“I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think. Computer science should be a liberal art.”

– Steve Jobs in an interview from 1995

At the recent JavaOne4Kids conference in San Francisco, more than 400 children ranging from 10 to 18 years old were introduced to programming, robotics, and engineering through courses like Greenfoot, Alice, Minecraft Moddinjavaone4kidsg, Java, Python, Scratch, Raspberry Pi, Arduino, NAO Robot, Lego Mindstorms, and more.

JavaOne4Kids is a collaboration between Devoxx4Kids initiative and Oracle Academy, and next year’s conference will be held in Fall 2016.

However, you don’t need to wait until then to learn valuable programming skills. Java is a great place to start, and Oracle Academy has generously shared numerous tools to teach young people how to program using Java, based on the learner’s age and aptitude. Here are a few courses you can find on Curriki:

  • Scratch (for ages 5 to 15), is a simple programming language with a drag-and-drop interface.
  • Alice (less simple for ages 8 to 22), is a 3D educational software tool with a drag-and-drop interface for creating animations. alice
  • Greenfoot (less simple, for ages 13 to 25), is a visual 2D educational software tool with a code editor for creating games and simulations.

No experience required!

One of the speakers at the JavaOne4Kids event was Hania Guiagoussou, a high school student from Dublin, California, who developed a Water Saver system to monitor and control water usage in gardens and fields. “I wasn’t into programming until I took a Java programming summer workshop at Oracle in 2011, where I learned object-oriented programming using Alice,” she told attendees. “I was a newbie, just like many of you.”

Help children “learn a second language” by checking out the many resources on Curriki.org!

Time Saving Classroom Tips to Engage Your Students

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, CurrikiPhoto of Janet Pinto

As we close out the year, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on our good fortunes, and extend a heartfelt thank you to you, our global Curriki community! In 2015, we were thrilled to provide you with a more personalized and easy-to-use learning experience.

If you haven’t visited Curriki in a while, I highly encourage you to explore the NEW and IMPROVED Curriki website: www.curriki.org Here’s a sampling of how parents, teachers and students are using Curriki to enhance learning.

“Curriki makes it easy for me to choose the topic, plan the lesson, design the activities, and prepare materials. In some cases, I use exactly the same materials and lesson plan found in Curriki.” – Shyamkumar S.

See our Curated Content, which includes collections of Math, English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies and other subjects for various grade levels.



“Never before has Biology been so accessible to students, as with the current use of digital media and through independent research. Curriki has helped me achieve my goals with my students by giving them excellent visuals and resources to explore!” – Caryn O.

Lots of great biology resources on Curriki, including Zombie Plague (students identify what’s causing a deadly outbreak) and MIT OpenCourseWare AP Biology.


“I’m now a home school mom. We never buy textbooks. We love Khan Academy and of course all the great educational material to be gained via PBS.org, TedTalks, etc.” – Barb O.

Find Khan Academy Geometry videos, or explore TED Talks for professional development, such as Teaching Math to Teachers (how to teach mathematics in the 21st Century).

With the newly designed Curriki site, finding K-12 teaching and learning resources is easier than ever with mobile views and upgraded search capability. Please forward this post to a friend and encourage them to join Curriki so they can share, download or customize the thousands of free K-12 resources available to everyone.

Best wishes to you and yours this holiday season!

The Case for a Complete OER STEM Library (#TCEA16)

tcea date

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

If you’re an educational technology enthusiast, I hope you’re planning to attend the TCEA 2016 conference in Austin this year, Feb. 1-5. This conference brings educators together to explore best practices for engaging students, increasing productivity, and innovating teaching and learning through the use of technology.


Please stop by our session on Monday, Feb. 1 (10:00am – 10:50am), which is part of the STEM Academy track. Curriki CEO Kim Jones will present The Case for a Complete OER STEM Library:

Kim Jones, Curriki CEO

Kim Jones, Curriki CEO

The two most powerful forces that have transformed the education world in recent decades have been the emphasis on STEM education and the Open Educational Resources (OER) revolution. These two innovations have permeated the education community and are shepherding in a digital age that is today transforming education in every corner of life.

In this session, you will hear what Curriki.org, is doing to drive the development of OERs for STEM educators and the many ways you can lead the way in your own schools and communities.

Participants will:

  • Discover why OERs are the best tools you’ll ever find to personalize learning for your students.
  • Understand how Curriki is curating the global OER library for STEM educators to download and use in their classrooms.
  • Find out how OERs empower districts to adapt the materials to their own community needs.
  • Understand the role OERs play in helping meet the demand for high quality STEM content in K-12 education.
  • And more.

Please stop by and say hello! We look forward to seeing you at #TCEA16!

Oracle Academy Collaborates with German Robotics Initiative

Reblogged from https://academy.oracle.com/en/newsletters/july_2015-full.html#skillsdev

0715-story2The new “EV3 Programming with Java” textbook introduces Roberta teachers to Java programming techniques. The book has been published as part of the Fraunhofer Institutes’ “Roberta – Learning with Robots” initiative and is a joint development project run by the Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems (IAIS) and Oracle Academy.

In addition to working through simple programming tasks, readers learn about a large-scale Roberta experiment, which highlights the advantages of textual and object-oriented programming demonstrated with practical examples.

“By collaborating with the Roberta initiative and supporting the latest Roberta volume, Programming with Java (Programmieren mit Java), we continue our commitment to supporting computer science education,” says Alison Derbenwick Miller, vice president of Oracle Academy. “We hope that through the creation of educational materials and programs that make a challenging discipline like computer science engaging for everyone, we will increase participation, especially by girls and other underrepresented populations in the field, creating a richer and better future for everyone, everywhere.”

The initiative introduces children and young people to the joys of science and uses robots to teach gender and age-appropriate courses, showing how much fun technology and the natural sciences can be. The textbook explains not only the simple transition to text-based programming, but also introduces teachers and their pupils to a new programming language.

Watch the video, “Roberta Solves the Cube”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jZSBK6oB1Q


For more information visit http://roberta-home.de/

(available in German and English)

“With Roberta-Academy, in an open learning environment, we reach hundreds of children aged 8-13 years who build in just two hours a robot that responds to stimuli of his environment.” – Dr. Andrea Niehaus, Head of Deutsches Museum Bonn


Advancing Education through Educational Technology


By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Photo of Janet Pinto

Are you interested in educational technology? If so, I hope you’re planning to attend GaETC (Georgia Educational Technology Conference) next month in Atlanta. GaETC is focused on the professional development of educators and everyone else interested in educational technology.

Please stop by our session titled “Curated, Standards-aligned Courses for the High School Math Teacher,” presented by Allen Wolmer, on Wednesday, November 4 at 3:15PM. Allen works with Curriki on the high school math collections. Check out our curated and aligned mathematics resources available free on Curriki.

About Allen Wolmer

wolmerAl Wolmer is an engineer by education who has been fortunate enough to pursue his passion: teaching and training. He is a SMART Exemplary Educator, SMART Certified Trainer for Notebook and Math Tools, and for eleven years was Head of the Math Department at Yeshiva Atlanta High School (now the Atlanta Jewish Academy Upper School). He is also a mathematics author/editor for various publishing companies, an AP Calculus Reader for the College Board and a Consultant for the National Math & Science Initiative.

New Academic Resources to Help Students Develop Computer Science Skills


By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki Photo of Janet Pinto


Did you know that Oracle Academy (Oracle’s philanthropic educational arm) develops a wide-range of computer science education resources and makes them freely available to secondary schools, technical and vocational schools, and colleges?

Well, here’s some great news! Oracle Academy just unveiled an exciting lineup of computer science education offering, including new Java and database coursework, designed for faculty and students in computer science. These global resources are designed to inspire the next generation of creative thinkers and visionaries.

Today’s students need computer science classes as part of their educational pathways.

Oracle Academy offers a wide range of classroom courses, self-study instruction, workshops and resources – at no cost to individuals or schools. Learn more about this announcement and join Oracle Academy today.