Lauren Hodson | September 2016

3 Creative Ways to Introduce STEAM Challenges

I believe that play is so important to learning.  I also just love to play games. I especially love STEAM Challenges. They not only include problem-solving, critical thinking skills, and creativity, but they are FUN! I had so many STEAM program education challenges that I wanted to try out in my classroom, I couldn’t decide which one to do first. So… I decided to pick a few classrooms warm-up activities and introduce them all at once! But, with an added playful splash of randomness. Here are 3 creative ways to introduce STEAM Challenges in your classroom!

Here are 3 Creative Ways to Introduce STEAM Challenges.

All techniques begin with these procedures

  • Divide students into “Teams”
  • There should be the same number of teams as STEAM Challenges being used. Ex. 4 STEAM Challenges, 4 Teams.
  • Materials for each challenge should be placed in a paper bag along with a card explaining the challenge prompt. Bags should be stapled closed so nobody peeks.
  • Each team should be given a number to determine their order. I do this with numbered wooden craft sticks. After the groups are made, they choose a stick to determine their order.

1. Yankee Challenge Swap: Like a Gift Exchange

  • Bags of materials and challenge prompts are placed in one location. Students cannot look inside them.
  • Team 1 picks a bag. Then Team 2, and so on until each team has a bag.
  • Teams open their bags and read their prompts out loud so that all teams can learn about the other challenge options.
  • Team 1 decides if they want to keep their challenge or steal a challenge from another team.
  • Team 2 then makes the same decision. Continue until each team either keeps or steals.
  • BEGIN!


  • Teams can participate in a second round of keeping or stealing
  • If you add more challenge bags than groups, teams can either keep, steal, or grab a “mystery bag.” If a team grabs a mystery bag, then they must keep it. This is the risk.

2. Scavenger Challenge Hunt


  • Numbers challenge bags of materials
  • Numbers challenge cards
  • Hides challenge cards around the room


  • Team 1, searches the room for a challenge prompt card. Then Team 2, and so on until each team finds a card.
  • Pick up the challenge bag with the same number on their prompt.
  • BEGIN!

3. Roll of the Dice or Game Spinner

Roll of the Dice: Must have 6 Challenges


  • Numbers the challenge bags 1-6
  • Provides the die


  • Team 1 rolls the die and that number is the challenge bag that they get. Continue to Team 2, and so on. If students roll a number that has already been taken, they roll again.
  • BEGIN!

Game Spinner:


  • Numbers the challenge bags
  • Makes a homemade spinner with the number of challenges. Ex. 4 spaces for 4 challenges, 6 spaces for 6 challenges.


  • Use an existing game spinner and have the same number of challenges ready


  • Team 1 spins and that number in the challenge bag they get. Continue to Team 2, and so on. If students spin a number that has already been taken, they spin again.
  • BEGIN!

More Helpful Links

What STEAM Challenges have you used in your classroom?

About the Author

Lauren Hodson is a middle school visual and computer art educator in Plymouth, Massachusetts. As a mentor teacher and professional development presenter, Lauren is passionate about creativity and making art accessible for everyone. Her passions in STEAM and Arts Integration are at the root of her goal to collaborate with classroom teachers everywhere.