There has been a lot of enthusiasm and publicity for STEM or STEAM education recently. Incorporating STEAM programming can be inspiring, not only for your students, but for you as well. It opens the doors to learning that you never imagined.
I truly believe Arts should be a part of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEAM) and weaved throughout the curriculum. The umbrella to all of this is creativity – allowing students time, space, materials and guidance to be creative.
The young child’s brain is naturally curious and will organically create something with the materials available. Too often, as teachers and parents, we limit the materials to what “we think” are appropriate or we have a “product” in mind and guide our children to make it “look like” the sample. My suggestion is to have materials available to children every day and give them time to be creative. You will be amazed at what they come up with.
Here are a few ideas to support integrating STEAM into your curriculum:
- Put up a magnet wall in your classroom: You can purchase inexpensive metal sheets at Lowe’s or Home Depot and tack them into your wall with small nails. I put up two sheets and used electrical tape to cover the seam and the edges of the sheets (they are sharp!). I then cut different length PVC tubes and glued magnets on them. I also glued magnets on elbows and T’s. Add some marbles and you have a blank slate for engineering. Add other magnetic materials too: letters, numbers, shapes, magnetic connecting toys, etc. to add to the marble maze material.
- Have art and craft materials readily available and accessible to students. Paint, markers, colored pencils, crayons, different paper, glue, craft supplies, toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls (a favorite of my students!), stickers, stencils, etc. Give students a large block of time to create.
- Provide scales, yard sticks, rulers, measuring tape, balances, clocks, sorting pieces, abacus, etc. and let students discover about weights, measures, and mathematical concepts naturally.
- Blocks and puzzles are a staple in any preschool room! Make sure to have enough blocks, puzzles and space.
- Incorporating technology in the classroom is a program wide and personal philosophy. I believe that our youngest learners are exposed to an unhealthy amount of screen time each day at home. That being said, there are many wonderful apps out there that can support learning. Please be very thoughtful when using technology in the early childhood classroom.
- Grow plants from seeds (radishes and green beans grow fast and easy), hatch chickens and/or ducks, have caterpillars and tadpoles and let students observe the cycle of life. Provide a drawing journal for them to capture what they see! Having living things in the classroom is an amazing way to watch the wonder in children come alive.
- Let students act and sing and dance to the wonderful literature you read.
Give yourself permission to let go of some of the teacher directed activities in your classroom and provide students with the time, space, and material to be creative. You will be amazed at how much they learn and discover. Enjoy!