As your child gets to be preschool and kindergarten age, you might hear a lot of talk about the importance of STEAM, or its earlier version STEM.
STEAM is an acronym for:
STEAM (and STEM) is a way for educators and parents to help children combine different areas of knowledge and learning:
- Science: a way of observing the world around you; making guesses, asking questions and drawing conclusions about how things work.
- Technology: using computers, but also using, understanding and getting tools to work, like gears.
- Engineering: designing, creating, and constructing objects to make them work.
- Art: creating (visual) designs, as well as pretend play, singing, music, dancing and movement.
- Math: counting, sorting things into patterns of size and shape
Consider connecting these subjects together, rather than trying to teach them separately.
Nature and STEAM
Opportunities for learning STEAM are just outside your doorstep. Grab a basket, fill it with a magnifying glass, tweezers, compass, binoculars, and go on a nature hunt!
- Math: sort piles of rocks, leaves, or flowers. Count how many times you heard a bird chirp.
- Science: gather soil samples and observe whether there are any differences. After it rains, look for worms.
- Art: draw a picture of what you see in nature. Use playdough and sticks to make a sculpture.
- Technology: use your phone to take pictures of flowers, bugs, or creatures you see. Print out the pictures and separate into categories (color, size, etc.)
- Engineering: help your child build a fort for a small animal out of sticks and leaves. Make a fairy house under a tree.
Ask “What” Instead of “Why”
A STEAM approach moves away from “why” questions (“Why is it raining today?”) to “what” questions, such as:
- What creates rain?
- What is a rainbow made of?
- What makes the sky grey, then blue again after it rains?
“What” questions help children notice what is around them, problem solve, learn good communication skills, and spark imagination. Your child can build confidence when you encourage them to figure out how to answer questions and solve problems on their own by using a variety of interconnected STEAM skills.
There are lots of opportunities use STEAM at home. If you’ve never taken a STEAM approach to learning, now is the perfect time. With spring’s abundance of rain and flowers, consider using these ideas:
- Put a cup or bowl outside and measure how much it rains each day, week, month, or season.
- Walk your neighborhood to find different flowers. Count how many petals it has. Which flowers bloom first, second, third?
- Plant veggie seeds and measure them as they grow.
- After a rainfall, hunt for rainbows. Discuss colors and what is needed to make a rainbow.
- Use butterfly coloring sheets to teach symmetry. Put paint on one half a page, and fold it over onto the blank side. Open it up. What do you see?
- Explore your neighborhood for spring bugs, such as ladybugs, slugs, snails, ants, worms and more. Count how many different bugs you can find. Observe the differences in size, color, and amount of legs.
- Stare at the clouds and talk about what they look like. Talk about how clouds hold water and how different rain clouds look from other clouds. Use some cotton, glue and construction paper to make your own cloud scenes.
Opportunities for STEAM activities in everyday life are numerous. Have fun exploring, learning, and getting a little messy with your child.
This article is brought to you by Parenting Now! Parenting Educators and authors Amanda Bedortha, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com). Parenting Now! is passionate about happy, healthy families. For more information about Parenting Now! please visit their website (https://parentingnow.org/) or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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