By now, educators are aware that the focus of education is shifting to the skills embedded in STEAM—science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math. If our country is going to remain competitive in the 21st century global economy, our students need to become much more proficient in these subjects. With that in mind, this is the first post in a series about bringing STEAM into your early childhood classroom.
The best part about science in the early childhood classroom is that you were probably already teaching it. Do the students work with magnets? Do they track changes in the weather? Do they study the life cycle of plants? All of these are commonplace early childhood activities and are also the building blocks for future understanding in science.
The difference in your STEAM approach would be that all of the components are supposed to compliment each other. That plant life cycle activity can roll into activities on measurement (math), tracking growth on a computer or device (technology), and even drawing pictures of the plants (art).
How to Bring in More Science
Like we just discussed, you are probably already doing some science work in your early childhood classroom, and it doesn’t take much more effort to connect that work to the other STEAM skills.
That being said, there are some other resources that are now available to help your classroom become even more versed in science.
Remember that plant life cycle activity? What if the students could actually see the roots grow? Planter boxes, like our Root-Vue Farm, have a window in the side so you can get a cross-section of the plants’ growth.
Centers are a great place to let students explore science. Centers based in sensory investigation, magnification, terrariums, and science-based role playing are all great ways to incorporate more of the sciences.
Magnification has a big “wow” factor with smaller children, which makes it a great gateway into science concepts. Plants and other living tissues are great, but so is magnifying common objects. Our handheld digital microscope lets kids explore without giving them an expensive, heavy machine.
The key is taking a holistic approach to not only the sciences, but the entire STEAM experience. The goal of moving students toward these skills isn’t necessarily to make more engineers or programmers, but to make students more rounded and complete contributors in college and career.