Many parents are familiar with the acronym STEM or STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) as it has become very popular in schools and early childhood programming. But, often even the savviest educators become a little confused when trying to convey to others what the acronym really means when in the preschool classroom. Here at LANK, the good news is our classroom curriculum is chock full of STEAM activities and our teachers incorporate the approach naturally on a daily basis. At LANK children may use the great outdoors to watch a classroom pumpkin decompose, document seasonal changes by observing and illustrating a favorite playground tree, or enjoy floating objects in pans of water to test buoyancy.
As early childhood educators we know that young children learn best and make most sense of the world around them by exploring, creating, experimenting, predicting, comparing, and improving! Simply put, that means providing hands-on activities and materials with a thoughtful teacher acting as a guide to ask questions that encourage children to solve problems. A friend recently suggested to me that in preschool engineering is “simply playing with blocks.” She is half right. A true engineering session with preschoolers could certainly include block play but to derive the maximum benefit would include a teacher asking questions such as: What will happen if you put another block on top? Can you think of a way to add another layer to your design? What if a larger block is placed on top of a smaller block? In this way, the teacher acts a facilitator to assist children in forming ideas about balance, stability, gravity, and proportionality. When coupled with a problem to solve, children act as true engineers!
On Saturday, April 28th and again on Saturday, June 2nd LANK will host two STEAM Saturday Open Houses to introduce our wonderful school to those seeking preschool/kindergarten for the 2018-2019 school year. Open houses will run from 10:30 AM-12 noon. Ramp exploration will be our focus, but we hope to also convey our warmth, humor, openness, and love of all things LANK!