STEAM-based learning might seem too complicated for toddlers and preschoolers, but it’s not. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math, and there are many ways to incorporate these lessons into your child’s everyday learning experience. In fact, you might be doing it already without realizing it.
Just as we do in our Primrose classrooms, you can encourage your child’s natural learning of STEAM. The Primrose Balanced Learning® approach integrates STEAM activities throughout the day to make learning simple and fun. For parents who want to keep the STEAM learning going at home, here are ideas from Dr. Sandra Linder, an associate professor of early childhood mathematics education and a co-author of the Balanced Learning approach:
- Make the most of mealtime. It’s easy to incorporate STEAM concepts into dinnertime. Ask your child to set the table for the total number of people in your family. Encourage her to count and bring all plates to the table (but make sure plates aren’t breakable). Then ask her to bring the same number of cups, forks, etc., so she is building sets of objects. During dinner, you can use comparisons to discuss the food you’re eating. (“I have more beans than you! I have 10 beans on my plate, how many do you have?”) These simple tasks help your child with mathematics and number sense, no times tables required. You can also build STEAM skills in the kitchen with our easy Snacktivity recipes.
- Turn story time into learning time. The critical thinking skills gained through literacy help children better connect complex subjects such as science and math. As you read with your child, encourage him to make predictions about what might come next in a story. Follow up by asking, “How do you know?” or “Why do you think that?” Help your child make connections between the story and what he has experienced in his own life. For example, when reading a story about the beach, have your child tell you a story about the last time he went to the beach. Making predictions, communicating understanding and drawing connections are all part of STEAM learning.
- Play and explore with water. Odds are your child loves playing with toys during bath time. This is also a perfect opportunity to help your child explore concepts like sinking, floating, capacity and weight. Give your child measuring cups, plastic containers and funnels, and then ask her how much water will fill a container or which container is the largest and why.
- Establish a creation station. Gather leftover wrapping paper tubes, construction paper, string, tape, glue, crayons and cardboard boxes, and designate a place in your home as a creation station. Encourage children to create art and build structures like roller coasters or skyscrapers to help them engage in engineering design and make connections with the arts, technology and mathematics.
Helping children explore STEAM skills and concepts through play will help them build a strong foundation for future learning. Your home is the perfect place to engage your little ones in these important learning opportunities for science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Happy exploring!
For more on STEAM learning at Primrose and at home, check out:
- How We Teach Math at Primrose
- 5 Remarkable Women in STEAM to Celebrate with Your Children
- Science Fun: Magic Ice
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