May 14, 2020
STREAM in an early education setting involves bringing together knowledge of developmentally appropriate practices in literacy, math, science, technology and art to help children increase their understanding of the world. You are the key factor in providing STREAM experiences for your children.
Relationships are critical for children to feel safe enough to explore their environment. Mistakes will happen and your response will help children accept mistakes and move past them. Mistakes are an opportunity to adjust, try again and learn. This builds resilience. By listening, questioning and expanding on previous knowledge and experiences you are guiding your children to reach beyond their knowledge and form deeper understanding.
Children naturally ask questions and we often provide answers instead of having children investigate to find answers on their own. STREAM involves doing. The teacher needs to provide the opportunity for children to safely experiment with a variety of materials. This allows children to go beyond recall and reproduction to creatively applying what they have learned, thinking about it and making adjustments.
How do you do this in an early childhood setting? By integrating science, technology art and math and planning a wide range of explorations. Follow the interests of your children. In the picture above a child has planted a seed in an egg shell. What can be done to move this one activity into a STREAM experience that will help the child expand their knowledge? Here are some ideas:
Science - Grow a lima bean seed in a baggie with a damp paper towel. While observing daily use correct vocabulary for parts of plant. Recycling is involved since the egg shell can be planted in the ground with the plant. Composting scraps from lunch provides food (fertilizer) for plants. (Why are water droplets forming in the bag? That is another science concept dealing with precipitation and weather.)
Literacy – Provide a variety of picture books about plants and gardening. Have child draw a plant and “label” the plant parts. Correct formation of letters is not the goal. Knowing that words are used to convey information to others is what is important. An older child may get some beginning sounds correct or try to copy labels on their own. Good for them! Have child cut out pictures of plants from a magazine or provide the pictures for them. Sort the pictures by color, flowers/no flowers, plants/trees, leaves/no leaves, etc. Encourage discussion and the use of a variety of words.
Mathematics - Measure plant daily and record results on a chart. An older child can make “log book”. Let the child make the choice of how they want to record the plant growth.
Engineering - Make card board seed starting pot from a toilet paper roll.
Technology – At a young age “sharing” technology is probably the best approach. Have two children look at a website of plants they might not be familiar with such as desert plants. The tablet is a tool, other tools may be a magnifying glass, ruler, tweezers, etc.
Art – various found materials should be available to experiment with-paper, twigs, rocks, leaves, sand, glue, coffee filters, pipe cleaners, string, crayons, magazines, etc.
This is just one example of a STREAM experience. The block center can have tractors, the dramatic play center can be a garden shop, make a planting station with small cups, dirt and sunflower seeds to work on fine motor skills. These activities are all intertwined. The teacher is the guide that brings the appropriate materials together and provides the guidance, feedback, and assistance needed for each child to grow.
Be confident enough to follow a child’s lead. Show enthusiasm, joy and curiosity yourself. And remember, we are all learning together!