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Making STEM Education a Part of Playtime

Making STEM Education Part of Playtime

STEM activities are a natural fit for learning centers focused on helping children learn through play. Science allows children to explore, inquire, and build knowledge through experiences. The integration of STEM education in the early years exposes children to new methods of problem-solving and learning through their own curiosity.

Proving the importance of play, STEM Play, is a wonderful resource for both parents and teachers. Full of STEM activities to try with children in and out of the classroom, STEM Play shows that learning through play is alive and well.

Here are a few fun STEM activities that will have your children learning in no time!

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STEM PLAY

A Scientist Uses Tools

Scientists use tools to learn things and to assist them when they do investigations. Children will explore some tools that a scientist might use.

Skills Supported:

Engaging in inquiry
Exploring and experimenting
Measuring
Using oral language
Developing vocabulary
Observing
Noticing details

Materials:

  • Children’s microscope
  • Magnifying lens
  • Measuring tape
  • Scale

What to do:

  1. Introduce children to each of the different science tools. You might say, “Look at what I am holding in my hand. What can I do with this?”
  2. Note that these items are called tools. A tool is an instrument that is used to do something specific. Different scientists use different tools, but the tools here can help a scientist find out more information.
  3. After children have given different answers, show them each tool, state the tool’s name, and explain what a scientist might do with the tool.
  4. Tell the children that you have added these tools to the science center. Let them know that when they are in that center, they can explore how to use tools.

 

My Body

Children will be excited to learn more about their body and create their own model with the inside and outside parts.

Skills Supported:

Listening
Communicating
Observing
Comparing items
Developing body awareness
Practicing teamwork
Developing fine motor skills
Developing vocabulary

Materials:

  • Parts by Tedd Arnold
  • Large sheets of white or tan butcher paper
  • Marker and crayons
  • Mirrors
  • Scissors

What to do:

  1. Let children know that you are going to read a book called Parts that discusses the body.
  2. After reading the story, ask children what they know about their bodies.
  3. Explain that when they are in the science center, they can work together to trace their bodies on large butcher paper. One person will lie down to get traced, and the other will do the tracing. It would be helpful during center time to have an adult available to cut out two body shapes for each child participating.
  4. Each child can find another person and compare body shapes. They can make observations about who is taller, has longer arm, or has shorter legs.
  5. Children can use crayons and other materials to decorate their cutouts.

 

I Wonder Chart

Young children have a natural curiosity that can be fostered when we allow them to think of questions, make observations, and decide what questions they are able to answer with regular class materials.

Skills Supported:

Engaging in inquiry
Using emergent writing
Noticing details

Materials:

  • Oh, the Thinks You Can Think by Dr. Seuss
  • Crayons
  • Poster board
  • Marker
  • Science materials
  • Sticky notes or paper

What to do:

  1. In advance, create a chart using the poster board. Write the words “I Wonder” at the top with a marker.
  2. Read the book Oh, the Thinks You Can Think with the children.
  3. Show children the I Wonder chart, and invite them to share something that they wonder about. As children share their ideas, record them on the chart.
  4. Tell the children that when they are working in the science center, they can add a picture of writing to the I Wonder chart to show something they wonder about.
  5. Ask if anyone has ideas now. Let children share what they wonder about, and record their answers. If children need help getting started, share some possible ideas: “I wonder why clouds move in the sky.” “I wonder why bunnies hop.”



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