Including inspiring spaces for young children, in which they can play and learn, in your classroom is a crucial part of any comprehensive preschool curriculum. Many teachers think that learning centers are reserved for literacy development and dramatic play, but learning centers including STEM activities for kids are an asset to any early childhood classroom.
According to STEM Play, “the idea of integrating science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) into learning centers is relatively new.” Science is a natural avenue through which children can explore the world around them, and the benefits of STEM integration in the preschool setting are endless. STEM projects for kids “in the early years exposes young children to a problem-solving approach to learning that aligns with their own curiosity,” and may spark in STEM for the future.
Learning centers are a staple of the early childhood classroom and provide children with choices and opportunities to explore their many interests while playing. STEM Play is full of fun STEM activities for kids that will captivate their curiosity!
Here are a few learning center ideas for integrating STEM concepts in your classroom.
Get the book!
The art center provides young children a place to experiment with art materials; investigate ideas; and work with various tools, processes, and media.
Examples of STEM Learning
- Experimenting—Asking what happens if you mix red and blue paint
- Investigating—Looking at the different textures you can make with crayons.
- Creativity programs—Recording your ideas using apps such as Starry Night for art and Story Kit for literature
- Brainteaser programs—Developing your logical thinking and spatial perception by using apps such as OverColor, which challenges you to copy colorful patterns using geometric shapes
- Constructing—Exploring how to construct a 3-D structure of a butterfly using recycled materials.
- Designing and building—Figuring out how to make a boat out of water bottles.
Dramatic Play Center
The dramatic play center is a favorite area in the preschool classroom. It is a place where children dramatize solutions through pretend play, where children gain understandings of how the world works, and learn how to solve problems together.
Examples of STEM Learning
- Noticing Detail—Observing and describing everyday objects to investigate properties of objects using all their senses.
- Comparison—Using certain science tools, such as magnifiers or balance scales.
- Devices—Providing opportunities to use digital cameras can inspire curiosity and wonder.
- Analyzing—Using simple machines, such as ice cream churns and egg timers, to invite hands-on explorations of how machines function.
- Counting—Counting out change in a restaurant.
- Learning one-to-one correspondence—Setting up a table in the housekeeping area with plates, forks, spoons, and so on for each place setting.
Music and Movement Center
Children love to move, and music can guide them as they move and learn! By integrating music and movement, you can help enhance learning as children use more parts of the brain and develop more neural pathways.
Examples of STEM Learning:
- Comparing—Think about what sounds are the same and different.
- Using devices—Capturing sound recordings.
- Constructing—Learning how different instruments are built to make sounds.
- Patterns—Figuring out how to use tools to make different sounds.