As early education continues to evolve, the importance of incorporating STEAM activities in preschool (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) cannot be overstated. These activities are not only engaging and fun, but they also lay a solid foundation for critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity – skills that are essential for the innovators of tomorrow.
We’ll explore a variety of STEAM activities designed specifically for preschoolers. These hands-on projects will not only ignite their natural curiosity while being developmentally-appropriate and enjoyable.
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What is STEAM Education in Preschool?
STEAM education in preschool is an integrative approach to learning that combines Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics.
It aims to stimulate curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking in young children. In a preschool setting, STEAM education is often incorporated through hands-on activities and play-based learning.
The goal of STEAM education at this early stage is not necessarily to make children experts in these fields, but rather to foster a love of learning, exploration, and discovery that will serve them well in their future academic journeys.
It also helps children develop problem-solving skills, resilience, and the ability to work collaboratively – all crucial skills for the 21st century.
STEAM vs. STEM
What is the difference? Simply put, art.
STEM activities omit the art component, thus making the acronym STEM instead of STEAM?
In 2011, President Obama called on all United States educators to ramp up their teaching game in reference to STEM related learning in the classroom. Referring to it as “…our generation’s Sputnik moment,” it was driven by the hopes that increased STEM activities would make the United States more competitive in the everlasting battle of science and technological innovation with other countries.
Only a few short years later, John Maeda, former president of the Rhode Island School of Design, spearheaded a movement to include art in STEM by arguing that innovation will not and cannot happen without design thinking and creativity. Adding the arts transformed STEM into STEAM. (Source)
This addition has been advantageous, especially when considering the benefits of art for young children and preschoolers.
What Does STEM Education Mean?
STEAM activities encourage important learning characteristics and qualities for preschoolers.
- requires preschoolers to not only answer but also to ask questions.
- Science powers curiosity, investigation, and problem solving, often involving experimentation and exploration.
- refers to applying the scientific knowledge a preschooler gains.
- They do this by using the most basic tools like crayons and rulers, as well as more complex technological inventions like microscopes and computers.
- activities in preschool are concerned with the design and building.
- It is testing structures and designs, as well as discovering and testing possible solutions.
- encourages creativity and process development, as well as allows children to illustrate concepts they are learning.
- isn’t limited to just number sense for preschoolers. It also includes the ability to see and create patterns, shapes, as well as organizational skills like graphing and sorting.
How to Teach STEAM
STEAM education for preschoolers is a subset of exploratory learning.
Teaching promotes active involvement, often through tactile experiences, which bolster comprehension and vocabulary, critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and introspection. You can stimulate this exploratory learning by crafting situations where children can gain knowledge about the world through the perspectives of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics, and by posing thought-provoking, open-ended questions.
These exploratory practices offer little ones the chance to tackle problems using innovative and realistic approaches.
The NAEYC has four-part series about STEAM instruction and offers three examples of how STEAM activities should be taught in early childhood education. They are:
STEAM Activities for Preschool
There are so many amazing STEAM activities that are absolutely appropriate for preschoolers. Check out these ideas:
Engaging preschoolers in science activities is not only crucial for their cognitive development but also surprisingly easy and fun.
Moreover, the world provides endless simple yet fascinating phenomena for young children to explore, from the growth of plants to the properties of water, making science an accessible and enjoyable part of everyday learning at the preschool level.
Art activities play an essential role in preschool education, offering a vibrant and engaging avenue for children to express their creativity, develop fine motor skills, and enhance their cognitive abilities.
Art projects also encourage preschoolers to explore different materials and textures, promoting sensory learning.
Art activities can also help in developing problem-solving skills as children determine how to create the image or object they envision. By integrating art into the everyday curriculum, preschools can provide a rich, holistic learning experience that nurtures both the academic and creative potential of young learners.
Mathematical activities in preschool can be dynamic, fun-filled, and highly engaging – making math enjoyable and less intimidating. From basic counting games to hands-on activities that introduce concepts of addition and subtraction, math activities can be seamlessly integrated into a preschooler’s daily routine.
Why is STEAM Important in Early Childhood Education?
STEAM isn’t just the next buzz word in early childhood education. It’s a term that will stay, as our modern world requires the general population to know more in the STEAM fields.
And STEAM teaches children skills that are not related to core content, such as working with others, perseverance and diligence, creativity, and ingenuity.
What you should know about STEAM skills:
They can be learned.
Children have the ability to learn foundational concepts in these subjects even as preschoolers. Developmentally appropriate in science, engineering, technology, art and math nurture STEAM skills and concepts early on. They should be built upon through ongoing opportunities within guided play and small group instruction.
They are useful.
Perhaps one of the most beneficial aspects of STEAM education for preschoolers is that the skills learned in STEAM activities are cross-curricular. This means that they are transferable and useful across multiple content areas and many aspects of their lives. For example, process skills, whether learned in art, science or math, are basic skills that can be used in any subject area and in everyday life.
They are in increasingly high demand.
Jobs in STEAM are already in high demand, so imagine what options your preschoolers will have in 14 years when they become adults. As STEM professional fields continue to advance and. develop, so does the need to teach young children through STEAM activities. One thing is certain, skills in science, technology, engineering, and math will be increasingly important.
What are some of your favorite STEAM activities for preschool?