This summer, U-GRO is introducing STEM education into our curriculum with a number of learning opportunities for toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age students. A greater emphasis has been put upon STEM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) in early learning centers and schools across the country, even at young ages, as we realize that these are the skills that future professionals will need to be successful.
STEM At Home: Sensory Bottles
A great at-home STEM activity that parents and children can complete together is creating an assortment of sensory bottles. Sensory bottles encourage hand-on play and investigation. In sensory play, children use multiples senses (looking, touching, and listening) to master new skills and learn about the world around them.
STEM Education Everyday
The disciplines that make up STEM might seem a bit advanced for young children, but the fact is they are being exposed to STEM education in small ways everyday. Test tubes, computer programs, and calculators aren’t necessary. You’d be surprised with what children can learn from Legos, balls, or an outdoor garden. Here are a few ways that your child is participating in STEM-inspired activities at home and school.
Science – playing in a sand and water table, examining bugs through a magnifying glass, or watching the process of flowers and vegetables growing in a garden.
Technology – online apps or games that teach children the very basics of computer coding, or taking apart small electronics or appliances to understand of how things work.
Engineering – designing structures with wooden blocks or Legos, creating different courses on a marble run, or building a small (or large) catapult.
Math – using measuring cups for cooking and baking, measuring the distance that they can jump, kick a ball, or throw a frisbee, or simply counting out the spaces they move their piece on a board game.
Take STEM Activities Even Further
The key to effective STEM learning at an early education level is using “what?” or “how?” questions to kick-start conversation and exploration throughout your activity. These types of questions, unlike “why?” questions, have no correct answer. They encourage toddlers and preschoolers to focus on what is happening in front of them, what they are seeing, and what steps they are taking. “What do you think will happen if we…?” is a great question to get younger children to share their knowledge and predictions.
By asking questions that prompt children to talk about the things they notice, they are not only developing observation and communication skills, but also building their confidence by taking on the role of expert.
For the Rain Cloud Sensory Bottle we created in the video above, use questions like these to engage your child in further learning before, during, and after :
- How can you tell it will be a rainy day? What happens to the sky? What do clouds look like?
- What will happen when we spray shaving cream? Will it sink or float?
- What will happen when we add the food coloring?
- How can we track how much rain falls outdoors?
For more STEM fun at home here are two additional sensory bottle projects you can try!
If you’re interested in learning more about how we incorporate STEM education into our curriculum, explore a U-GRO location that’s close to you.