In simple terms, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) is an educational concept ever growing in popularity and implementation in the educational world. It’s far from “new” but it’s becoming a big part of everyday in early childhood education. The options are endless with creativity and exploration and once you start taking part, you’ll see excitement grow over what these activities can become. It’s all about showing children that traditional learning subjects cross over into one another and that we can think and problem solve about real world problems through play. STEAM projects create conversations, invite questions, and open up a world of imagination in hands-on learning.
Playing and learning in this way can begin at any age. I won’t deny that I LOVE STEAM so it’s a strategy that I incorporate often in my daycare or at home one-on-one with my daughter. It’s fun to let loose and let the creative juices flow! Learning about the materials, growing the skills to manipulate them and using them beyond the conventional brings so much to the learning for your child.
My Grandmother always said, “you have to make memories” and that often includes a mess ♥
Mother, Grandmother and Living Life to the Fullest Guru, my Nanny knew what she was talking about. My older sister and I were good kids but most standards but we were kids nonetheless, and would accidentally write on a table, or put a giant dent in a wall with our head… that was me by the way and I’ve come out the other side with few lasting side effects, or so I like to believe :)…, but what she meant was that learning is messy, but oh so memorable.
Inviting this play does also invite mess more often than not. If this is out of your comfort zone, take the activity outside where cleanup is a breeze, or just embrace it. As a former neat freak I’ve had to let go of the need to pick up every dropped piece and focus on the learning, the conversation and the connections with the children. Clean up at the end can become a part of it as well, depending on the age of the child and the materials you are working with (Read about age appropriate responsibilities here). For us, I just let it unfold. It goes against my early life values that everything had a place and a recipe was to be followed. I still believe this in most areas of life, but creative learning is messy and I see the benefits to it so clearly now.
Where to start: Simple. Short. and Uncomplicated.
During a time of the day when everyone is happy and alert, invite your child to play with you – invite being the key word here. Sometimes my daughter just isn’t feeling it and she’s happy to carry on with what she started in independent play, and that’s okay. Not all children like to get messy and that’s okay too! Inviting them to do so without the expectation is a great beginning. Use something familiar to start, like play dough (homemade recipe here), reimagined! (I’ll post an
activity here soon). It can be intimidating to see a lot of new materials and to try to figure out how each work, the textures, weights, sizes, colours… it can be a lot to take in. Using something you have seen before can be a welcoming place to begin. You don’t need to spend a fortune in supplies! Just grab what you have around the house (like this Lemon Volcano idea here!) and go for it!
Let it happen. You don’t need to take a particular direction (that whole following the recipe idea), but the children will most certainly love seeing you in action and will often replicate in their own way what you are doing. Plus, it’s fun to get involved! Connecting with you is a big take-away from all of this, remember. Start with that as the goal. Then, as you both get more comfortable with it, you can add to that with a bit of learning in the various STEAM areas noted above.
Keep it simple. Just enjoy it. Learn more about your child and let that lead the next activity. What you both get out of it is incredible and it really can be fun for the whole family ♥