Have you ever watched a child that is totally immersed in his or her play.
They try things one way and then another. They ponder. You can just hear the questions forming as they re-evaluate what they have done or make new plans for the play. This is the kind of thinking that supports the newest educational buzz word – STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.)
NAEYC – the professional organization for early childhood professionals has this to say:
“From their earliest years, children engage with the world in ways that can promote learning related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). They balance blocks to build a wall; bat at a mobile to make it spin; and push and pull magnets together and apart. Research shows that the earlier we guide and support children’s wonder about the world–and thereby identify opportunities for children to acquire foundational STEM skills–the more successful they are in all areas of learning later on.”
Community Playthings has created a series of videos about different aspects of early childhood classrooms. Their video on Building STEM Skills demonstrates the ideas beautifully.
BUILDING STEM SKILLS
As you can see from the the photos above, we incorporate STEM very easily into our toys, our routines, and our plans. I’m sure you do as well. We are also aware of the benefit of asking good probing questions to support their discoveries. “I wonder why that won’t stay on there.” “Hmmm, how do you think you could change it to make that work?”
STEM is part of our everyday experiences and we encourage even our youngest children to explore all these important concepts.
He saw a need and found a way to help. Isn’t that what we all hope to do?
Recently a little guy noticed that our bird feeders were empty. He worried about the birds being hungry. His mom reminded him that he has some share money that he could use. His face lit up and he did just that. He bought some birdseed and filled the feeders. Look at that big smile!
Don’t you just love the idea of “share money?” I asked about this and found out they have a little bank they found on Amazon. This concrete tool helps teach about giving, spending and saving.
(click on photo for link)
I would love to post other ideas or routines our families have that help teach values. Do you have a special prayer routine? Is there a way you encourage kindness? Are their regular times you emphasis the importance of family? Let me know and I will pass on the information.
This is an article from a December 2010 newsletter (the old fashioned paper format) written by our former assistant director, Shellie Todd. It is still very relevant today.
Our staff recently participated in an in-service taught by a former Aldersgate parent and current Occupational Therapist for Olathe School District, Heather Rogers. While our staff has always been aware of the importance of good fine motor skills in early childhood, the in-service helped to enhance and deepen our awareness of such skills. Did you know that there are many prerequisites that must occur before a child is able to sit at a desk and effectively write with a pencil?
From infancy, a child is working on this progression as he/she begins to gain stability with their head and neck. From there, an infant will work on their trunk stability (being able to effectively sit). Even as preschoolers, we practice this as the children sit for circle time activities. We encourage them to sit up, lie on their sides, or even their stomachs because all of these support their ability to have good trunk control.
Children also need to develop shoulder stability, forearm and elbow stability and wrist stability. If you’ve ever walked through class during preschool time, you may have seen your children manipulating playdoh, writing on an easel, crawling across the floor, or moving on scooters. We’re always working to build those muscles to prepare them to become writers.
Being able to strengthen fingers and develop finger control comes next. REalizing that they have ten fingers is very important in fine motor development. They are learning that they can isolate some of those fingers to do certain jobs like stringing beads, grabbing things with tweezers, and using a Lite Brite. These activities all require the use of three fingers together (the tripod grasp) and it is this tripod grasp that will lead to the ability to hold a pencil effectively and write.
“There” are some ways that you can practice fine motor skills in your own home. many of these things are simple and inexpensive.
- turning pages in a book
- picking up buttons one at a time
- opening and closing lids on a jar
- doing push-ups (and crawling on the floor too)
- doing the crab walk
- wind-up toys
- spin tops
- spray bottles
- hanging things with clothespins
- playing with silly putty or playdoh (try hiding small things in it for them to dig with their fingers and find)
- squeezing eye droppers
- mini slinky
- Chinese yo-yos
- Squeezing out sponges or wash cloths