STEAM-based learning is a hot topic in education – and for good reason! But what is STEAM? Many people are familiar with the popular educational initiative of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), but lately many parents and educators are favoring a new term: STEAM. The phrase retains the original STEM subjects as tenets, but includes an A which stands for Arts. The shift addresses the focus on creative skills to boost engagement by making learning more fun and accessible.
While it may seem daunting to teach STEAM learning at home to toddlers and preschoolers, there are lots of easy ways that you can incorporate STEAM into your child’s every-day learning experience – and you’re probably already doing more than you know!
Children are naturally curious. Seek out answers to their questions, together. Model life-long learning. Explore nature together; take a trip to the library. Look for answers in your yard, a park, a museum. Let them question, wonder, experiment and explore. It is through these methods that new discoveries and inventions are made. Help kids understand why things happen the way they do.
Make the most of mealtime
It’s easy to incorporate STEAM concepts and teach STEAM learning at home at mealtime! Ask your child to set the table for the total number of people in your family. Encourage them to count and bring all plates to the table. Then ask them to bring the same number of cups, forks, etc., so they are building sets of objects. During dinner, you can use comparisons to discuss the food you’re eating. (“I have more beans than you! I have 10 beans on my plate, how many do you have?”) These simple tasks help you child with mathematics and number sense – no times tables required. Also, build STEAM skills in the kitchen with our kitchen science project ideas and our kid-friendly recipes.
Turn story time into learning time
The critical thinking skills gained through literacy help children better connect complex subjects, like science and math. As you read with your child, encourage her to make predictions about what might come next in a story. Follow up by asking, “How do you know?” or “Why do you think that?” Help your child make connections between the story and what she has experienced in her own life. For example, when reading a story about the beach, have your child tell you a story about the last time she went to the beach. Making predictions, communicating understanding and drawing connections are all a part of STEAM learning.
Play and explore with water
Odds are, your child loves playing with toys during bath time! This is also a perfect opportunity to help your child explore concepts like sinking, floating, capacity and weight. Give your child measuring cups, plastic containers and funnels, and then ask him how much water he thinks will fill a container or which container is the largest and why. Also, teach STEAM learning at home with our simple and fun water science experiments!
Establish a creation station
STEAM incorporates hands-on learning, but not just for the sake of doing a project. STEAM projects allow for open-ended exploring and investigating. The more senses involved in learning, the more information is retained. Gather leftover wrapping paper tubes, ribbon, scrap paper, string, tape, glue, crayons, and cardboard boxes, and designate a place in your house or outside as a creation station. Encourage children to create art and build structures like roller coasters or skyscrapers to help them engage in engineering design and make connections with the arts, technology and mathematics. Check out our DIY engineering project ideas for inspiration!
Helping children explore STEAM skills and concepts through play will help them build a strong foundation for future learning. Plus, its easier than you think to teach STEAM learning at home because your home is the perfect place to engage your little ones in these important learning opportunities for science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Happy exploring and creating!