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Monday, June 10, 2019

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Preschool STEM: Button Board Art

We are doing one more big art project in our Preschool STEM series


If you visit here much (or even just our last Preschool STEM post!) you've heard me mention how much my youngest daughter loves to do art projects, and I love to let her--partly because art is a magical experience for her, and partly because there are so much educational value to art!

This particular project has 5 important supplies:

1- canvas
2- paint and brushes
3- buttons
4- glue (We used Tacky Glue so it dries faster)
5- glitter (okay, this is optional, but my girls loooove it!)

I introduced the project by suggesting they use paint and buttons to create a tree from their imaginations. I encouraged them to paint backgrounds first, but many made their trees first and then added backgrounds! Either way, the results were fantastic!



Since then we've done similar projects, but I didn't even need to introduce anything...the kids had their own ideas and wanted to try out their own projects with the supplies.

Sidenote: I know it's more expensive than construction paper, but my preschoolers (and older kids too, lol) LOVE working on canvasses! You can get the thinner ones for about $1 each, and they give the kids SUCH a neat surface to experiment and create with!

Resist the urge to tell them to use particular colors or to glue in any particular way--experimenting with the colors and arrangements are a part of the STEM experience!



This is a great activity for mixed ages too--we also did it when my daughter turned six, and we kids from 3-11 at her party!



How is this activity STEM?  It requires your preschoolers to use science skills (like problem solving, predicting, hypothesizing, experimenting, analyzing), it lets them experiment with science concepts (like how glue changes from a liquid to a solid as it dries and how paint colors change as they interact with each other), it allows them to use technology/tools (like a glue and paintbrushes), it requires them to engineer/design their masterpieces, and uses math concepts (like spatial relationships, colors, and often counting).



Do you love preschool STEM? Do you want to learn more about it? This June I am featuring a Preschool STEM series that includes a fantastic introduction to preschool STEM and nine STEM activities, projects, or challenges that are appropriate for preschoolers! This is the first one--I would LOVE to have you join in and share your own experiences as we move through the next two weeks! You can find the landing page with links to all the activities HERE!  You can also join my STEM Activities & Projects for Kids Facebook Group HERE for more STEM-inspired conversations!





Happy Educating,
Carla


Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!





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Preschool STEM: Mixed Media Collage Art

I have an adorable 3 year old who thinks that glue and paint are some of the best things in the world, so our next project in the Preschool STEM series is a mixed media art project!



One of the truly glorious things about this project is that there are never two identical products...each is its own beautiful masterpiece!


Sidenote: there might be a certain cartoon that my preschooler also loves that involves kids making "masterpieces" in every episode. I won't lie...my heart melts a little every time she holds up a completed project and declares it "my masterpiece!"

This is doubly fun to do outside. We usually work indoors to contain the mess, but a lovely woman in our community started hosting Art in the Park twice a month. She uses this exact same method, and the kids LOVE working outside! Since then I've let my own girls work outside more often, and they really enjoy it! I sometimes have to remind them to bring in the supplies when we're done, but that is an important part of the process.  ;)


Anyway, to let your preschoolers create a Mixed Media Collage Art project, all you need are the following:

* canvas boards or thick paper (like cardstock or construction paper)
* glue
* paint and other art supplies

It's important when you're working with preschoolers to only pull out art supplies that you are comfortable with them using. If it will stress you out to have them squeeze out paint, keep the paint out of their reach.  My girls looooove paint, and are generally pretty responsible about using it, so I usually let them pull it out whenever they want. We have a small pile of paper grocery bags that I have ripped open so they lie flat, and the girls usually put one of those under their work.



Here are some of our favorite art supplies:

* paint
* glitter and sequins (I know, scary!)
* washi tape
* markers
* feathers
* craft sticks
* plastic jewels
* wiggly eyes
* scissors
* lace

You can really use anything you are comfortable with. Here are some pretty clean supplies that are still a lot of fun:

* dot markers
* washi tape
* stickers
* flowers



How is this activity STEM?  It requires your preschoolers to use science skills (like planning, organizing, hypothesizing, experimenting, analyzing), it lets them experiment with science concepts (like watching liquid glue harden into solid), it allows them to use technology/tools (like scissors and glue), it requires them to engineer/design their artwork, and uses math concepts (like working within a confined space, larger and smaller, and often counting little objects).

Do you love preschool STEM? Do you want to learn more about it? This June I am featuring a Preschool STEM series that includes a fantastic introduction to preschool STEM and nine STEM activities, projects, or challenges that are appropriate for preschoolers! This is the first one--I would LOVE to have you join in and share your own experiences as we move through the next two weeks! You can find the landing page with links to all the activities HERE!  You can also join my STEM Activities & Projects for Kids Facebook Group HERE for more STEM-inspired conversations!





Happy Educating,
Carla


Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!





Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!






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Preschool STEM: Box Ramps

Our next preschool STEM project in this spring's Preschool STEM series is making ramps with boxes!


Between the things we order online and some gifts the kids have received recently, it seemed like boxes were starting to pile up!

Our preschoolers love boxes.

Sometimes they color on them with markers.

Sometimes they glue random papers and fabric scraps to them.

Sometimes their older siblings use them to make massive sculptures, houses, castles, or boats.  In fact, one of my preschoolers' favorite things is sitting in a box (whether or not it's decorated), and letting their older brother or sister drive them around a room by pushing and pulling the box. Sometimes they even drive each other around!

Today, however, we were looking for a no-setup STEM project we could do with (a ridiculously large assortment of) boxes! These ramps were perfect!



All you need are boxes! The invitation to experiment was so simple...I just flipped a box at an angle on its side and let a toy car drive down the newly created ramp. Instantly, I had four kids gathered around me wanting to experiment with the new ramp!

We used other cars, other boxes, and even a few other tools. We discovered that if we wanted to race cars down the ramp, the best way to make them all start at the same time was to use a book to let all the cars (and blocks, LEGO, or other random objects) race down the ramp at the same time!

How is this activity STEM?  It requires your preschoolers to use science skills (like predicting, hypothesizing, experimenting, analyzing), it lets them experiment with science concepts (like friction, force, momentum, and inertia), it allows them to use technology/tools (like a box and book), it requires them to engineer/design the ramp (even simple inclined planes are machines!), and uses math concepts (like faster, slower, farther, closer, and more/less distance).

Do you love preschool STEM? Do you want to learn more about it? This June I am featuring a Preschool STEM series that includes a fantastic introduction to preschool STEM and nine STEM activities, projects, or challenges that are appropriate for preschoolers! This is the first one--I would LOVE to have you join in and share your own experiences as we move through the next two weeks! You can find the landing page with links to all the activities HERE!  You can also join my STEM Activities & Projects for Kids Facebook Group HERE for more STEM-inspired conversations!





Happy Educating,
Carla


Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!





Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!





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Thursday, June 6, 2019

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Preschool STEM: Cups & Craft Stick Castles

One of the most beautiful things about preschool STEM is watching your kid's imaginations merge with their science and engineering skills! This Castle Project is the perfect opportunity for that!



Begin by looking at pictures of castles and talking about what the perfect castle would have in it.  Have any of your kids seen a castle in real life? What was it like? Conversations like these help connect information and experiences in your preschoolers' brains, which helps them develop memory skills and neural pathways to process new information! Click HERE to learn more about how preschooler brains work

Next tell your preschoolers that today we are building the tallest castle we can!  Give them their building supplies: paper cups and craft sticks! Give them time to see how tall they can build a castle!




It turned out that only one of my kiddos wanted to make a super tall castle...the others had other creative ideas they wanted to explore...and I completely support that!


They may try to make a 1-tower castle that is very tall, or they may try to make a broader support to hold up the higher towers. Either method--or any other--is totally okay!


Resist the urge to take over or tell them how to build their castle. This is a chance for them to experiment with engineering with simple supplies!


When they finish, provider rulers and tape measures for them to measure how tall their castle is. You can also take pictures of them standing next to their castle and use relative measurements (taller than, shorter than, equal to your height). Or, you can use non-standard measurements (6 books high, 9 pencils high).





You can also see if their castles will hold up any weight, but your preschoolers may get frustrated if you put a book on the castle and the castle crumples.  ;) 

Older kids can also join in the fun...their designs are usually a little different than preschoolers, but it still works great!  In fact, our baby thought it was pretty a pretty awesome project...


How is this activity STEM?  It requires your preschoolers to use science skills (like observing, hypothesizing, experimenting, and analyzing), it lets them experiment with science concepts (like force, gravity, and balance), it allows them to use technology/tools (by placing the craft stick strategically to get a higher, stronger castle), it requires them to engineer/design something (the castle), and uses math skills (like measuring the height of their castles).

Do you love preschool STEM? Do you want to learn more about it? This June I am featuring a Preschool STEM series that includes a fantastic introduction to preschool STEM and nine STEM activities, projects, or challenges that are appropriate for preschoolers! This is the first one--I would LOVE to have you join in and share your own experiences as we move through the next two weeks! You can find the landing page with links to all the activities HERE!  You can also join my STEM Activities & Projects for Kids Facebook Group HERE for more STEM-inspired conversations!





Happy Educating,
Carla


Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!





Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!



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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

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Preschool STEM: Boats

My preschoolers LOVE boats, so it totally makes sense to kick off our Preschool STEM series with a boat project!



To make this project more meaningful, chat with your preschoolers about their boat experiences before you get started. Have they seen boats before? Have the ridden on one? Do they own one? Is there a boat or ferry nearby that you could visit or ride as an extension? 

To get started, show your kiddos the supplies, and tell them that today they get to design their own boat! If you want, you can offer to let them sail it too!  Or see how many "sailors" can fit on it--I just let them see how many pennies can "safely" ride on their boat!


Keep a tub of water close by--they will want to test as they work! You can build boats indoors or outdoors--it is totally up to you...and maybe the weather!

The easiest set of supplies is just a roll of aluminum foil and perhaps tape or glue. Scissors are also helpful.  Usually the aluminum foil can be pinched and bent enough that tape and glue are not necessary. Tape is not usually waterproof, so it will become a weak spot on their boats. My kids often love using "cool temp" hot glue guns, and it does fine if it gets wet. Today, though, they reached for normal school glue!


Older kids can also join in the fun...their designs are usually a little different than preschoolers, but it still works great!


You can also use other supplies if your kids are interested in them: blocks, wood, lids or other plastics that are in your recycle pile, etc. Two of my kids wanted to use cardboard in their boats--so they grabbed some out of the recycle bin and used it!

In the end we only had one boat designer who even wanted to test if her boat was "sea worthy!"


Other designs came with little foil people:



And others were custom made-to-fit little shopkin toys:



Everybody had a unique design, vision, and process to make their boats!

How is this activity STEM?  It requires your preschoolers to use science skills (like predicting, hypothesizing, experimenting, analyzing), it lets them experiment with science concepts (like buoyancy, density, and water displacement), it allows them to use technology/tools (like aluminum foil and hot glue guns), it requires them to engineer/design something (the boat), and uses math skills (like counting penny "sailors" and qualitatively observing water displacement).

Do you love preschool STEM? Do you want to learn more about it? This June I am featuring a Preschool STEM series that includes a fantastic introduction to preschool STEM and nine STEM activities, projects, or challenges that are appropriate for preschoolers! This is the first one--I would LOVE to have you join in and share your own experiences as we move through the next two weeks! You can find the landing page with links to all the activities HERE!  You can also join my STEM Activities & Projects for Kids Facebook Group HERE for more STEM-inspired conversations!





Happy Educating,
Carla


Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!





Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!




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Monday, June 3, 2019

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What is STEM? What is Preschool STEM?

What is STEM? How is Preschool STEM unique? How should you "teach" preschool STEM?



Have you ever wondered these questions? I am beginning a series full of preschool STEM projects today, but before I get started I think it is super important to address these questions--partly because they are intrinsically important and partly because I have been asked them so many times by parents that I believe there is a need to discuss them.

STEM stands for Science Technology Engineering Mathematics. It represents integrating instruction and experiences in these subjects so that children are comfortable and experienced scientists and engineers.  STEM education is not new (it has actually been around for more than 30 years), but it became a buzz word in education after 2006 when the United States National Academies recommended an increased focus and emphasis on these subjects in our schools and colleges. As more organizations and educators have raised the rally cry, we have seen a lot of really great programs and ideas surface. Unfortunately, this has created a little bit of stress as some educators and parents want to make sure their children are getting a STEM education too, but are not really sure what it even is!

Older children use technology and math to explore science and engineer new solutions. Preschoolers can do this too! Older children can use technology like microscopes, computers, coding software and mathematics like algebra and trig to solve problems. Preschoolers use math and technology that helps them explore and create things on their own, personal levels! The simplicity of their STEM experiences should never be mistaken for ineffectiveness.

That is SO important...I'm going to say it again: The simplicity of preschoolers' STEM experiences should never be mistaken for ineffectiveness.


Preschoolers are natural scientists and engineers. They LOVE to build, explore, experiment, and create. The real problem is that we, as adults, often chase the little scientists out of them! We don't like to clean up messes, sort supplies, and re-order their chaos, but what we often fail to notice is that in the midst of what looks like a big mess is an experiment or a creation. This is one of the ways that preschool STEM can happen.

Preschool STEM happens in two ways

1- The preschooler creates the STEM experience all on her own. These are the messes that scare us! These are the experiments and masterpieces your children create without permission. Sometimes they seem wonderful even to us! These are moments when your preschoolers are learning what their limits are, what they can create themselves, what kinds of problems they can solve, when they need help, how to experiment, and how to communicate about those experiments. These can happen indoors or outdoors, though it is usually less stressful for adults when it happens outside.  

Here is an example of this kind of STEM experience
We walked down to a creek a few days ago. My preschoolers wanted to build a mountain with the rocks they found on the side of the creek. They hunted for the best shape, they experimented with the way they stacked them, they un-stacked and re-stacked until they found just the right design, and then they took pictures of it with my phone. Science skills they used were problem solving, hypothesizing, experimenting, analyzing, concluding, and communicating. My phone was technology they used. The tower was an engineering design. Math skills they used included counting rocks. Science and math topics they explored subjectively included force, gravity, mass, and balance. 

Do you see? All four subjects are integrated into one project that they came up with on their own.

2- The second way Preschool STEM happens is when an adult or teacher creates a situation that invites the preschooler to engage in a STEM project. It is usually either a challenge you specifically give your children or a set of supplies you provide that they use to create something.

Here is an example of this kind of STEM experience:
In this post I share how I created a science station with a bin of beans, a few shells, and several beakers and graduated cylinders. I did not give my preschoolers any instructions on how to use the supplies or what they should do.They spent over an hour on the first day experimenting with filling the beakers and cylinders with beans, pouring the beans, scooping with their hands, scooping with the beakers and cylinders, and scooping with the shells, and much more. Science skills they used included observing, hypothesizing, experimenting, analyzing, forming conclusions, and sharing what they found. Technology (or tools) they used were the graduated cylinders, beakers, and shells. They engineered several towers, a "city," and (over the next several days) dozens of things that I lost track of! Math concepts they experienced included mass, weight, size, and measurement.

Again, all four subjects are integrated into one project that they designed on their own. I gave them the supplies, and they decided what to do. 

One very important aspect of STEM is that there should not be one pre-designated outcome. Imagine if a professional scientist began a study with the intent to achieve specific results!  Or if you commissioned an engineer to solve a problem, but then told him how to do it! There is always a time and place to teach our children to follow step by step instructions, but a STEM activity is not that time! We want to make sure our preschoolers have the room to explore and experiment without feeling like they are "doing it wrong."

To help with this I am sharing a Preschool STEM Project every day this week and next week!  You can use them for a daily STEM activity, a summer camp, or even use them next year by creating a science center with the supplies for each one, and leaving those supplies out for two-four weeks!

Because of the open-ended nature of STEM projects, your older kids may enjoy doing them too! Just click HERE to see the collection going up each day!



And if you have any questions about preschool STEM, shoot me an email...I'd love to help!



Happy Educating,
Carla


Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!



I may share at any of these parties!




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