This fall your family may be navigating changes in childcare, school attendance or homeschool connections, but even in these radically different times children are still growing and learning. Many of our blog posts this season will focus on learning, so you have additional resources to support the children in your life as they learn more about the world each day, growing up as they go.
Are you searching for ways to spark joy in learning for your child? Try an interactive STEAM activity with your family. STEAM is an acronym that stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. Why STEAM? STEAM sparks curiosity. The goal of STEAM is to create inquisitive and empowered explorers who seek to learn new things and rethink existing concepts throughout their life. Young people learn how to collaborate, communicate, plan, solve problems and create.
“Having a research base as your mindset for learning new things is a lens you can use for the rest of your life,” said Brenda Burdick, Director of Christian School Expansion and Operations with an education experience of 35 years. “Formulating questions, testing hypotheses’ and exploring the world are all parts of the STEAM learning process.” STEAM is used in schools around the world, including in Upbring preschools.
The following STEAM activities fit a variety of ages. Many can be completed with siblings of multiple ages or as an out of the ordinary family group activity. You can make a day of it by exploring themed activities or have a stellar time with one!
- Build a bat cave with blocks.
- Use a bat template to have preschoolers color their own bats and hang them from the ceiling to show how bats hang together in their caves.
- Sing the following song to the tune “Frere Jacque”.
Bats are sleeping
Bats are sleeping
Sleeping in the daytime
Waiting for the nighttime
- Learn about how bats identify using their sense of smell by adding various child safe scents to cotton balls for children to sniff.
- Read “Stellaluna” by Janell Cannon, “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat” by Lucille Colandro or “Bats on Parade” by Kathi Appelt. More advanced readers can check out their own books on bats or research online.
- Start with a question: Ask children what they think trees are used for? What do they like about trees?
- Dive into a tree book, like “Leaf Man” by Lois Ehlert or “Our Tree Named Steve” by Alan Zweibel. More advanced readers can check out their own books on trees or research online.
- Collect leaves. Use a magnifying glass to study the leaves and bark. Count the leaves, then sort them by shape and color. Complete your activity by making a wreath together by gluing leaves to a cut out cardboard ring. Or you can trace the leaves on paper.
- How wide is the tree? Measure the tree trunk with a tape measure or with family members (how many people does it take to surround a tree?). Explain that the rings of a tree indicate how old they are.
Food as energy
- Tell students they must use the materials to create something, such as a bucket or tray, to carry the small plastic fruits and vegetables from one side of the room to the other.
- Play “Farmer Says” with the children using different farm animal motions. For example, “Farmer says hop like a bunny!” “Farmer says waddle like a duck!” “Farmer says strut like a turkey!”
- Plant a variety of seeds and compare how they grow.
- Wash fruits and vegetables together before eating.
- Which vegetables grow above ground and which grow underground?
- Use thumbprint finger painting to make different fruits and vegetables.
Homemade play dough
- Measure and mix food coloring, corn starch and baking soda.
- Combine 2 cups of salt with 2/3 cup of water and bring to a boil.
- Mix the cornstarch with 2/3 cup of cold water and stir until smooth.
- Combine the two mixtures.
- Sculpt, dry and then paint.
100 Toothpicks Engineering Challenge
- What is the tallest free-standing tower you can build with 100 toothpicks and two cups of mini marshmallows?
Learn fractions outside
- Draw rectangles outside with chalk and split into smaller boxes to illustrate the concept of fractions.
Make Glitter Slime
- Combine: 6 oz. glitter glue, ½ tsp baking soda and 11/4 tablespoon contact lens solution.
- Knead the slime.
- That’s it! Now you have fun slime to squish.
Use art to explore math and math to create art.
- Visit this PBS resource to explore connections between math and art.
100 Cup Engineering Challenge
- Build a 100–cup structure out of plastic cups.
Find STEAM role models and mentors to expand your child’s vision of what’s possible in their own lives.
- Share role models through biographies, documentaries and fictional T.V. or movies that feature STEAM role models like Marie Curie, Grace Hopper, Nikola Tesla, Vincent Van Gogh or Katherine Johnson.
- Talk with neighbors, friends, community members, family – anyone that works in the STEAM fields and ask them questions about A) what they do and B) how they got there.
A sense of wonder
“STEAM helps children learn to organize their thoughts and projects into logical answers for real-world problems,” said Leigh Savacool. Leigh has been a teacher for over 18 years and has been with Upbring School of Arts & Sciences since it first opened. She loves teaching early childhood because she knows that’s where the big questions and the sense of wonder in learning first begins. “The sense of wonder is a key element of STEAM,” said Leigh. “Why is the sky blue? All of the simple and really big life questions can be tied back to STEAM.”
About Upbring Preschools
Upbring Education Association is a community of early-childhood, faith-based schools in Central Austin and Downtown Houston. Both schools empower student learning through STEAM. Learn more about Upbring School of Arts and Sciences and Upbring School of Discovery and Leadership by exploring their webinars or signing up for a virtual Q&A session. Both schools have open admissions for children ages six weeks to five years old and virtual learning classroom support for children in elementary school.
“Upbring schools are unique in that they have never closed, not for a single day during the pandemic,” said Brenda. “It’s a privilege to be entrusted with teaching the next generation. We hope to be able to continue to do so for a long time to come.” By providing a sense of normalcy and offering financial assistance to alleviate any burdens on the families at this time, Upbring is determined to fully demonstrate our steadfast commitment to breaking the cycle of child abuse by empowering children, families and communities.