If you are new to the #TeachECE Wednesday series, WELCOME! Each week we partner with other Early Childhood professionals to offer you, our valued readers, activities and suggestions centered around a weekly theme. This week we’ll focus on SPRING STEM ideas to encourage your own kids at home or in the classroom!
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) activities compel preschoolers to use cross-disciplinary tools and critical thinking skills to solve a basic problem. By integrating STEM activities into normal daily routines, preschoolers can gain new knowledge that they can take with them beyond the classroom or home environment and apply to problems found in their everyday world. Come explore the FUN of spring STEM with a Flower Construction Challenge in Preschool!
Spring STEM in Preschool: Free-Standing Flower Construction Challenge
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Objective: To encourage preschoolers to use critical thinking skills and cross-disciplinary tools to gain new problem solving knowledge that can be applied to the everyday world.
Skills Presented in this Simple Challenge:
Science: Preschoolers will use skills within the scientific method (observing, communicating, comparing, organizing, and relating) while planning, constructing, and documenting learning in the playdough flower challenge.
Technology: Students will use digital cameras to photograph their own flower designs and print the photos to share with peers.
Engineering: Preschoolers will construct a free-standing flower from simple supplies that exhibit early attempts at engineering.
Math: Preschoolers will use mathematical skills (estimation, same/different, lines, patterns) to construct the flower and gain knowledge of mathematical relationships in the challenge.
Discuss the STEPS for STEM SUCCESS before the challenge and while the kids are constructing their own designs:
STEM INQUIRY: Preschoolers are asked to engineer a basic free-standing flower using only the simple supplies below.
- Playdough – commercial or homemade
- Craft Sticks – 10 per student
The kids will ask HOW to construct their flowers. Try to answer their questions with open-ended feedback to allow them to use critical thinking tools to solve the problem independently. Invite the kids to draw a picture of how they want their flower to look. It is truly amazing to watch young kids creating, thinking, and learning through play.
Documentation of Learning and Use of Technology: As the kids construct, have them take digital photos of their constructions to print and share with their peers. Kids will often develop “new” ideas from looking at photos of other flower constructions.
A few of our own preschool free-standing flower design photos:
Building Challenge Wrap-Up: Have the kids come together to share the photos of their flower creations. Invite the kids to explain why they decided to construct their flower in the manner they chose. If any of the kids made improvements (adjustments) to their initial designs, ask them to share why the improvements were necessary. In the photo above, the student initially had too many playdough petals on his flower. The flower was heavy and caused his construction to topple over. The child reduced the amount of playdough used for the flower portion – what a beautiful flower he designed! As the kids look at the various photos, ask students what they would change in their own flower design (if anything) if they had the opportunity to do the challenge again. STEM challenges in preschool invite kids to think critically, play, gain new knowledge, and explore how that knowledge can be used in the future.
We hope your own kids enjoy playing and learning with STEM challenges! For more SPRING STEM activities from The Early Childhood Education Team, please check out the awesome suggestions below!
Spring STEM Activities with Eggs from The Educators’ Spin on It
Spring FLOWER STEM Investigation from Life Over C’s
Your kids might also enjoy:
Lavender Pre-Writing – free flower printable with a sensory paint idea for playful learning!