Every day in preschool we work to integrate academic content and skills into our classroom. We believe that every interaction with our students is an opportunity for learning. Students are constantly learning through guided play, group activities, and one-to-one interactions with staff members. Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities are particularly engaging to our young learners. Recently, our class participated in a STEM lesson. The task was for students to identify, count, draw, and build a home so that all of their family could fit inside.
Recently, our class participated in a STEM lesson. The task was for students to identify, count, draw, and build a home so that all of their family could fit inside.
The activity prompted the children to think about their family individually and identify similarities/differences among their peers as we begin to build our classroom community. Guided conversations gave students time to share, reflect, and organize their ideas. We used Popsicle sticks to represent individual family members and help children work on counting skills.
Many of the children initially built long rows of blocks or tall tower. The people could fit beside or on top but not inside. The children were prompted again to build a home that could fit all of their family. Some children knew right away and set to work on building a structure that was tall and had an open center, while others tried multiple times or even make the decision to come back or revisit it later. Problem-solving, knowledge of spatial relationships, and the ability to attend and persist all played a role in the support each student required. Working in small groups created opportunities for flexible learning pathways and allowed students time to conceptualize at their own pace.
The Vermont Early Learning standards guide curriculum decisions. Data is collected to meet assessment objectives from Teaching Strategies Gold, an observation based assessment, are used to provide students with a rigorous curriculum that is both engaging and challenging. A play-based embedded learning approach gives students multiple opportunities to work towards meeting objective at a developmentally appropriate and individual pace. This multi-step activity presented many opportunities to observe and document student work. The project-based activity overlapped in eight developmental and academic domains and set the stage for future individual learning opportunities.
Kristie French is an Early Childhood Educator at BFA Fairfax