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Our curriculum utilizes the STEAM (or in our case STREAM) approach to learning that incorporates Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics. The added “R” is for Religious programs. This guides our dialogue with our students, encourages inquiry and critical thinking skills.
Two recent themes that highlight the Science portion of STREAM are The Pond and Bugs and Crawly Things. Both themes were a hit with our class!
The monthly topic is broken into weekly, then daily topics. During The Pond theme we had a daily theme of Ducks. I had gone to the library ahead of time, and with the assistance of the librarian, I brought back all kinds of great books relating to pond life. We also have a full color daily topic poster included in our curriculum kit. We use it as a springboard for inquiry and dialogue.
Now, you could read about webbed feet and their purpose all day long, however the children may not remember much of the details. Read a book AND play in water- that is when real learning connections occur in the brain. Why? The added sensory and emotional connection help cement this learning because now you are engaging the entire body. This is crucial for preschoolers.
Below, the children are playing in water, comparing their hands to a duck’s foot. Questions asked: “How is your hand like a duck foot?” “What is different about a duck’s foot and your hand?” “Is it easier to move the water with your hand or the tools in the water?”
We then added plastic sandwich baggies to our discovery. I asked, “Do you find it easier now to move the water?” “Tell me more about what you notice now that you are moving the water with a baggie over your hand.” “Is your hand wet or dry under the baggie?”
Our Mother Goose Teacher Guide features a Closing Circle each day. There are questions listed that help the children recall the learning experiences and encourage critical thinking skills. There is never a shortage of sharing by the children and (most) stay on topic, recalling what they did at the Invitation To Create table, the STEAM centers such as science or technology and even the library area.
Moving on to Bugs and Crawly Things, our learning connection came to life (literally) at our trip to the G.T. Butterfly House and Bug Zoo. Prior to our trip we had watched YouTube videos on our daily topics, such as beetles. However, we were able to see a Giant Stage Beetle (named Steve!) in person and outside of his cage! We also learned that he eats saps and fights other male Giant Stag Beetles. I can tell you the excitement generated from this experience was unparalleled to any other experience that month.
The other highlight of our field trip was seeing the life stages of a butterfly in person, and even releasing butterflies into the garden. This was their first flight and we were a part of it! We are fortunate to have parents, grandparents and siblings interested in our program and they join us quite often. One grandma even allowed her grandson to capture memories on her phone. Very cool!
The mix of classroom experiences combined with those out in the community have certainly played an integral part in growing children who are empathetic and care deeply about the environment. For this I am grateful!
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