This month we have been celebrating STEM and STEAM Education. What’s the difference? STEAM is simply an approach to learning that not only incorporates Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, but also the Arts!
Elizabeth McBee shares how she has turned this crazy COVID year into a year of homeschooling and creativity using simple, open-ended toys that allow her children to discover in a way that is comfortable to them. When children feel comfortable, they will learn new skills! Not only are her children learning new skills, but they are also incorporating all different learning styles and techniques encouraging inquiry, dialogue and critical thinking (yay STEAM!). The best part is, much of this is led by her children as they are developmentally ready to move through to the next level of discovery.
With the one-year anniversary of COVID having passed, so many of us are reflecting on this past year. There is something unique about facing a challenge as a collective group. Somehow as we all faced isolation like never before, we became connected on a deeper level. We have shared struggles and insights, humor and life hacks. We have risen to the occasion and had each other’s backs. Now it is spring again, and we are slowly getting back to life outside our homes. One thing that I sincerely hope remains, is how we share with each other.
For me, this past year brought the opportunity to homeschool my children. While the freedom and flexibility provided a much-needed reprieve, it also brought very real challenges. With kids ranging from Pre-K to 3rd grade, it was no joke trying to accommodate everyone.
As a former preschool teacher, I did have a few tricks up my sleeve. My favorite secret weapon is open-ended materials. Not only are they versatile, but they also inspire the learner and allow them to discover at their own pace. Take, for instance, this Stuff N’ Pull Scarf Tote. It could be labeled as a toddler toy, but we have found endless uses for it! The scarves have been volcanoes for geology. They’ve been capes in plays the girls have written. The container was transformed into a mystery box to study material properties and understand the concept of deduction. All the while, my 4-year-old was using the same materials to play alongside the big kids! It allowed her to participate in a way that was fun at her level. The best part is, I don’t have to do all the thinking! By providing these materials, the children naturally get inspired and take initiative to construct their own knowledge.
It turns out, we are all made for creative connection. We take what we are given and make magic out of it. To absolutely everyone: congratulations not just on making it through a year, but for all the little ways you did the unexpected and transformed the world.
Discovery Windows - KRP-8
Translucent Wedgits - IMA-02
Earth, Wind, and Water Blocks - MTC-628
Toddler Fruit Abacus - KRP-001
Have a moment to share with us? Be sure to tag us and use the hashtag #constructiveinsights in your post. We’d love to potentially feature you on our social feeds and/or in an upcoming email!