Yes you read that correctly. STEAM not STEM.

STEAM with the A for ARTS.

What does that look like in a pre school classroom?

Who’s that Trip Trapping over my Bridge?

Over the past month the Pre-prep children have been involved in an ongoing STEAM investigation based on the story of the 3 Billy Goats Gruff.

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths.

You many think some of these subjects seem lofty for your children to grasp. In some ways, that’s true.

Young children may not be ready to understand multiplication or how computers work. This is true, but there are other ways to explore those areas.

Building  strong foundations for future learning by exploring STEAM

Pre-school skills and concepts through play and discussion, then applying those skills through more investigative play.

S – science encourages investigation and answering questions, often involving experimentation

T – technology refers to using simple tools like crayons and rulers, as well as more complex ones like microscopes and computers.

E- engineering refers to recognising problems and testing solutions.

A – arts encourage creativity and allow children to illustrate concepts they are learning.

M – mathematics deal with numbers, but also patterns, shapes, organisation skills and much more.

Our Investigation

Began with a re-visit of the classic tale using a story board.

The children worked together to identify the characters and arrange the images into the correct sequence.

They then created a word wall which identified the key words from the story.

The class was then given the key focus of the investigations “to build a bridge strong enough for the Billy Goats to cross”.

Collectively as a group we used the internet to research different styles of bridges, which materials are used to build the bridge and how the design of the bridge is crucial.

Using the reference images the children designed their own bridge.

The next step in the investigation was for each child to build the bridge they designed. Prior to starting the building, the class was given the 2 structural requirements

  1. There must be enough space under the bridge for the troll to live
  2. The bridge needs to be strong enough to hold the weight of the goats.

Using their bridge design plan and several reference images each child began to build their bridge using an assortment of wooden blocks.

When each child was happy with their bridge design, they selected an animal to trial walking across it.

After several unsuccessful trials and a lot of rebuilds, one by one all the children’s bridges evolved into structures that were successful in supporting the weight of the plastic animals and high enough for the troll to live under.

The Third Stage

The investigation saw the session moving outdoors.

Working in groups the children used the large wooden building blocks and other loose parts from around the yard to build a bridge over the big blue water tubs.

The construction of the bridge required a lot of negotiation, delegation of roles and compromise.

This time the children tested their bridge structure by walking across it.

Each team had to select a “billy goat”. This decision required a lot of thought.

I lead the children in a conversation providing the possible choices; do you choose the smallest, the bravest, the quickest?

How will your choice affect the result? Ultimately there was no right or wrong choice.

STEM exploration is all about trial and error, and being able to change and modify an idea to meet the required outcomes.

The build-up

To  the 4th stage of the investigation was the most exciting. The class was going to undertake a Dramatic re-tell of the tale.

To prepare for this performance the children watched several different styles of dramatic storytelling.

Did they want to have a puppet show, use shadow puppets or make costumes and perform? The winning choice was to have a performance.

The children selected their characters, made masks and rehearsed their lines.

With a little help, they sourced resources from the classroom to make costumes and props.

The morning of the performance’s the children helped to set up the stage for the performance, repositioning pieces of the obstacle course to create the bridge.

With many false starts and a lot of giggling they delivered their lines excitedly with me narrating.

Through STEAM activity in the kindergarten environment, young children will form hypotheses, ask questions and offer observations.

By providing the right environment, kids become analytical thinkers, and are actively, personally involved in directing their own education.

Kids are, by nature, curious. They’re constantly asking questions, wanting to know how things work and why things are the way they are.

This is vital for stimulating their ability to learn and problem-solve creatively.

That’s all from Miss Patti and the Sea Turtles.

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