Early STEAM Skills

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

What Is STEAM Learning?

From the moment a child is born they are curious and ready to explore the world to learn how things work. This is the essence of STEAM learning. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics.

Child playing

S is for Science– Children are naturally scientists. They try to figure out how the world works by engaging their five senses in the scientific method. The scientific method includes observing, forming questions, making predictions, designing and carrying out experiments, and discussing the results of the experiments.

T is for Technology– Cell phones, computers, and tablets are the first things that we think of when we hear technology. but the “T” for technology in STEAM also stands for any type of man-made tool or object. Simple tools like ramps, pulleys, wheels, axles, levers, and scissors are also technologies.

E is for Engineering– Children use the design process to deepen understanding of concepts using critical thinking skills to solve problems or make things better. Students brainstorm and create solutions to problems such as using consumables to create an umbrella that will protect a stuffed bear from the rain. 

A is for Arts- Art in all forms whether it is created through humanities, language arts, dance, drama, music, visual arts, design and new media is integral to developing students’ higher learning skills. When children engage in painting, music, drawing, and playing pretend they are strengthening their mental dexterity, increasing motor skills, enhancing visual learning, and boosting higher decision-making skills. All of these are skills that can be applied to any subject!

M is for Math- Math is a tool children use everyday! Math is number and operations, measurement, patterns, geometry and spatial sense. Everyday mathematics for preschoolers may include knowledge of “more” and “less,”shapes, sizes, sequencing, volume, and distance.

STEAM breaks down curriculum silos and provides opportunities for rich cross curricular learning. For instance,a simple STEAM activity of building a block tower provides opportunities for observation, questioning, prediction, exploring, and discussion the Scientific Method.

  • Observation- “This tower is tall, but I want to make it taller!”

  • Questioning- “How high can I make this tower if I arrange the blocks differently?”

  • Prediction- “If I put the big blocks at the bottom and the smaller square blocks at the top maybe I can build it higher.”

  • Exploring- “I will build a bunch of towers to see if my prediction is true.”

  • Discussion- “What worked and what did not work when you tried out building tall towers?”

Children playing with blocks
Kids working on projects

Why is STEAM Learning Important for Children?

The five disciplines of STEAM fit together seamlessly and help children make cross curricular connections. This hands-on learning is especially important for children as they grow as it provides opportunities for problem solving and out of the box thinking. Language development, independent thinking and learning to collaborate are also products of STEAM. Often requiring strategy and persistence, STEAM learning lays the foundation for future problem solving and creative thinking. Skills that are needed in our 21st Century!

How Can Parents and Caregivers Encourage STEAM Learning?

STEAM learning happens naturally everyday as children explore, play, and try new things. Parents can create an environment for STEAM learning to occur by having everyday materials that support STEAM thinking available for their child to explore like:

  • Balls

  • Books

  • Costumes, Role-play items

  • 2- and 3-dimensional shapes

  • Blocks

  • Construction/Building sets

  • Wheels

  • Ramps

  • Cardboard

  • Clay

  • Paints/watercolors

  • Scissors

  • Rulers/measuring tapes

  • Tubes, funnels, sifters

  • Sand/water

  • Snow/ice

  • Magnifying glasses

  • Measuring cups

  • Sticks and rocks

  • Stamps and stamp pads

  • Containers of all shapes and sizes

  • Paper, Cardboard, Foil

  • Tapes (duct, scotch, masking)

Collage of children learning

Everyday Learning Opportunities!

Do you want more ideas for quick and easy STEAM activities to do at home with your upcoming kindergartner? Watch these 2-3 minute videos created by our CCPS staff and early childhood community supporters.

Websites with Activities and Ideas to Support Early STEAM Learning

Below are websites with resources and activity ideas for STEAM Learning. Some websites and activities are geared toward hand on learning and others are online for children. Peruse and find what may interest your little one!