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Learning through STEAM

Here at Parish Day School we know that children learn best through play. This can be seen in all the activities our children participate in throughout their preschool day. Our children thrive in environments where they can participate in hands-on-learning and imaginative play. Their "work" at preschool is to play throughout the day.

We also know the importance of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) in the life of our preschoolers. STEAM lends itself opportunities for our students to explore through play. STEAM activities allow our teachers to ask open ended questions like "What will happen next..." or "I wonder if..." to facilitate brainstorming and making predictions as they play. This is the beginning of building scientific inquiry.

In preschool, Science looks like experimenting and exploration. Projects our preschoolers work on in the classroom include planting seeds and watching them grow, making homemade playdough or slime, and exploring freezing and melting activities. Classroom science centers include binoculars, beginner microscopes, tape measures, scales, plants and seeds, and magnifying glasses. Science also extends to our playground and church grounds with investigation and discoveries in the sand, mulch, trees, leaves and the weather.

In our classrooms, Technology for preschoolers refers to technological inventions like rulers, measuring tapes, scales, microscopes, and computers. We introduce technology that is interactive between students and teachers. Some examples of technology in our preschool rooms could be watching NASA launch a space ship when learning about outer space or logging on to the Virginia Beach Libraries Virtual Storytime.

Another area of STEAM is Engineering. Engineering activities in preschool are ones that allow students to design and construct. The Engineering process allows teachers to ask the students to imagine, plan, create and then test their designs. In our preschool classrooms, designing and construction happen daily in the block center as students build structures and roads. Students test these structures with toy cars and toy figurines. These structures turn into imaginary play with endless opportunities.

Art in preschool encourages creativity and allows students to express themselves as they illustrate concepts they are learning. The research shows that the most important thing about Art at this age is the "process" of creating. Our students have access to art supplies throughout the day and are encouraged to create their own masterpieces. Teachers are there to help guide if needed, but they allow the children freedom to do the creating by themselves. Children have free choice of the types of materials they use in creating their art work through Process Art. We love watching our little learners make their own ingenious creations!

The final area of STEAM is Mathematics. For preschoolers, Mathematics includes counting, patterning, recognizing and creating shapes, sorting and graphing. In our classrooms teachers use mathematics with the children as they count how many girls and boys are in attendance, create patterns when counting the days of the month, and sorting items by color or size.

We are so thankful to be part of a school that values STEAM activities. Each day is an opportunity to build on our students' learning and allow them to explore and investigate. We are also thankful to Virginia Quality and the support of Early Childhood grants through Kaplan for STEAM materials.

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