STEM Learning, How About STEAM Instead?

Have you ever sat back and watched a child play? What did you see? How did they process the information that they were absorbing? Did they try something then try again?

If you haven’t taken the time I highly suggest you do. Kids are amazing! I am always impressed with how many complex concepts that they manage to teach themselves. Kids have a determination that I wish I possessed. More often than not they will try and try again until they master something. Once mastered they often come up with a different way to do something and occasionally end up creating an alternate result.

Now let’s talk about what kids learn. Specifically subjects that our society places a higher value on.

STEM, is the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This philosophy has been growing for years. These four subjects are vital to our current world however they were missing an important piece of the puzzle.

Art.

Have you ever purchased an app that was not visually appealing? Did you keep it or was it hard for you to utilize? Personally, if I don’t like the look of it I won’t waste my time using it. Completely unconsciously too, it just happens. Have you ever walked into a house where the layout wasn’t right? All the correct things were present but the flow was stifled.

Both of those situations are because the Art aspect was either forgotten or not prioritized.

It has been said that “Occupations in STEM-related careers are some of the fastest growing and best paid of the 21st century, and they often have the greatest potential for job growth.”1

How amazing is that?!?

As a mom of little’s I want to prepare my kids the best I can for the world that they will grow up in and potentially the world where they become leaders. I firmly believe that by moving from STEM to STEAM they will be better equipped for their lives. They will know how to think outside of the box while accomplishing a plethora of tasks. I want my kids to know how to think creatively, critically and how to be inventive. While also understanding the value that those skills bring to a variety of situations.

Do you have similar goals to me? Do you want your kids to stand out from the crowd?

Let me introduce you to one of my new favorite resources. This post contains affiliate links.

Steam Kids 50+ STEAM Activities

Steam Kids is a book that will inspire children to:

question like a scientist

design like a technologist

build like an engineer

create like an artist

deduce like a mathematician

and, most importantly

play like a kid.”

What does this all actually look like? Check out this fun video.

STEAM Kids Headline Continue reading

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Little Gymnasts

We loved gymnastics!! Sadly our classes recently came to a close. The kids had such a wonderful time and broadened their horizons. I didn’t put the kids into gymnastics to become professionals. We joined to become more familiar with what our bodies are capable of and push our boundaries, physically and emotionally. Sometimes trying new things are hard, it is for me. I wanted our kids to know that they can do new things and that they can overcome challenges. We found our success.

The class that we participated in was a combination of gymnastics and dance. Half an hour of each, it was a great balance. Long enough but not too much for my babes. They changed the equipment on a weekly basis and each week the coach introduced each piece and demonstrated how it was to be used. The kids followed them around piece by piece. After the intro they were given the choice to decide which equipment to use. The coaches were great to step in and help the kids or show them another technique they could use.Jungle Gym CollageBee loved this piece. It isn’t necessarily gymnastics specific but the coach taught him how to climb the sides and use his strength to scale the wall, similar to parkour technique. It was out of his comfort zone as he normally is logical. He naturally wants to go in through the door in the back and go down the slide. I’m glad that this was able to open his mind to more possibilities of play. I think he would love parkour but I’m not sure I want him scaling everything possible. If we had a backyard that had room to run then I might have looked into that option more.Bear Crawl CollageA simple ladder turned flat is quite a challenge. The coach asked the kids to walk like a bear. They loved pretending to be a bear, we even had a couple growls. Sweets mostly liked to climb over the rungs and place her feet on the floor before climbing the next rung. It was still a good challenge for her.Obstacle CollageBee loves jumping, always has. However his landings err on the side of danger. He used to land sideways, on his hands, roll into a somersault, anything but his feet. We worked really hard on sticking his landings. Whether it was jumping off a vault or coming off of the parallel bars. We finally got him to stay on his feet!! Hooray. Hopefully this skill is retained so I don’t have to worry about him so much on the playground.Ringette CollageHockey and Ringette!! Occasionally we had a sports introduction activity in between gymnastics and dance. One of the weeks we were learning how to manipulate pucks, balls and tings with hockey sticks. They loved it! It was such a change in pace and they had to learn new rules. Such as using two hands and keeping one end on the ground as opposed to running around poking your friends eyes out. Bee was drawn more to the pucks and Sweets preferred the rings. Both of them surprised me by being able to utilize their space and actually get the puck/ring in the net.gymnasticsOur coach tried to get the babes to try a few new techniques especially on the balance beam. They enjoyed the beams but often just raced across. Coach had them point their toes as they stepped over stuffed animals used as obstacles. Some other positions were airplane (arms in front and one leg stretched behind them), V sit (feet on beam in front) and dips (bending one knee and dipping one foot beside the beam). I even got involved occasionally. Sweets was impressed that I could do a V sit with no help so she joined me. Its trickier balancing a toddler, baby belly and myself but we managed.Dance CollageDuring dance we often sang action songs and practiced dancing fast or slow. Our coach also had us use our imagination. We skipped around the room gathering berries and touched our toes as we picked carrots. We moved as various animals would. We had so much fun. Often the kids came home dancing and leaping. Yeah!

Both of the kids had a great time and I was impressed with the toddler programs. Bee could easily move up to the next level but we have chosen to wait to re-register him til the fall. I debated doing this class again but ultimately it came down to me. It is not easy for me to keep up with two babes while being pregnant. Oy. Its just too much and that is okay. We have to make choices that are best for our family and that includes all of us. River City Gymnastics does offer a drop in -free play time which we will utilize on good days til babe comes and the fall semester starts.

Week Review

Here are our workboxes prior to starting this week:

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase from one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.

JournallingThis week I introduced a new concept to Bee. We are starting to Journal. Bee can draw, he can color, use stickers whatever he wants. I have prompted him a little bit to start. After our morning routine I asked Bee if he wanted to write in his journal. If he said yes than we got our journal, colors and stickers. I asked him what we did the day before and we wrote hand over hand whatever his answers were. After we write for a bit I give him other supplies to decorate his pages with. Most days he likes to write something but occasionally he just draws. It is up to him. My goal is to get him to write/draw once a week.

Flashcard Siblings

In our foundations bins both kids have flashcards. Which they love. Bee has even taken to teaching Sweets her shapes and colors. Victory!! One less thing for me to do.

Number Toss

This is real life and real life is messy. I’ve learned to just embrace it ….and clean up before snacks. Its my little trick to keeping things from getting out of control. Here we are with our number bean
 bags. One side has a number (2) and the other side has it written out (two). I love them. I had Bee pick a bag look at the number then I told him what it was and he repeated it before he threw it into the bin. Math with a physical element thrown in. He threw these all week long. I got out different baskets for him to use just to mix things up.
Sweets is getting better and better at puzzles. Melissa & Doug Shapes Sound Puzzle is amazing much like their entire collection. This puzzle was an easy way to incorporate auditory learning and independence.
This week our focus was our language bin, specifically the letter K. Bee’s speech has been improving and we have been working hard for his success. We also recruited Sweets into our speech therapy activities. Might as well. Our speech therapist has been amazing and supports our education goals. She often prints me off resources with activities for us to do in between our sessions. I am so blessed to have her support. I have also found many great speech resources online. (I will share some in a later post.)
We had an off day and didn’t get any of learning activities down until Jason got home. It was actual a nice treat for all of us. I probably appreciated it the most because we could work with both the kids and help them at the same time.
Coloring K Collage
First we colored our “K” sound images. Then we practiced our scissor skills before glueing our pictures onto a giant K.
Letter K Phonic Collage
Ta-daa!
Our pictures are ready for the fridge and practicing our “K” sound. We often display our work on the fridge but I also discovered that it was the perfect reminder to actually use our project. When Bee wanted a snack we had to say at least a few words correctly first. Sweets also enjoyed pointing to her page while I told her what the objects were.
Build a Dinosaur

For our world study we went back in time. To when dinosaurs roamed the earth! Bee loves Dino’s so we had lots of fun options for our bins. It was perfect because somethings were better for older kids and some activities were good for all ages.

Bee received a Dinosaur building figurine for Christmas that came with his very own screw driver. How exciting! He loves to take this apart and build it over and over again. We also have gigantic dominoes with dinosaur pictures. We played a lot of games matching the Dinosaurs but also talking about the differences between them. Long legs, short arms, wings, horns, etc. We also read some great books with some of our favorite people.
Dinosaur Reading
For the younger crowd our designated activity was playing with play dough and cookie cutters. Bee couldn’t let Sweets have all the fun so they played together.

Week Review

Stacking Cups Fine Motor

Forever ago I made a coin slot activity for Bee. Probably when Bee was between 12M and 18M. It was a cocoa container that I cut a slit into the lid. I made the hole big enough for a milk lid. I choose the milk lids because they are bigger than coins and I have an endless amount. Bee played love putting the lids though the slot but he has gotten tired of that now. I can retire that toy to use with sweets. Bee wanted to put the lids into the Stacking Cups instead. Works for me. Bee is getting better at stacking but he can only do a few by himself. Often Bee knows that another cup goes on top but he doesn’t know which cup. He normally picks the cup two sizes too small. In order to teach him I let him put it on our tower. If it doesn’t fit I ask him if it fits or if he wants to try another. If he doesn’t want to try a different cup then when he tries to stack the cups again the tower tumbles. He is getting better and quite proud of himself when he successfully stacks all the cups.

Later on that day we bought Bee his very own STRIDER!!Strider Gross MotorLook at that face! He is ecstatic. He couldn’t wait to get it assembled and ride around our living room. He didn’t quite get it figured out but I’m sure in no time he will be riding it everywhere.

Tuesday we went to the park with our cousins. Of course Bee had a blast climbing, sliding and running. Sweets tried to eat all the rocks….. well I should mention that she also loves the swing but mostly rocks.

Spray Bottle

Grasping WaterbottleAfter the park Sweets fell asleep in the van so we let her rest while we played on the driveway. Squirt bottles and chalk. Bee cleaned my van. We drew pictures. Wrote our names. Even had a mini water fight. Bee mostly got himself in the face but he enjoyed himself and that’s what counts.

 

Letter Recognition ChalkWe played a game with our names. I said a letter and Bee jumped on the letter. Sometimes he got it right but mostly he was just jumping around. It was good for his motor skills.

Musical BongosOur musical box lasted maybe 10 minutes. His favorite is the Bongo drum. It came with a mallet but we decided he didn’t need another option to bonk Sweets with.

We started Thursday off with swimming lessons. They did not go very well. My little man just wanted to cling to me. No bubbles, no kicking and he didn’t even want to go down the slide himself. I was shocked. He hung onto the ledge and slowly let his legs pull him downward. It was ridiculous. Hopefully next week is better. Thursdays box was our felt dolls. Some days he loves changing their clothes but he was not interested today. He did enjoy the magnifier. We spied all sorts of things. I had some cardboard tubes lying around so we became pirates. Why not? Pirates spy things right. Well in this house they do.

 

Dance PartyFriday I should have brought out our pirate tubes again for our Eye Spy Board. Oh well, hind sight. I quite enjoyed our new dollar store flashcards. They were nice and simple with bright colors. I have Bee repeat (attempt) the names of the colors and shapes. We also trace the outline of the shapes. My favorite activity we did on Friday was our family dance party!! We love to move it, move it! Sweets mostly jumps and it is adorable. Bee is a spinner with the occasional jump and hands in the air. He also loves when I hold him, he puts our hands together (perma high five) with his cheek on mine as we dance around the room. He is absolutely the sweetest boy that I know.

Saturday was Sweets turn in the pool. She mostly just looked around but she isn’t unhappy so its a win. We latter ventured over to Jason’s parents house for some time with his Mom. It was Mother’s Day weekend. We spent the time reading, riding bikes, jumping on the tramp, matching shapes and recognizing colors. We found lots of flowers and even heard some bees. We ended up visiting all of our parents and grandparents between Saturday and Sunday. We are blessed to have family around. I also appreciate that they take the time to teach Bee and Sweets some simple things or simply listen to them. Family is one of our greatest blessings.

If I was more organized I would have had some Mother’s Day activities in his boxes but alas it didn’t occur. Better luck next year.

 This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation. Thanks for supporting me and my family!

Workbox Wednesday

Monday
Cup Stacking, Flashcards, Coin Slot
 Cup Stacking, Flashcards, Coin Slot
Tuesday
Sidewalk Chalk, Spritz Bottles
Sidewalk Chalk, Spritz Bottles
Wednesday
Bongo Drum, Shaker, Train Whistle
 Bongo Drum, Shaker, Train Whistle
Thursday
Felt Dolls, Magnifier
 Felt Dolls, Magnifier
(Hubs assembled this bin. Let’s see what Bee does with it)
Friday
Shapes and Color Flashcards, Eye Spy
 Shapes and Color Flashcards, Eye Spy
I’m excited for this next week. I think Tuesday will be our best day but only time will tell.
Watch for an update next week.

Week Review

Texture Squares Matching

We started off this week with our Educational Insights Teachable Touchables Texture Squares. They are a nice and simple sensory activity. Good for many ages. We have been using the squares for quite a while, mostly for matching. Bee knows that and nails it almost every time. I switched things up on him by asking him to find the brown square, the green square or to be even trickier the bumpy or fluffy square. We have never done that, nor do I use texture words often. It was nice to teach him some different vocabulary. He did decent with the colors but he loves green so often he just says everything is green. What a turkey.

I spontaneously decided to read Bee the first book of the set My First BOB Books: Pre-Reading Skills. We enjoyed it, a nice and simple read. He wanted to read the next book but I was unsure if the program was based on repetition…. So we read it through a few more times, when we went back I had Bee point to various objects in the pictures and practice his A and B sounds. It was a good introduction to the program.

Fine Motor HammeringTuesday we practiced our manly man skills. Hammering. Does it get more manly? Well its a start. We used golf tee’s and floral foam to create the perfect toddler hammering activity. You can get tee’s and foam at dollar stores. I love a good cost effective activity.

Fine Motor Pipe Cleaners

Our mega hit activity was simple. Pipe cleaners cut into short pieces and a spice container, both from a dollar store. Bee loved putting them in the top. The spice containers helped develop Bee’s wrist movements by taking the lid off. He hasn’t quite figured it out yet but he is getting closer and that is the main point. Bee played all day long with these.

Transferring and PouringBells and containers. That’s it, that’s all. The result was hours of play. I gave Bee multiple containers made of different materials. I choose different materials to create different sounds and make pouring more difficult. Bee had an old “Tylenol spoon” to use for transferring. He did really well and was able to get the bells into a plastic condiment container. The metal tin made a great sound when the bells entered or when Bee shook the container. The old paper towel tube was fun because we could hear the bells slide down. The down side for us was Sweets…… she loved the sound and wanted them for herself. They are a choking hazard so we had to be extra careful. I normally try and do Tot School while Sweets is asleep but that doesn’t work all the time. Especially when the Tot Box lasts for hours.

Swimming Lessons

Thursday was also our first swimming lesson of the year. Bee did pretty good. He is excellent at kicking (splashing) and doesn’t mind going under water but he needs to work on blowing bubbles.

Saturday was Sweets turn to take a “dive.” I let Jason take her for her first lesson. Sweets was a trooper. She didn’t cry, mostly just looked around. I know she won’t learn too much but our goal is to help her feel confident in water. It will help us out a lot in the summer when we go down to the Cabin. Sadly I don’t have any pictures of my swimmers at the pool but with two kids we rotate who goes and who stays. Someone must watch the other kiddo.

Sink and Float ScienceFriday = Funday. We went out to my parents house and played a game of sink or float. If I had planned this activity I would have had multiple objects to drop in water. I would have also used a bigger container of water. One of the Tot Boxes or even better, our water table. However learning happens wherever and whenever so I try and seize the moments as they come. We had a bowl of water and a cork. These two babes loved dropping the cork in again and again. It made a splash when it dropped but after they could splash getting the cork to drop again. It was so funny to watch. I’m not sure who had a better time. Sweets, Bee or Gramma. They all had a hoot.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation. Thanks for supporting me and my family!