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Posted by on in Early Childhood

STEAM play

What started as a dream has become a reality! One short year ago, our campus, Lawson Early Childhood School, began its journey from Dream to STEAM. Our campus recognized the growing need to provide uniquely designed STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) experiences for our 3, 4, and 5 year old students and began imagining what would later become a fully equipped STEAM lab. At the heart of our STEAM dream has consistently been the goal of developing our PreK students socially, emotionally, and academically while providing opportunities for them to explore, collaborate, problem solve, and question through play. Our global society necessitates a strong math/science background, and by building a STEAM lab for our young learners, we are providing foundational experiences and scaffolding academic vocabulary while fostering a love of learning through carefully designed, standards-aligned experiences that provoke creativity, problem solving, and collaboration.

Open-ended lessons requiring communication and critical thinking allow students to explore many solutions to a variety of problems. Our students benefit from opportunities to build lifelong math/science skills as they investigate the power of wind on a variety of objects using a wind tunnel, code Bee-Bots and Code-a-pillars, design structures and scenery with giant interlocking blocks to use as a setting to retell a story, build strong bridges with a variety of materials, and learn to persevere through trial and error with ramps and tunnels on a big magnetic wall. Through play and careful design, we are developing confident risk-takers while our PreK students explore STEAM for their first time.

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We design our STEAM lessons with a structured teaching cycle (thinking, planning, doing, reflecting) to ensure success in the STEAM lab. Each set of lessons is planned to meet specific academic guidelines. Higher order questions, visuals, “I can” statements, and reflection questions are built in so students acquire new academic and social vocabulary. STEAM lessons are introduced to teachers through flipped learning videos, giving them an opportunity to explore and ask questions about the lessons in advance.

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Posted by on in General

naptime.jpg

What was I thinking?

Obviously I wasn’t when I allowed my son to choose our pre-nap reading material.

A toy catalog? Seriously? What parent that wants their child to nap makes this type of error in judgement? My son’s mind was now hyper-stimulated!

We did eventually segue to Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, but by then I think it was too late. He next had to find his Spiderman toys and engage in some pretend play for a little while. AIl the while I laid as motionless and as silently as I could, hoping that his brain would eventually quiet itself. And it did. He is three and he was tired.

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

Engaging students in vocabulary review is challenging. Here is a strategy for using digital breakouts to make vocabulary review fun and challenging. 

Step One: Build a Quizlet deck.

Quizlet is a great tool for making vocabulary flash cards. The Quizlet Live feature is another fun way to review vocabulary with students. 

Step Two: Click on "Test."

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

preschool math2

When we think about developing math and pre-math skills with preschool children, we usually imagine some explicit, teacher-directed activities that lead children to a correct answer. However, a lot of really significant math learning takes place within the context of classroom play, when teachers are talking with children about problems involving number, quantity, or size.

Young children are developmentally tuned-in to learn number sense in preschool. And, the more we talk with them about number, the more they learn. This can be done in just about any context.

juice

During snack time:

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Posted by on in Student Engagement

creativity

Check out Part 2 of my previous post, "Prompts to Pump Up Creativity and Imagination." The upcoming "sparks," all crucial areas in education, don't get enough time in our classrooms. They can be used in various ways: a "wake-up call" in the morning to get students thinking and feeling. The prompt can be written on the board or said orally to students. Give them a minute to understand what the statement, question, or "equation" means. Add another minute for reflection-and-thinking about their interpretation. Follow up with a class discussion about the prompt and all its associations, connections, meanings, and practical applications in everyday life.

You might want to add writing to this mini-lesson. Instead of just discussing the prompt with students orally, ask them to write a short paragraph response to it. Follow up with kids reading their responses to classmates and discussion. They would think about and reflect on the prompt's meanings, associations, connections, as well as their practical applications in everyday life, and write out their answers. It all culminates with students' oral readings and a class discussion.

Note: The mini-lesson should not exceed 30 minutes. Scan the different prompts and see which ones would be suitable for your students. This would work for upper elementary/middle school to high school students. 

CREATIVITY PROMPTS 

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