Fostering STEM skills in young children, often starts with the materials you have available in your environment. However, it is more than the materials, but rather, how the Educator facilitates learning with materials and how the children utilize the material. The right materials often enhance the learning that can take place in any environment. For example, utilizing the natural shape viewers (inside or outside), encourage children to naturally investigate. It limits the ‘view’ of an object and allows children to look closer. As an Educator, using the following inquiry statements and questions support STEM learning:
- Wow, that is a large leaf! It is so big it is larger than your shape viewer.
- What do you notice about that leaf?
- Is it the same as…
- Is it different than…
- Does it look different when you use the shape viewer? Why or why not?
- What if you ‘zoomed’ in with your shape viewer?
- Does the leaf look the same all over?
As Kodo’s Educators began considering materials for children to develop scientific disposition focused around play and self-directed investigation, it was important to consider The Creative Curriculum® classroom Discovery area. With many of our curated kits of materials, the consideration to invite curiosity and close examination to assist children in developing important processing skills was at the forefront of our minds. Additionally, the thinking that these materials would be available to enhance what you already have.
When considering The Creative Curriculum® classroom Discovery area, Kodo took into consideration the need to enhance the ‘S’ in STEM – Science! Specifically, the need to increase interest and discovery with physical science. The materials within each kit offer the ability for children to be creative, think outside of the box, and engage in learning.
Set Up Your Space
For The Creative Curriculum® classroom Discovery area, Kodo wanted to support educators in setting up their space. No matter the size, the area can be centered around a shelf, a table, or on the floor. The biggest component you will find in all of the kits is the activity tray. This is an important piece as it allows you to provide a set of materials to investigate and interact with, all while providing a defined space for children. For example, if utilizing the marble rubber ramps to explore motion, incline, force, and other physics terminology, the activity tray can act as a marble catcher! This tray works great on the floor or on a table. Again, make considerations to what works best for your environment and children.
When looking at Science and STEM, Kodo always likes to take the learning outside! There are so many opportunities for exploring science outside, and what better way to engage learners when the weather is nice than taking the learning outside. When the materials are rotated or even taken outside, children are naturally curious about what they can do with them. Further, the children will think of new materials to incorporate into their play.
As you look to incorporate Kodo’s materials into the Discovery Area, don’t hesitate to contact our Educators for additional support.