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STEAM in JK ... Naturally!
By: Junior Kindergarten Teachers Christie Castagno, Mary Dryden and Diane Vujnich
Junior Kindergarten naturally incorporates STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) throughout the school day. This solid foundation for a Rossman education is built through play and developmentally appropriate learning opportunities. As teachers, we provide the materials and initiate the activities, but it is important to know when to step back and allow a child’s natural curiosity, interest and problem solving skills to take over. Excitement for learning is evident as the children flock to these activities and express their eagerness to repeat them again and again.
Exploring nature through observation and curiosity is a daily activity in the JK classroom. Informal learning can take place anywhere including the playground, the “Big Backyard” and the Pollnow Nature Trail. Science has a natural partnership with art as colors are mixed and mediums are explored. More formal, planned activities in the classroom may include experiments or cooking.
Bee-Bot the robot creates a lot of “buzz” in our room, as each child has the opportunity to learn computer programming by thoughtfully planning how Bee-Bot is to reach his destination and then pushing a series of buttons to execute the determined path. The importance of social interaction and cooperation is always emphasized during our technology learning times. Interactive Smartboard and iPad activities are also helpful in building our technology foundation.
Building with blocks and ramps in our block area gives our budding engineers opportunities to construct and plan successful structures and pathways. Rolling a marble along the pathway helps to determine the accuracy of the structure and allows for thoughtful problem solving as well as cooperative teamwork.
In Junior Kindergarten we emphasize the process of art, not the product. Exposure to a variety of materials and mediums encourages experimentation. Our study of famous artists highlights the use of specific techniques and materials and gives the children the opportunity to try them in their own “inspired by” pieces.
Math concepts and manipulatives are introduced during small group lessons. Because fun and games are an important part of JK learning, the children are drawn to these activities and often request to do them during times of the day when they are allowed to choose their own activities. This repetition is important as each child is developmentally ready for these concepts at different times, and many can take these concepts to another level by the end of our school year. In this photo, the children don’t even realize that the “bean game” is teaching probability. Math is incorporated in many parts of our day, from calendar time and large group activities to small groups and story times.
All of these subject areas are available and presented to the children daily, either during formal or informal instruction. We are confident of the strong foundation and excitement for learning that our curriculum is building for our children as they progress through each grade level at Rossman School.