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As a parent, carer, or teacher, it is a common agreement that we need to take children away from mindless screen time in this digital age. There are lots of activities we commonly suggest, like reading a book, drawing a picture, or doing a puzzle. However, there are other options for more engaging activities that can significantly assist in the development of our children’s brains and bodies. Keep reading to learn more about STEAM.
What is STEAM?
STEAM Education is a learning technique that involves using Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. The creative activities will aid in developing an inquisitive and analytical mind. The term came from STEM, which ignores the application of art or the creative process, which is the binding glue to the STEM elements. By including arts and crafts, we can foster whole and balanced citizens that can excel in their careers and life path. Having a technical approach or excelling at mathematics is all well and good, but the most successful people use creativity, problem-solving, and have a flair for thoughtful design.
Examples of Activities
Perhaps your child’s school has a STEM or STEAM program. Examples of a fully integrated STEAM lesson might be using straws to build the strongest bridge or highest tower. This way, you use a creative process (making) to fulfill an idea (to build something strong or tall) using engineering thought (how materials are combined in the best way). I remember to this day a similar experiment at school, and after the enjoyable making part, we analyzed how each of our bridges was strong or not, depending on the design. This activity applied real-life theory through collaboration and creativity, so we learned many more skills than just engineering theory. And it stuck.
How to create a STEAM Activity
The arts and crafts project might follow a similar timeline to a scientific experiment in which you come up with an idea, predict what may happen, question what did happen, and summarise why.
Follow these steps to start creating a STEAM activity:
- What theory do you want to teach: science, technology, engineering, or mathematics? You can go through this one by one or choose the part your child struggles with the most. Applying theory with something creative and fun might help them begin to excel in a topic by giving them another way to explore it.
- How will you teach it: which artistic processes could you use to illustrate and test the theory? An example would be learning fractions through studying Mondrian’s paintings. Think outside of the box and choose a medium that can demonstrate a topic well but also help develop your child’s motor skills through craft.
- Complete the activity—factor in time for questions and clarification. The process is the main part of the learning, and many children have different learning styles. They may well understand a topic better than ever through the ‘doing’ process.
- Question the activity and talk about what you have learned together. This further deepens the understanding of the activity for your child and gets them to start using the right words by talking about the subject. Thinking, Talking, Writing, Doing, Listening will all help an idea stick. Look into learning styles if you’d like to discover more.
Other tips for implementing STEAM at home
Many people spend years studying STEAM teaching techniques, but there are many ways you can find lesson or activity plans online. Pinterest has lots of ideas that you can implement or even help inspire your own STEAM adventures. Your main objective for planning these activities is to engage your child to learn through doing and questioning. Although there is always time for passive relaxing activities like reading, STEAM is for learning through action and questioning, qualities that are needed for the modern world. Teach your child to be curious.
You don’t need to invest much money into books on STEAM when you can find helpful guides online. Additionally, the materials for your crafty activities don’t have to empty your wallet either. Simple materials found around the home, or even in your trash, can be useful. Cereal boxes, old bottle tops, your old toothbrush, whatever! Maybe this is an activity for you too to be an engineer and repurpose your old belongings.
Lastly, these collaborative activities can be a great opportunity to bond with your children and learn about their capabilities. Team activities can ignite the imaginations of siblings of different ages or other children in a home-schooling group. Yes, it is a chance to learn about Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, but also to learn to solve problems as a team and enhance brainpower through creativity.
Krystle Cook – the creator of Home Jobs by MOM – put her psychology degree on a shelf and dived into a pile of diapers and dishes instead. She is a wife and mother to two rambunctious boys, sweating it out in her Texas hometown. She loves cooking, DIY home projects, and family fun activities.