As a young kid, learning can be complicated. Whether you are in day care, kindergarten, or even all grown up, learning can be frustrating, especially when you are focused on topics that aren’t interesting or don’t seem relevant to you. Studying can feel like a chore, and forcing kids to focus on learning instead of play can make it hard to keep their interest. That’s what makes play-based STEAM learning so great!
STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics. It combines all forms of learning into one and creates experiences for students that remind them of the real world and helps give learning a sense of purpose. STEAM connects play and learning and relates it to their own little world, making it easier for students to form connections both inside and outside the classroom.
So how does STEAM play benefit learning?
- Confidence. STEAM projects encourage kids to problem solve, which creates a sense of accomplishment and pride when they succeed. Working through these problems to come to a solution help children feel more confident in their abilities and more independent.
- Teamwork. STEAM learning that requires communication with peers can help form relationships and social skills simultaneously. Working through problems and projects together promotes leadership and cooperation!
- Creativity. The solution of projects often come from thinking outside the box and can help inspire kids to think of new ideas, and support imagination and original ideas to run wild!
- Problem solving. STEAM makes figuring out problems fun and provides kids with a new skill. Teaching young ones about trial and error provides a new set of skills. They learn to keep trying, experimenting, and never giving up!
So how can you engage little ones in STEAM play and what are “loose parts”?
STEAM play with loose parts includes any material that can be combined, sorted, moved, taken apart and put back together, and when it comes to loose parts, the possibilities are endless. Loose parts are anything hands-on that can be used to learn while playing, like our rainbow wooden super set. This wooden set can be used to stack, assemble or even play pretend! With bowls, cubes, discs and more, small parts make it simple for imaginations to run wild with lots of creativity and enjoyment simultaneously. They enhance fine motor skills and can be used for games, exploration and so much more. These small toys can make a huge difference in early development. The simplicity of loose parts can build and create so many things and keep minds engaged for hours, teaching kids that the sky’s the limit.
STEAM play with loose parts doesn’t have to be elaborate, since it as all about bringing back the basics, and encouraging straightforward and creative playtime. The eco magnetic polydron is a great introduction to STEAM play, as it has many magnetic shapes that can create 2D and 3D shapes. Children learn as they form pieces together and watch them stick, educating them about magnetic force, patterns, and structure. It is a very hands-on tool, and with 72 pieces, the whole group can enjoy together.
Through creating art, learning about technology, exploring engineering, adding and subtracting parts like mathematics, and examining scientific causes, STEAM play with loose parts can turn play time into learning while keeping kids entertained and invested. STEAM challenges little minds to analyse, design, and examine the world around them, while doing what they love most – playing!