Sunday, December 18, 2016

Tot School: S.T.E.A.M. Stations and Hedgehogs

You may have heard of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) stations. This was a huge idea in the public education field in which I worked for 8 years.  One of the top questions for educators was:
 "How is what I am teaching incorporating a STEM concept? Can I use STEM in my lesson"  

STEAM is the same thing, but now ART  (letter A) is incorporated.  
Mother Goose Time incorporates 1 STEAM station per day.  
In the front of the Teacher Guide, there is a chart of the STEAM stations for the month. 
I don't do all of these, but one way I use this is by setting up what my girl is currently interested in.
  Right now, Sweet Pea is really into building with her blocks and play dough, so I really want to make sure I incorporate these stations on the days listed.  
This past week, we discovered an animal that she has not seen before... 

Below is a picture of the Teacher Guide explaining how to set up the STEAM Station for the day. It also lists the main skills the lesson is trying to accomplish.  
But you might be asking, "What does "Fine Motor 5.1 mean?" 

At the back of the Teacher Guide is a chart known as the Developmental Continuum. Fine Motor skills fall under the main skill of a child's Physical Development.
Fine Motor 5.1 is highlighted below.
Basically, this Prickly Hedgehog play dough station is all about how Sweet Pea handles objects and if she can follow simple safety rules like "Don't eat the play dough!" or "Be careful with the toothpick.  The pokey ends are sharp."

So what did it look like for us?
FUN and Scary!  
  I used some of the white baking soda dough I made for our Christmas ornaments. This stuff can dry over a period of a few days, and you have yourself a little sculpture ready to be painted! The toothpicks though... they had me a little on the heeby-jeeby side. Toothpicks stabbing into play dough... a 2 year old using toothpicks... I took a deep breath, put them on her tray, and pulled up a seat next to Sweet Pea.

I crafted a hedgehog along side Sweet Pea demonstrating different ways of using the tools presented.  She had never really used toothpicks before and I didn't want any injuries happening.
Do you too go into Mom-mode... "What if she decides to put that toothpick in her mouth? What if she bites on it and swallows the sharp end? What if...."
What-ifs can help keep us on our toes.
But what-ifs can be awful and keep us from exposing ourselves to new and important things.

She used a pine cone to add texture to her dough.

It's amazing how some googly eyes make play dough so much more fun!

Use all the toothpicks!!!

Using her pincer grasp to hold the toothpicks. #finemotorskill

Sweet Pea and I so enjoyed this activity!  
Was she successful according to the skills presented to be assessed?

She was careful with the toothpicks... she didn't break any nor stab herself (or me for that matter) with them. And she didn't eat the dough even with it's enticing peppermint smell. #win 
Health and Safety 6.3 = Success

She used her pincer grasp (index and thumb) to pick up singular toothpicks and stab them into the dough.  She rolled a pine cone in the dough to make textures, and she removed the toothpicks from the dough one by one.
Fine Motor Skill 5.1 = Success

You could simplify this activity with popsicle sticks, which I definitely considered.
But I decided to step out of my comfort zone and give her a tool I was apprehensive over, and she amazed me once again.  I should stop worrying about stuff, and just let her try.
I guess I am learning right alongside her. <3 

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