Monthly Archives: March 2015
Trainers from across the state were busy with blocks on February 18 at the first Train the Trainer event for 2015. Despite snowy weather in the upstate, a large group of trainers attended the interactive seminar, Teaching STEM Through Block Play led by Kelley Buchheister, Ph. D., an Assistant Professor in Instruction and Teacher Education at USC.
What is STEM?
If you haven’t heard the buzz about STEM, the letters stand for . . .
First Kelley introduced that block play naturally stimulates STEM concepts for young children.
· Exploring with blocks allows children to predict and test their “guesses” – a core idea for teaching the scientific process.
· Block play stimulates children to ask questions and problem solve for answers, the basic components of Engineering.
Next Kelley led participants through hands on activities and discussions to explore specific ways to integrate STEM thinking in the early childhood classroom. Participants worked in groups and were given simple challenges that encouraged problem solving, the use of mathematical language and hands-on exploration with different types of blocks.
Kelley has conducted research by fitting video cameras to children’s foreheads while they plan and build in the block center. She showed classroom video footage demonstrating children actually solving problems and constructing knowledge in the block center at the USC Child Development and Research Center.
After lunch, participants experimented with an awesome technology tool that can be used in classrooms. Kelley presented several age appropriate ways that children can integrate technology along with block play.
Participants left with an abundance of ideas and specific tools for promoting STEM concepts using blocks. What was the most useful information that participants gained from this training? Here’s a sample of answers written on evaluations:
-Incorporating the use of blocks in learning with open ended questions
-New ways to make block play a more meaningful learning activity
-Working in groups and doing hands-on activities to really see how children are thinking/utilizing STEM in their play
-The importance of mathematical language in the block center
-Seeing the way she broke up the training with lecture and group activity
-How to take play and make it challenging and engaging for children. Moving behind simply having children “play” and encouraging their creative processes.
Trainers, if you’d like to learn more about block play, Young Children magazine offers this web article, Blocks Develop 21st Century Skills and type the words “block play” into the search box on Pinterest to see a variety of ideas and articles about block play.