Fun Pre-STEM Activities
Do you and your child like to experiment with food recipes or fix something with nails, string, or glue? What about make a gift for a friend out of recycled objects. Do you & your child ever create special projects with a paper towel roll or use a shoe box for building or exploring? Maybe you use the covers of milk container or cut coupons to create a collage. If you ever experimented with these items, then you & your child have been TINKERING!
This idea of self-initiated exploration and discovery is called Tinkering. Encouraging children to tinker gives them skills to be a creative learners, thinkers, doers, and problem solvers. When children tinker it is not what they are making but the skills they develop and use while they create. Many of the skills used while children tinker and explore are the cornerstones for school readiness. Many 2-and 3-year-olds love to observe and explore. That is why we encourage children to PLAY!! At two and three years of age a child is beginning to manipulate objects with increased control. You can give a two-year-old child a tool or object in their hand and say, “Look at this!” “Tell me what you feel”. “What does it smell like?” As a parent you can model touching the object and expanding on vocabulary such as “wow this feels bumpy”. At three years of age children are looking for more back and forth with a parent or adult. They are actively seeking information by asking why & how questions. They are also able to push & pull objects and bang pegs into holes. These skills allow children to explore & experiment more deeply with materials and tools. As a parent or care giver you are the facilitator for these activities. You are supporting your child by allowing them to investigate and discover.
Tinkering requires space & time, tools, and support. Tools are the object that helps accomplish the goal. A tool could be a ruler, clothespin, pipe cleaners, crayon, etc.… it’s not always the traditional hammer or scissors. When a child tinker he/she needs room to explore. They need physical space to build and space to try things out. Most important a child needs an enthusiastic adult who will expose them and guide them while they learn to handle and use tools.
So the next time your child wants to bang the spoon while you are making cookie dough or rip newspaper and glue it on a box or even use a straw to string the cheerios remember they are Tinkering which means they are problem solving, creating and learning. So, enjoy!!!
~AIMEE PHLEGER, BS, SPED, CEIS, DS
Professional Center for Child Development
Early Intervention Group/LEA Transition Coordinator