As a teacher, I was always drawn to the units and lessons that provided my students with a deep dive into their learning - they were fun, hands-on and super memorable. This resulted in a lot of project-based learning experiences, where kids worked together to create something that would demonstrate their understanding by teaching others. Even a simple read aloud often evolved from a quick picture book during snack into a full-blown STEM Storytime. The sad reality was that this happened less and less throughout my teaching career, as the standards and mandated curriculum always took precedence over the creative units of study. When we talked to families in the Chicago area, we heard that the same thing is true for them too! There’s a huge push for creative, play-based learning in early childhood, and it seems to fade away as a priority kids get older when there are so many kids activities to choose from. So we have an idea…
The Link Between Reading and STEM
Let’s start at the beginning. STEM simply stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math - and it’s grounded in the 4Cs, - Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration and Communication. We’ve talked a lot about what each of these components are and some tips for developing them at home. We also know that these skills don’t exist in isolation - creativity is essential to growth in the arts, critical thinking helps with decision making, collaboration is needed to solve problems and communication is the most important tool when developing grit. These skills are also 100% essential when it comes to reading. From tackling new vocabulary, to making inferences, connecting new learning to prior knowledge or empathizing with a character - it turns out the best, most important parts of STEM are the best, most important parts of reading too.
STEM Storytime = Reading through a different lens
We are excited to bring a whole new perspective to storytime with the addition of STEM. Rather than focusing solely on the reading comprehension or decoding (sounding out the words), we want to take the message of the text and create an interactive STEM-focused experience where kids dive into their learning in a whole new way. When this happens, we aren’t focused on who is reading at what level or which kids are “better” at math than the others (side note - there's no such thing!). So what ARE we doing?
- We are focusing on thinking creatively to develop new ideas.
- We’re looking at the problem in the story critically and working with a team to solve create a solution.
- We are applying concepts, facts and ideas from the text to a related STEM challenge.
- We’re feeling frustrated and unsure if we’ve got a plan, and taking a deep breath and moving forward anyways.
- We’re learning and growing and (most importantly!) having FUN!
Introducing Wonder Hour (!)
We are so excited to bring this STEM Storytime concept to life through Wonder Hour. Wonder Hour gives kids a chance to think, explore, create, problem solve and connect. Connect to the text, connect to their inner curiosity, connect to each other. We know that structured, hands-on, engaging and STEM-focused experiences are something that families in Chicago would love in the world of kids activities, and Wonder Hour is the STEM Storytime answer. We will share more soon...but for now check out our upcoming events to find a Wonder Hour event happening near you!