Blog Archive

Finding STEM in Piles of Dirt

  On a recent walk around the neighborhood, we stumble into a scientific gold mine: piles of sand, silt and clay that have not yet been graded and groomed into a baseball diamond.   “Look! What is that?” asks one child whose curiosity is clearly piqued.  “Can we play on those piles of dirt?” another […]

STEM Dolls for Character Play

We recently learned about Surprise Powerz STEM dolls, which can be used in early childhood settings to encourage young children—especially young girls—to engage in STEM play.   Research shows that preschool teachers often lack confidence in their ability to teach STEM topics—and some harbor gender-based assumptions about STEM learning. These attitudes and biases can be […]

Root Beer Float Investigations

“Can we make a concoction today?” asks Malhar, one of our budding scientists. It’s a hot Thursday afternoon and everyone is a little shagged from the heat—including me. A concoction sounds like a messy, energy-sapping endeavor, but Malhar is insistent. “Do you have any root beer?” he whispers to me after looking around to make […]

Tinkering With Nature

  Last month, the Early Science Matters team presented at the Midwest Early Childhood Educators Symposium. Sponsored by the Northern Illinois Nature Preschool Association, the symposium took place at a particularly inspiring site for nature lovers: the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. Surrounded by nature and in the company of a truly amazing audience of […]

The Solid State of Crayons

  “It is so hot!” moans five-year-old Manual, who is sweating profusely in the sweltering heat. The temperature—which has soared unexpectedly during this second week of May—is in the high 90s, with a heat index of over 100. “It is so hot!” Can we have a popsicle?” pleads Lauren, who knows that I’m a sucker […]

A Morning in the Science Lab

“Who wants to play chemistry with me?” asks five-year-old Katie. “What is that?” asks Annika as she jumps off of her swing to see what adventures this moment may bring. “You mix things up, like concoctions or recipes,” Katie explains. “Sometimes things change colors or the mixture gets real thick and gooey. It’s an experiment. […]

A World of STEM in a Dandelion Puff

  “No, Trey!  You have to blow out—like when you blow out the candles on a birthday cake,” Noah counsels. “Don’t suck the seeds in!” I look over to see Trey, our youngest learner, pulling dandelion seeds off of his lips. There are no giggles from his peers, just many suggestions and a short science […]

Scrap Gardening for STEM Learners

  “Did the lettuce sprout today?” asks Jamie as he enters the classroom, heading over to our classroom “scrap garden” to see for himself without stopping to take off his coat. “It has!” squeals Evelyn, her eyes wide with excitement. “You won’t believe how high it has grown!” Our investigation into scrap gardening has clearly […]

The Wonders of the Winged World: STEM Bird Books

“It’s a murmuration! Hurry everybody, come look!”  Five-year-old Elizabeth is jumping up and down, joyfully shouting for her friends to share in the delight of her discovery. Have you ever seen a “murmuration” of birds? It is such a magical and mesmerizing sight that it will stay in your memory bank forever. “Starling murmurations” are […]

Midline Activities for Brain Development

  Simon says: “Fold your arms!” Simon says: “Touch both elbows at the same time!” Simon says: “Hug yourself!”  Simon says: “Hug yourself and twist! Touch your finger!” Gotcha!  Ah, Simon Says never gets old! This classic game teaches body awareness and listening skills while encouraging children to cross the midline. This short break in the […]