Stepping up STEAM integrates skill sets, expands thinking

One child is painting a small globe on a table, as another child and a teacher look on.

Were you the child who couldn’t wait for math class or the one who lit up in anticipation of art class? Once upon a time, the choice was black and white. Then followed a period in which fewer and fewer choices existed at all. Today we’re seeing a trend of blending skills, with everyone benefiting from the mix.

Analysis and creativity are both important

The mission of an organization called Steam Truck, is in part to “close opportunity gaps and provide lifelong opportunities by transforming teaching and learning…” Last year, Alex Thomas, authored "The History and Importance of STEAM Education," on their website. He said, “The idea is to teach kids that they don’t have to be only analytical or only creative—they can be both,” adding that “To be successful both now and down the road, one must be both an analytical thinker and a creative thinker.”

The Resilient Educator website last year published "The Classroom Benefits of STEAM Lessons," most of which would surely also apply to at-home learning. They included “increases critical thinking,” “provides a unique way to problem-solve,” and “encourages girls to explore STEM fields,” among others. The site says “They’re able to combine the familiar with the unfamiliar, acquiring new skills, and discovering the world of artistic innovation."

Showing and teaching kids that our world is multi-dimensional, and that combining creativity and critical thinking results in superior problem-solving and innovation, is important.

STEAM ed—starting early helps prepare kids for the future

Bellarmine University offers a STEAM Education Leader degree in a fully online format. The school’s website points out that “With people changing jobs and even jumping careers more frequently than in past generations, a truly well-rounded educational background is essential.”

The site also quotes Dr. Kristin Cook, associate dean of Bellarmine’s Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education and longtime science educator as saying that “Incorporating the A in STEAM—art—brings in personal expression, empathy, meaning-making and the purpose of what you’re learning.”

In further characterizing STEAM benefits, the school notes that bringing the five disciplines together “encourages all students to participate and contribute.”

Beginning the integration of creative and logical as early as preschool makes it seem natural—just as it really is in our world—and sets the stage for (fingers crossed!) ongoing seamlessness. The Preschool STEAM website offers the super-simple “All About Me” Math Activity for Preschoolers + STEAM Challenge.” They are combined counting/early math and craft activities based on the number of family members and the construction of a “house” big enough for all of them.

Creative tools for building STEAM

In addition to websites such as Preschool STEAM, a range of products that combine learning in multiple areas are additional tools for developing all parts of the brain. For example, the Fun and Games Preschool Workbook, Fun and Games Kindergarten Workbook, and Fun and Games First Grade Workbook, can help kids develop problem-solving skills, visual perceptual skills, beginning reading and early math skills, eye-hand coordination, and the fine motor skills needed for writing. But they also learn how to draw a frog, a dinosaur, and a car in 5 clear, easy steps! 

three fun and games workbooks, preschool, kindergarten, and first grade with a page from each book book showing an activity within that book

The Anywhere Teacher online learning system for ages 2-8 offers 3,000+ activities ranging from those focused on math and reading to others in which kids draw pictures to illustrate their own original “book” or practice recognizing emotions.

a father and young daughter in a tent playing a pattern making math game on a tablet

For a classroom approach, the Preschool Full Learning Program and Kindergarten Full Learning Programpreschool & kindergarten full learning program box sets with all of the inside content displayed in frontare loaded with lots of different ways to learn essential skills and keep kids focused and motivated. They include workbooks, early reading books, and flash cards.

They even come with safety scissors and a glue stick for activities that develop creativity and fine motor skills. Games that build both academic and social-emotional skills are also part of the set.

three packs of game and puzzle cards for kids go fish game cards numbers colors & shapes puzzle cards three-letter words puzzle cards

Colorful game cards such as Go Fish Alphabet Game Cards, Three-Letter Words Puzzle Cards, and Numbers, Colors & Shapes Puzzle Cards create other fun, compact, take-anywhere ways to merge game play with learning and the creative with the logical.

Seeing the beauty in math and the patterns in what’s beautiful will benefit everyone and lead to a tomorrow full of world-class ingenuity.