Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Builders of the future

By: MAIRE CORBETT

Tuesday 07 March 2017

It is Engineers Week this week. The purpose is to celebrate engineering in Ireland.  This starts with us, the educators who are passionate about play, the educators who realise that the very young children we work with everyday are the builders, scientists, architects and engineers of the future!

The concept of STEM subjects is a buzz word in education these days. We know how important it is to support children to engage and be passionate about Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. As technology develops at an ever increasing pace, we must make sure that children develop dispositions such as curiosity and persistence, so they can be part of, contribute to and lead the way of enquiry and discovery in the future. Of course we know this is not confined to secondary schools or even primary.  NAEYC, in a Young Children article says: From their earliest years, children engage with the world in ways that can promote learning related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). They balance blocks to build a wall; bat at a mobile to make it spin; and push and pull magnets together and apart. Research shows that the earlier we guide and support children's wonder about the world--and thereby identify opportunities for children to acquire foundational STEM skills--the more successful they are in all areas of learning later on.    

We see examples every day in our early years’ settings. I’m sure you have seen examples like these in your settings too.

I was in a preschool last week where a little girl was using the Jenga pieces very carefully. She was absorbed but noticed me observing her. She looked up and said I’m building a bouncy castle… engineering in action! jenga pieces - Builders of the future

In the same setting there was another little girl making patterns with shapes. She was very purposeful in how she created the pattern, seeing how the shapes and colours fitted together. More engineering in action!child playing with bricks - Builders of the future

The following day, in another setting, I saw another little girl who was intent on building with Lego. The educator explained to me that this little girls’ family are building a new house. Every day, for long stretches of time, this child recreates what is happening in her new house. The educators know what stage the new house is at through observing her block play. She methodically works on the blocks, the walls, the roof, the windows and doors and everyday builds on her interest in the shape, size and space in her new house. She is given time to do this, 10 or 20 minutes is not enough. A future Dermot Bannon for sure!child playing with lego - Builders of the future

And very young children explore these concepts too. Look at this 13-month old focus intently on playing with the wooden rod and getting it into the hole in the wheel. He has already developed skills of spatial awareness and is honing these skills further in his exploration.

To support children to explore these ideas we must make lots of open-ended materials freely available.  We need to provide extended time for children to play with and explore the materials, enabling them to become involved, absorbed and engaged. Aldo Fortunati referred to Trust, Opportunity and Time as being fundamental to giving children opportunities to really explore and think about their worlds. This means trusting children to be confident and confident learners, giving lots of unscheduled, uninterrupted time to engage and opportunities to think, reflect and be challenged.

For more ideas, look back on our Scéalta post from November 15th 2016, which explores how we support young children to engage with science and our Scéalta post from October 18th 2016 looking at how children playfully become the mathematicians of the future.

We’d love to hear from you about how you support the STEM areas in your setting!

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Educator of the Year Award(3) UNCRC(1) InspireMe.ie(1) ICBN(1) listening(1) research(5) Event Guide(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) memories(1) Arts(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Patterns(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Wonder(1) Inspirational(2) Norway(2) Aldo Fortunati(4) Mindfulness(2) Weather(1) Mixed age groups(2) ReCreate(2) Employee(1) Pen green(1) Online(1) friendships(1) Aistear(103) Supernanny(1) Health(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(1) Behaviour(3) Easter(1) transitions(9) Love(2) Child mental health(1) Traffic Lights(1) Upcycling(1) Buddy Bench(1) National Awards 2018(2) Treasure(1) Visual Impairment(1) Magic(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Through the looking glass(1) Technology(2) Exclusion(1) Decision Making(1) Kids Own(1) Socioemotional development(1) DCYA(4) Craft(1) Malaguzzi(1) Home Corner(1) Pobal(1) Engineering(2) social media(1) Children's Rights(1) Cork(1) Engineers Week(2) Loss(1) Oireachtas(1) National Holiday(1) Lego(2) dublin(2) Reggio Emilia(1) Snacks(1) story time(1) Jenga(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) NCCA(2) grandchild(1) Funding(1) SPICE Framework(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Wilenski(1) Sculptures(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Nonverbal(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Awards 2018(3) Family wall(1) worries(1) Inter-generational(1) Maynooth(1) Gratitude(1) Imagination(3) Time(1) AsIAm(1) animals(2) Communications(1) Games(1) child-centred approach(1) budget(1) ECEC(1) INTO(1) Spiders(1) Meet the Members(1) routine(2) National Awards 2019(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Interests(1) Settling in(2) journey(1) Titles(1) Learning Story(1) Community involvement(1) Recycle(1) The Jelly King(1) Childcare(2) Learning Stories(7) babies(6) Valentine's Day(3) Valerie Gaynor(1) Well-Being(6) Yoga(1) MA(1) listen(1) Party(1) food(1) Scéalta Blog(78) NAEYC(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Photographs(1) Workplace Relations(3) eating(1) bonds(1) Identity and Belonging(3) Reggio Children Network(1) Orla Kenny(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(1) Social Skills(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) feisty(1) early years research(1) maternity health(1) MECPI(1) Budget 2019(2) Irish(1) documentation(2) Plastic(1) Eritrea(1) Role play(1) curriculum(5) Limerick(1) PIP(1) Syria(1) Buddies(1) Celebrations(4) emotions(2) supportive environments(1) Mantra(1) Fantasy play(1) Light table(1) Iraq(1) Environment(2) Teamwork(1) ERASMUS+(3) linc(1) Ceremony(1) Wendy Lee(2) Design(1) Playdough(1) Creative(1) Halloween(2) Sustainability(3) Workplace well-being(1) Performance Management(1) Scents(1) CIT(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Winter(1) Maynooth University(1) Traditions(2) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) relationships(12) Learning journals(1) blog(28) Empathy(1) Budget 2018(1) Independence(1) mushrooms(1) Time Out(1) curiosity(3) Culture(2) Diversity(1) Masterclass(2) Fabric(1) Meal time(1) Investment(1) risky play(2) Rituals(1) Siolta blog(2) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Montessori(2) Mud kitchens(1) Shapes(1) Bereavement(1) dining(1) Nuturing interactions(1) preschool(2) outdoor play(6) Leargas(1) CPD(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Arithmetic(1) Self Help Skills(1) Visitors(1) GDPR(1) ECCE(6) Wrapping paper(1) Sport(1) toddlers(3) development(8) Brain(1) Educators(1) Albert Einstein(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Flowers(1) Administrative Burden(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Japan(1) Giraffe(2) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Trigonometry(1) Research Seminar(1) Window(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Síolta QAP(1) Line-ups(1) experience(1) Treasure Chest(1) Trade union(1) Mathematicians(1) overhear(1) Stress(2) Interactions(1) University(1) Map(1) respect(4) Snakes(1) Awards(2) outdoor space(3) Learning Story Awards(1) Autism(3) science(3) Vietnam(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Childhood(1) Breathing(2) Kerry(1) Sweets(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Prexit(1) Sequins(1) Potential(1) Blocks(1) Change(1) Mealtimes(1) parents(5) AIM(2) play(29) Graduate(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Exit interview(1) trust(2) Laughter(1) Care-giving routines(1) Early Years(1) risk assessment(1) outdoors(3) UN(1) Storytelling(2) Names(1) First 5 strategy(1) books(4) Degree(1) Mount Everest(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) TOY Programme(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Positivity(1) baby room(1) risk(2) Trade Unions(1) Family(1) RIE philosphy(1) Care routines(1) Biting(1) Glitter(2) Graduation(1) Mental Health(3) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(1) Nutrition(1) First 5(1) Grief(1) Painting(1) Exploring(1) Confident(1) dogs(1) Training(2) Obesity(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Adoption(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Maths(4) Seas Suas(1) Professionalisation(4) College(1) Awards 2019(1) play stories(1) Italy(1) Certificate(1) Frustrations(1) Playschool(1) Universal Design(2) Maria Montessori(1) Maternity Leave(1) Anxiety(2) Growing up Outdoors(1) environments(1) Touch(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Belonging(3) Our Little Seed(1) Afghanistan(1) Trick or treat(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) education(2) Little Buddies(1) Inclusion(3) Reggio(1) ears(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Policy(2) Learning Stories Award(3) Growing up in Ireland(3) Drawing(2) planning(1) Capable(1) Magnavacchi(1) Communicating(1) Laugh(1) EECERA 2016(1) dining experiences(1) Favouritism(1) Exercise(1) Appreciation(1) Penguins(1) Feeding(1) Leprechauns(1) Art(6) Maths Week Ireland(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Shoes(1) learning(15) Dance(1) stories(2) Competent(1) Recycling(2) UD(1) Cognitive development(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) role playing(1) Children's Research Network(1) Pobal sector profile(1) early childhood educator(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) meals(3) Cork Institute of Technology(1) educarer(1) Early Learning and Care(1) Advocacy(1) Quality(3) Thanks(1) Santa(2) Performing(1) Interaction(1) Research Conference 2019(1) STEM(2) Celebrate(1) Self-Esteem(1) Impact(1) Qualifications(1) Story(1) community(5) conversations(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) United Nations(1) Thank you(1) Academic Skills(1) San Minia(1) Book Club(2) emotional environment(1) christmas(8) Body Language(1) Decisions(1) Inter-generational learning(1) Vertical grouping(1) Primary School(2) National Pyjama Day(1) Running(1) Horizon 2020(1) scéalta(25) Sustainable(1) communication(4) Identity(4) science week(2) Relaxation(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Children(1) Challenges(1) Gardening(1) Wesco(1) IGL(1) Maths Week(1) San Miniato(4) Mayo(1) educating(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Xbox(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Death(1) Facebook(1) Music(3) pets(1) Smiles(1) Mo Scéal(1) Mark Twain(1) reading(4) Síolta(98) Affordability(1) Magda Gerber(1) Twitter(1) Routines(1) refugees(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(1) EM Standing(1) Early Years Educators(1) Builders(1) Thinking(1) Arlene Forster(1) Academics(1) Creativity(4) Plants(1) Queues(1) under 3's(3) Kilkenny(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Consent(1) Margy Whalley(1) interacting(2) Workforce(1) Snack Time(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Self-regulation(1)

SIGN UP FOR BLOG UPDATES

SUBSCRIBE
Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine