While TEC Center’s focus is on technology, we support early childhood educators’ implementation of Science, Engineering, and Math while using technology as a tool for learning, exploring, and connecting. In STEM education, E (engineering) is often either forgotten or misunderstood. Merriam-Webster defines engineering as:
The application of science and mathematics by which the properties of matter and the sources of energy in nature are made useful to people.
There are numerous skills and activities in early childhood that support the foundations of engineering education. Frequently used Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) highlights the importance of engineering in education. Unfortunately, there’s a lack of engineering-focused resources for early childhood educators.
A variety of early childhood STEM teaching resources already exist, but more are needed, especially in engineering.” – Early Childhood STEM Working Group (Early STEM Matters: Providing High Quality STEM Experiences for All Young Learners, 2017)
Download and save these play and lesson plans so they can serve as an addition (or start) of your library of T+E early education resources.
NOTE: When you are reading their plans scroll through the whole plan as many educators have added pictures that can be quite useful.
As you read these plans note that many of them use photography and video that include images of children. The TEC Center promotes and believes that children have the right to know how and where their images and voices will be used and the right to refuse sharing their images, voices and work online.
Before you take pictures or video of children remember to:
- talk to your school leadership first about your plans
- ask parents/guardians to sign a release form provided by the school or program
- ask each child for permission and tell children how their images will be used
- protect a child’s privacy and digital footprint by putting a shape or positive emoji over a child’s face before sharing it on social media platforms to protect a child’s privacy
- Before sharing images of children with parents and caregivers make sure to review guidelines for protecting their privacy with parents, including reminding parents to
- ask for permission from your child if you can post an image, video or project online and respect your child’s wishes
- share with care and post images of only your child online
- be positive and a good digital citizen by posting only positive comments, photos and videos a child would be proud to show someone later in life-never shame your own child or another child online
Here are 3 engineering and problem-solving with technology play and lesson plans developed by our TEC Mentors:
- Inclined Planes, Developed by Jan O’Brien, PreK educator
- An investigation could take weeks or months in an early childhood classroom while exploring new materials. In this set of play and lesson plans, Ms. O’Brien guides her students as they design using a simple machine, inclined planes. There are many ways Ms. O’Brien and her class use technology to support their engineering including the use of robotics on the inclined planes, and documentation using cameras.
- Watch how Second-grade students at Charles R. Drew Charter School used simple machines to design and build their own playground (Edutopia, 2016)
- Design a Cooler, Developed by Laurel Hall, First Grade educator
- Ms. Hall’s First grade students designed and built coolers to keep an ice cube cold in this play and lesson plan. The students first begin their design process with the identification of a problem, discussion, and brainstorming. Ms. Hall then guided the students as they drew blueprints and created and tested their design. Learn more about design thinking here. Ms. Hall later reflected,
- I found that [the students] were much more engaged in the learning process and noticed that they were asking to work on their technology projects during any free time that they had in the classroom”
Photos provided by Ms. Hall. First grade students during “Design a Cooler” play and lesson plan.
- How can balls move through space using simple machines?, Developed by Cathy Patterson, PK-8 educator, *lesson plan for Third Grade students
- This play or lesson plan turned into a unit focused on force, motion, energy and the use of many technology tools including Google Classroom (read this Common Sense Education article to learn more about Google Classroom), to document, collaborate, and problem solve. The unit includes exploring the motion of balls, investigating slingshots, creating a giant slingshot, and sharing and reflecting on the processes and design. Ms. Patterson supported the third graders’ learning with the following online resources:
Additional related resources:
- Do You Have Flow? Investigating Electricity And Circuits In Early Childhood With Technology Tools Idea book
- Early STEM Matters: Providing High-Quality STEM Experiences for All Young Learners, a policy report by The Early Childhood STEM Working Group, which included TEC Center’s founding director, Chip Donohue, PhD
- Watch how Chicago Public Schools teacher, Yeliz (Zurawic) Williams uses iPads during “Inventors Studio” in her PreK class.