TEC Play and Lesson Plans: T+E in STEM: Engineering and Problem Solving with Technology

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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:

  • 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”

Photo courtesy of Ms. Hall.
Students showing their engineered ice coolers.

Photos provided by Ms. Hall. First grade students during “Design a Cooler” play and lesson plan.

Photo provided by Ms. Patterson
Student-made slingshot used to sling teacher on a skateboard

Additional related resources:



Find more Early Childhood Tech Integrated Play and Lesson Plans from TEC Mentors here.
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