We are officially in prep mode for our summer learning program! My library is using the iRead theme: Find Your Voice. I have a great love of STEAM and we already have existing programs for older kids but haven’t had anything for babies and toddlers that is STEAM related. STEAM allows children to find their voice in different ways and we are always trying to incorporate it more into our programming. Our newest program will be a drop-in program for ages 0-3!
The goal is to have a couple of hours where families can drop in and explore our STEAM activities. The stations will be geared towards 0-3 year-olds, though we welcome all ages. We will have 3-5 stations set up and each of our locations will have two drop-in times throughout the summer. That means I only need to plan around 10 activities.
Why STEAM for Babies?
Exposing babies and toddlers to STEAM at such a young age exposes them to critical thinking and problem-solving. This is important to their lifelong learning skills and their creativity. The National Association for the Education of Young Children says that “STEAM for young children falls under the umbrella of inquiry instruction. Inquiry instruction encourages active (often hands-on) experiences that support building understanding and vocabulary, critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and reflection.”
Creating a program that incorporates STEAM activities geared towards this younger age group also may give parents ideas of simple activities they can do at home.
The Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee posted on the ALSC blog last year with ideas for Early Literacy STEAM passive stations.
A few of the ideas I am planning on doing are very low-budget, and are great for sensory development and critical thinking. I have even used a few of these at home with my 8-month old and she loved them.
First, from TechingMama, I took a laundry basket and attached hanging pieces of ribbon from it. She glued ribbon pieces to her basket and let them hang over. I have a laundry basket with holes so I tied the ribbon pieces to the basket. If you tie the ribbon all the way across the basket, you can put toys inside and under the ribbon. The kids then have to problem-solve to get through the ribbon to get to the toys. This entertains my daughter forever!
Next, I have really been wanting to make a sensory bin. The most common one I have seen is rice, but for small babies, that is a choking hazard. On Fun Sensory Play, they ground up Cheerios to appear like sand. To this “sand”, you can add toys like shovels and toys like dinos
On The Chaos and the Clutter, they made texture balloons for sensory play. The idea is so simple – you just fill balloons with different things. They used flour, marbles, popcorn seeds, hair gel, rice, and sand, and this would work with many more items. For an older crowd, they made cards with pictures of what they filled the balloons with so the kids could play a matching game.
Finally, I made the easiest toy for my daughter at home with a sprinkles bottle. Babies love to shake things and hear different sounds. I had some sprinkles left in a bottle and she kept trying to grab it to shake it. I super glued the lid on and this has become one of her favorite things to play with.
For a program like this, I would probably use different-sized bottles. I would also have different things in them so they are different weights and make different noises.
Photo courtesy of blogger.
Have you had a drop-in baby STEAM program like this? What activities did you have?