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SCIENCE PLAY- What does it look like and how can we support it?

  • 1.  SCIENCE PLAY- What does it look like and how can we support it?

    Posted 18 days ago

    Hi all,

    As a member of the Early Childhood Science Interest forum (ECSIF) I've been lucky enough to participate in the monthly virtual meetings that we started to stay connected, knowing that we wouldn't see each other in person for awhile. And, wow, when early childhood educators get together to talk, either in person OR virtually, the thoughts start flying! Many of our conversations center on how teachers and families can actively engage young children in foundational science and STEM experiences and tap into and promote their interests through exploration and conversation. In our November meeting, a vibrant discussion emerged about integrated science play, including the types of adult/child interactions that turn these playful moments into vital learning experiences. The discussion continued by email for days after the meeting and I'd like to share a bit of it and invite you all to join in!

     It all started when Sarah, a teacher in a nature-based PreK classroom was passionately describing her observations of children's outdoor play and how excited she was to see children's growing self-confidence in their own bodies and physical abilities as well as their increasing abilities to collaborate, communicate, and show empathy for one another. Then Shelly jumped in and started talking about how outdoor exploratory play supports children's executive functioning skills, especially working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibitory control. I'm still thinking about that conversation-- and it's making me take a second look at a two minute home video I made last weekend of my grandson playing with marbles and ramps.  How does his exploratory science play connect to and support executive function skills? And how can adults best support these skills in a playful context? And how can they do so while still maintaining the playful/child-centered nature of the experience? What do you all think?

     Cindy



    ------------------------------
    Cindy Hoisington
    Education Development Center
    Waltham MA
    choisington@edc.org
    http://foundationsofscienceliteracy.edc.org/
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: SCIENCE PLAY- What does it look like and how can we support it?

    Posted 18 days ago

    Hi all,  

    I think we can all agree that Cindy definitely needs to keep the home clips coming! They are both enjoyable and heartwarming to watch! You are right on in terms of your grandson's active engagement with EFs. Your grandson actively engaged his working memory when he thought out-loud and recalled a previous ramp structure and cognitive flexibility when he shifted perspectives from one structure design to another. Inhibitory control has 2 levels - attention/focus and behavior/action. We see him actively attending to the ramp design and changing it, informed by his working memory and prior knowledge while using his selective attention to consider the observations and questions offered by grandma and grandpa.

     I also recommend The Power of Play – a Research Summary on Play and Learning by Dr. Rachel White at the Minnesota Children's Museum. I see that you cited it in your thought-provoking blog about science and play that can be downloaded here: 4 Research-based reasons students should learn science through play Your blog effectively outlines four compelling arguments for teaching science through play! The Power of Play is a great synopsis of the developmental benefits of play across the domains and how play promotes EFs specifically! The citations related to cognitive and gross motor connections are ones I have used in my own teaching and writing. This is a great overview that I will also use in my course with EC undergraduate and graduate students.

    Shelly 



    ------------------------------
    Shelly Counsell
    Associate Professor
    University of Memphis
    Memphis TN
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: SCIENCE PLAY- What does it look like and how can we support it?

    Posted 17 days ago

    Hi all,

    Thanks! Shelly, I loved writing that blog piece and doing so really pushed my own thinking about the complex relationship between science and play-- a topic i was also lucky enough to explore while developing a remote workshop on play and science with play masters Walter Drew, and Carly Bedard, and our ECSIF colleague Peggy Ashbrook :)

    I also want to second your recommendation of the Power of Play piece and join with you in suggesting it to teachers and families alike.

    Something I'm wondering about now is how we can use science/play to support "intergenerational learning"....that phrase is fairly new to the EC world. My understanding is that it describes situations where the adult and child BOTH bring knowledge and skills to share and BOTH take away new learning- including new learning about each other. How can we use science/play to leverage intergenerational learning?  AND how can we help adults (and i'm thinking especially about parents here) to feel empowered about supporting science learning, especially when they don't feel confident or knowledgeable about science themselves? 

    Cindy



    ------------------------------
    Cindy Hoisington
    Project Director
    Education Development Center
    Holbrook MA
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: SCIENCE PLAY- What does it look like and how can we support it?

    Posted 17 days ago

    Hi all,

    I really like the notions of intergenerational teaching and learning! Just as the teaching-learning process is mutual and reciprocal, as all teachers reflect on how much they learn from children and in turn, hope that children learn as much from them, the same is certainly true between parents and children. Would many/if not most, parents agree that they are far better, more empathetic human beings because of the many lessons they have learned from their children as parents? I would only add that it is ALSO intergenerational learning and teaching! I remember the one year I taught ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) with K-5 students in Orlando many moons ago. My students' parents told me that their children were teaching/helping them to learn English at home.

     

    Back in 2017, colleagues and I proposed "training on wheels" workshops for parents, grandparents, and teachers that were intergenerational because we definitely felt strongly about the intergenerational approach. We have subsequently done multiple parent workshops designed to help parents recognize and capitalize on their funds of knowledge.

    Shelly



    ------------------------------
    Shelly Counsell
    Associate Professor
    University of Memphis
    Memphis TN
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: SCIENCE PLAY- What does it look like and how can we support it?

    Posted 17 days ago

    Play and Science, and play in science--so important for children to have this kind of play, accumulating experiences that will inform their later even more sophisticated scientific thinking.
    Thank you Shelly and Cindy for writing so much so I don't feel like I missed the ECSIF meeting entirely! This is the kind of discussion that makes the NAEYC Hello forum so useful to early childhood educators across the board.

    A comment about parents (and not all parents, of course):

    When I shared ramps and balls and other objects for exploring building and using inclined planes at an elementary science fair as a family activity I had to pass out "tickets" to the adults that allowed them to play too-alongside or separately from their children-provided they agreed not "fix" or "improve" their child's ramp structures or "show them how to really do it." The open-ended activity challenged parents' inhibitory control as they struggled to not interfere but build alongside, to let their children build ramps that failed to do what the children wanted--and re-design them over and over.

    Adults need time to play too!

    Peggy



    ------------------------------
    Peggy Ashbrook
    Early childhood science teacher
    Alexandria, VA
    NSTA Early Years blog contributor,
    https://www.nsta.org/blog/all?keywords=Early+Childhood
    Author: Science Learning in the Early Years, and
    Science Is Simple
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: SCIENCE PLAY- What does it look like and how can we support it?

    Posted 16 days ago

    Hi all,

    Shelly, you are making my head spin!             

    And Peggy I'm so glad you've jumped into the discussion! We missed you at the meeting!<o:p></o:p>

    The tickets thing is a great idea!

    I am really "playing in the grey" as I think about this--  how parents can co-construct with kids and feel empowered that they are in fact supporting/contributing to their kids' learning without taking over the play and exploration….We also know from the research that more science- "advantaged" kids (kids who have access to science adults/resources/materials/informal experiences) are more likely to stay interested in/feel more confident about their own science capacities and to pursue science opportunities…..so what is it that adults are doing in those families that has an influence?

    Observing my grandson and his granddad up-close has been really interesting- and yes, there are sometimes when I bite my tongue because grandpa gets more instructive than I might be…on the other hand, these play sessions go on sometimes for 2 or more hours…….. and believe me when I say my grandson would not stay engaged for any lectures or withstand anyone taking over his play! <o:p></o:p>

    Cindy



    ------------------------------
    Cindy Hoisington
    Education Development Center

    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: SCIENCE PLAY- What does it look like and how can we support it?

    Posted 16 days ago

    Hi all,

    The point that Cindy has made with regard to learners' sustained interest and confidence as science learners across the grades is important. While ongoing access to science adults, resources, materials, and informal experiences are beneficial if not crucial, perhaps the sheer quality of engagement that takes place, including when to ask questions and make comments based on observations without interrupting the child's agenda during science opportunities may be most important. I can also see how a ticket system like the one used by Peggy would be a particularly helpful reminder to parents of the need to follow their children's lead without providing answers or solutions to the problems that their children encounter. Ensuring that children have the opportunity to figure things out, answer questions, and find solutions for themselves are critical to their own science learning and development.

    Have you conducted any workshops or learning experiences with parents and children together as well, Cindy? I agree that parents have a tendency to underestimate how much they know and the ways they can/do support their children's learning. Figuring out how to best leverage the power dynamics between parents and children is on point.

    Shelly



    ------------------------------
    Shelly Counsell
    Associate Professor
    University of Memphis
    Memphis TN
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: SCIENCE PLAY- What does it look like and how can we support it?

    Posted 16 days ago

    Hi all,

    Hey Shelly, thanks for asking!! I also want to make sure you see Melissa's post as she shares some interesting work with families and has some great insights!!
    In my own work through the years I've had a bunch of transformative experiences with parent/kid play interactions (mostly in science), here are three:

    • Implementing family science nights in a community-based program where families made and tested boats together; planted seeds together; and used a giant home-made pendulum with paint in it that we hung from the ceiling to explore force and motion.
    • Facilitating interactive parent/child experiences for families living in a shelter where I observed moms get engaged in a multicultural paper doll activity when their kids needed help with designing and making outfits for the dolls out of felt. The moms got so immersed in the activity and created such elaborate outfits that I got concerned that the adults might take over the play, but their children stayed completely engaged.
    • In a current project I'm on a team developing joint teacher/family workshops in which teachers and parents will collaborate to develop connected home-school science experiences for children.

    In all of these experiences I observed parents' strong desire to support their child's learning. I also noticed that parents were much more likely to get actively involved when there was a compelling reason for them to do so, either because parent support was required ……OR because they themselves were curious about the topic, the exploration, or activity.

     Cindy



    ------------------------------
    Cindy Hoisington
    Project Director
    Education Development Center
    Holbrook MA
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: SCIENCE PLAY- What does it look like and how can we support it?

    Posted 16 days ago
    Thanks Cindy and Shelly for sharing your insights! I love this topic of conversation about STEM in early childhood and working inter-generationally. For me, science is so much about supporting curiosity and experimentation from early stages of development. Caregivers can feel intimidated by the traditional framing of science and disempowered to really support their children, but as you mentioned, really have vast stores of knowledge to pull from. I think robust, strengths-based observation and reflection on the way parents engage their children already, especially around play, helps ground my work. Then, using reframing of the caregiver-child engagement through a science lens, I can build the curiosity of the caregiver about what their infant/young child is actually doing, This feels important because children are natural scientists and I want caregivers to connect to that. Often, my goal is to develop a parallel process where the child and caregiver both become more interested in playing, asking questions and engaging experimentation. I have worked with children with developmental disabilities and under-resourced families for awhile now and try to always think about accessibility.  Shifting the narrative of STEM being about "having answers or expertise" to "asking questions and engaging play" can help us to include more families regardless of culture, socio-economic status, primary language, ability, literacy, or level of education. Play is such a wonderful equalizer in that way.

    ------------------------------
    Melissa Tsuei
    Manager, Action for Early Learning Outreach
    People's Emergency Center
    Phila, PA
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: SCIENCE PLAY- What does it look like and how can we support it?

    Posted 16 days ago
    Hi. Melissa,
    Thanks so much for hopping into this discussion !!
    I couldn't agree more about parents/families often feeling disempowered when it comes to science/STEM and the same can be said for many EC and early elementary teachers as well right? I spend a lot of time thinking about how to help adults, especially parents and other adult family members recognize the power of those early playful experiences and the importance of curiosity and experimentation while also drawing on those "vast stores of knowledge" they have (i love that way of framing it!). I also love the way you focus on observation first, piquing the curiosity of parents about their own child's play.
    Right now i'm developing a parent/teacher partnership meeting around science and think i will use your idea by showing a video of a young child engaged in science play and getting people's perspectives on what the child is doing and what knowledge and skills they might be learning/developing through the play.

    And yes, couldn't agree more that shifting adults' perceptions of science from a body of knowledge that stands apart and outside of their and their children's lives to thinking about it more as a vibrant on-going pursuit of learning about the world in ways that are personally meaningful is key!!!

    Best,
    Cindy

    ------------------------------
    Cindy Hoisington
    Project Director
    Education Development Center
    Holbrook MA
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: SCIENCE PLAY- What does it look like and how can we support it?

    Posted 16 days ago
    So sorry I missed the last meeting. Will try to be at the next one.
    Thanks for sharing this.
    I'm glad this discussion also addressed the granddad's role. When I first heard him suggest moving the chair back, I thought, "Oh, oh, he's trying to take over." But I was so pleased that he stepped back and let the boy take charge.
    I liked when the idea of what was expected kept changing.  I would say that this is the difference between play and completing a project. In play, the project is not the important part.  The joy of problem solving leading to solving something else IS REAL SCIENCE.  This is how breakthroughs happen in science labs over and over again.  A scientist is trying to do something, notices something unexpected, and goes down that path.  Play, being open-ended, allows the player/s to define the project as they are doing it, often without even saying the defining words.  As they say, Just do it!

    ------------------------------
    Ellen Cogan, MS Ed - Owner, Chief Consultant - HILLTOP Early Childhood SERVICES
    NYS Early Learning Credentialed Trainer
    NYS Master Cadre, Pyramid Model
    Implementation Planner, Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership
    www.earlychildinfo.com
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: SCIENCE PLAY- What does it look like and how can we support it?

    Posted 14 days ago
    Hi Ellen,

    Thanks for jumping in to the discussion! We missed you at the November meeting and it's great to hear from you! I really enjoyed your comments about how science inquiry actually happens in real life with one question leading to another and another and so on. I do like to see when this is movement represents a deepening of experience though versus hopping from one topic or problem to another.... and in that vein I am always kind of amazed at how focused kids can get on addressing a particular problem that piques their interest. I have taken lots of videos of my grandson and his grandpa and do have to confess that on occasion I have bitten my lip when grandpa gets more instructive than I would tend to get.... On the other hand, the more I work with different types of families, the more I notice what a wide range of interactions are possible and probable given the complex constellation of family systems, dynamics, and relationships as well as cultural contexts. I'm also really interested in how parents can share the knowledge and skills they bring to a play situation, so for example, grandpa in this case worked in construction for years--how can he offer some of his wisdom in a way that spurs inquiry rather than diminishes it?  I whole-heartedly agree about the importance of the adult not taking over the play so for evidence of whether or not that is happening I always look at how the child is responding to the adult's contributions. And as long as the kid continues to be interested, engaged, and moving forward with their own ideas and thinking, that's all the evidence I need that whatever the adult is doing is working :)
    Best,
    Cindy

    ------------------------------
    Cindy Hoisington
    Project Director
    Education Development Center
    Holbrook MA
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: SCIENCE PLAY- What does it look like and how can we support it?

    Posted 16 days ago
    Hi Cindy!

    Thanks for your response, I am glad my post added something to an already vibrant discussion. I couldn't agree more that EC professionals can also be disempowered around STEM. I have been drawn to helping people access the power of observation, because of it's tremendous impact on my career. Observation first informed my work with folks with developmental delays and disabilities, and later was essential in my role as a home visitor in a community in which I was an outsider. Observation and reflection has also helped me confront my own biases and develop an anti-racist, trauma-informed lens in my work. I think the more practice we get in making nonjudgmental observations, the better. I really like your idea of using videos, especially since you can return again and again to the same content/interaction with a slightly different lens/focus. For example "What's going on from a motor perspective here?" versus "How does this caregiver use language to interact?".

    Thanks,
    Melissa

    ------------------------------
    Melissa Tsuei
    Manager, Outreach
    People's Emergency Center, Action for Early Learning
    Upper Darby PA
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: SCIENCE PLAY- What does it look like and how can we support it?

    Posted 14 days ago
    Hi all,
             Science, play , and learning is nothing to be compared with in the education of children. Science can be put into practice anywhere the children found themselves. Playing science can happen at home, school, playground, and lots of other places. Children can play science with simple used materials around them. The children love to play science all the time using their curiosity. When performing an experiment in the classroom, one can tell they want to know how and why things are going the way they are. For example in my classroom , the children like the volcano in a bottle with dish soap mixed with the colored water . They loved to observe how the water go down with the bubble stayed on top. They also loved to observe the lemon volcano and the eyedropper counting. They are always so curious about why the leaves fell off trees in the fall. They often ask if the trees were dead. These children curiosity and yearn for science in a play mode should be encouraged and supported by educators and families.

    ------------------------------
    Doris Lawson
    Saint Paul MN
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: SCIENCE PLAY- What does it look like and how can we support it?

    Posted 17 days ago
    Cindy, thank you for starting this conversation and for sharing the video of your grandchild's work with marbles and ramps! I love when he (at minute 0.46) begins to think about what he wants to try to make the marble "go somewhere." With such engaging materials, and the participation and support of parents/grandparents, he continues the play and learning.

    ------------------------------
    Peggy Ashbrook
    Early childhood science teacher
    Alexandria, VA
    NSTA Early Years blog contributor,
    https://www.nsta.org/blog/all?keywords=Early+Childhood
    Author: Science Learning in the Early Years, and
    Science Is Simple
    ------------------------------



  • 16.  RE: SCIENCE PLAY- What does it look like and how can we support it?

    Posted 16 days ago
    Our distance education is still in the kindergarten and primary stage
    I work as a lecturer at the university
    mother of children
    Distance education has affected us because of the pandemic.
    But that doesn't make me upset all the time
    I started thinking
    How do I teach children things that benefit them at the simplest costs?
    For example, I teach them the concept of buoyancy and diving when I clean food dishes
    The spoon sinks because it is made of iron
    The plastic cup floats because of its light weight
    Teach them that water is good for planting when we water our back garden
    And so on
    Yes, we can teach the child science with our simple capabilities

    ------------------------------
    yasmin Aljouf
    IAU
    IAU
    Jubail
    ------------------------------



  • 17.  RE: SCIENCE PLAY- What does it look like and how can we support it?

    Posted 16 days ago
    Hi Yasmin,

    Welcome to the conversation!
    We are very happy to have you!
    I love the point you make that parents can do science with their children during daily family routines and using everyday materials!!
    Please keep posting!

    Best,
    Cindy


    ------------------------------
    Cindy Hoisington
    Project Director
    Education Development Center
    Holbrook MA
    ------------------------------



  • 18.  RE: SCIENCE PLAY- What does it look like and how can we support it?

    Posted 13 days ago
    Hi everyone,

    Lately, I've been thinking about people who influenced my understanding of how children learn and engage in literacy, and how this might relate to how children learn STEM. Brian Cambourne, a seminal researcher in literacy, introduced conditions of learning that facilitate children's early development of their understanding and use of oral and written language in a way that is "pleasurable and meaningful". Cambourne emphasized that these conditions can be created for children by both the child's educators and the child's family.

    As I revisited them, I spent a lot of time thinking about "approximation" and how children's playful explorations about what is in the world and how it works are valuable approximations that lead to more conventional science and engineering practices as the child grows older. However, I found that all of the conditions are applicable to STEM learning. As I began to rephrase them through the lens of STEM, it quickly morphed into integrative STEM and literacy as STEM learning invites children to learn the tools of literacy in service of their playful STEM investigations.  Here's a first pass at how these conditions apply to STEM learning with young children at home and at school:

    1. Immersion-Children need to be surrounded by open-ended materials that invite them to explore and investigate life science, earth and space science, and physical science. Explore open-ended materials every day with children, sing to them, play word games, and use movement and dance to generate lively engagement in language, literacy, and stories. Children are often already engaged in playful STEM experiences, but adults do not recognize it as such because they define STEM narrowly; as something that only certain kinds of people can do. 
    2. Demonstration- Model engaging with open-ended materials and documenting how you notice  for children. Let them see you writing lists of materials you need to add, do an observational drawing, write questions or predictions in a science journal.  Make sure they notice you observing materials or phenomena for pleasure, for information, for directions, and for other purposes. Show them how to observe.
    3. Engagement-Help children become active learners who see themselves as potential scientists and engineers. Set up a risk-free environment so they can experiment with science phenomena. Provide easy access open-ended materials to engage in STEM experience as well as paper, pencils, crayons, markers, books, and other literacy materials for documenting their ideas.
    4. Expectation-Set realistic expectations for engagement in STEM experiences. Become familiar with the what is means to engage in science and engineering practices, and support children in their engagement in phenomena. Expect that they will become accomplished scientists and engineers in their own time.
    5. Responsibility-Give children choices about what to observe and investigate. Set up the environment to promote self-direction. Provide easy access to materials on low shelves and in baskets and show children how to take care of them.
    6. Approximation-Accept children's mistakes when they are learning to talk, read, write, and investigate. Congratulate them on their accomplishments. Guide them gently into accuracy and soon they will begin to self-correct.
    7. Use-Create a climate for functional and meaningful uses of science and engineering practices. Encourage children to play along with you; help you document, make predictions, and findings; and engage in lots of conversations.
    8. Response-Listen to children, welcome their comments and questions, and extend their use of oral and written language and their developing practices of science and engineering. Celebrate the enormous learning of STEM, language, and literacy that is occurring daily!

    What are some open-ended materials and experiences with phenomena? I'll start.
    • blocks
    • ramps
    • containers to fill and move water
    • human made light sources, objects, and a screen to explore shadows
    • tops of different sizes and designs to investigate rotational motion


    ------------------------------
    Beth Van Meeteren
    Director and Associate Professor
    Iowa Regents' Center for Early Developmental Education
    Cedar Falls IA
    ------------------------------



  • 19.  RE: SCIENCE PLAY- What does it look like and how can we support it?

    Posted 13 days ago

    Hello all,

    What a practical and useful framework that Beth has developed based on Brian Cambourne's work to help adults (parents, caregivers, and educators) mindfully and intentionally think about, design, prepare, and implement STEM learning experiences with young children at home and school! Surrounding young children with open-ended materials that "invite" them to explore and investigate science content and concepts leads me to wonder how much that invitation is in some measure, due to the extent that it appeals to children's "curiosity," which plays a key role (as noted specifically by Melissa and Doris in their responses) and how important this role is to parents/grandparents and children during intergenerational learning experiences?

    I especially appreciate the notions of risk-free environment (Engagement); giving children choices (Responsibility); accepting children's mistakes (Approximation); encouraging children to play with you (Use); and listening to children, welcoming questions and comments (Response). Altogether, they speak to the need for democratic learning communities in which all participants are granted full membership, with voice and agency to actively declare and act on their ideas, questions, wants, and needs while promoting decision-making and problem-solving skills. Within intergenerational learning experiences, these conditions MUST be extended to children and parents/grandparents alike. Educators creating intergenerational learning opportunities need to know and understand the families and communities they serve, ensuring that how they approach and use early STEM experiences, materials, and activities are culturally responsive and sensitive to individual families and communities.

    Going back to Cindy's earlier response in which she described amazing experiences working with mothers at a shelter, the moms' active participation in the multi-cultural paper doll activity was not only culturally responsive, it clearly tapped into their funds of knowledge that was meaningful, purposeful, and relevant to them/their lives! Just as starting the teaching-learning process with children begins with tapping into their prior knowledge and experience, interest and curiosity, Cindy provided rich evidence suggesting that intergenerational play between parents/children and grandparents/grandchildren would logically benefit from beginning with the adult's funds of knowledge, interests, and curiosities as well, using open-ended materials that appeal to/invite active engagement by both generations

    Melissa also recognized how "asking questions and engaging play" is needed to increase STEM access to all children, families, and communities. Ellen further reminds us that we need to help parents/grandparents develop and use their observation skills to effectively guide and facilitate children's problem-solving that follows the child's lead. Helping parents and caregivers understand that young children are science learners from the time they are born and begin making sense of their world is important. This recognition can help set the stage for adults and young children to become co-learners and co-investigators together, with opportunities to learn new concepts and skills as a joint effort, thereby increasing/expanding both the adult and child's expertise. Understanding the teaching-learning process as a co-journey can further help to alleviate some of the fear and intimidation that adults may otherwise feel, enabling them to see themselves as science learners as well, leading to empowerment for BOTH children and adult learners.

    Beth has also started a great list of open-ended materials/experiences that children and adults can explore and investigate at home and in school. I would also add cooking, physics of sound, and kites and paper airplanes as providing opportunities for open-ended exploration/play with important cultural aspects and considerations. These kinds of play experiences and STEM investigations also provide powerful contexts and spaces for young children and adults to actively exercise their executive functions! While the growing research indicates that EFs are developing at a fast rate during the first six years, we can continue to develop them throughout the life span! Using this framework to help guide and inform open-ended experiences can simultaneously promote adults and children actively engaging EFs, further illustrating/demonstrating the benefits of intergenerational play for BOTH children and adults - teachers and parents/grandparents alike!

    Shelly



    ------------------------------
    Shelly Counsell
    Associate Professor
    University of Memphis
    Memphis TN
    ------------------------------



  • 20.  RE: SCIENCE PLAY- What does it look like and how can we support it?

    Posted 13 days ago
    What a great question Beth: What are some open-ended materials and experiences with phenomena?
    In the context of science and play, Beth recommends:
    • blocks
    • ramps
    • containers to fill and move water
    • human made light sources, objects, and a screen to explore shadows
    • tops of different sizes and designs to investigate rotational motion
    Shelly added:
    cooking, physics of sound, and kites and paper airplanes as providing opportunities for open-ended exploration/play with important cultural aspects and considerations.

    A few materials that I've seen engage children in both playful behavior and scientific observation and wondering:
    • mirrors and other reflective materials such as old CDs to use with sunlight
    • rocks and pebbles from the local environment (sometimes landscape rocks!)
    • leaves from nearby plants--or the grocery store (collards, spinach, lettuce)
    For support in choosing materials and in promoting science learning by developing connected opportunities for exploring open-ended materials I refer to the reflective questions in the article "To Pin or Not to Pin? Choosing, Using, and Sharing High-Quality STEM Resources" (https://www.naeyc.org/resources/pubs/yc/jul2019/high-quality-stem-resources). (written by a group of educators in the NAEYC Early Childhood Science Interest Forum).

    Best wishes,
    Peggy






    ------------------------------
    Peggy Ashbrook
    Early childhood science teacher
    Alexandria, VA
    NSTA Early Years blog contributor,
    https://www.nsta.org/blog/all?keywords=Early+Childhood
    Author: Science Learning in the Early Years, and
    Science Is Simple
    ------------------------------



  • 21.  RE: SCIENCE PLAY- What does it look like and how can we support it?

    Posted 12 days ago
    Beth, what a powerful draft you've written! The conditions of learning~ literacy, STEM, their world~ are indeed similar or the same across the board, as your points suggest. Creating the conditions for explorative, creative, self-directed engagement while assuring physical and emotional safety, is the key to empowering children to see themselves as successful learners and doers. I added to the list of materials below, which include natural items that support awareness of the natural world and may need to be monitored for safety~ for example, logs of different sizes can harbor worms and insects. In Missouri, where I set up my yard to include these logs, children worked hard to move the bigger ones into positions such as proximity to jump from one to another, pushed or rolled them over to see the creatures scatter (and we collected a few in magnifying jars to look at and then release), set them near or on top of each other like blocks. I checked the logs regularly, and moved them, to assure that brown recluse or black widow spiders didn't move in. I watched children as they maneuvered the logs to make sure they were safe. In Texas, the prevalence of fire ants, scorpions and black widow spiders doesn't allow wood to stand in place for any length of time. To offer the same type of experience would require having a plastic or metal bin to set them in at the end of each day, as with other outdoor play equipment that needs to be put up. And what powerful science thinking experiences children could have with natural wood pieces!

    (FYI, in point #4, you have a sentence structure glitch.)

    Open-ended science exploration materials: 
    natural wood logs of different sizes in block area and outside
    baskets of branches and twigs, shells and stones in art area, sensory table and outside
    sand table with molds (including bowls and cups that do not create specific shapes but allow for creative interpretation), twigs, leaves, shells, stones, fabric pieces
    ribbons of varying width, color, transparency to weave into a chain link fence (or you can make a weaving stand using welded wire fencing attached to a stand up frame)~ wind and light impact the ribbons
    metal spoons to tie ribbon to their handles and hang from a branch~ wind or a striking tool will make them chime
    large garden pots planted with edibles (kale, broccoli, herbs, etc.~ ask about allergies, of course)
    plastic cups of different colors by a window inside, or in basket outside, to look through and see the colors; cup one inside another and see a different color
    plastic prisms of different shapes (learn shape names while exploring light prism effects)
    metal muffin tins to sort found natural items into
    water table with clear plastic tubes, funnels, cups; sponges, fabric, shells; things that float and sink
    outdoor summer fun for older children (but the littles like the pieces too)~ PVC pipe lengths and sections to attach to a section secured to a fence, pole or tree at an angel and low enough for children to pour water into the top; water goes in the top and out the bottom... unless the way they put the pipe and bend sections together works against gravity, in which case they have to figure it out

    This has been fun thinking about materials, and imaging children at playful exploration using them.
    Peace and Justice,
    jules


    Julie (jules) Assata
    Educator for Justice and Sustainability
    512-466-0315

    Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere... whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.    Martin Luther King Jr.









  • 22.  RE: SCIENCE PLAY- What does it look like and how can we support it?

    Posted 12 days ago
    I'm so pleased that people are interested in this topic, science is the study of EVERYTHING
    I taught in a university lab school and always included a lot of science because,
    1. children ARE scientists; their mission at this stage of life is to figure out how their world works
    2. many practicum students didn't feel confident in that area (3. I love science myself)

    Beth Van Meeteren has a great list to start, here are a few of the things we loved.
    A (camera) tripod with telescoping legs (which was interesting on its own) to which I added a string with a weight (tennis ball, wiffle ball, balloon with sand/gravel inside) to look at pendulum movement and "wrecking".
    Flashlights and (safety) mirrors, tape two so they open and close like a book
    A variety of balls/spheres (plastic eggs)
    BLOCKS, BLOCKS, BLOCKS variety
    A water table has a thousand ideas:
    Keep a running list of what we know about water
    Funnels and plastic tubing
    Color (water) mixing
    What materials dissolve in water? is there a limit to how much will dissolve? does water temperature matter?
    Does water change materials?  (absorb or not)  penny and cotton ball- just to start the list
    Plastic bottles (pop) with hole in top, mid, bottom, (water pressure), paper cups/ hole punch for children



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    Vicki Knauerhase M.Ed.
    Child Development Specialist (retired)
    Weston OH
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  • 23.  RE: SCIENCE PLAY- What does it look like and how can we support it?

    Posted 4 days ago
    This is such a rich discussion. I too am a member of the ECSIF, but I haven't been able to attend for a few months. It seems I always have a conflict with the meeting times. Rotten luck! But I'm a huge fan of Cambourne's work and have seen it applied in many areas of the curriculum.

    If you're a member of the Southern AEYC, I hope you'll check out my latest article in the SECA journal Dimensions entitled Creating an Outdoor Loose Parts Classroom: One Preschool's Quest for Boundless STEM. My colleague Diane Skidmore and I share her preschool's journey designing and implementing loose parts play outdoors. And, boy, what a journey! We give ideas for gathering materials on the cheap, setting up the space, supporting buy-in from parents and teachers, and much more. It's a fun read.

    Have a STEM-filled holiday season!
    Carrie




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    Carrie Cutler
    Clinical Assistant Professor
    University of Houston
    The Woodlands TX
    www.carriecutler.com
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