Happy Independence Day to my fellow Nigerians. I am sure that my blog readers in Nigeria enjoyed the day off work today and the long weekend. I hope you were able to get some rest and spend time with loved ones.
One of the most interesting things that did this weekend was to incorporate STEAM into our curriculum. We had always wanted to incorporate som earts and crafts into his learning, but it was going to be on a “if we have time, we will do a craft” basis. I thought our son was too young for science experiments. Boy, was I wrong!
One contributor on a thread I was reading on Quora mentioned introducing STEAM to her kids from age 2 and I decided to do some research. So on Wednesday, I started rummaging through the internet. I found so many helpful blogs and resources on the internet on STEAM experiments and activities for the home. I was so excited that we started right away with our first science experiment!
“STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. The end results are students who take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem-solving, embrace collaboration, and work through the creative process. These are the innovators, educators, leaders, and learners of the 21st century!” – Education Closet
STEAM is a huge buzzword at the moment globally. You may have heard of STEM prior to this post, but not of STEAM. STEAM is STEM+Arts (all letters have the same meaning as above). Governments are taking STEAM seriously too, as many believe that a nations ability to innovate and thrive is dependent on a foundation in math and science learning.
Children are naturally curious, imaginative and perceptive. STEAM Learning taps into and harnesses this inherent nature of kids through the creation engaging and interesting learning experiences for kids. Schools across the world are beginning to incorporate this into their curriculum. In fact, according to a Huffington post article, this is a growing job sector with the US offering incentives for international students who take up careers in STEAM Learning.
OUR FIRST EXPERIMENT
Naturally, I went into this not wanting to break the bank or spend too much money on getting supplies for these experiments or activities. We had gotten some craft supplies from the Dollar Store during our initial homeschooling supplies shopping. (That reminds me, I never did a post about the supplies we bought. I must do so this week.)
Anyway, to get me encouraged and believing that we could consistently incorporate STEAM into our curriculum, I chose a Science experiment that did not require that I bought any additional supplies.
HOW TO MAKE AN EGG SHELL DISAPPEAR
For this experiment, we used:
- White vinegar
- A mason jar with a lid
- An egg
Gently tip the jar on its side and place the egg inside the jar. Our egg crack a little as we did this step, but we left it. The membrane was intact, so we figured it wouldn’t affect the experiment, and it didn’t.
- Stand the jar upright, then pour the vinegar into it, ensuring that the vinegar covers the egg and then some (TIP: the egg will swell, so you want to add some extra vinegar to keep it immersed)
- Cover the lid and let it stand for 5 days. We have seen some results in less than and more than 5 days. We started the experiment on Wednesday and opened the jar on Sunday though.
- You may choose to replace the vinegar after a day or 2. However, we read on Go Science Girls that not doing this step wouldn’t impact the experiment, so we skipped it. Lol!
- The first thing we noticed were the bubbles which showed up on the egg shell. My son was very excited about this. To be honest, he was very excited every day that the experiment was on. He kept asking if it was time to open the jar.
- Next, the egg floated to the top, then later sank down to the bottom. Sometimes, it would stay somewhere in the middle of the jar.
- The egg became larger as it absorbed the vinegar.
On Sunday, we took out the egg and rinsed it under the tap, gently using our fingers to remove the softened egg shell and we had a raw shell-less egg! It was rubbery and squishy and bouncy. My son played with it for all of 5 minutes, bouncing it on the table and on the floor (but from a very low height above the ground). He eventually burst the egg somehow, I think he must have bounced it too hard on the floor. He was very sad to see the egg go, lol. We will probably start another experiment tomorrow. You should too!
USEFUL STEAM RESOURCES
I found the following websites very useful, and we continue to use them daily:
- Go Science Girls – this is my favourite resource. I love the site’s layout and how there are different categories such as edible experiments, experiments you can make that fizz, magnetic experiments etc. The only down side is that it may be a bit focused on making STEAM fun for girls. However, there are so many STEAM activities to choose from, so I still love this site.
- Kids Activities Blog – this has lots of easy, fun science experiments and art activities to do (101 each)
- Left Brain Craft Brain – good site for STEAM activities
- Education Closet – useful information for STEAM instructors and teachers (like me, lol!)
My sister-in-law recommended KiwiCo. This service looks really good at first glance. A month’s worth of craft supplies are packaged into a crate and shipped to you according to your child’s age and chosen theme. but it requires a monthly subscription of about $20 per month. The best thing about it is that it has all the supplies you need, so it saves one time and makes preparing for these STEAM activities less cumbersome. Since there are so many free resources out there, we are not considering this for now. However, if we ever get too busy, too lazy or both, we will use this as we love their set-up.
IN OTHER NON-STEAM HOME SCHOOLING NEWS….
Those of you who have been following our homeschooling journey will know that my son and I have gradually started to find our rhythm. However, it hasn’t been without its ups and downs.
- Seeing my son’s eyes light up every time I tell him that it is time for some school work
- Watching him learn new skills and new things everyday
- Seeing small improvements in his handwriting skills
- Hearing him squeal with delight when I tell him I am proud of him or that he is amazing.
- Being amazed by how much he already knows, that I did not teach him. Kids really are sponges. They just soak it all up!
- The reduced time for myself. My days from morning till about 2pm are focused around him. Getting the lessons ready early in the morning before he wakes up, getting him ready for the day, feeding him and homeschooling. We are settling down into our routine now and so I feel more in control of my day and I do not feel overwhelmed anymore. I will share our routine hopefully before the week runs out.
- Last week, we focused on writing number 2 and letter “Mm”. In one of our lessons, I lost my temper with him because he wasn’t concentrating on the lesson, and was writing wonky-looking 2’s. I didn’t smack him, but let him know that I was disappointed in the work. He was very distraught. He put the pencil down and wouldn’t write anymore. His dad took over and it took some convincing to get him to write again. He kept looking at my face and telling his dad that “Mama isn’t proud of me anymore.” I felt bad, as I wasn’t expecting him to take it that way at all. I just wanted him to be better. In that moment, I remembered why I always thought I couldn’t teach – I am not very patient, lol. Anyway, once he started writing again, his 2’s were much better and he was very proud of his work.
WRAPPING IT ALL UP – TIGER MOTHER?
This week, I am focusing on keeping to our routine and also being more patient with my son. He is only 3 years old after all! I will dish out some tough love when I feel the need to though. Have you guys read The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua? It is such a good read.
I think I am half tiger mum in that I am not as hard core as she is, but I believe in strict parenting, that my son can be the best in whatever he chooses to do, and that it our duty as parents to teach them, guide them and instill in them the “success culture” from early on.
Anyway, Mr. O and I are sure that at the end of the school year, we are going to be so proud of our son, and of our journey with him. I would love to hear from you guys, so keep the comments coming. Any tips, suggestion, feedback would be appreciated. Any of you considering homeschooling? Please let me know in the comments section.
Have a fab week all!