“Who remembers what happens when we put vinegar and baking soda together?”
A chorus of little voices yells, “A reaction!!!”
“That’s right. We know that a REACTION takes two things and makes something new out of them. And when baking soda and vinegar play together, they play loud! We can use our senses to make all kinds of OBSERVATIONS: we HEAR the fizz and SEE the bubbles and SMELL the stinky vinegar and FEEL the foam.”
You might assume that a science lesson with this many vocabulary words was designed for a first- or second-grade classroom, but we had this exact conversation with a group of 3-year-olds this year. We have used chemical reactions to explore color combinations, study how volcanoes erupt, and inflate balloons. Our 3, 4, and 5-year-olds have also studied the effects of gravity, learned how density affects flotation, and engineered a variety of different structures.
No, we’re not teaching a prep school class meant to spit out rocket scientists; we get to do something even better. Twice a week, we have the opportunity to take full advantage of these early learners’ God-given curiosity with hands on lessons that teach them basic science and math principals, while developing critical thinking, exploring literature, and fostering a deeper understanding of and appreciation for God’s world through our unique, proprietary STEAM lessons.
Hands on learning is a hallmark of an early learning environment, and our STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Math) curriculum provides kids with the opportunity to delve into advanced subject matters at a developmentally appropriate level. It fosters curiosity by encouraging both hypothesizing and experimentation, and allows the students the opportunity to dig in and get messy with every step of the process. While this is true for most of the STEAM curriculum out there, our exclusive curriculum also adds literary and faith-based pieces.
For example, our instructors incorporate read-aloud stories with each lesson, providing learners with the opportunity to make connections and ask questions they might not have thought about otherwise. Littles learn through storytelling, and connecting the water cycle to Cloudette – Tom Lichtenheld’s beloved tiny cloud who aspires to be something greater – gives them hooks on which to hang unfamiliar terms like “cumulous” or “thunderhead.” They may not remember all of the vocabulary, but the story provides a foundation on which future teachers will build during their elementary years. Exposure to more advanced subject matters allows the knowledge to build organically in a child’s mind, as each year a new layer is added to what has already been learned.
We also tie each scientific concept to a biblical theme, integrating faith with education in a way that puts practical steps to what could feel like murky spiritual concepts. When we study our fingerprints, we tell the kids that each of them has a unique set of fingerprints, and if they ever forget that God loves them, they just need to look at their fingers. He’s put a tiny “love note” there to remind them that He made them special and loves them just the way they are. No one else has the same “love note” that they have! Making prints of our fingers with ink and then studying them with a magnifying glass and comparing them with our friends’ fingerprints gives life to the Psalmist’s words, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Lakeland Christian Academy’s Preschool STEAM program embodies our mission statement: “Equipping our students with academic excellence and a discerning faith.” We provide education that exceeds the state-standard Early Learning Foundation criteria, centered around biblical truth, where the student is free to explore and learn at their own pace. Learn about how your child will thrive in an environment of wonder and learning!