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The following article discusses how loose parts can be used for teaching science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) in an innovative way.
Since the beginning of time, children love to play with any objects that they can get their hands on – loose parts. This time of play is known as “free exploration”. During free exploration, children can discover properties and ways to use objects that they have never thought of before. They are also able to develop an understanding of basic scientific concepts, such as how items work and why they are the way they are.
With loose parts, teachers have a wide variety of tools to use in their teaching of STEAM. Although loose parts can be used in all different types of learning, they are especially helpful when teaching the arts and sciences.
During science lessons, teachers can use loose parts to investigate the properties of certain objects. For example, teachers could use different sized beads and string for children to explore how items can be sorted by their mass or length.
During technology lessons, teachers can use loose parts to make children build and construct objects without the need for a printed instruction sheet. For example, teachers could make children build their own mud village using only natural resources like stones, leaves, sticks and bark to support the homes.
During engineering lessons, teachers can use loose parts to make children think creatively about how they are going to design an object or model of something that does not exist yet. For example, teachers could give children a few large natural materials, such as sticks and leaves, and have them figure out the best way to support a hammock that is strung between two trees.
During art lessons, teachers can use loose parts to make children express themselves through art without the need of any types of tools. For example, children could build different sculptures from soaps and clay without the need of a knife or stick to carve out shapes. In order to fully explore their creativity, teachers can allow children to decorate or paint their objects in whichever way they see fit.
Lastly, during mathematics lessons, teachers can use loose parts to make children explore different concepts through discovery. For example, children could experiment with the difference between odd and even numbers by using objects that are only available in even quantities such as marbles and sticks, or odd quantities such as beads and rocks.
Overall, there is not a specific way that loose parts can be used to teach STEAM. There are many different possibilities and ways that teachers can use loose parts in their classroom based on children’s interests and the overall theme of a unit.
However, although there is not a set way for how loose parts should be used, it is important to remember that children learn differently from one another. Therefore, it is also important to remember that children will learn in different ways when using loose parts depending on their learning styles.
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