The Maker Space is always changing and ready for new activities. But how do the STEM activities inside of Maker Space support your child's development? Read below to find out!
The Maker Space is always different and offers many engaging opportunities throughout the year, and each activity will always be hands-on. The activity tables in Maker Space are taller than in Imagination Station so your child may want to stand to reach the table or sit on their knees on the stool. This alone supports gross motor development. Those big body muscles are developing with each stand and reach or successfully balancing and kneeling on the stool to reach the table.
The fine motor muscles are developed when playing with the various manipulatives in the STEM boxes. Are they building with the bristle blocks or creating with the magnatiles. The different ways the pieces fit together or balance with one another require different amounts of force to successfully create a structure.
Self-regulation is a skill children develop and need with every activity. Children need the ability to sit, attend, and manage disappointment when exploring. Sitting, thinking, and creating are skills developed through play and you will watch your child spend different amounts of time on each step, depending on their developmental level. When a child is building a structure with a goal in mind, and the structure falls down before completion, that can be really disappointing. The ability to handle the disappointment and either start over, move to another activity, or try a new structure is a self-regulation skill that children will develop over time with practice.
Another opportunity for social-emotional development in the Maker Space is using tools with peers, whether they are a new friend or someone you arrived with. This is often seen at the Lego car track where there are limited ramps, cars, and bricks. Children have to communicate their plan and the expectations for everyone to play in that space together. This creates opportunities for teamwork and problem-solving. They will choose how to respond if a child hits their car by running their car too early, or if they need to negotiate for a certain Lego brick. All of these social skills will support the children later in life as they continue to have opportunities for teamwork and sharing materials.
All the manipulatives in the Maker Space are natural math tools for counting and measuring. It is easy to count how many blocks a child used in a structure. Try saying, "Wow that tower is so tall! I wonder how many blocks you used to make it? Let's count them!" You can work on one-to-one correspondence with each block and count one number per one block, as well as cardinality which is the last number counted being the total number.
Another math skill you can try any time is measuring with unconventional tools. "Wow, that boat is so long. I wonder how many Lego bricks long it is?" Any tool can be used to measure such as a hand, foot, or toy. This helps with counting and comparing sizes. Comparing and contrasting different structures or types of builders can be a really fun math activity. "Let's build another boat with the same number of blocks but let's use the ones on that table instead. Then, we can compare the similarities and differences between the two." There might be challenges to replicating a build with the same blocks and you can talk about those challenges and troubleshoot possible solutions with your child.
A big part of building and creating is breaking and falling. Whether that crash is intentional or not, it is a science skill. How fast the blocks fall, how far they scatter across
the floor, and how loud the noise was are all science concepts. You can observe what is happening, "Wow, that tower got so tall and the blocks all fell down!" Or, "When you swung your hand against the tower I heard a bump, then a loud crash!" Narrating what is happening will encourage your child to think about cause and effect, as well as how their actions are impacting their surroundings. Whether it is intentional or unintentional, making a tower fall will always be a lot of fun!
Look at their car when it is done and notice all the colors of bricks or the one color of bricks they used. You can also admire the overall look of a finished block structure. These are all works of art done by your very own artist. Talk about how much of a skill it is to have artistic abilities and the jobs people have as adults that are centered around creation and art. Creation and imagination are everywhere.
Scripts to Try Today
"You worked really hard on that car! Tell me what makes it special."
"I see you concentrating really hard to get those blocks to balance. What is your goal?"
"It looks like you are really wanting to break towers. Help me build so you can keep knocking them down."
"I am noticing these blocks are going everywhere when you knock the structures down. I wonder why?"
Use your observations to encourage your child to be curious about their world and take more time to experiment and answer their own questions.