Kindergarten STEAM thread


I would like to start a focus thread of STEAM resources, discussions, ideas aimed specifically at pre-school students.

The following resource very rich in ideas and reflection on my own practice:

I definitely agree that the rest of school should look more like Kindergarten, and am being selfish in the sense I work with this age group with a STEAM focus to my classes and really want to sculpt my pedagogy to meet the developmental levels of my learners.

One of my biggest challenges is to stop myself from being helpful, to leave children the space to identify and solve problems, and to consciously support that process. One thing that came to mind from the articles (marble run in particular) is how can I help observers to become problem identifiers and solvers?

(I have a case of multiple identities going on with my sign in on different devices… sorry! I am Shelly Sharp, and MissMissShelly is my Scratch name. Definitely a foreigner in the realms of technology, but that’s okay.)


Hi. I have a clarifying question. You wrote: how can I help observers to become problem identifiers and solvers?

Question: what do you mean by “observers”? Do you mean students?

In other news, there is a book called The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever that has REALLY helped me be less prescriptive with my feedback (jumping in to give advice or problem solve for a student) and more socratic–using questions to help the student discover their own problems and solutions.


This refers to the teachers’ observations in the link I shared (marble run texts) that students in the class who explored, questioned and actively resolved problems in their play, did so in their study and that other kids were observers. They were learning as observers but they were not actively involved in the identification and resolution of problems.

That is a wonderful resource share as this is a big challenge for me, to help my students by being less ready with my solutions and insights, and more ready with those questions and observations that do help them to see and resolve problem. Thank you!


Oh, I see. I have that too: students who will take risks and jump in. Others who are more afraid and hold back. Yeah, the questions in The Coaching Habit help w that bc it gives students space to articulate their fears. Once they feel heard, they are more likely to take risks. Not huge ones, but they do move forward.

How does this sound to you? What have you tried? How has it worked or failed?


Tricky to say what I have tried as I am an experimenter and have taught many subjects with all elem levels. Listening to fears is a biggie. I read body language a lot, and when I see wilted posture, or stillness, I will ask What’s up buttercup? Often I will ask questions to help them find a point of interest, a point of entry. Sometimes I will share my own experiences with similar struggles and strategies or perspectives that helped me to get past my impasses, or things I have seen others do. Sometimes I will get them to move, a water break, can you help me by bringing me… Calming breathes like bunny ears (yoga kids), the breathing box… a little sit in a low lit corner in the beanbag chair. One of my kids who has asd was overwhelmed and after a little break, was back and bright as a button, with ideas for his work. I also like eft, tapping. My scientific dad pshaws it, and my spiritual mom embraces it. It works for me so I am happy to offer it as a possibility for my kids.
One really key idea is that I can have conversations over time, that things don’t always need to be resolved on the spot. This came out of a tapping session with Gene Montrestelli (tapping Qand A) and it is so simple and so obvious, but not to me at the time and it released so much pressure and frustration on my part.
I also work on focus, of turning a student’s attention to past struggles they have overcome to remind them of their resilience and ability to grow, or of bridging, looking past a downfall to actions, behaviors or attitudes within their means that will help them succeed.
And sometimes I organize a time outside of class to work one to one or with a small group so they have a calmer environment and more support.
I am trying to work from guided to self-directedwhen the final tasks are complex… a break it down to build it up.
Yesterday, many of my pre-k’s were calling out for help after I had done a connecting arms to paper puppet body with brads through hole-punched holes and I didn’t run around like a crazy person doing it for them, but told them to ask at their table. Some still, I did re-demonstrate, take it appart and have them do it. With my older class, I have done skills demo videos they can access on an ipad and replay. Very helpful. I am free from re-demonstrating to work on other aspects of class management and teaching/learning.
I have been thinking about this about transmition of technique/expertise compared to letting people develop their own way and I think it is a spectrum with different points appropriate in different contexts. My PE reacher did not offer me any instruction on running technique that I can recall and I am an awful runner. When I became a PE teacher, I addressed technique in terms of physics, demo and experimentation… the lettuce choppers, hands moving up and down from elbow with no forward back movement from shoulder, or arms swinging from left to right across body instead of at the sides forward and back. I do appreciate that I will tackle unknown subjects through books, and subsequent iterations and build my abilities that way, but I also love great teaching with observation and feedback that hits the spot to move my learning forward quickly.