PeaPods SchoolHouse is a supportive, nurturing first school experience for children 18 months to 5 years old, on their way to becoming passionate, creative global citizens prepared with the mindset and toolset for a rapidly changing, unpredictable future. Under the umbrella of The Exploratory, we use our school as a lab school to develop curriculum which can then be adapted and make accessible for the greater public. We document the children's work to share with other early childhood educators looking to implement making into their culture.
Earlier this month, our Director of Early Childhood, Paola Cervantes, presented at Cal Tech's ECSTEM conference in Costa Mesa. The three hour workshop touched on the fundamentals of Constructionism in Early Childhood Education and how to use STEAM as provocation for Narratives in the classroom. She navigated teachers through two long term projects with a mixed age classroom. The first project integrated storytelling, natural sciences, block building and how we used it as an opportunity to introduce simple machines like pulleys and technology like photography and stop motion animation. The second project told the story of how our children built a teepee from natural materials, weaving, and e-textiles (conductive sewing) to leave a legacy gift for their community.
We will spend the last half tinkering with the same materials the children used during these two projects: circuit blocks, squishy circuits, stop motion animation, textiles, and conductive sewing.
While the teachers tinkered with the materials, they shared some of their ideas of how to implement making into their classroom. One teacher shared she had developed a tinker lab for her elementary school and was moved by the power of making at her school. She came to learn about circuitry. She was eager to make her own version of our circuit blocks, use the language she learned from the workshop, and take making to the next level at her school.
Another teacher shared her story of how her supervisor sent her to attend our workshop to understand the inspiration behind the shift of their after school program. Her supervisor had attended this same presentation a year ago and trained her teachers to introduce squishy circuits to almost 2,000 children in the city of Irvine! She tinkered with Stop Motion Animation and was eager to take it back to her supervisor and students.
It is incredibly validating to hear these stories and bring these stories back to our preschoolers. They are empowered to know that their work is helping others.