Using Your Kindergarten Art Center to Explore STEAM

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Were you surprised when STEM became STEAM?

Probably not.

I'm sure like most preschool and kindergarten teachers you were already seeing how art ideas and activities could easily be used to explore math, science and engineering.

Look closely at the steps of the scientific method or engineering design process, and you will see that many of these same steps are used in the art center as children explore and experiment with a variety of materials.

Here are some examples!

Math in the Art Center

Geometry is a natural fit for the art center as it includes the study of two basic art elements, line and shape.  Children can compare the differences between straight and curved lines and use both two and three-dimensional shapes in their compositions.

Here different kinds of lines, along with flat shapes, were used to create monsters similar to those in Ed Emberley's, Go Away, Big Green Monster!

monster making shape art project

Snowflake art provides the opportunity to learn about balance and symmetry as children create six-sided snowflakes using pattern block pieces or loose parts.

pattern block snowflakes art center project

Starting with a hexagonal center helps children learn to identify and name this shape and compare it to others with more or less sides.

pattern block snowflakes art center activity

loose parts snowflake in the art center

3D shapes can be built with marshmallows and toothpicks or other construction materials.

building 3D shapes using marshmallows and toothpicks

Faces can be traced and overlapped to create artistic designs. 

using 3D shapes to create art by tracing the face

Integrate measurement into art projects, by inviting children to measure what they've drawn or created and then sequence them from shortest to tallest. 

snowman measuring art project

using snap cubes to measure a snowman in the art center

Bring counting rhymes to life, as my friend did, when she worked with children to illustrate their own version of Five Little Pumpkins. 

Five Little Pumpkins art project

Science in the Art Center

There are many places where art and science intersect including the important practices of observation and experimentation.

Help children develop their observation skills by providing natural objects for them to look at closely and sketch.  

observing and sketching fall leaves in the art center

Noticing and drawing details about leaves, apples, or pumpkins help children identify and compare the characteristics and features of different plants.

observing and sketching fall apples in the art center
observing and sketching fall pumpkins in the art center

Children can draw and paint animals as part of their animal research.  As they carefully draw and paint every detail, they are applying the knowledge they have learned about a creature's body characteristics. 

painting butterflies in the art center

drawing ladybugs in the art center

drawing an eagle in the art center

Utilize the art center for a collaborative mural or diagram that connects to science content.  

creating a life-size tree diagram in the art center

creating a life-size eagle in the art center

Interactive writing can be used to create labels and descriptions. 

creating a fall pumpkin patch diagram in the art center

Children are required to think about scale and proportion in order to be scientifically accurate as they work together on these creations.

creating a moon in the art center

creating a sun in the art center

Investigate weather through art by providing a variety of materials children can use to represent different types of precipitation. 

exploring weather and precipitation in the art center

exploring weather and precipitation in the art center

creating winter snow collages with loose parts in the art center

creating winter snow collages in the art center

Include opportunities for children to experiment with cause and effect by inviting them to add water to marks made with washable markers or mix paint colors to create new shades.

water and washable markers in the art center

water and washable markers in the art center

color mixing with paint in the art center

The effects of force and motion can also be investigated through marble painting and spin art. 

exploring force and motion through marble painting

As children apply different degrees of force and movement, they see how it affects the outcome of their artwork.

exploring force and motion through spin art

Engineering in the Art Center

Engineering challenges can be incorporated into your art center or done at a separate makerspace.  Either way, children can use art materials to design, build, and test their prototypes.

Upcycle challenges invite kids to make something new out of an everyday material such as paper tubes or milk cartons. 

paper tube upcycle recycle art project

upcycle recycle art project using milk cartons

Or you might try challenging children to create a familiar object such as a paintbrush, bug, or bank.

engineer design project make a paintbrush

engineering and design project make a paintbrush

engineering and design project build a bug

engineering and design project build a bank

Technology can be used in the art center to create initial designs.  This child used the Geoboard App  to design a maze he would eventually build with various art materials.

using a geo board app for designing a maze

Art Center Set-up

Having a dedicated space for art makes it easy to use as a vehicle for STEAM projects.  Children can use both the materials and process of artmaking to explore content area concepts, build vocabulary and apply their learning.

If you don't yet have an Art Center in your classroom and are looking for set-up tips, this start-up guide will walk you through the process. 

how to set up and manage your classroom art center

Happy artmaking!

Thanks for stopping by,

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