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2.2: Routines

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    205743
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    COURSE COMPETENCY 2. Incorporate STEM into Daily Routines

    Criteria 2.1 Incorporate STEM opportunities into routines.

    Routines and Rituals

    Schedules define the whole day, whereas routines are more specific sets of regularly occurring behaviors. Routines provide some security and a sense of what comes next; children are able to anticipate what will happen, and thus feel more secure.

    Daily routines and rituals also provide a second context for curriculum. They offer possibilities for children to use their emerging skills and to apply emerging concepts and ideas. Early childhood daily routines include arrivals and departures, mealtimes, naptimes, diapering, toileting, dressing, handwashing, tooth-brushing, and transitions between one place and another. They also include rituals such as sign-in sheets, health checks, waiting lists, attendance counts, dictated stories, reminder notes, or voting.

    Children sit down for a meal, wash their hands, and put jackets and shoes on hundreds of times in order to provide excellent opportunities for children to use and build emerging skills and concepts. In group care, the care routines during arrivals, departures, meals, naps, diapering, toileting, and dressing provide excellent opportunities for children to use and challenge their emerging skills and concepts. When an infant whose diaper is about to be changed hears her teacher describe what it is she is about to do, the infant experiences a flood of words, which eventually become an anticipated phrase that gives meaning to a familiar experience. When this same infant hears a request to put his arm into the sleeve of a shirt, he is invited to demonstrate that he has understood this phrase and experiences the joy that comes with sharing meaning with the teacher. When a preschool child looks in anticipation each morning at the helper chart to see what job she gets to do that day, they are invited not only to cooperate in the care of the classroom, but also to build their emerging skills in understanding the meaning of print that accompanies the photo or drawing. Care routines are natural opportunities for children to engage in learning. Therefore, teachers plan the routines of care and the daily rituals that pepper the day in ways that invite children to be active participants and to use and build their emerging skills and concepts in meaningful situations.[8]

    A vignette featuring toddlers shows the kind of learning that occurs in another routine:

    Vignette

    Toddler Lunch-Time Routine

    Four toddlers are seated at a low table for lunch. Their primary care teacher sits with them at the table. To his right, on a low bench, the primary care teacher has a bin that holds everything he needs for the meal. He pulls out bibs for each toddler and helps each toddler put one on. Each toddler finds a cube chair to sit in. The teacher puts an empty bowl in front of the toddler on his left. He offers this toddler a pair of small plastic tongs, holds a plate of small sandwiches, and asks, “Would you like to take a sandwich?” The toddler grabs the tongs and, after a few trials, manages to pick up one of the sandwiches and drop it onto his plate. Later, after each toddler has taken a sandwich, the teacher pulls from the bin a clear plastic measuring cup, on which a red line is drawn at the one-cup mark. He fills the measuring cup to the red line. He places an empty glass in front of a toddler and, offering the toddler the measuring cup, says, “Would you like to pour?” The toddler wraps his hand around the handle and tips the cup over his glass. He spills a bit at first, but adjusts his hand and manages to empty the measuring cup. He looks up at the teacher and smiles. The teacher smiles in response, saying, “You poured your milk, Stephan! You know how to do it!” The toddler seated next to Stephan reaches for the empty measuring cup. The teacher says, “And now you can pour milk into your glass, Alexi. I’ll put the milk in the measuring cup first.”[9]

    To incorporate STEM learning into the routine described in the vignette, you could add elements that encourage exploration and understanding of scientific concepts. Here are some suggestions:

    1. **Measurement and Volume**: Instead of using a clear plastic measuring cup with a red line, use different-sized containers with clear markings for volume. Have the toddlers compare the volume of different containers and discuss concepts like full, half-full, and empty.

    2. **Materials and Properties**: Introduce different materials for the toddlers to explore during lunchtime, such as plastic, metal, and cloth. Encourage them to describe the properties of each material, like smooth, rough, soft, or hard.

    3. **Simple Machines**: Integrate simple machines into the activity by using child-friendly versions of tools like levers (e.g., child-sized tongs), ramps (e.g., incline plates for sliding food), or wheels (e.g., rolling carts for serving).

    4. **Food Science**: Discuss basic food science concepts, such as the states of matter (solid, liquid) and changes in food properties when cooked (e.g., bread becoming crispy when toasted).

    5. **Mathematics**: Incorporate counting, sorting, and pattern recognition into the mealtime activities. For example, have the toddlers count the number of sandwiches on each plate or sort different types of food items based on color or shape.

    By adding these STEM elements, you can enhance the toddlers' learning experience during mealtime and promote their curiosity about the world around them.

    How to incorporate STEM into the lunchtime routine was generated using OpenAI. (2024). ChatGPT (3.5) [Large language model]. https://chat.openai.com

    Preschool Sign-In Routine

    Many preschool classrooms have children sign in when they arrive. This is a literacy-related activity as it involves letters and writing. It can even incorporate math if you count how many children are at school that day. However, STEM can be incorporated into this daily classroom routine in several ways. Teachers need to think about routines and be intentional in planning to incorporate STEM learning into parts of their day such as Sign-in. Read the example below to see how STEM can easily be integrated into one such routine.

    Incorporating STEM into routines like sign-in sheets in a preschool setting can be both educational and engaging. Here are some ideas on how to do it:

    1. **Interactive Sign-In:** Create an interactive sign-in board where children can use STEM-related elements. For example, instead of traditional names written on paper, use magnetic letters or blocks for children to spell their names. This promotes letter recognition, fine motor skills, and spatial awareness.

    2. **Graphing Attendance:** Use the sign-in data to create simple graphs or charts. For example, tally how many children are present each day and represent this information using bar graphs or pictographs. Discuss the concepts of counting, comparing quantities, and interpreting data.

    3. **Technology Integration:** Incorporate technology by using a digital sign-in system where children can tap their names on a touchscreen or use a digital pen to sign in. This introduces children to basic technology skills and reinforces the connection between STEM and everyday tasks.

    4. **Mathematical Patterns:** Design the sign-in sheet to include patterns or sequences for children to follow. For instance, they may need to fill in missing numbers or complete a pattern of shapes or colors. This encourages critical thinking and mathematical reasoning.

    5. **Sensorial Sign-In:** Integrate sensory elements into the sign-in process. For example, use textured materials like sandpaper or fabric for children to trace their names, promoting tactile exploration and sensory awareness.

    6. **STEM-themed Sign-In Questions:** Include STEM-related questions on the sign-in sheet that children can answer or discuss with teachers. For instance, "What is your favorite animal and why?" or "Can you name a plant you saw outside today?" This encourages scientific thinking and vocabulary development.

    7. **Problem-Solving Challenges:** Incorporate problem-solving challenges into the sign-in activity. For example, provide a set of building blocks and ask children to create a structure that represents something they learned recently. This fosters creativity, engineering skills, and communication.

    By infusing STEM concepts into sign-in routines, preschool teachers can create meaningful learning experiences that connect everyday tasks with foundational STEM skills, fostering a love for inquiry and exploration in young children.

    How to incorporate STEM into the preschool sign-in routine was generated using OpenAI. (2024). ChatGPT (3.5) [Large language model]. https://chat.openai.com


    2.2: Routines is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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