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Why we include the arts in tech education for preschoolers

The Arts teaches creative problem solving, critical thinking and empathy - important skills for any budding creative technologists.

kindergarten girl tinkering with science and art toys

One of the key tenets of our pedagogical approach is to use real-world examples at every opportunity so that learning is fun, contextualised and relatable to kindergarteners.


Our lessons explicitly connect scientific and technical ideas and activities with what happens in the world around us. The goal is to use every opportunity as a learning moment and to demonstrate how tech is relevant and useful in a variety of contexts and applications. That way students start their learning journey inspired to apply their knowledge and skills in real life.


At the heart of this approach is an interdisciplinary curriculum that places the arts squarely beside tech education. We believe that this is the way science, tech, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) education should be.

 

What is the arts?


The arts covers a wide range of things including:

  • the humanities (i.e. history, geography, social sciences, psychology)

  • the visual arts (i.e. architecture, ceramics, drawing, film, photography)

  • the performance arts (i.e. music, dance, theatre, digital media)

  • the literary arts (i.e. prose, poetry, written communication, speech writing)

  • the culinary arts (i.e. cooking, baking, fermenting, brewing)

The areas that kindergarten students would be most familiar with tend to be in the visual and performing arts. What they may not yet appreciate is how much artistry there is in science and technology, as well as how much science and technology there is behind each of these artistic disciplines. And that's why we believe in a multidisciplinary STEAM education encompassing Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts and Math.

 

Why are the arts important in early childhood tech education?


The arts should be taught in tandem with tech because it helps with cognitive development, ignites new enthusiasm for learning across different fields and gives context to how technology creates possibilities in our lives.


The arts supports cognitive development because it fosters creative self-expression through improved:

  • communication skills

  • empathy skills, and

  • interpersonal skills

The arts also promote critical thinking by asking students to:

  • observe

  • interpret

  • perceive, and

  • relate to their learning

Finally, the arts prompt purposeful action because it inspires children to tinker, build and create objects, products and environments with their tech skills so that they can solve problems they care about.

 

Which form of arts can be incorporated into tech education?


Almost any art form can be woven into tech curriculum! Our experience with our students, however, gives us some winning formulas that were more hands-on, play-based and inquiry driven.


Here are some of our students’ favourites:

  • crafts using recycled materials

  • electronic music

  • writing and telling stories

  • drama and acting

  • design

Crafts using recycled materials

craft recycled material

It’s not difficult to see why this is a consistent favourite amongst our kindergarten students. Crafts are a great way to get creative, inventive and resourceful. Whether the kids have a fully formed idea in mind or are exploring possibilities as they go along, they are all working towards their own creative inspiration.


Using recycled materials is both environmentally friendly as well as an opportunity for preschoolers to see everyday objects in a new light. This simple yet profound act is every kid’s favourite past-time: using their imagination! Along the way, they will also learn to protect the environment, be resourceful and resilient in the face of constraints.


Electronic music

electronic music preschool

Ever see a toddler bop or wave his arms to music? Well that’s because music is one of the earliest languages that young children understand and “speak”. It has the capacity to change our heartbeat, our mood and our ability to focus. Even without knowing how to play a musical instrument, every child can relate to how a song makes them feel, move and speak-sing.


The beauty behind music is that there is a great wealth of physics, math and neuroscience that can be applied to how we experience music. By creating music electronically, preschoolers can learn about structure, organization, decomposition while being musically creative!


Writing and telling stories

One of the most important skills we develop is the ability to communicate ideas. Storytelling is one of the earliest forms of human communication and children’s favourite way of learning about new places, people, things and feelings. Being able to tell their own stories using technology and share their experiences is one of the most satisfying and affirming things they do in class.

Drama and acting

drama acting for kids

Kids love acting things out. It uses their imagination, their facial expressions, their whole bodies, and their voice. Imagine if they could also use robots, animations and electronic stage music altogether in one amazing production! Such a collaborative project for the class is always an exciting experience for everyone as they learn to work together, perform their parts, tell a story and use technology in creative and novel ways.


What we also often see is preschoolers embracing their robotic friends as equal partners on stage. Knowing how to code the robot to follow commands becomes equivalent to writing a screenplay for your robotic friend to act out. Just that the robot is much more obedient and you have to write code :)


Design

design thinking for kids

Design is actually a really broad field and is what you do whenever you want to make anything that is both useful and beautiful. Whether it’s an object (home-made slime), a product (a DIY robot) or an experience (a class performance), design is about spreading joy to your audience and users when they use or experience your creations.


Any time a preschooler has the opportunity to design something of their own, their eyes light up because of their insatiable desire to make something others can enjoy, and have fun while doing so!

 

What does a typical STEAM lesson at Techie Tykes look like?


Integrating the arts into our tech curriculum means that any Techie Tykes lesson is a multi-sensory, hands-on, left and right brain activated experience.


Our students design and build their own "creative" robots after learning how circuits and motors work.


Our students put together their own dioramas after understanding how light and shadows play out in town planning.


Our students learn to compose their own electronic music with an accompanying music video.


Our students create games that highlight the plight of marine life and create awareness.


Our students make their own interactive documentary on the history of human invention.


The possibilities are endless because inside every budding artist and eager scientist, is a child who cares not which ideas belong where but engages in wonderment with all ideas that capture their imagination. That’s how we nurture the voice and expressions of creative technologists.


Learn more about how your child can get started on a meaningful STEAM education with us here.


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