Early Childhood Programming

IMSA’s Early Childhood Program, Little STEAMers

Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) based enrichment program for early childhood students. Designed to offer integrative learning experiences for young students, Little STEAMers seeks to support and enrich the preschool curriculum by increasing intentional time spent on STEAM activities and encouraging STEAM skills in children’s play.

Little STEAMers School Memberships

Give all of your early childhood classes access to the Little STEAMers Early Learning Program by subscribing today! Each membership includes access for all educators within a school building.

Option 1: Per Unit

  • Select individual unit(s) based on student interests
  • In-person and virtual professional development training options
  • Enrollment in the Little STEAMers Canvas course for each unit (includes instructional pages, templates, virtual PD opportunities, access to the program writers, and opportunities to contribute to the Little STEAMers Professional Learning Community.
  • Detailed materials list for purchasing activity tools and manipulatives
  • Access to field trips to IMSA at an additional cost

Option 2: Entire Curriculum

Includes access to all of the above plus:

  • Access to all 6 units of study at a discounted rate
  • 6 field trips to IMSA

All memberships an initial payment with the opportunity to renew annually at a discounted rate. Only one registration is needed per school. Once a school has signed up, our team will reach out with the next steps to enroll individual educators.

To pay via purchase order or for any questions, please contact Karina at kvillareal@imsa.edu.

TopicDescription
Little STEAMers Complete ProgramThe complete program includes access to all six units listed above - a full year's worth of curriculum!
ColorsThe activities in this unit enable students to explore their world through color. In doing so, they will develop important math and science skills, observe and play, listen and explain, and problem-solve. Combining inquiry and play, the activities in this unit cultivate the skills that support student-led interests and experimentation.
WaterWater is a recognizable and intriguing topic for many young children due to its abundance and presence in our lives. The Water unit builds upon student learning experiences through hands-on activities and scientific phenomena. Measurement, properties, data collection and analysis, and creativity are all explored within this unit.
Simple MachinesSimple machines are mechanical devices that are used to make forceful tasks easier. There are six simple machines: the inclined plane, the lever, the wheel & axle, the pulley, the screw, and the wedge. Throughout the activities in this unit, learners will explore how they can use each of these simple machines to move different materials in a way that helps to accomplish a task.
Playing with CodeFor young children growing in today’s digital world, the acquisition of coding and programming skills has become a popular and appropriate focus in education. As producers, our youngest students may explore the open-ended nature of computer programming and coding through design, art, and innovation. Engaging in coding builds valuable and transferable practices such as problem solving, flexibility, and perseverance, as well as developmentally appropriate skills including social and emotional exploration, fine motor movement, and cognitive challenges.
The activities in this unit require a KIBO15 robot.
Buildings Centers are commonly established in the Early Childhood classroom as an opportunity for students to explore and mimic the world around them. It is in these environments that students generally explore and engage in block play – where they begin an in-depth study of the science, mathematics, and social sciences behind buildings. The activities included in this unit are designed to enable students to explore buildings through a variety of different mathematical and scientific lenses.
AnimalsAnimals are a popular topic of study and play among Early Childhood learners, and as it is such a broad topic, there are many avenues in which to play and explore. In this unit of study, students will explore animals—including humans—as they exhibit various characteristics of life.

Why Little STEAMers?

The need for early learning STEAM opportunities is documented in various research studies where school readiness data in the areas of science and mathematics achievement indicate that young children are not being provided with adequate learning opportunities to be successful in these areas. Our youngest students are naturally inquisitive, ask questions without reserve, and are often unheeded in taking risks. Providing these children with multiple opportunities to engage in integrative, inquiry-based STEAM experiences generates interest in active learning and the development of academic and intellectual skills that may be used in the future.

All activities within the Little STEAMers program are aligned with the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards (IELDS) and reflect the ten indicators of effective pre-K through 3 curricula as identified by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS/SDE). While engaging in activities designed to develop student proficiency in kindergarten-readiness mathematics and science skills, the overall design of Little STEAMers is largely play-based and incorporates opportunities for young learners to build executive functioning skills essential for social, emotional, and academic success through appropriate developmental progression activities.

Activity Samples

Literacy Connection: Hey, Water! By Antoinette Portis
  • Engage in sensory exploration and engineer a structure to transfer water from one location to another.
  • Predict the length of a “water growing creature” and measure the size of the toy at intervals with the use of a Number Path and Bucket Balance.
  • Explore volume in a filling station with the use of syringes and pipettes to fill containers of various sizes and shapes.

What is Included?

  1. The Curriculum
    The Little STEAMers program consists of a series of six child-centered inquiry Units of Study. Each Unit incorporates at least one storybook in addition to six hands-on, inquiry-based, integrative STEAM activities and six additional remote learning explorations. These activities are designed to explore STEAM-related concepts through play, movement, sensory exploration, and peer-to-peer and student-to-teacher interactions. Individual activities may be incorporated into a center-based rotation for student investigation.
  2. Material Lists
    Each Unit includes a detailed materials list to easily purchase all tools and manipulatives that are included in the activities. The list provides website links where all items can be found along with suggestions for alternative materials. Of course, purchasing materials can be customized- many items are already in your classrooms!
  3. Educator Professional Development
    Time in our classrooms and with our students is valuable… but so is supporting educator growth! Flexible training options are available for all Little STEAMers educators. While some educators will enjoy in-person offerings that are held throughout the year, others will prefer engaging in innovative professional development through the virtual Little STEAMers platform. The choice is yours and will be worth your time!Pedagogical methods and STEAM concepts incorporated into activities include subtilizing, sorting drawings, patterns, loose parts, and foundational math and science concepts.
  4. Online Learning Community
    Housed in Canvas, this virtual Little STEAMers platform serves as a database for all instructional materials (including those in Spanish), access to webinars, additional remote learning activities, and an open community where ideas and questions can be shared!

Testimonials

“(Students loved) all of it! From making predictions to stringing the beads, to going outside to see if our predictions were accurate; they loved it!” – Jenny K.

“The students LOVED the (owl pellet) activity. I had two little girls that will definitely be scientists.” – Elizabeth C.F.

“Students loved both parts of this lesson! We were construction workers in one center and engineers in another!” – Jenny K.

“So much wonderful information & great activities to help our students grow and learn. Thank you!” – Kara G.

“The (professional development) facilitators were very knowledgeable of the subjects and very involved in the teaching process.” – Sara S.

“This was one of the best PD’s I have ever attended. I am grateful I had the opportunity to participate. I am excited to implement what I have learned with my students.” – Renee B.

“This was the best workshop I’ve been to in my 24 years of teaching.” – Susan K.


The Little STEAMers Early Learning Program was originally developed through generous funding from The Boeing Company to serve the St. Louis Metro Area.