PRE K -3rd GRADE LEARNING                                                                                                        

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Essential Questions:  How do we excite our students about engineering, problem solving and thinking skills in a playful manner?





How to handle the design process at different grade levels

Pre-K-grade 1:

  • Learn vocabulary: design, engineer

  • Children brainstorm, choose theme, plan and set up dramatic play area with science and math themes. Create a Design laboratory, etc.

  • Practice observation and classification skills.

  • Plan, create, and refine structures with blocks and other manipulative.


Grades 2/3

  • Practice brainstorming.

  • Begin to use design process in simplified form.  Teacher models the process of brain storming.  Teacher and students do the process together.

  • Read stories using Reciprocal Teaching approach to engage students.

  • Teacher presents a design challenge and a solution from a story that is familiar to the children.  Invite the children to come up with another solution.  (Choose a problem that will really engage the class.)

  • Write to engineers, scientists, mathematicians.  Invite some to visit the classroom to do a presentation/demonstration.



Continuum of Self-Directed Learning

According to Knowles (1984), children are naturally curious and can be more self-directing in schools. What is important is not the age, but the learner’s situation. In fact, the learner’s “need to know” and self-directing capacity increases steadily during childhood and rapidly during adolescence (Knowles, 1984). Schools can foster the development of learners’ skills of self-directed learning through inquiry-based learning (Day & Baskett, 1982). Encouraging self-direction does not mean giving learners total control and responsibility but rather providing incremental opportunities on a continuum towards increasing independence for lifelong learning.


Children's Engineering ... M. David Burghardt, Ph.D., P.E., is a Professor in the Engineering Department at Hofstra University

Engineers are creative problem solvers who do not seek unique solutions, but optimum ones, the kind in which trade-offs have been made between competing factors, e.g. time, money, and materials. There are several ways to describe the design process, but all include constraints and specifications, research and investigation, brainstorming and creativity, trade-offs and optimization, testing and evaluation, and analysis applied in an iterative, non-linear fashion. In engineering education it is important to assess the process as well as the solution, as our goals are both, not either or. This is exactly the case in children’s engineering.




Reggio Emilia Comparison
Example of a lesson plan
Another example
Thinking about Thinking, Developing Meta-cognition in Children
Reciprocal Teaching

Learning and Teaching in Preschool by Victoria Fu

Three Approaches to early Learning
Pre-K glue for learning
 The Early Childhood and Parenting (ECAP) Collaborative