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Investigating Light and Shadow With Young Children (Ages 3–8)

Beth Dykstra Van Meeteren Allison Barness Mary Donegan-Ritter Linda May Fitzgerald Wendy S. Miller Sherri Peterson Brandy Smith Jill Uhlenberg Stephanie Schmitz

160 pages
Teachers College Press

Children are intrigued by switches that power a light source and by items that reflect light and sparkle, and they take notice of personal shadows cast on the playground. Many STEM fields draw upon understanding of light and shadow, such as astronomy, biology, engineering, architecture, and more. This book shows teachers how to engage children (ages 3–8) with light and shadow in a playful way, building an early foundation for the later, more complex study of these phenomena and possibly piquing the curiosity of children that will ultimately lead to professions within the field of STEM. The text offers guidance for arranging the physical environment of classrooms, integrating literacy learning and investigations, and building partnerships with administrators.

Book Features:

  • Offers well-researched, teacher-and-child-tested STEM experiences.
  • Addresses the nuts and bolts of implementing a high-quality, inclusive STEM curriculum.
  • Focuses on four facets of the learning environment: cognitive, social–emotional, physical, and promotional.
  • Addresses the power of an integrative curriculum, especially between STEM and literacy learning.
  • Uses a framework of developmentally appropriate practice based on constructivist principles and inquiry.
  • Includes modifications and accommodations for diverse learners using Universal Design for Learning.
  • Offers guidance for establishing adult learning communities to support professional development.
  • Shows how to build partnerships with administrators.
  • Aligns with both the Head Start Early Learning Objectives Framework (ELOF) and the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices.
  • Focuses on the development of students’ engineering habits of mind (systems thinking, optimism, creativity, communication, collaboration, and attention to ethical considerations).
Author Bio

Beth Dykstra Van Meeteren is director of the Iowa Regents' Center for Early Developmental Education and associate professor of literacy education at the University of Northern Iowa.