Can infants think about their quirky, curious futures? Sure, they can! Can they tell us what they imagine? No, they do not communicate verbally yet. So, how can they be empowered and lead us into their wild imagination? Well, this is a project about the earliest of stages in children’s learning, this is a project about rich pedagogy that embeds STEM with amazing educators that think babies deserve to be recognised for their own way of creating their future.
The babies in the nursery room were communicating their interests: crying to unknown sounds, smiling to the feel of educator’s cuddles, carefully observing the surrounding, and exploring new foods and drinks. What was their interest then? Exploring their world and discovering what their future would hold! This is how “5 little senses” started, as a way to invite babies in the Nursery of the newly opened FROEBEL Carlton Early Learning Centre and making their transition as comfortable as possible. Day by day the educators provided a variety of sensory-rich experiences where babies, educators and the community could participate: texture play, water and ice play, watercolour experimentation, cause and effect play, sticky and messy play, colour sighting, and sensory-led gardening.
Briefly explain how the project was sparked. How did you and the children get started with the project?
The project was sparked by our desire to honour babies right to explore the world and be scientists in their own way. Being a new group of babies, everything was new and different for them. We could observe how babies were interacting with their environment and the cues they were displaying: excitedly babbling or crying to new voices and music, touching the plants in our garden, noticing new people, exploring new resources with their hands and mouths. We recorded what the babies were engaging with in the environment: sensory books, plants, water from sinks, coloured objects, educators’ singing and musical instruments. Then, we came up a variety of ideas that could provide a variety on sensory-rich play experiences. We planned around our observations and humans’ five senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. We got started with the sense of touch.
Babies’ natural sense of wonder and experimentation. Seeing how STEM/STEAM for babies and toddlers is not too different from STEM/STEAM for pre-schoolers/kinders. We were surprised by our babies developing their sense of belonging while discovering science, technology, engineering, and maths. We were surprised to see that our babies are persistent, curious and use a variety of strategies to make meaning of their world
“This project, while working with children who are still non-verbal, was framed to be child-led and child-responsive. While the educators set up investigations and explorations, these were very open-ended and the project recount describes the ways to educators chose to honour and follow up with each child, allowing the children to guide what happened next.”
“I found this project extremely interesting and well documented! It was an impressive demonstration of thoughtful, reflective and responsive practice centered on the child and their world. I thought that if I had a young child I would love for them to be engaged and supported to be curious, brave and explore their world in the ways evident in this project.”