Early Childhood Education, Block Play and STEAM Education - Head Start and Brackitz


Education specialists report that early childhood education is critical to laying the groundwork for later years. Providing childrren with a learning environment where play and fun are paired with learning by doing (smart play) prepares children for learning the in later grades.

Many children get this already. Many do not because of family circumstances and available resources. It is these prep-skills that are needed to be prepared for elementary school. 

Head Start is a federally funded program that promotes the school readiness of children ages birth to five from low-income families by enhancing their cognitive, social, and emotional development. Bracktiz has had the wonderful experience of bringing the fun and joy of building to Head Start classrooms in Salt Lake City. The teachers and administrators do a fabulous job to bring early childhood education to kids in an effort to prepare them for elementary school. One part of this relationship has been to orient teachers to the benefits of playing and learning with Brackitz. 

I spent several hours orienting over a hundred teachers at Head Start on how to discover math and physical concepts through building and play. While introducing vocabulary like line (or vertex), point, angle, length, or area, kids created these concepts themselves. The pride in building a triangle, then a square on up to a 17-a-gon (17 sided polygon - heptdecagon) that covers the floor of their classroom is immense.

Teachers could easily expand thier exploration of pre-school related STEAM subjects such as:       2girl.jpg

  • Shapes that "contain" things (3-D)
  • Shapes that are flat (2-D)
  • Circles (a 17-sided heptdcagon looks a lot like a circle)  
  • Archimedes and his approximation of a circle before Pi
  • Letting kids create and build and learn how to support their own structures

What is the use of knowing the word vertex when you are five?

The answer is not found in the five year old remembering what a vertex is (although some will for sure) but the fact that they can be exposed to complicated words in subjects called art, science, math and engineering (STEAM). We can even use those words! Then, when these bright young kids show up for 5th grade the topics are not foreign and scary. Instead the concepts are somehow familiar and the child can lean back and know they are ready for what comes next. The alternative is that they turn away.  
Happy Building! 

-Chris Cochella, Brackitz inventor



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