Exploring STEM through Sensory Play

Tom Bedard | Australian Tour September 2019

Tom Bedard, M.Ed., Early Childhood Education and, in 2009, was the first early childhood teacher to be named finalist for Minnesota Teacher of the Year Program. Before retiring from the classroom in 2016, he worked in the field of early childhood education for 38 years. During that time, he taught thousands of children in all age groups from infants to preschoolers representing diverse backgrounds and abilities.

 
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His speciality has been to promote and analyse exploration of sensory play to better understand children’s curiosity and competence in all areas of development. Tom is an international speaker and popular blogger inspiring early childhood educators and parents everywhere to reflect on children as learners and inspire them to imagine new possibilities for dynamic play and learning at the sensory table.

Tom's work links perfectly to our STEM Detectives program which encourages educators to provide sensory experiences for children to support the development of STEM thinking skills, and providing positive STEM experiences for all children.

Full Day, Half Day and Evening Workshops as well as evening presentations available in Australia and New Zealand.

 

What Can I expect from a workshop with Tom Bedard?

Tom is considered a sort of preschool MacGyver making extraordinary things out of ordinary objects. He builds in and around the tables to make unique spaces for the children to play and learn, drawing them in to experiment and explore. He builds apparatus from recycled and easy to access materials that encourage STEM thinking and doing. He is a passionate believer in learning through experience and movement, providing positive experiences for all children, even the boisterous ones!

If you want to find out more about Tom's approach, we'd encourage you to check out his Sand and Water Tables Blog. You'll find plenty of inspiration and insight from Tom's many years of experience.

Tom will be offering a number of sessions while in Australia including:

Creating a Dynamic Sensory Table: Breathe new life into your sand and water table and inspire STEM Thinking (1/2 day – 3hr or Full Day Workshop)

Children tell the story of discovery and the joy of learning at the sand and water tray as they explore cheap and easy-to-build constructions in and around the sensory table. Through photos, videos and anecdotes, the children use non-scripted play to take charge of their own learning in all developmental domains, especially scientific thinking. Explore the value of sensory play in developing STEM thinking skills. Participants will also explore how this can be adapted in an outdoor sandpit, discuss implementation strategies, embracing the mess and how to bring all educators on board.In this hands-on practical session participants create their own construction to use in their sand or water tray.

Levels, Spaces and Holes: Transforming your sensory tray to foster complex, intriguing and imaginative play (3-hour Workshop)

Create constructions for the sensory table using found and recycled materials and duct tape. Participants are offered a simple framework for building that includes six dimensions and elements to incorporate in their building process that foster scientific inquiry. Apparatus can easily be adapted for use outdoors in a sand pit or bush kitchen.

Dialogue with Water: Bringing scientific inquiry alive at the water table (2-hour presentation)

Through non-scripted play with water, children author their own scientific experiments. Videos, photos and anecdotes, show how capable the children are of complex scientific inquiry as they explore easy-to-build constructions that invite new and intriguing types of play. Given the time, space and materials, they pose their own questions for investigations, try out their own solutions, reflect on the results, and work with others in socially competent ways. These scientific experiments can be adapted or further explored outdoors, and consideration is given to sustainable practice in using our precious water supply.

Positive STEM experiences for the noisy and adventurous: Creating invitations for boisterous and adventurous play indoors (1/2 Day or Full Day Workshop)

Children use their bodies as thinking tools to explore and make sense of the world. However, we often ask them to disconnect from their bodies by asking them to sit still or keep their hands to themselves. Providing space for physical and adventurous play provides all children with opportunities for positive STEM learning experiences. Workshops will include lots of hands on practical making and exploring, so start collecting your cardboard boxes!

Who's it for?

Educators looking for ways to expand and enrich STEM thinking, play and learning with easy-to-make, low-cost materials, or anyone who appreciates children's messy play will love these sessions!

How can we get involved?

Tom will be presenting public workshops at a range of metropolitan and regional locations around Australia. Find your nearest workshop on our events page.