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Play and STEM Education in the Early Years

Sue Dale Tunnicliffe and Teresa J. Kennedy
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Ann Wheeler
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In this text, Drs. Tunnicliffe and Kennedy compiled various STEM-based research from around the world to add to the knowledge base about STEM education for young learners. There are four main parts of the book that have different focus topics, such as the use of play in educational learning, STEM programs and training in various countries, learning in the early grades, and the importance of supportive family and unstructured settings to STEM comprehension in youth. 
This text could be beneficial for the educator or administrator of early grades or even professors who teach future and in-service teachers to provide STEM-based activities that could be given to children to enhance their learning of science and mathematics. The detailed descriptions of certain activities in the text with photos provide the depth of knowledge to replicate many interesting and engaging tasks for students in younger grades or even adjust the difficulty to enhance learning for older children.
For example, Dr. Ley details in Chapter 18 some STEM projects for Kindergarten and Pre-K learners utilized in Mexico that include such projects as a robotic hand made out of plastic straws and yarn, as well as a car made of a plastic water bottle, sticks, balloon, and plastic bottle caps. The pictures and detailed instructions with sample questions for students and ways in which the teacher could direct conversation help the reader to replicate these projects for their own classes. A nice addition was the added description of how a workshop was conducted online, which could be very useful in our current times. 


Ann Wheeler is a Professor of Mathematics Education at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas. Her research interests include middle and secondary mathematics education regarding children’s literature and technology-based mathematics teaching.