Most young kids are drawn to activities that make them create, think, discover, and invent.
These STEM activities for young kids are perfect for any day of the week. They take little prep and very few materials. The creativity will come from your child and their innovation will astound you. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. I am sure you have heard this acronym along with a few others being thrown around in education lately. It is becoming more and more apparent that math and sciences will be increasingly important to prepare our kids for future jobs as well as what a huge impact this kind of thinking has on every aspect of education. The great thing is, it doesn’t take much effort to help your child learn to innovate and think like a scientist.
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Here are a few great STEM activities to get you started.
- Five blocks- this activity is so simple, yet so much fun. Provide your child with 5 blocks that are all the same size. I just use 5 blocks from our wooden block set. You can purchase some at any craft store or on Amazon. Ask your child how many different ways they can put the blocks together by touching at least one side (not corner) of every block. There are several combinations they can come up with. Try this with more or less blocks as well. If your child is ready for it, see if they can determine, based on how many combination that could be made with five blocks, how many combinations will be made with 4 or 6 blocks (and so on). They may figure out a formula or pattern to determine other combinations.
- Building with toothpicks– toothpicks and marshmallows make the perfect building materials for any young architect. Give your child a large collection of marshmallows and toothpicks to create any kind of structure they can. Then provide some framework for them. Ask them to build a bridge, a house, or a lighthouse. Or ask them to build a structure with a certain number of squares and triangles. The possibilities are endless and their creativity will flourish.
- Making bridges with cups and tongue depressors– I like to use small plastic cups and tongue depressors for this activity. All you need to do is give them those two materials and watch as they create amazing structures. The difference with this activity is that the two objects don’t stick together on their own like the above activity. Your child will have to focus on stacking to create the structure he or she desires.
- Classic egg drop– Remember doing this in school? Provide a collection of materials from around the house and sacrifice a few eggs for hours of fun and learning. Let your child create packages that will keep an egg from breaking when dropped from a deck or other high surface. You can also add an element by trying it from a few different levels. This project may take several tries and a lot of material, but it will be well worth it.
- Creating a pulley– Pulleys are fun because they can be made any size and can be very useful. Show your child the basics of how a pulley works and how they are used in real life situations. Watch a few videos online to help your child understand. Then let them get creative. Get out ropes, blankets, buckets, carabiners, or any other item you can find that would work well for a pulley. If you have a good tree outside, you could use a branch to create a large pulley. Get creative with your kids and really let them experiment. Show them how much easier it is to lift a heavy load using a pulley rather than just their own muscles so they begin to understand the uses of a pulley system.
- Building a Catapult– There are several ways to make a simple catapult. Get out a mixture of materials and let your child create a catapult. Think about items that can be used as a base, items that can fling an object, and an item that will create that force to propel something. Tongue depressors, rubber bands, toilet paper rolls, hangers, balloons, you name it!
- What goes faster?-Racing different items down different surfaces is one of the most exciting activities for young kids. And the educational benefits are limitless. There are several different things you can do with this.
- Use a few different materials to make ramps and roll items down to see which ramps work best. Teach your kids about friction. How smooth items allow the item to roll faster than say a carpeted surface because there is less friction. Have fun with this. Try carpet, blankets, metal, plastic, water…use golf balls, smooth balls, bumpy balls, other shapes.
- Set up ramps, all with the same material like wood or metal, and place it at different pitches. Roll balls down each ramp to see which will send the object faster and longer. Use timers and help your child read time. Measure the distance and start comparing and looking at different methods to measure things.
- Try different weighted objects to roll down each ramp. See if a heavier or slower item rolls faster and farther than each other
The possibilities with this activity are seriously endless and can provide an entire afternoon of learning fun for you and your child.
I really hope each of these activities will inspire you to bring in math and science activities into your life on a regular basis. Simple STEM activities will not only encourage innovation and creativity, but will also increase your child’s confidence. Most children grow up feeling inadequate in math and science, but the truth is, children are naturally good at both of these things. Start building their confidence today and watch how their creativity amazes you.
Creating a little engineer kit would make a great gift for any child. Use the directions for each of these activities and this materials list to get your young engineer started.
Materials list for engineer kit;
- Set of wooden blocks
- Small plastic cups
- Tongue depressors
- Objects for egg drop, bubble wrap, egg carton, small boxes, bucket, tissue paper, tubes, etc.
- Rubber bands
- Toilet paper rolls
- Other objects for catapult building
- Ramp materials
- Different size, weight, and textured balls
- Any other materials you think would engage the child’s mind
You may also want to read:
- How to Skyrocket your Child’s Early Childhood Education
- 12 Quick Pre-Reading Activities for Busy Parents
- 7 Best Classic Games you need to Play with your Kids
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