Last month, I had the opportunity to go on Great Morning on KCWI and share some easy STEM activities to do at home with your kids. I’ve since had many people ask me for the activities, so I thought I would share here.
STEM stands for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics. You may have heard this used frequently in your kids’ school or even when politics turns to the topic of education. Many careers today are in these four areas; therefore, schools, communities, and parents have searched for more ways to implement, engage, and educate kids in these areas. While it may sound intimidating, it really isn’t that challenging to provide opportunities for your kids to experience and experiment in these areas right in your own home.
Here are some of the things I do with my kids that are easy (and cheap) STEM activities.
- Making Crystals: Simulating a chemical reaction in a mason jar. All you do is dissolve 9 tablespoons of Borax in 3 cups boiling water and then pour into a mason jar or glass. Take pipe cleaners (you can make them in fun shapes or just clump in a little ball), hang them from a string attached to a popsicle stick over the mason jar, and let sit over night. In the morning your pipe cleaner will be covered in crystals. We now have ours hanging from our window!
- Pipe cleaners
- Borax (found in laundry detergent aisle)
- Popsicle sticks
- Food coloring (optional)
- Nature Walk: Science is found outside in nature. Be quiet, observe, and explore. Your kids’ minds will wander and wonder. (And you will most likely come home with a massive collection of acorns, geese feathers, and rocks!)
Technology is more than just video games, apps, and TV shows. I know I am guilty of having that be my kids’ only experience with technology. Really, technology helps us communicate with one another, it makes our lives easier and more convenient, and it’s important to help our kids use technology for useful purposes. One thing I did was show my eldest son, 8, iMovie. He watched one short YouTube video on how to use the app and has since made dozens of videos. He loves to share them with his grandparents, and they will be fun memories to have.
- YOXO: My boys, 5 and 8, love to make
junkinventions from empty boxes, cartons, and bottles. YOXO, now sold in Target and online, are fun shaped pieces that are made from all recycled materials and can be combined with other materials such as those toilet paper rolls and cardboard boxes to build any 3D object your kids can imagine.
- GoldieBlox: Now I don’t have any personal experience with these toys as my daughter is just three, but I am in love with the commercials and the idea behind this product: “to get girls building.” Would love to hear your experiences with GoldieBlox. I have seen some in stores like Target, and they are also online.
- Dominoes: Yes, Dominoes have been around forever, but they are a great game for Family Game Night. My daughter (3) works on grouping by matching like pieces together. My son (5) is recognizing numbers, grouping, and working on strategy. My eight-year-old not only works on strategy, but also on adding as we keep score of the end pieces. We don’t set out to tell our kids it’s math night. We just play a game and it ends up having academic advantages.
- Geometry and Patterns: Did you know that the foundational principle of mathematics is recognizing patterns? That’s why preschools and primary grades focus on them so much. If you think about our number system, it is one large pattern. With my non-school-aged kids, we had colored popsicle sticks and they glued them onto paper in patterns. I also had my son make different shapes. A little math mixed with arts and crafts. The kids enjoyed it.
- Paper (we used colored foam paper)
- Colored Popsicle Sticks