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Want your kids to have fun with STEM at home? These STEM activities bring science, technology, engineering and mathematics to the fore – plus, they’re super simple.
Children are naturally curious about how things work. Preschoolers and primary kids are constantly asking questions like: “How do boats float?”, “How can I mix colours?” or perhaps the most popular of all: “What’s that?”. One of the best ways to help them understand science, technology, engineering and maths concepts is to put them into practice. Try these fun, simple STEM activities that you can do with kids at home.
Children of all ages love playdough because it’s a tactile, messy, hands-on activity that engages the senses. While little ones enjoy mixing colours and making simple shapes like spheres and cylinders, you can introduce an engineering element to their play with a pack of straws.
Encourage your kids to make shapes and then build them into 3D objects by connecting the straws with small balls of playdough. Creating geometric shapes like squares and triangles introduces basic maths concepts while combining them to create 3D structures is the work of budding engineers.
Start a discussion about the shapes they’ve made: how many sides and corners does each shape have? Which is stronger, a triangle or a square? If you want more playdough fun, take your children’s rolling, squishing and moulding fun to the next level with our top playdough learning activities.
This simple STEM project for kids is a winner for keeping kids entertained at home as it gets them moving while they learn about numbers. Tape a large piece of paper to a wall and cover it in groups of dots, like you might see on a dice. You can draw dots with a marker or use stickers. On Post-it or sticky notes, write numbers that correspond to the groups of dots. Hide them around the house and challenge mini mathematicians to find the right sticky note for each group of dots.
The genius of this fun STEM challenge is two-fold: kids will have a ball constructing catapults out of paddle-pop sticks, plastic spoons and rubber bands, and then the real fun begins when they get to launch them!
Set them up with pom pom projectiles and see how far they can shoot them across the room. As they play, encourage children to predict and experiment. Can they tweak their designs to make a stronger catapult? It’s the ultimate STEM project as it combines aspects of all four pillars.
As one of the more simple STEM activities, this is perfect for little ones to get stuck into. Fill jars or painting wells with warm water, then get your junior scientist to help add a few drops of watercolour paint to each one – yellow, blue and red.
Now it’s time to get mixing! Using a pipette and a shallow dish, see what happens when they mix yellow water with blue water, or blue water with red water. This low-cost experiment is an easy way to get your kids interested in STEM while teaching them the basics of colour theory.
Got a mini David Attenborough on your hands? This outdoor activity is a fun way to teach STEM concepts to kids. Let naturally curious children roam free in the backyard or local park with a magnifying glass.
Prepare a list of items they need to search for such as a flower, a spiderweb and some bark. After the hunt, kids should document their findings in a scrapbook, like a real scientist. They can draw what they saw, or capture their favourite moments and findings on an instant camera.
Extend the fun (and learning!) with a bug catcher kit. A magnifying bug viewer not only allows kids to study insects and learn about their anatomy, it also helps develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
It’s mind-boggling how much kids love slime. Making this sticky stuff is a messy business so whip out the smocks, aprons and splash mats. The basic recipe includes PVA glue, bicarb soda and contact lens solution, or buy a slime starter kit and you’ll have everything you need.
Science experiments like these are a great way for young minds to learn scientific methods and understand how to follow a procedure. Let them experiment by adding glitter, beads and food colouring, and encourage children to examine all the properties of slime.
Boost kids’ brains with this creative engineering activity that teaches them about buoyancy, density and design. Grab some apples from the fruit bowl and chop them into halves and quarters, or experiment with different shapes.
Now get the kids to transform them into little boats using coloured paper and matchsticks to make sails. Fill a large plastic tub with water and try to float and race the boats. Which boats float better? Create sails of different shapes and sizes and see if this changes the results.
Pipe cleaners are cheap, cheerful and oodles of fun. One of the best simple STEM activities for a rainy day? Hand your kid a pack of pipe cleaners and ask them to make the tallest freestanding structure possible. Watch their imaginations take over as they bend and build and begin problem solving.
Another cool STEM project idea with pipe cleaners is to snip them into small pieces and place inside an empty plastic soft drink bottle. Glue a strong magnet to a paddle-pop stick and use it to manipulate the pipe cleaner pieces inside.
No kid can resist this fun STEM activity, which is basically a crazy chemistry experiment. Just make sure they do this safely, with adult supervision.
Combine dishwashing liquid, cold water, white vinegar and food colouring in an old plastic soft drink bottle. In a separate jug, combine bicarb soda with some water and stir well. Quickly pour the bicarb mixture into the soft drink bottle and step back. The eruption is caused by a chemical reaction between the vinegar and bicarb soda. Want a simpler option? Try this cool Violent Volcano kit (geared towards children aged 8 and up).
Things are about to get very messy with this experiment, so it’s worth taking the extra time and effort to set up your science activity outside.
One of the simplest no-prep STEM activities for kids to do at home, stop-motion animation is super easy to set up. All you need for this creative filmmaking project is a bucket of toys, an iPad and some basic stop-motion animation software; we recommend Stop Motion Studio, which is free if you’re not using it professionally.
The process is simple: place a toy in front of the iPad and snap a photo. Move the toy a tiny bit and snap another photo. Keep going in this way until you have 20-30 photos. Now play back their sequence of snaps at high speed and they’re ready to win an Oscar.