Creating fun projects and learning at the same time is what STEM (applying science, technology, engineering and maths to everyday life) is all about. Try one of these entertaining and challenging STEM arts and crafts activities guaranteed to fire up your kids’ creativity and problem-solving skills.

Neighbourhood Collage

A GIF showing how to create a neighbourhood collage. This example uses red, blue, yellow, orange and green paper cut into shapes and arranged on a piece of purple cardboard to create houses and scenery. 

This STEM arts and craft activity blends architecture, maths and art into a project worthy of being stuck to the fridge. 

Step 1: Take your child for an exploratory mission around your local area, discussing the different shapes in the houses and buildings around you: some have flat roofs, some are triangular. Are windows round, rectangular or square? And what do the letterboxes look like?

Step 2: Bring a small notepad or sketchbook on the walk, so kids can sketch out shapes and scenes as they go.

Step 3: Once home, recreate the neighbourhood from your sketchbook drawings. Start with a big piece of coloured cardboard: draw the plan with a pencil first. Next, cut out coloured paper into different geometric shapes (you might like to use plastic shape guides). Play around with the shapes to represent the different elements of a house or building. For example, a big rectangle shape might work well for the base of the house, a triangle for the roof and small squares for windows. Once you're happy, it's time to glue everything together and watch your mini neighbourhood come to life!

Step 4: Optional: use coloured markers to add extra lines or windows, or to decorate the gardens. And – voila! – a visual representation of where you live.

What You’ll Need

Straw Rocket Fun

A GIF series showing how to create a straw rocket. This example uses red, orange and blue paper cut into shapes and stuck together to create a rocket, and red and green striped straws for the launcher. 

Kids obsessed with outer space will love this straw rocket activity, which teaches STEM engineering and science concepts such as propulsion and drag, plus maths if you add in a challenge to see who can fly their rocket the farthest! 

Step 1: Cut a rocket shape out of paper (you can use our rocket template), complete with a nose cone, and add other bits to stick on, such as round windows and fins (or use coloured markers to decorate your rocket). Turn your rocket over. 

Step 2: Cut a straw in half. Put tape over the top end of the straw to make an airtight seal, then tape the sealed straw halfway up the back of your rocket.

Step 3: Take your scissors and cut along the length of the second straw, then overlap the long edges and tape it back up to make a thinner tube (younger kids may need some help with this, or if you have a thicker and a thinner straw available, you could use those).

Step 4: Slide the second straw into your ‘launcher’ and blow through it to launch your rocket into the air.

Step 5: To make the game extra challenging, add a landing strip on the floor so you can measure how far the rocket travels each time with different strength blows.

What You’ll Need

SEE ALSO: 3 Boredom-Busting DIY Construction Activities for Kids

The Ultimate Building Activity

A GIF series showing a STEM construction activity using playdough and matchsticks. This example uses red, orange and blue playdough, and natural, light brown match sticks.

Building imaginative structures is always fun. In this simple hands-on activity for mini-builders, they’ll join balls of playdough and matchsticks to create 2D and 3D shapes. In the process, they’ll explore STEM skills such as spatial awareness and measurement as they use engineering and maths to figure out how to give their design structural integrity.

Step 1: Create small balls of playdough, all roughly the same size – about 40 balls roughly the size of a cherry tomato is a good start. Using half of the balls, press each onto one end of a craft matchstick.

Step 2: Use the other half of the balls to connect sticks together to make polygons and prisms of all kinds. Younger kids may enjoy making 2D shapes like triangles and squares, while older kids can up the ante with 3D pyramids or cubes.

What You’ll Need

SEE ALSO: 3 Creative Kids’ Activities to Try at Home

Pipe Cleaner Elephant

A GIF showing how to create a pipe cleaner elephant. This example uses orange pipe cleaner, purple felt and pink pompoms. 

Transforming objects into something unrecognisable encourages little ones to exercise their imaginations, and this STEM activity helps kids work on their creativity and fine motor skills. While working through the craft, you could also share some fun elephant facts with your child: They are the largest land mammal on earth, and they can live for up to 70 years. And, did you know that elephants sometimes “hug” each other by wrapping their trunks together? How cool is that! 

Step 1: Take a small round container such as the plastic one inside a Kinder Surprise egg – or, even better, rummage through the recycling bin to find something about the same size. Cover in double-sided tape. 

Step 2: Wind a pipe cleaner around itself three or four times (it should look like a little flat plate). Stick it to the top of the container. 

Step 3: Keep winding the pipe cleaner around the container, sticking it down as you go. When the pipe cleaner you’re using runs out, connect a new one by twisting the end of one to the beginning of the other and keep winding around the container until it is completely covered. Leave a long bit at the end and bend into an elephant trunk shape.

Step 4: Dab glue onto the bottom of your container and add four small pompoms for feet. 

Step 5: Cut two ‘ears’ from felt and glue onto each side of the head, then glue on the googly eyes.

[H3] What You’ll Need

Fingerprint Family Detective Picture

A GIF showing how to create a fingerprint family detective picture. This example uses white index cards, charcoal and a black magnifying glass. 

Got a primary schooler obsessed with solving mysteries? This fun fingerprint activity teaches them to understand the STEM skill of biometrics (applying the theory of statistics to biological traits) as they identify people via their unique characteristics. 

Step 1: Finely crush a piece of charcoal between your fingers and smudge it onto an index card. 

Step 2: Get each of your family members to press the same finger (for example, index finger) into the charcoal. Have them press down that finger onto another index card (you may have to repeat the process a few times to get a really clear print).

Step 3: Choose the best print, cut it out and paste or tape it onto your final family fingerprint picture.

Step 4: Write the name of the person underneath their fingerprint and examine the loops, whorls and arches of individual prints with a magnifying glass to see how, even though related, each family member has unique fingerprints. 

What You’ll Need

SEE ALSO: The Top Mess-Free Activities For Your Little Ones

This piece was originally published in June 2021 and has been updated.