STEM learning isn’t just about engaging the next generation of skilled scientists and engineers. In a rapidly evolving world, a solid foundation in STEM (that’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is like having a superpower. Research from the most recent 'Australia's STEM Workforce' report indicates that in the coming years, approximately 75 per cent of all new jobs will require STEM skills, while an Education Sciences journal article cites problem solving, creative thinking, communicating and collaborating as crucial skills in the workplace of the future. STEM learning equips kids with the skills they need to adapt, innovate and contribute to society – and that’s where these fun construction activities for kids come in!

One of the easiest ways to encourage this curiosity in kids is through hands-on activities that can be easily built and performed together at home. So whether you have an hour, an afternoon or the whole weekend, we have the best ideas to get you started on this path to discovery. The key is to keep it enjoyable and allow your little one to explore and learn at their own pace. Happy building!

STEM Activity to Do in an Hour or Less: Block Play 

Suitable for: Ages 3+

When children play with blocks, they’re problem solving, gaining confidence in their abilities and learning perseverance as they build their creations. But it’s not just their creative muscles or gross motor skills flexing; construction play with cubes and blocks also develops scientific reasoning as they test their hypotheses to see if their project comes to life in the way they think it will.

A variety of wooden and pattern building blocks being arranged to create a castle, laid out on a light blue surface. 

What You’ll Need


There are myriad ways to set up construction activities for kids using blocks:

  • Sorting shapes: Begin by sorting the blocks based on shapes and colours. Asking your child to identify and group blocks of similar shapes or colours helps develop basic classification and visual discrimination skills.
  • Building patterns: Create simple patterns with the blocks and ask your child to continue the sequence. This introduces the concept of patterns and encourages logical thinking.
  • Counting and numbers: Use the blocks as counting tools to develop early maths skills. One simple activity is asking little ones to count the number of blocks in a stack.
  • Building structures: Encourage your child to build different structures using the blocks. This fosters creativity and helps in understanding the basic principles of engineering and balance.
  • Size comparison: Explore size relationships by comparing blocks. Discuss concepts like big, small, bigger, smaller. This enhances spatial awareness and measurement skills.
  • Problem solving: Introduce challenges like building a bridge or a tower using limited blocks. Encourage your child to think critically and find solutions. This promotes problem-solving skills.

Questions to Ask to Help With Learning

  • “Can you find all the square blocks?”
  • “How can we make a tower taller without it falling?”
  • “Can you line up the blocks from biggest to smallest?”

SEE ALSO: STEM Activities for Preschoolers that Teach Problem Solving

STEM Activity to Do in an Afternoon: Shopfront Open for Business

Suitable for: Ages 3+

Building a shop in a spare area of the house or outside is a great way to teach numeracy and literacy skills. Discuss basic maths concepts, including addition and subtraction, while ‘selling’ items to each other. Who knows? It might be the best little fruit shop in town!

Wooden grocery items, a toy cash register and play money laid out on a light blue surface.

What You’ll Need


Step 1: Collect what you need to set up shop, including cardboard boxes, containers, wooden fruit and veg, or other items to sell, as well as colourful paints, markers and any other decorative materials that seem fun. Most importantly, you’ll need a cash register

Step 2: Stack boxes together to make the frame and counter, with smaller boxes or containers used for shelves.

Step 3: Let your child’s creativity flow by decorating the shopfront with paint, markers and other embellishments, and make price tags with different amounts.

Step 4: Create a store sign using repurposed materials. For example, you could use bottle caps to spell out the shop’s name.

Step 5: Now that the shopfront is ready, it’s time to set up the cash register and items for sale.

Questions to Ask to Help With Learning

  • “What would you like your store to look like and what would you like to sell?” 
  • “If this item costs five dollars and I give you 10 dollars, how much change will I get?”
  • “What types of fruit does your shop sell?”

SEE ALSO: Your Guide to Fun Activities for Preschoolers

STEM Activity to Do on a Weekend: Fort Adventures

Suitable for: Ages 4+

Whether you re-use the packaging from a birthday present haul or the boxes from moving house, building a cardboard fort is a creative project you can do with young children. They’ll work on their design thinking, problem solving, hand-eye coordination and painting skills, and the end result is something you can all be proud of. 

Exactly how much time you want to spend on it is up to you. A single big box with a roughly cut window or door, can be just as much fun as more complex structures, but for pure wow factor, we think it’s worth going the extra mile with this castle-esque creation. It might end up being a permanent addition to your living space, so it may as well look good!

A GIF series showing a cardboard fort being constructed.

What You’ll Need


Step 1: Before you start cutting and taping, gather the boxes to get an idea of the structure, how much ‘real estate’ it will occupy and most importantly, if the intended resident is happy with the blueprints! With this example, we started with two boxes stacked on top of each other to create the towers, and then three boxes between them to allow space for a door.

Step 2: To create the towers, taper the flaps on the box ends that will be joined together by trimming the corners. This will help the boxes to slide together more easily. Then, cut the external flaps down to a smaller strip and stick them down with tape. 

Step 3: Cut large holes in the inner joining side of all boxes, so that your child can easily move (or crawl) from the east wing of the castle to the west. As you cut out the ‘hallways’, create bottom flaps to join together to create a fort floor for a more secure structure. Join the fort together using packing tape.

Step 4: Cut the crenels (the alternating gaps) into the top box flaps all the way around the fort, then cut out windows and a door. You can create templates from the cardboard offcuts, then trace it with a marker before cutting.

A GIF series showing a cardboard fort being painted and decorated with flags and banners. 

Step 5: Now it’s time to paint! For this example, we combined black and white poster paint and painted every outer wall, then added a white edge to the windows and doors. 

Step 6: Add a splash of colour with some bunting or flags. Tape triangles of coloured paper to twine, and create banners from paper shapes stuck to a cardboard tube (old paper towel rolls are ideal), then attach to the tower with a low-temperature glue gun. 

Questions to Ask to Help With Learning

  • “How big should the fort be and how should we decorate it?”
  • “What do you think this building is for?”
  • “What do you think forts are made of?”

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