Sept. 11, 2017
One important concept in the world of education in recent years is STEM, but what does it mean and how can parents incorporate STEM activities into early childhood learning? First, STEM is an acronym that stands for the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. As you probably know, some of the most needed and valued careers today are in these fields, so educators across the country are now realizing the importance of incorporating STEM programs and activities early in a child’s education.
While many middle and high schools offer cutting-edge STEM programs, it’s unlikely you’ll notice specialized courses for little ones. If you’re looking to introduce worthwhile activities to help prepare your child for the future, keep reading to discover 5 creative ideas to incorporate STEM activities for elementary students!
Make a Homemade Science Lab
The first letter in the STEM acronym focuses on science, and science activities are a natural and fun way to get your child started! There are countless ideas for science experiences online, but in the meantime, it’s important that your little scientist is ready for experiments by creating a homemade science lab! Make sure to have a sturdy bucket or container ready to hold each item. Here’s a list of supplies to get for your homemade science kit:
- Cotton balls and swabs
- Small magnifying glass and mirror
- Funnels, plastic cups, and glasses
- Tweezers, eye droppers
- Lab or work goggles
Foods Items and Liquids
- Food coloring
- Salt, granulated sugar, baking soda, corn starch
- Dish soap
Depending on your family’s budget, you can opt to purchase a microscope, or commercial science kit. But if your family is on a budget, don’t worry! The above items should be enough to get your child started with fun and engaging science experiments!
Explore Space and Data with NASA
Here’s a fun way to delve into space while studying both science and technology—the first two letters in the STEM acronym! Your child will have a blast monitoring space missions with the NASA app!
The NASA app is free to download, and offers loads of fun information, pictures, and more for kids. Your child will learn about the latest launch information, view current images from satellites, and track the International Space Station as it orbits in real time. If your child has his or her eyes on the sky, keeping up with NASA is the best way to teach your child about earth and space!
Learning to Code from an Early Age
Do you have a video game fanatic? These days most kids love to play video games. If your child is in love with their video games or gaming apps, one of the best stem activities for kindergarten include learning to code, even at age 5! You can find easy binary code printable worksheets or codes online that will help your child understand binary code, even at a young age.
Simply print and help your child spell out sight words using binary code. In addition, check in your area for local technology camps or afterschool activities for kids that focus on teaching to code their own video game! Most of the time, camps enroll kids as young as 5 years old to learn coding, animation, and more!
Building with Legos, K’Nex, or Straws
The “E” in STEM stands for engineering, and for your little one, this means building anything they can! Legos and K’Nex kits are wonderful tools to help your child learn to build using small bricks or pieces to put together a structure. Your child can build a cabin out of Lincoln Logs, or build roller coasters or Ferris wheels out of K’Nex.
If your family is short on money, look no further than a dollar bag of straws!Using straws, tape, and paper, your child can work their engineering skills to build many of the same structures they can create with K’Nex. Simply search for straw engineering challenges
Go on a 2-D Shape Scavenger Hunt
The final letter in STEM stands for math. In addition to the math exercises your child no doubt already works on at home, going on a shape scavenger hunt is one fun way to mix in a little math into your child’s day. Simply take a manila folder and cut out various shapes that are common in the environment.
Some ideas are octagons, rectangles, pentagons, and different types of triangles can be cut into the folder. Be sure to label each shape! Next, take your child outdoors with the folder and open it up and look through the shapes. Challenge your little learner to find objects in the environment that match the shapes cut in the folder!
As you can see, incorporating STEM activities into your child’s routine is easy, and offers meaningful fun that prepares kids for the future! Using the above ideas to get started, you can ensure that your child will learn valuable STEM skills while having a ton of fun!