We need to help build innovators if we want our children to thrive in the 21st Century economy. STEM & STEAM education is great in helping our children use critical thinking skills as well as using their natural creativity to problem solve.
Well, what is the acronym STEM & STEAM?
Activities where you are exploring, comparing and contrasting natural materials like rock and soil. Looking through a magnifying glass counting pedals on a flower or counting the number of legs on an insect. It's observing and experimenting.
Going for a walk and noticing wheels in motion. Go to the park and observe swinging forces and comparing friction on a slide. Enjoy a book at home together like, "I fall down by Vicki Cobb or Newton's 3 laws of motion told by rabbits with cake." Read how things work.
Let’s go play with the blocks😊 Let your kids plan and design structures with different materials.
Read a book and let them draw parts from the book or cook something they saw or heard about in the book.
Activities can include counting, matching shapes and making patterns. Using different forms of measurement in cooking/baking or giving measuring spoons, cups in bath time.
It’s wonderful to incorporate STEM & STEAM into our children’s everyday life and perfect for quality time together. I remember when my older 3 were younger. For breakfast my husband would ask them questions like, “What shapes they wanted him to cut their toast into?" He would talk about the shapes and then talk about how many pieces they had and the fractions it made.
I am not as blessed with having such a natural mathematical or scientific mind. So I found some ideas that will help me and I hope they can help you as well.
STEM & STEAM education helps us to think about how to explore the world around us and encourages us to ask questions about how and why things work.
6 STEM/STEAM Brain Building Activities At Home
1. Use Math concepts when talking with your children:
Talk about shapes, “Look, what shape is that truck?”
When going anywhere with the kids my favorite game to play is "I spy" use shapes and numbers.
Count and compare anything and everything when you are out. "Who has more/fewer? How do you know?
Have them sort things around the house same color (laundry), shape, size and texture. Groceries, their dinner food: size, color, shape
2. Communicate throughout the day of what you see, feel, smell, taste and hear and ask them to describe it. This helps them to become observant of the the world around them.
“I love your tall tower! How many blocks did you use to build it?
“Do we need our raincoat today? What does the weather look like? How does the raincoat protect you from the rain?
Make a Waldorf salad and smell and touch different vegetables. Ask for the kids to close their eyes and as they feel the vegetables ask, "Is it small/large, smooth or rough?"
3. Ask open-ended Questions.
Encourage your kids to wonder about the world around them or how it works and ask “What” questions? Better to use “What” than “why” questions. Why questions implies there is a right and wrong answer. “What” encourages conversation and both of you can explore and observe what is happening.
“I wonder what makes the leaves to turn beautiful colors of yellow and orange?”
What happened there?
What do you notice about….?
What do you think will happen if we…..?
4. Enjoy Learning with your child.
“That’s a great question. How could we find out together?” Ask your child to explain their thinking and you may pleasantly surprised what their answer is.
Communicating and making sense of the world around us is an important STEM/STEAM skill, even if it’s wrong.
5. Use books.
Read books about nature, science, and animals. Use STEM words during reading to build vocabulary. By asking questions like, "Can you find a Reptile? What kind of skin does it have? How is that different from a snakes skin?
Find songs that you and your child enjoy together. Ones that have repetitive patterns. My favorite is there was an old lady that swallowed a fly. At the park I always enjoyed the wheels on the bus when we would use teeter totter like rides together and sing the “Wheels on the bus”
You can build on your child’s natural curiosity everyday by talking, reading, singing, and playing. The best way to learn STEM & STEAM skills is through play and exploration.
All of these “fun play” is helping your child to become a problem solver and to develop good learning skills to last a lifetime.