Keep this list of STEM activities for kids handy for use at school and at home. Your kids will have so much fun they will forget they are learning!
I am sure you are familiar with the latest buzzword in education – STEM. Actually, it is more than the latest educational trend. STEM is an acronym for science technology engineering and mathematics. The integration STEM of into education is seen as not only vital for future job security for our children, but also for the future of the U.S. economy and its competitiveness in the global marketplace.
Our high-tech world requires a workforce that is not only comfortable with technology, but one that can solve complex problems. A solid STEM education can deliver this. But, what does that look like?
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Getting Started Doing STEM Activities for Kids
Getting started with STEM activities with your kids doesn’t have to be complicated.
Most important when doing STEM activities is to provide opportunities for exploration and testing of ideas.
Think about it, in any STEM job, people always problem solving and trying to find solutions. That solution may seem unconventional initially, but prototyping and testing might prove the “crazy idea” works very effectively.
It takes confidence and creativity to brainstorm solutions, whether building a garden box at home or repairing a $250,000 CNC machine in a manufacturing facility.
We can help foster science confidence and creativity by providing our children with a hands-on learning environment where your kids enjoy STEM activities with the freedom to brainstorm, test, and try again!
Tips for Planning a Time to Do STEM Activities for Kids
Here are a few quick tips for planning STEM time with your family or class:
- You do not need to have professional engineering skills, be a mathematician, coder, or scientist to engage your kids in STEM activities. There are plenty of STEM activities online or in library books that provide an explanation of the science behind the activity. Just jump into our list of STEM activities for kids and learn right alongside your children!
- STEM is an exploration that may go down rabbit holes. In fact, this is one of the best parts of doing STEM activities with our kids. We want them to learn how to explore, test ideas, and view science fun. So, schedule the activity time and double it! Allow time for children to test ideas and explore. We want our children to own their education–both learning gleaned from formal curriculum and from hands-on activities.
- Cultivate an environment where it’s okay if an idea doesn’t work; try again! Let your child know that when an idea doesn’t quite work out, it’s an opportunity to get analyze, problem solve, and get the imagination working even more. The goal is to park natural curiosity.
- Simple materials will suffice. You don’t need fancy supplies or equipment to get started doing STEM activities for kids. A chemical reaction STEM activity is as easy as mixing baking soda and vinegar!
- Plan for mess. Take the activity outside or cover the work surface with a dollar store table covering. The flat, disposable foil sheet pans from the dollar store work well, too, and are reusable.
- If you are just starting to incorporate STEM activities into your homeschool, start slow! Select one or two of the projects below and set aside a STEM afternoon or make it a family time in the evening or on the weekend. It definitely will count as school time.
- Don’t abandon your formal science curriculum that your children enjoy. A STEM education should incorporate solid math and science curriculum resources. The STEM activities for kids we list below can be used to help your children develop even more science confidence and knowledge.
- If you are just starting out in STEM activities with your homeschool or classroom, start with some simple STEM activities and have an older child or other adult lend a helping hand. You may want to plan a family STEM afternoon over the weekend. Older kids can help with the younger kids.
The BIG List of STEM Activities For Kids
The motto here at The Homeschool Scientist is “taking the fear out of and putting the fun into homeschool science”. So, I am all about sharing fun STEM activities for kids that will get them excited about science and math.
It’s never too early to engage your young learners in even the simplest of STEM activities. We have plenty of those ideas on this list!
Pin this post so you will have it to refer to again and again. There are activities here that will be great to supplement what you are studying or just to keep the kids busy, having fun, and learning at the same time. Enjoy!
Engineering and Building Related Activities and Challenges
Egg Drop Challenge – This was one of the first STEM activities I did when I first started leading science co-ops for 5th-8th grade. It is one of those simple STEM activities you can do with cardboard, paper plates, craft sticks, and household items, and recyclables. Every student will build something so very different and creative. The kids always had a great time with this science activity.
Engineer a Toy Chute (ages preschool-middle school) from Preschool Steam.
Newton’s Three Laws of Motion and Straw Rockets (with 12-page printable lesson with worksheets and rocket templates.)
Chemistry-Related STEM Activities for Kids
Milk Fireworks – Your little scientists will love this simple STEM projects. We loved doing this activity with preschoolers because to see the milk change colors as they added the soap was an immediate and very visible chemical reaction!
Cooking Up Stained Glass Windows – This activity is also an easy STEAM activity because it helps kids see several states of matter, but they also get do do art by designing “stained glass windows.” We have also included a little history too!
Growing Crystals to make “frosted” windows (This one is cool!)
Chemistry is Colorful chromatography activity from the National Informal STEM Education Network
Eggs, Vinegar, and Toothpaste Experiments
Make Unpoppable Bubbles from Hip Homeschool Moms
Sudsy Bubble Experiment
Individual STEM Activities for Kids
Learn about nanotechnology with the Fizzy Nano Challenge (This is a PDF.)
Make Geodesic Domes out of Paper (also a math activity) from Carnegie STEM Girls
Make a paper plate maze from Raising Lifelong Learners
Binary Code Experiment for Kids from Only Passionate Curiosity
10 Awesome Ways to Make a Cell Model from Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
Themed STEM Activities
STEM Activities for Kids – Coding Resources
- Codeapilla from Fisher-Price
- Lightbot – There is a free and paid version
- Scratch Jr.
- Scratch (Apple)
- Move the Turtle (Apple)
- Code For Life
- Code Wars (This is for high school age)
- Code Karts For younger ages. It is a precursor to coding.
- Spritebox on iOS. This is a precursor to coding and is for younger children.
- This iOS coding resource is for ages 9-11. Players have to program a robot to move cargo. Cargo-Bot
Other STEM Resources
4-H At Home – Fun, STEM activities; PreK-12; includes Aeroscience, Computer Science, Cooking, Crafting, much, much more.
PhET Interactive Simulations – Run by the University of Colorado Boulder; free interactive simulations that cover every branch of science and mathematics.
What Materials Do You Need to Do STEM and Set Up a “STEM Laboratory”
Can you purchase science technology engineering math (STEM) kits and enjoy a fun STEM activity time with your kids? Sure!
However, you can also enjoy easy STEM activities with simple household materials, including:
- popsicle sticks
- cardboard tubes
- plastic bottles and tubs
- tape, string, glue
- plastic bottle tops from water, detergent, etc
- food coloring
- Plain paper, construction paper, foil, tissue paper
- DOWNLOAD OUR FULL LIST HERE (Opens a PDF)
Free STEM Resource for Parents and Teachers
Help your children get started in STEM, explore a STEM interest they have, or prepare for STEM after high school graduation with our STEM Guide for Parents.
Whether you have a teen who knows the STEM career they want to pursue or a child who loves video games and wants to learn to code, this STEM Guide has resources and articles to help you guide your child’s interests.
Also, check out our article Supporting Girls in STEM: 10 Things to Do Preschool to College
While it is obviously important that a good STEM education is based on quality math and science curriculum, the hands-on component is equally important. When kids are actively participating in a project or experiment, they are taking what they learned in a textbook and applying it to the real world.
They are testing theories, experiencing laws of nature, making decisions, and observing effects. This is where the real learning takes place. Subjects come alive. Kids get excited. Comprehension is increased. Kids learn how the scientific process works just by doing.