Family Essentials®

10 STEM Activities You Can Do At Home!

April 26, 2018

Posted in: S.T.E.M.

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Young children are naturally curious about the world around them. At Kiddie Academy, we tap into that sense of wonder and discovery by infusing STEM throughout our Life Essentials® curriculum. STEM, an acronym that refers to the integration of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math skills into meaningful, interactive learning experiences for young children, provides educational opportunities for your child to think creativity, solve problems and discover new concepts on their own.

Enjoy learning through play right at home with your budding scientist, technologist, engineer or mathematician with these 10 fun and easy STEM activities. These activities are designed to foster critical thinking through hands-on, play-based, cooperative experiences and require very few materials. In fact, you may already have everything you need!

 

1. Take a Walk on the Moon with DIY Moon Sand!

List of Materials: Flour, vegetable oil, large bowls and trays

Show your child a picture of a footprint on the moon’s surface, and invite them to make their own moon sand! Have your child help measure and count eight cups of flour and one cup of vegetable oil together in a large bowl. Practice taking turns, counting, and mixing. Turn the moon dust out into trays or a sensory bin for your child to play. Add toy astronauts and rockets for fun!

 

2. Create Craters!

List of Materials: Play-dough, rocks, flour and weighted balls

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Invite your child to form spheres out of Play-dough to represent the moon. Explain that impact craters were formed when the moon’s surface was struck by asteroids and comets. Invite your child to make impact craters with rocks and other materials on their play-dough moons.

For younger children, fill a sensory bin with flour, and invite them to drop balls of various weights and sizes into the bin to make craters. Compare the sizes of the craters.

 

3. Make a Lunar Volcano!

List of Materials: baking soda, black powdered tempura paint, glitter (optional), trays or cookie sheets, squeeze bottles and vinegar

Mix baking soda with black powdered tempera paint, add glitter if desired. Spread the mixture on trays or cookie sheets. Fill squeeze bottles with vinegar. Invite your child to draw and make “craters” in the moon sand on the trays. Explain how scientists believe volcanoes erupted on the moon’s surface billions of years ago, and invite the children to create their own eruptions by dropping vinegar into the mixture. Encourage the children to discuss their observations of the chemical reaction.

 

4. Make Mini Constellations!

List of Materials: toilet paper rolls, white paper, scissors, push pins, tape and flashlights

Introduce constellations to your child by showing some examples on a mini whiteboard or sheet of paper. Invite your child to create their own star pictures!

  • – Have your child trace the end of a toilet paper roll on white paper and cut out the circle.
  • – Draw a small, simple design on the circle.
  • – Help your child punch holes into the design with a push pin.
  • – Tape the paper to the end of the toilet paper roll.
  • – Turn off the lights, point the toilet paper rolls toward a dark surface, and shine a flashlight through the open end.

 

5. Create Shooting Stars!

List of Materials: craft sticks, rubber bands, plastic spoons, plastic lids and pompoms

Give your child materials such as craft sticks, rubber bands, plastic spoons, plastic lids, and pompoms (for stars). Challenge them to design and build a catapult to make a “star” shoot across the sky!

 

6. Create Force That Moves Rockets!

List of Materials: tape, string, straws, balloons, measuring devices, vinegar, film canisters, baking soda and tissues

Invite your child to experiment with balloon rockets!

  • – Tape one end of a long string to a chair.
  • – Insert the string through a straw, and then tape the other end of the string to a second chair.
  • – Separate the chairs so the string is taut.
  • – Invite your child to blow up a balloon, pinching the end while a partner tapes the balloon to the straw.
  • – Pull the straw back to the chair and ask the children to predict how far the balloon rocket will travel when released.

Explain how the gas pressure (oxygen) in the balloon creates a force called thrust when released, propelling the rocket forward. Encourage your child to measure the distance, and make changes to the experiment to increase the distance traveled.

Encourage your child to do another air pressure experiment.

  • – Pour vinegar into a film canister about ¼ full.
  • – Measure 1 tsp of baking soda and dump it into an open tissue.
  • – Stuff the tissue into the canister and replace the lid.
  • – Place the canister lid-side down on the ground and wait for the chemical reaction to pop the canister into the air.

Experiment with different amounts of vinegar and baking soda, make predictions, time the experiments, and record their results.

 

7. Experiment with Orbits by Making Planets Orbit the Sun! 

List of Materials: sun stickers, foam shapes, pie tin, rubber balls and Styrofoam balls

Place a sun sticker or tape a foam shape in the center of a pie tin. Place a small rubber ball in the tin. Invite the children to experiment rotating the pie tin to get the ball to orbit the sun.

For younger children, fill a sensory bin with a shallow amount of water and add Styrofoam balls of various sizes. Swirl the water in a circle to create a whirlpool effect, and watch the “planets” orbit!

 

8. Mission Control!

List of Materials: Cardboard boxes, trifold project boards (such as the cardboard display boards used for science fairs), tin foil, construction paper, plastic bottle caps and lids, foil pie tins, buttons, foam shapes, glue, tape, old keyboards and calculators, dials, brads, knobs, pipe cleaners, craft sticks and recycled materials

Have your child design a control panel for people on the ground (Mission Control) to communicate with astronauts in space. Provide a wide variety of materials to encourage creative thinking!

Challenge your child to think about what types of things Mission Control would be responsible for tracking, and encouraging them to design devices for monitoring various systems on the rocket ship.

 

9. Construct an Inclined Planes Marble Run!

List of Materials: paper towels, toilet and wrapping paper tubes, marbles, pool noodles and Duplo® blocks 

Use inclined planes to create a marble run! Some options include cutting cardboard paper towel, toilet paper and wrapping paper rolls in half; challenging your family to tape the tubes to the wall, back of a bookshelf, or a freestanding poster or foam board to create a series of slides, positioned at angles to allow a marble to travel down the ramps to the bottom without falling off. Or, cut pool noodles in half lengthwise, and have the children build ramps with Duplo blocks and pool noodles.

 

10. Communicate in Space by Cracking the Code!

Create a simple code for the English alphabet, inviting children to pretend the code was discovered by scientists exploring another planet!

The code can consist of different combinations of shapes and colors to represent each letter, for example:

  • A= one red triangle
  • B= a tall blue rectangle
  • C= one yellow circle, and so on.

Post the Code Key on a large poster, and invite your child to decipher a message by matching the letters to the symbols. Use the alien code to write their names or spell secret messages for friends.

 

We hope that you will find these STEM activities to be helpful to create experiences for child that are fun and inspiring!

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Join us for a free community event, STEM Adventures this Saturday, April 28! Learn about science, technology, engineering and math through age-appropriate, interactive activities.  Events will be hosted at more than 120 participating Kiddie Academy locations nationwide with engaging educational activities designed for families. For more information, click HERE.

To find a participating Academy and to register, please visit Kiddie Academy STEM Adventures.

 

 

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Thank you for reading along, as we work together in raising the next generation of scientists, engineers, mathematicians and critical thinkers!