STEM Activities provide a wonderful opportunity for integrated learning, hands on discovery, and adaptations to ensure lessons reach students of all levels of ability. STEM Activities for kids do a brilliant job of engaging students when done properly. Whether you are new to STEM or have been using STEM principles for years, this articles covers all aspects of STEM Activities, from definitions, to lesson planning, to many STEM Activities to inspire you and your children.
STEM ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS
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STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths.
My passion is promoting positive forms of education that foster healthy child development. In pursuit of my mission, I’m constantly seeking out new, engaging activities and lessons that will ignite a passion for learning. My goal is to raise passionate life-long learners and help my readers do the same.
I’ve seen the positive influence STEM Activities can have on children’s learning and most importantly, their love of learning. Because at the end of the day if we raise children that don’t love to learn, then I really believe we have failed them as educators. STEM helps to foster a passion for learning, which is the greatest gift education can give all children.
Interested in learning more about STEM Activities and STEM education? I’ve compiled some of the most important information here to help you get started.
What is STEM?
The first thing we need to do is define STEM Activities. STEM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (referred to as pillars). It is an integrated teaching strategy that combines at least two of the pillars in the lessons and activities. You can learn more about STEM and the definitions here in: What is STEM? What is STEAM?
Why STEM Activities?
Children need to be engaged to learn. Because STEM is child centered using inquiry based principles, we allow children to take ownership of their learning. As their teachers we can support them in following their passions, we can get creative with our lessons, making them fun and interesting. With STEM we are teaching skills the way they will be used in the real world.
If an education produces a person who has lost their passion for learning, lost their curiosity, and removed their motivation to continue learning and growing, then it has failed. Education needs to support children in their learning journey, where ever that journey takes them in life. It should inspire and foster their passions to create successful, life-long learners.
STEM transforms school and education from a place to a state of mind. Teachers that employ STEM principles make real-life connections in their teachings. School becomes a state of mind rather than a place. School is not about going to a campus but about the experience of learning. With STEAM we are always growing, always experimenting, always thinking and always learning.
Learn more about the benefits of STEM Activities for Elementary.
What are Inquiry Based Teaching Strategies?
In the previous section we mentioned inquiry based teaching principles and strategies. STEM activities engage students by promoting inquiry and questioning, then letting that form the framework for the lessons and learning.
From structured, to controlled, to guided, to free inquiry, students that are educated through the various levels of inquiry based learning develop strong skills in self motivation and problem solving. They also develop critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills and the confidence to advocate for their own learning and education. Essentially, they become their own best teacher. This is a fantastic skill for continued growth and success throughout a person’s life.
Learn more about inquiry based teaching strategies and how to apply them effectively in the article: Understanding and Applying 4 Inquiry Based Teaching Strategies
How to Adapt STEM Activities for All Students
One of the great things about STEM activities and lessons is how adaptable they are for the classroom or for a mom at home with multiple ages of kids. You can adjust almost any STEM activity to accommodate for different ages, abilities, interests and even group sizes. This is something I do regularly as I adjust lessons to accommodate my delayed learner and my gifted learner. STEM makes teaching those diverse needs, at the same time, easier. Learn key tips for adapting STEM activities.
STEM Ideas To Get Started
Need some ideas to help you kick start your STEM learning? Join here and access 5 Smart STEM Ideas for Kids and get learning, growing and inspired with STEM!
Creating STEM Lesson Plans
Once you have started embracing STEM principles you will want to start developing your own STEM lesson plans and STEM activities to get hands-on learning. In fact, this is one of the great benefits of STEM is the ability to customize, adapt and develop plans and activities to suit your students. Whatever their passions and interests, you can apply a bit of creativity and come up with a fantastic, integrated STEM session.
Learn how to create amazing STEM lesson plans and activities with this article (which includes a free STEM printable lesson planner!) How To Create STEM Lesson Plans and STEM Activities On Any Topic
STEM Activities by Seasons and Holidays
The best way to come up with innovative, inspiring and exciting STEM activities is to study what others are doing! And that is what we love to do here, share our STEM Activity ideas, STEM challenges and STEM projects. Here are a few comprehensive resources on specific topics.
The holidays and seasons can provide fantastic inspiration and motivation for hands on learning and STEM activities.
Fun STEM Activities and Projects for Kids
Here are some of the best STEM activity ideas to help you get started with your lesson plans.
This is a simple engineering project for all ages using marshmallows and toothpicks. For older kids, challenge them to bring even more geometry to their Marshmallow Tower builds.
No Prep STEM with Paper
We have all been there, we need something QUICK and EASY to do with the kids. Here we have lots of fun no prep STEM ideas using simple paper, but that are packed full of lessons and wow moments.
A classic STEM project is building catapults. We LOVE catapults as they teach lessons in physics, math and engineering, plus they are so much fun. Whether you want to build a traditional popsicle stick catapult, or a catapult cannon, play bowling or basketball with catapults, we have so many catapult project ideas to keep kids asking for more!
Balloon races are a fantastic, fast paced way to play with physics and STEM. Kids absolutely love this activity, and we have done a traditional STEM Balloon Race Challenge, plus Halloween Balloon Races and Cupids Arrow Balloon Races. Always a hit!
Don’t put away the balloons yet! Another classic STEM activity is to build balloon cars. In our project, we use recycled materials to build cars that we then race!
My kids love a good wow moment when I can surprise them with science. With younger kids, I love to take something they love like playdough, moon dough or Oobleck, and make it magic! I do this with easy recipes that create doughs that change colour as kids play.
Pulleys and Simple Machines
Building simple machines and pulleys is a fantastic STEM activity that is perfect for your older kids.
STEM with Craft Sticks
Got a pile of craft sticks and need some ideas? We have used craft sticks for so many incredible STEM activities for kids over the years. Crafts sticks and STEM are the perfect combination for learning fun!
Lava Lamp Experiment
Making a lava lamp is a fantastic STEM experiment for kids. We have 5 different ways you can do this experiment, so your kids will never get bored of this fascinating project.
A personal favourite of mine is when we grow crystals in our STEM lessons. The results are always so beautiful and simply mesmerizing. Whether you are growing crystals with borax or growing alum crystals to make crystal geodes, this one has gorgeous results.
Baking Soda and Vinegar for the Win
You know it is going to be a good day in the STEM lab when we break out the baking soda and vinegar! There are so many ways you can use this combination for incredible learning. From fueling bottle rockets, hatching dino eggs, making fireworks, puking pumpkins, to learning about greenhouse gases and environmental sciences, we have so many ideas using these two simple ingredients.
Making Marble Runs or Marble Mazes is a brilliant STEM challenge for your kids. Whether you need some simple marble mazes, or more advanced marble run challenges for your older kids, this is sure to be fun for all!
Kids of all ages can learn about building circuits and start exploring the world of electricity. Start with simple circuits, then try glue and salt circuits, and then maybe graduate to making a motorized bot or a DIY circuit game. Check out our Electric Circuits for Kids resource for many incredible ideas!
With the ever increasing popularity of STEM there has been a lot of new products entering the market that provide STEM in conveniently, prepackaged kits. These STEM Kits are a fantastic opportunity to try new STEM concepts, dig a little deeper into a topic, or to simply have some fun.
Plus, the biggest bonus? Most of the kits and boxes, include everything you need! This can be a huge sanity and time saver.
Whatever your interest, there is a STEM Kit somewhere that will help to advance your learning. Check out some of our favourite STEM Kits in this article.
Free STEM Resources
We are always creating new and exciting resources and many of them are absolutely free! The best way to learn about our free resources is to join our our mailing list. We share free activities and resources weekly by email.
You can also find some free STEM printables, activities and resources here.
Grab your free STEAM Activity book!
I’ve put together a fun little STEAM activity book that includes a colouring page, vocabulary words, word search and crossword puzzle.
This guide is far from exhaustive on the topic of STEM activities, we invite you to explore this site and our YouTube channel for ideas for your next STEM project. Looking for more STEM ideas and inspiration? Join our mailing list and you will get weekly emails with all the latest we have uncovered.