You've seen it time and again: the wonder in their eyes when your kids see something for the first time, the curiosity when posed with a challenge and the determination to figure it out. STEAM activities (standing for science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) naturally lend toward more of these moments. They're designed to support and encourage learning opportunities thought innovative thinking and play.
There are endless examples of this, but building towers, discovering new conductive materials to use as piano keys or remote buttons or drawing using math dice are a few that have inspired us to stay active with STEAM.
Presenting kids with activities that require them to draw on their creativity and curiosity can keep them engaged (and learning!) far beyond their typical attention threshold. Get started exploring with your kids, and even you will wonder where the time went because of all the fun you're having.
The classic mobile has made its way into the game world with Suspend by Melissa and Doug. It's easy to play and exciting with a level of suspense as everyone works to keep the metal playing pieces in balance as you add more to the mobile-like tower each time. It requires critical thinking, helps hone hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills and gives everyone a much-needed break from screen time.
If you want to add a creative element to the play, try this recycled balance sculpture by Babble Dabble Do. This activity brings the "A" in STEAM to the forefront with the added steps of painting and making your own shapes to balance. In the end you'll have an art piece to add to the bookshelf to enjoy, not to mention you can always take it apart and work to find new arrangements.
Center of mass, gravity and torque are a few of the technical physics terms your kids will comprehend after playing balancing games, but in the end it's the act of design and play that takes center stage in these family fun STEAM games!
Makey Makey is a simple circuit set built on the belief that everyone is an inventor. From building their own unique computer game remotes to playing piano with grocery market produce, a Makey Makey kit encourages kids to think creatively, innovate and learn through play. With each new design your kids will get to explore and better understand simple circuitry, conductive vs. non-conductive materials and basic coding skills.
The outside-the-box nature of thinking required to engage with a Makey Makey kit provides for endless possibility and laughter amid the "ah-ha" moments when things work out both as planned or in new and surprising ways. You're likely to enjoy it just as much as your kids. Click here to get started inventing!
No matter what you have lying around in the pantry, junk drawer or toy box, you're sure to have supplies for at least one of the many versions of a tower challenge. The basis of the activity is simple: build the tallest, free-standing tower. You can add complexity by limiting time and resources. For example, "build the tallest, free-standing tower with only X number of Y."
To get your kids started on their design, take a look at some of the tower challenges shared here by Gift of Curiosity. Some towers can be edible like the gum drop tower (building with marshmallows is also great fun), or your kids might also love the balloon tower challenge outlined here (a popular team building activity in classrooms that transfers beautifully to at-home family fun). And when you want to avoid a sticky (or noisy) mess, pull out the blocks and set a timer!
Both the planning and trial-and-error process inherent to tower-building STEAM competitions ensure learning is happening amidst the chaos. Taking the time to reflect and talk at the end about what works best and how each tower was different will reinforce the learning even more.
Get your littlest ones involved with this art/math activity! Whether it's rolling dice for number recognition and use in Monster Math, or rolling a paper cube (built from the printable on the site) to practice shape recognition and production in Robot Math, your kids will love their 2D creations. It's a great way to level the playing field so everyone can feel successful with a STEAM activity that doesn't involve the competitive elements that so many do.
Afterward, the robots and monsters could provide for great puppet play or characters for new storylines. Help your kids tell, write or perform a story with their newly made characters in them—you'll love hearing what your kids come up with!
Kiwi Co Crates
From windsocks to catapults, Kiwi Co Crate subscriptions send art and engineering activities to your door for kids aged 0 to 104! Depending on your child's age and interests, you can select a crate subscription that will ensure you have everything you need for an art or engineering activity once a month. There is no need for additional supplies—it comes with all you need!
These are great to have ready to pull out on rainy days when you're stuck inside, or for the picnic table on a quiet, sunny afternoon. Basically, they're a perfect way for kids and families to engage in inquiry and procedure anytime—building, designing, creating and exploring the world around them through a playful, artistic and/or scientific perspective.
Not ready to subscribe for monthly packages? Take a look at the available crates at KiwiCo.com, and order just one to get started!
READ THIS NEXT: 5 Easy STEAM Projects for Hands-on Learning at Home