Are you a parent looking for science activities to do at home?
With schools closing early and many districts requiring students to learn at home, suddenly many parents are faced with the fact that their kids may be home for quite some time!
If you are a stay-at-home-parent or work-at-home-parent, you can use these activities for teaching STEM at home to ensure that your children receive vital hands-on education that help them retain information and keep learning, even if they are unable to go to school.
If you find yourself suddenly having to teach science at home, don’t miss the complete quick start guide on how to teach STEM at home!
Why is STEM Important?
Did you know that the most important time in child development happens before age 10?
During this time, children are naturally curious and driven to learn more about the world. This makes the early years the optimal time to foster a love of hands-on science in kids.
Most of us as parents aren’t “science people.” I certainly wasn’t!
But I found myself seeking out how to teach science at home when my 4-year-old daughter started asking scientific questions.
I started to learn alongside my daughters, and I realized, that you really don’t have to be a “STEM person” to help inspire a love of STEM in your kids. All you have to have is a desire to do fun activities with them and to provide them with tools and experiences that are science and STEM-focused.
What Does STEM Look Like at Home?
While you can dive right into STEM activities for kids, you don’t have to dive all-in to get started.
All you really have to do is create a space where it is safe for your kids to investigate and explore on their own, or with you.
Babies can be encouraged to touch a variety of materials and be told basic facts like the shape and names of objects.
Toddlers can be encouraged to count, notice changes, and explore cause and effect (find some good STEM projects for toddlers here).
Preschoolers can start learning about simple science terms and the basic scientific method (find preschool STEM activities here).
Kindergarten kids can learn about all sorts of things, including the basics of how the world works (click for Kindergarten STEM activities).
In elementary school, kids learn how to conduct true scientific projects and scientific experiments with variables and things to test (we like these STEM activities for elementary).
And by the time kids reach middle school, they are ready to take on solving real-world problems using their scientific toolkit.
As parents, we simply provide age-appropriate tools and books so that children can explore STEM at home.
Read the full article on why STEM is important here.
How to Facilitate a STEM Investigation
What should a STEM investigation include? Here is what you can include with STEM activities at home to ensure they hit the targets for a STEM lesson:
Focus on Hands-on Projects
Hands-on learning is a big part of STEM. STEM is all about problem-solving, learning new concepts, and exploring the world. Any project where kids can explore, create, or build is a project that they will remember.
Include Real-World Problems
Not every STEM activity has to be about the real world, but some of the activities should focus on real-world issues, like recycling, electricity use, or climate change. Real-world problems could be as simple as finding a way to get more sunlight to a plant, or as complicated as designing a new way to harness energy.
Let Kids Control the Activity
You can’t always have kids do *every* part of the STEM activity, but you should base your projects on what your kids love or are interested in. If your kids like space, try exploring space projects. My kids were really into slime for a while, so we did tons of slime STEM activities.
Explore and Have Fun
When you are doing STEM at home, you don’t have to worry as much about learning targets or test scores. You can just have fun learning with your kids about the world and what interests them.
Let your kids explore, ask questions, and come up with their own solutions and ideas, even if those ideas are technically wrong. As they get older, they will become more knowledgeable about science facts, but if their sense of exploration and discovery is squashed in the early years, they will never learn to love science.
It’s OK to be wrong, but it’s not OK to stop learning!
How to Create a STEM Center at Home
So, you’re ready to add STEM activities to your home, but maybe you don’t know how to set things up?
We have a complete guide on how to set up a STEM center at home.
Read that and you’ll be armed with what you need to start doing STEM activities at home.
Supplies for a Home STEM Center
What sort of supplies should you include in your STEM center?
We have a list of must-have science and STEM supplies, but you don’t have to buy everything at once.
To get started, I suggest picking up a few science and STEM activity books, getting an inexpensive microscope, selecting a few building or coding tools that match your child’s interests, and setting everything up in your STEM center so that your children can access the supplies and resources at their leisure.
Pick out 2-3 STEM activities to try together, then get the supplies for those and complete about one STEM activity a week.
Here are some of our favorite STEM supplies:
The Mason Jar Scientist: 30 Jarring STEAM-Based ProjectsSTEAM Kids: 50+ Science / Technology / Engineering / Art / Math Hands-On Projects for KidsSquishy Circuits Standard KitElenco Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100, BlackKlutz Lego Chain Reactions Science & Building Kit, Age 8Sillbird STEM 12-in-1 Education Solar Robot Toys -190 Pieces DIY Building Science Experiment Kit for Kids Aged 8-10 and Older,Solar Powered by The SunAmScope 120X-1200X 52-pcs Kids Beginner Microscope STEM Kit with Metal Body Microscope, Plastic Slides, LED Light and Carrying Box (M30-ABS-KT2-W),White
We also have a set of STEM challenge cards that are a lot of fun, use household supplies, and are easy enough for even the least tech-savvy parent to try!
How to Teach a STEM Lesson at Home
If you’re curious about how you can teach a STEM lesson at home, follow along with our expanded guide.
You’ll find everything you need to know to get started teaching STEM lessons at home.
Read the how to teach a STEM lesson guide.
Project Ideas for STEM at Home
If you’re ready to dive into STEM projects at home, here are some of our favorite themes.
And check out our favorite list of the best STEM idea websites.
If you need help with your STEM activities at home, join our Teaching Science and STEM Facebook Group!