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Doing interesting, hands-on STEAM activities is an excellent way to learn while having fun, but sometimes time is short and resources are scarce. Don't worry, though - there's no need for complicated technology or expensive tools for kids to be able to learn through STEAM!
Every parent wants to give their child the most engaging, top-quality education they can get, but most of the time it's much easier said than done. There are simply too many things to consider when trying to get children to participate in those valuable new learning experiences. Time, money, and effort are just a few of the most common ones, not to mention the question of how helpful the education would be, how interactive its content is, and just how much your child is willing to take away from all the material presented in front of them.
So what's a parent to do when they can't possibly find the means to fit a full-scale class or lengthy summer camp into their schedule or budget? Not to worry - there's many solutions to the age-old problem, and the simplest one is to find something just as educational for your child to do at home.
When it comes to teaching things to children, a simple approach can sometimes work even better than a complicated, carefully thought out one. Most parents would be surprised at just how much a handful of plastic straws or a few sheets of paper can do in the way of getting their children inspired.
Best of all, there's no need for fancy textbooks, expensive supplies, or huge amounts of dedication and commitment at home! Your child can have tons of fun learning new things from the comfort of their house without the pressure and stress of traditional academic programs. It's a quick, safe, and convenient way to learn, and when combined with STEAM - a hands-on approach to education designed specifically to empower children with its core five subjects - you can guarantee your child will be motivated in all the ways that matter.
So without further ado, here are 8 ideas for easy and engaging STEAM activities that can challenge your children while making the most of the items lying around your house.
This first activity is beautifully simple, and it's a great way to pique a child's interest in science using a few basic chemistry concepts. All you'll need is a few balloons and some dry ice. With your help, let your child carefully place a few pieces of the ice into the balloon before tying it off, then observe what happens next together.
Because of the carbon dioxide produced by the dry ice, the balloon should slowly fill up even without its usual source of oxygen! Discuss what this means with your child and guide them through understanding the idea of air pressure in kid-friendly terms. You can even have fun experimenting around with different balloons and different amounts of dry ice.
This one is a classic game that teaches children creativity, imagination, and creative thinking. With a marble or any similarly-sized ball as the star of the show, give your child a variety of materials like toilet paper tubes, cardboard boxes, or plastic bottles, then give them free rein to use them to build the race track of their dreams around the house.
The ultimate goal should be to build a working track where the marble can continuously move from a starting point to a finish line. Your child might need some help to fine-tune the path, but that's a part of the learning process. A STEAM-inspired activity like this one is perfect for aspiring engineers and artists who want to learn to think outside the box.
If your child loves music, then this STEAM activity will be an amazing way for them to develop their sense of harmony while also learning more about how instruments work from within. DIY musical instruments can be made from a variety of materials - try looping rubber bands around an empty gift box for a homemade harp, filling glass jars with different levels of water and tapping their edges with a spoon, or cutting plastic straws into different lengths and securing them on cardstock for a pan flute.
All of these ideas will allow your child to flex their mental muscles while expressing their creativity. When they've had their fun testing out their creations and playing tunes, you can explain just how their favourite instruments work with the help of some online resources like YouTube videos.
For this DIY project designed for eager future astronauts, you'll need two different straws with one wider than the other. Start by having your child draw and design their colourful 2D rocket on a sturdy sheet of paper or cardstock, then seal off one end of the wider straw with some tape and attach it to the back of the rocket.
When the rocket is ready to go, slip the wider straw's opening over the thinner straw and have your child blow through it as hard as they can. The rocket will blast off and soar through the air! You can also encourage your child to experiment by changing the angle they aim the straw at as well as adding pieces like paper fins and coins to their rocket.
Sidewalk chalk is a staple for those sunny summer days where the weather is just too good to waste. With a simple box of colourful chalk and a stretch of pavement in front of your house, your child can have fun envisioning and drawing the ideas in their head for hours on end.
This is already an amazing arts activity to boost imagination, but to incorporate the other elements of STEAM as well, challenge your child to position objects to make shadows before tracing them to create even more unique pictures. This way, they can get creative while learning about how angles of light work.
With just some paper, cardboard, or aluminum foil, you can offer your child a chance to explore basic physics and engineering skills in a fun and kid-friendly way! Give your child the materials and let them know they can pick and choose how they want to create their boat at their leisure - the real challenge is to have it be able to float in water.
Once they've succeeded in floating their own boat, try adding pennies into it and see how many it can hold before sinking. You can take the challenge a notch higher by asking your child to build the strongest boat they can. Feel free to experiment with this one as well - how does the boat float in salt water compared to regular water? Does the size and shape of each boat change anything about the weight it can hold?
This activity is a wonderful way to teach children about the biology of flowers while also creating a beautiful and original display to put on their windowsill. Start by getting your hands on some lightly coloured flowers, like daisies or white tulips. Make sure to cut them right at the stem so any water they absorb can go directly to the petals - this is important for the experiment to work!
Once your child has chosen the flowers they like best, prepare a container of water by adding a few drops of food colouring. Place the flowers inside, then check back every few hours. You might need to change the water a few times depending on the type of flower, but if all goes well, after a day or two your child will be mesmerized by the uniquely coloured flowers they created themselves.
Japanese origami is one of the most popular arts and crafts ideas among people from all age groups, and for good reason. This fun activity teaches children creativity, mental concentration, fine motor skills, and hands-on learning in a package that delivers the best of STEAM education to your children, and it lets them experience the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that comes with creating a beautiful work of art.
There are plenty of origami patterns and diagrams available on the Internet for you and your child to try together. Some favourites include the paper crane, the rabbit, and the butterfly. Whatever age group or skill range your child falls in, origami is sure to offer them a one-of-a-kind learning experience that'll inspire and motivate them down a path towards the arts.
The big takeaway is: STEAM activities don't have to be restricted to the classroom! To get your child started on a path towards STEAM education, you can get them excited to learn right from the comfort of your home. When it comes to challenging and empowering children, there are few approaches more effective than STEAM's all-encompassing commitment to learning, so there's no better time to introduce your child to it than when their young minds are still fresh with curiosity and energy.
With ideas for activities like these, learning doesn't just have to be academic. It can also be fun, and engaging, and, most of all, created within the most comfortable and supportive environment possible for children: home.