At Primrose, STEM learning is a part of every day because it helps foster problem-solving skills and critical thinking. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and even though that may sound complex for young children, there are a lot of fun, simple ways to explore these ideas.
Teachers at Primrose schools use the Balanced Learning® approach to help children explore the wonders of motion and how various objects move in water, through air, and on land. Try these classroom-inspired STEM projects to have fun learning at home in simple, age-appropriate ways.
PRESCHOOL: Build a Recycled Sailboat
- Variety of recyclable materials (some that float like extra-large lids or miniature water bottles with lids)
- Transparent adhesive tape
- Drinking straws (straight ones or cut off bendable parts)
- Small triangles cut from card stock (for templates)
- Safety Scissors
- Large, shallow container of water
- Optional: images of sailboats
Ready to hit the high seas and explore motion by building your own sailboat?
Step One: Become a ship builder. Encourage your child to think about what will make their boat float and then let them select the materials they want to use. They can always test different items first to see how they float!
Step Two: Make it your own. Have your child complete their custom creation with fun embellishments, like a straw mast, paper sails, drawings and more.
Step Three: Get on the water. Take your child’s seaworthy vessel to a container of water and encourage your child to think about how it could move. Ask what your child thinks will happen if they gently push the boat with one finger. Or if they gently pull with two fingers and then let go. Let them make predictions and then test them out on the water! To explore movement even further, try blowing on the boat or even using a fan.
PRE-KINDERGARTEN: Race with Ramps
- Masking tape
- Thick books or blocks for stacking
- Wood, foam board or sturdy cardboard (for ramp material)
- Cars or balls of different sizes or weights
Ready to explore motion with your very own gravity racers?
Step One: Build your ramp. To make a ramp, stack two books or blocks on the floor and place one end of the ramp material on the books with the other end on the floor.
Step Two: Test it out. Without pushing, let a car or ball roll down the ramp. See how fast it goes and mark where it stops with the tape. Then have your child push the car or ball down the ramp. How far did it go this time?
Step Three: Change it up. Add books or blocks to adjust the angle of the ramp. How does the speed of the object change? How far did it go? Let your child play with the angle of the ramp and predict what will happen, then test it out to see if they’re right!
Step Four: Head off to the races. Now that you’ve seen how changing the angles of a ramp and pushing the car or ball can affect how fast and far it goes, try using balls or cars of different sizes and weights. How do different objects compare against each other?
KINDERGARTEN: Create a Recycled Marble Maze
- Recycled cardboard or card stock (such as pizza box tops or cereal boxes)
- Modeling clay
- Craft sticks
- Books or blocks for creating a ramp
- Nontoxic marker (optional)
Ready to explore the aMAZE-ing world of motion with your very own marble maze?
Step One: Set the stage. Introduce the idea of movement by asking your child to think of things that move (e.g., animals, cars, balls). Together, name some things that move in a straight line (e.g., trains, cars). Ask how else things can move besides a straight line (e.g., back and forth, up and down, in a curve).
Step Two: Build your ramp. Place one end of the cardboard or card stock on a book and the other on the floor to create a ramp. Use a little clay if needed to hold things together. Ask what will happen if you release a marble at the top of the ramp. Have your child test it and describe what happened.
Step Three: Control the marble. Give your child more cardboard or card stock and craft sticks with a dab of clay on one edge. Ask your child how they can use these materials to move the marble in a straight line. Test it out. Then ask them how they can use the same materials to change the marble’s direction. Can they make it change direction three times?
Step Four: Feel the need for speed. Encourage your child to think about how they could make the marble move faster or slower. Let them test out their ideas, ultimately finding that they can control speed by changing the angle of the ramp or the path of the maze.
For more on STEM education, check out:
- Embracing STEAM at Primrose
- Easy Ways to Teach STEAM at Home
- Understanding STEAM in Preschool Classrooms
- Incorporate STEAM Concepts into Everyday Experiences for Young Learners
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