We all know how important it is to introduce STEM and STEAM activities into pre-school but, how do you find the time to source and plan them?
As a pre-school teacher, you’ve usually got your hands full just keeping up with the day to day curriculum but, don’t worry, we’ve put together our 40+ favourite STEM and STEAM activities for you.
You can find the details in the new WizKids book, Next-Gen STEAM Pre-school guide.
In the Next-Gen STEAM Preschool guide, kindergarten students become scientists, engineers and environmental stewards as they gain and develop the 21st century competencies needed for tomorrow’s highly skilled workforce. Over 10 modules, the book includes the latest in science and technology and, each module is divided into four units, providing 40 hands-on projects with a 60 minute lesson plan formula.
1) EXPLORATION STUDIO
This is an exciting place to begin as it covers subjects familiar to young children in playful ways they’ll easily understand. Building houses, magnetic fishing, exploring colored light and making musical instruments are super-creative activities kids love to do. What better way to introduce STEM principles than through familiar play?
There are four sections in Exploration Studio covering STEM careers such as architecture, acoustical engineering and the science behind magnets, light and colors. Through recommended storybooks, videos and songs, the ‘magic’ in each module is unveiled. Songs and story activity enable very young kids to engage immediately and guide their minds towards scientific learning.
2) BOUNTIFUL EARTH
With a magnifying glass in hand, kids will investigate our bountiful earth and things in nature. They’ll learn the difference between insects and spiders, study habitats and environments. They explore life cycle and organisms in our world using STEM toys and aids. They inquire about different animals in a pond setting, land and more. It will fascinate them. The kids will tinker with K’Nex®, stimulating toys and their creativity will reach new heights. Imagination and fun is key to keeping them engaged while books, videos and sing-a-longs are boosters to scientific learning. They’ll even get to grow their lunch! What can be better than this?
3) UNDER OUR WORLD AND BEYOND
Part three introduces kids to what lies beneath and beyond our planet. They’ll investigate and examine the mysteries of the night sky and far away constellations. Watch how excited they become when they begin to understand the science behind the weather. Every child is fascinated and enthralled by dinosaurs; STEM expands that interest to show them how life first began on earth and explains how we know what we do about the beginnings of our planet. Explore careers as paleontologists, meteorologists and astronomers.
4) SIMPLE MACHINES
Become a mechanical engineer and use engineering, physics and math to design and make mechanical things. Experiment with simple machines and learn how they work. Screws and Gears, Pulleys, Wheels and Axles, Levers and Inclines are all simple machines we use in our everyday life. Explore easy ways to tinker with them and make things in class or at home. Like Snow White’s Dwarfs, all work begins with a song so Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to work we go!
5) THE GLORIOUS OUTDOORS
Nature gives STEM a huge canvas to work on and this section is filled with geology and archaeology projects and learning. There is so much in nature to discover and examine, from organic and geometric shapes to rocks. The kids make crystals and beehives using science and math along with art in the most fun a preschooler can have. Collecting pebble ‘treasures’ is a favorite with this age group and the ‘wow’ factor as they learn that some rocks float and they can make crystals is enormous. Soften the rocks and crystals with bubbles and leaves to open the kids’ minds to the huge diversity in Mother Nature. Science + fun = learning.
6) GREEN ENGINEERING
Green Engineering is a prime skill that is growing in demand. Teaching kids to think creatively and to find alternative ways of treating waste and protecting the environment prepares them for the jobs of the future. Environmental science is the core foundation of STEM careers. Through recycling and reusing of waste, the kids learn that single-use is no longer acceptable. Everything we use has to have more than one life if we are to make the earth a happy one! Kids will learn concepts such as green engineering, upcycling and reverse engineering as they tinker with loose parts, take things apart to find out how they work and use their imagination to invent toys and other things.
7) AWESOME REACTIONS
Chemistry is boring! No, it’s not so put the book down and show the kids that chemistry is all around them. Without chemistry, there would be no magic tricks or fireworks, or cookies! Chemistry is why apples turn yucky brown when they are cut open and lava lamps ooze and squirm. Part 7 turns the kids into Chemical Engineers, making their own volcano and yucky slime! They’ll even get to make an exploding lunch bag, watch out! Lab coats and safety goggles essential for this section.
8) ENGINEERING – IT’S CHILD’S PLAY!
Transportation plays an important role in everyday life and it easily engages any young kid. Cars, buses, trains, planes and boats may be familiar to them but how about space rockets and submarines? Without them realizing it, learning more about these everyday machines exposes the kids to engineering concepts. And is awesome fun, too!
9) MODERN SCIENCES: Forensic, Cleaning detergents, Human body and Coding
Forensic, Cleaning detergents, Human body and Coding Fingerprints are a key
identification factor and not just for catching a crook! Open doors, start your car, turn on your computer – but what is a fingerprint and why is it unique? Watch the kids’ faces as they compare fingerprints – STEM magic! They’ll also learn about the chemicals needed to clean things and some basic body biology – how the right foods make them grow and keep them strong. Coding is a critical component of computer science and kids are never too young to understand the principals. Get set to blow their curious minds!
10) FRANKENSTEIN A TOY
Let the kids become a Toy Designer and create toys using science and engineering! They’ll learn to make 3D robots and make them glow with LEDs. Why do things fall to the ground when they are dropped? Make their own falling parachute and find out about gravity and air resistance. Showcase the superhero in the kids with the light-up superhero wristband! Mix simple and safe electronics with science to come up with their own creations. Can light be separated? Let the class make color spinners and test their eyes! Spin it fast enough and all the rainbow colors turn white. Magic? No, it is science! Building early literacy through STEM books and play.
Once you get the hang of introducing these activities into your classroom, it’ll become an integral part of your day and, in time, you’ll start coming up with your own (in which case, do let us know as we’re always on the lookout for ideas!)
Sumita Mukherjee is a NASA STEM certified leader and children’s book author. She has been fortunate enough to travel around the globe, explore many countries and meet different people. Mysteries and adventures have been captured from there in the form of her Keiko Kenzo STEM travel adventure series. These books are to inspire young readers to know and appreciate various countries, develop a love for discovery and learn about the world around them. Her series of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) books encourages kids to invent and explore, to empower themselves and see themselves as world leaders and problem solvers. Her books celebrate diversity, spark curiosity and capture children’s imaginations! Sumita currently lives in Toronto with her family.
Review for Next-Gen STEAM Pre-school guide.
This book is so much fun! Even as an adult, I want to do some of these activities. This STEM book is made for preschool aged kids, and it does a great job at simplifying science for 3-6 year olds. The activities are fun and keeps their attention span really well. This is also a great way to introduce and encourage biology, physics, design, etc. These may sound like big words for a preschool book, but this guide builds a foundation to encourage children to learn and expand their world a little at a time. This is definitely being added to my education arsenal.