As we move further along into this post-pandemic quarantine, parents everywhere are looking for ways to keep their child busy throughout the day. While binge watching television shows may be a solution for some, there are much better ways to engage your child. You can even help them gain new skills while staying at home. It’s time for your household to get closer than ever to STEM education. You should keep practicing social distance, but you can also complete exciting STEAM activities that will help your child explore their creativity while fostering the development of important STEM skills. Let’s dive in!
What's a STEAM Activity?
A STEAM activity is a lesson that covers one of the core STEAM subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. It’s a common acronym in the education world to reference these important subjects and skills — in and out of school. STEAM activities are cross-curricular, meaning they cover several topics at the same time. Many teachers will choose to use STEAM activities to cover other disciplines, including history, reading, art, and music along with traditional math and science activities. Parents can follow this approach, too. STEAM activities, unlike traditional STEM activities, focus on exploring the familiar fields of science and mathematics while using the creative problem-solving and inquiry-based techniques usually seen in more creative fields like the arts.
Here’s what this looks like in action. A traditional prompt might read: label the parts of a bicycle. A STEAM prompt would ask kids to create a prototype for a method of transportation that uses less fuel and still gets people to work on time. See the difference?
“Sometimes people think that STEAM just means adding paint to science projects; it’s not. It’s about mixing the left brain and right brain, making the study of math and science more visual and creative and seeing things more openly,” says Lesa Wang, K-V STEAM Coordinator at Marymount School of New York. By engaging in these kinds of activities, kids can develop important 21st-century skills while having fun.
Why are STEAM Activities Important?
With so many kids stuck at home right now, it’s more important than ever that kids are able to channel their energy somewhere meaningful. When kids enjoy the project they're working on, they're more inclined to engage with the material and retain that knowledge. For example, a day with Sphero is often described as a kid's "best day at school." Play is a powerful teacher — not just for younger kids but for older ones, too. Through creative play, kids can develop a deep understanding of hard STEM skills as well as other 21st-century skills needed to excel in the professional world.
What are the Best STEAM Activities for Kids?
The most successful STEAM activities are ones that engage kids in STEM-based learning — like learning to code — and that go beyond core STEM subjects to nurture the development of additional skills like:
- Critical thinking
By practicing these soft skills, kids can develop both the soft and hard skills needed to thrive in STEM fields. Oftentimes, kids will even enjoy these kinds of learning activities far more than traditional learning exercises. We’re encouraging parents and teachers everywhere to take a cue from these kinds of success stories and use STEAM activities to help kids stuck at home become creators.
8 STEAM Activities for Kids
Looking for great STEAM activities for your kid? Consider these exciting and accessible activities.
1. Create a bubble flute.
With a few simple materials, kids can use the sound of their voice to create bubbles — an amazing opportunity to experiment with sound waves, get inventive with technology and learn more about how common items interact with each other to make something entirely new.
2. Program Sphero robots to play Quidditch.
If you have a Harry Potter fan at home or in your classroom — and let’s be honest, who doesn’t — here’s a great way to get them engaged in an incredible learning experience that will have them excited for weeks. In this STEAM game, kids will program their Sphero programmable robots to score points for their team. It's almost like magic!
3. Do some code breaking.
Help your kids develop analytical skills by teaching them how to decipher common codes. Teach Morse Code, explain transcription, or use another common code type to help your kids develop vital problem-solving and decoding skills that they'll carry into the classroom and beyond.
4. Play the Maze Game.
In this STEAM activity, kids will build a maze out of whatever everyday objects they can find in the house or classroom. This is a lovely way for them to flex their problem-solving muscles and express their creativity. After setting up paths, kids will program a Sphero robot to make its way through the maze. This game is sure to delight your kids while engaging in hands-on learning.
5. Explore popular music in new ways.
The music from Peter and the Wolf has distinct patterns for each character. Tell the story, play the music, and invite your kids to guess which character each piece of music represents. If space allows for it, you can encourage kids to stand up and dance along.
6. Inflate a balloon with dry ice.
This is a simple activity that involves relatively few tools — perfect for when you’re short on time at home. Use dry ice to inflate a balloon while teaching kids about important science concepts in this easy to do project.
7. Measure animal footprints.
Find a book with illustrations of different animal footprints. Use a ruler to measure the footprints and compare the various sizes. Then encourage your kid to trace their own footprint and encourage their classmates to do the same. Set up a video call with the group and have the kids share their screens and order the group’s footprints from smallest to largest.
8. Go on a mission to Mars.
This STEAM activity is a great way for kids to get a handle on Sphero products while introducing them to programming using block code. This activity pairs beautifully with lessons about space or as part of a wider STEM unit or STEM curriculum.
STEAM Activities with Sphero
Are you looking for even more STEAM activities your kids will enjoy at home and in the classroom — activities that will get them excited about learning through exploration and hands-on play? We’ve made a resource for parents to learn more about our STEAM tools and how to use them in your household during this uncertain time.
Have more questions about what’s right for you or how to include these tools in your home or classroom? Contact us to learn more about our classroom resources or browse our full selection of Sphero robots and educational tools in our online store.