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A preschooler’s brain is like a sponge.
This is the perfect age to capture their imaginations and introduce them to the wonders of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). The academic concepts behind the activities might be too much for them to fully grasp, but exposing them to the ideas in action will spark curiosity and fascination that will attract them to these subjects in years to come. The lessons they learn at this age will last a lifetime.
Here are some fun ideas that you can try at home with your preschooler. Most of the things you’ll need can be found around the house. Each activity is broken down into easy steps. You can choose which things your preschooler will manage and which you will need to do.
Science Activity – Fizzy Art
You’ll need a tray, baking soda, different colors of liquid food coloring, a dropper or pipette, vinegar, and a good dollop of imagination.
Sprinkle an even layer of baking soda over the bottom of the tray. Decide on a picture – simple, soft shapes work best … think rainbow, flowers, a chubby butterfly. You can trace the outline in the baking soda as a guideline using a toothpick or a plastic knife. Drop a blob of food coloring in the middle of each section using a dropper or pipette. Now comes the fun part. Fill a pipette with vinegar and squeeze out a drop onto each blob of color. Watch how your creation grows into a 3D work of art!
Technology Activity – The Science Of Baking
Baking with your preschooler is a brilliant way of introducing them to some of the non-electronic technology concepts such as measuring. The best part is that you get to eat your experiment together when you’re done. Look for older recipes, like these Chocolate Chip Cookies. The beauty of older recipes is that all the measurements are in simple things that preschoolers are able to grasp: cups, teaspoons, and tablespoons. As they get older, they can be introduced to more accurate measurements. Don’t stress about the mess, let them be as hands-on as possible.
Engineering Activity – Marshmallow And Toothpick Challenges
A few packets of marshmallows and some toothpicks are all you need for these challenges. The basic concept is the same, but each challenge has a different twist.
Engineering Challenge #1 – 3D Shape Creator
For this one, see how many different structures your preschooler can build using marshmallows and toothpicks. You can either challenge them to build different shapes (a square, rectangle, pyramid…) or structures (a house, bridge, a tower …).
Engineering Challenge # 2 – Tallest Tower
The challenge this time around is for your preschooler to use the marshmallows and toothpicks to build the tallest tower that they can without it all falling over.
Math Activity – Shape Race
Identifying shapes is an important part of math. With a bit of guidance, your preschooler will soon begin to see shapes in everything around them. Take them for a walk and see how many shapes they can identify in what they see. To make this activity more fun, you can make it a competition between the shapes to see which shape will win. Each shape they see wins a point for that shape.
The Science of Being A Good Boy – How To Make An Obedient Pipe Cleaner Doggy
For this activity, you’ll need a pipe cleaner, a magnet and a sheet of cardboard or a thin plastic container lid. Start with the head and bend the pipe cleaner into a 3D dog shape. Once you’ve got your doggy (make sure he can stand) place him on top of the sheet of cardboard and use the magnet underneath to take him for a walk.
It is a proven fact that children learn far quicker through playing than any other formal means of gaining knowledge. As you take them on this adventure of discovery into the world of STEM, you are awakening budding scientists, engineers, technologists and mathematicians. Embrace the mess, keep it fun and watch their brains grow.