STEM Activities For Toddlers
When it comes to teaching our children subjects we have not seen since school ourselves, we can often be overwhelmed. There are plenty of toddler friendly activities that emulate the basics of STEM education. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Teaching toddlers these subjects at a young age can help with their brain development and problem-solving life skills. When a child is a toddler it is the time in their life where their brain develops the fastest. STEM lays down the foundations for future academic success as the skills learned are transferable to other subjects.
In this blog, you will find a couple of easy demonstrations and lessons you can teach your children about science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Science can be described as “knowledge about the natural world that is based on facts learned through experiments and observations.” One activity that can be used to demonstrate science, is “Sensory Bottles”, also known as “Ocean in a Bottle”. If you are a provider or educator working with Dreamschools, visit the Dreamschools Curriculum Module and look for the activity "Calm Down Jars" as a reference.
Here's what you will need:
Blue Food Colouring
Large Bottle (recycled water bottle)
To complete this activity, have the children assist you in placing the food colouring into the bottle. Fill the bottle one-third of the way full with water and now place a little bit of cooking oil into the bottle. Lastly, have the children swish the mixture around. Sit back and watch the magic happen!
A second activity you can do is called “Water Absorption” or “Colour Bleeding”. Here's what you’ll need:
Coffee Filters or Cotton Make-up Removal Pads
Food Colouring Mixed with Water
Vinyl Tablecloth For a Protected Surface
You need to first have the children fill the small bowls with water and place a few drops of food colouring into the water filled bowls. Next, you want to use the droppers and place them into the bowls with coloured water. Now, you want to drip the coloured water onto the cotton pads and watch the colours absorb, blend and expand. Lastly, place them on a baking rack to dry.
Technology can be taught as “the use of science in solving problems or a method or machine for doing something”. An easy activity to teach the importance of technology to toddlers is with a “Stop-Motion Animation Video”. Instead of just watching those types of videos online with your children, you can create one yourself! Download a stop-motion app and create a fun video with your children that can teach them about the importance of technology. This activity is not only a fun time with families, but is educational for all who partake.
A second activity that can be used to teach technology to children is “Coding a LEGO Maze”. You can use free printable instruction cards and mazes. Use these instructions as a go-to guide to get through the maze and teach children the meaning of a user, start and finish. With your family, you can also take this opportunity to play and learn with LEGO's.
An easy way to illustrate what engineering is to toddlers is “the process of creating and building structures, products, and systems by using math and science. Engineers solve problems with their inventions.” One activity to demonstrate this is called “Oil Spill”. All you need is water, any oil substance, and a large container. Simply mix oil and water in a large container and add a few feathers to the mix. Pass out materials like little spoons, paper towels, or sponges and tell children to try and remove the oil without removing too much water. This would be a great time to teach children how oil spills affect the environment, as they realize with this activity that it is hard to remove and separate the oil from the water.
A second activity is called “Jellybean Building”. This activity is perfect for hands-on children who love to get crafty. First, grab a pile of jelly beans or even large marshmallows, and a set of toothpicks. Begin by connecting toothpicks with the various jellybeans and encourage children to analyze the shapes and which stack well, and which don’t. This activity can be used to encourage children to understand structures, design, and technology.
Math can be described to toddlers as “the study of numbers and how they are related to each other and to the real world”. One activity to teach toddlers math is called “Sorting Activity”. What you’ll need:
Sand or Water
Pom Pom Balls
Let the children fill the cupcake holes or muffin tins with all the coloured materials provided. Discuss with them how the varying objects fit differently and how full or small some of the tins are. It is vital to compare and contrast the different objects in this sorting activity.
A second activity to help teach math is “Filling and Pouring with Measuring Cups and Spoons”. What you’ll need:
Sand or Rice
Small Aluminum Foil Bins
Use this opportunity to discuss and talk about the weight of the objects, as well as which portion of the tins are more full. Having this discussion will help encourage children to understand the importance of learning STEM.
Although STEM for children might seem daunting, there are activities that cater to teaching STEM basics to children. It is important for children to be exposed to a wide variety of activities, including STEM based ones. There is only upside to engaging your toddler by using STEM and stimulating their brain development. We hope that you will try the activities we suggested with your toddler!