What is STEM for Toddlers?
STEM, also known as STEAM, stands for science, technology, engineering, art, and math. While the name sounds academically challenging for young minds, that does not mean that all the activities are beyond the scope of elementary learners, including toddlers.
A developing mind and brain need external and internal stimulation to continue growing and understanding.
Teachers, parents, and caregivers all share a desire for children to learn, understand, experience, and explore the world around them.
Science, technology, engineering, art, and math are five fields of education that should be part of a solid foundation early on to help benefit each student’s academic journey throughout their primary education.
Through STEM activities, toddlers can have fun with various activities designed to intrigue, educate, and induce excitement. Introducing toddlers to STEM may impact their future career goals and study focus.
What are some STEM activities for Toddlers?
Science studies nature, including how things work and why they happen. There is also chemistry, which deals with matter and energy.
Technology is the second letter in STEM. Technology is using scientific methods to create things that improve how we live and communicate. Think about computers, cell phones, and cars.
Engineering involves using science and math to make something useful. It could include making toys or other household items. You may even think about engineering when you’re designing a building.
Art is anything creative, whether drawing, painting, music, dance, or any other expression of creativity.
Math is all about creating patterns and figuring out solutions.
Popular STEM activities for toddlers include:
Building – ramps, towers, roads, buildings, statues, and whatever else your toddler can think of.
Mirrors – reflections and light play.
Shadows – shadow puppets, shadow dances, using different objects to display wall shadows, use flashlights for light play.
Water – sink or float, water table, and various melting ice activities.
Bubbles – freezing bubbles, blowing bubbles, and making bubble shapes.
Nature – nature walks, gardening, bug hunts, measuring rain or snowfall, watching clouds, and using magnifying glasses.
Senses – seasonal sensory bottles, taste testing, texture comparing, blindfold smelling, and listening activities.
What are STEM activities?
STEM activities can be simple or complex experiments and projects that teach different principles in fun and engaging ways. Using a hands-on approach, each activity will be focused on science, technology, engineering, art, or math.
A few activities overlap, such as science and technology, math and engineering, or technology and engineering, for a few examples.
Each unique STEM activity is designed to educate students with real-life scientific principles and examples that excite, entertain, and provide answers to questions.
The best STEM activities require using hands, problem-solving, encouraging questions and answers, and representing a real-world scenario.
Toddlers are like sponges, ready to soak up as much information as they can handle daily. They are also full of questions and curiosity.
Using STEM activities to help them understand how and why things happen the way they do will build connections and pathways necessary for future learning.
How do you Explain STEM to a child?
Start by asking your toddler what they enjoy playing, pretending, and thinking. Ask questions about games, hobbies, likes, and dislikes.
Take the conversation a step further and find out what your toddler thinks they know about different careers, people, buildings, and so on.
For example, if your toddler often pretends they are a teacher, chef, mechanic, doctor, or fireman, see what they know about those roles within your community. Does your child understand what the responsibilities are for each unique position?
Continue the conversation with fun facts and an excited tone to keep your toddler engaged as they learn more about the real person behind their pretend characters during playtime.
Most toddlers become very interested in the new information they were taught and find ways to add the knowledge into their playtime to mimic actual community roles.
Discuss necessary training and education, but keep the conversation age-appropriate to ensure understanding. If possible, show pictures and videos of what each job does daily.
Then you can move on to another topic. Perhaps you can discuss how engineers design roads and bridges.
Or maybe you can talk about how cars were invented. You could even point out that some inventions come from someone who had an idea and worked hard to bring it to life.
Finally, you can wrap up your discussion by explaining that math is important because it helps us solve problems.
We use math to calculate how much money we need to buy something, how long it takes to finish a project, or how much food we need to eat.
What is a STEM Project in Preschool?
A STEM project is any activity where your preschooler uses math, science, technology, engineering, or art to complete a task. Some examples include:
Making a bookcase to store books
Drawing a picture to illustrate a story
Painting a mural
Creating clouds in a jar
Building a castle or tower
Designing a roadway
Rubber band-powered cars
Shape and color hunts around the classroom
These projects are great for your child’s brain development. Not only will they learn valuable skills, but they will also enjoy the process. In addition, they will begin to realize that learning is fun.
Why are STEM Activities Important for Preschoolers?
Learning skills is vital for all ages. However, it’s essential for preschoolers. Their brains are still growing and changing rapidly.
That means they need lots of stimulation to develop properly. The skills they learn during their formative years will affect their lives forever.
Also, there’s evidence showing that children exposed to STEM tend to be more confident and perform better academically, often pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, art, or math.
By exposing your child to STEAM, you’re helping them become the best version of themselves; that’s worth investing in.