There are no greater natural scientists, engineers and artists than young children – inquisitive and eager learners who can be taught STEAM concepts through the power of play. STEAM play takes advantage of your child’s natural curiosity – helping them practice cross-disciplinary thinking and build pertinent skills in science, technology, engineering, art and math – all in the name of fun!
STEAM is so much more than just robotics and coding. Through play, kids are able to connect abstract science concepts to the real world and learn through observation, inquiry, and problem solving. Studies have shown that children who are engaged in early STEAM play have better developed critical thinking and reasoning skills in kindergarten.
The Genius of Play, a national movement with a mission to give families the information and inspiration needed to make play an important part of every child’s life, is excited to share 5 STEAM play ideas to awaken your child’s inner Einstein through the power of play.
BOTTLE BOWLING (for ages 2+)
Arrange 10 empty plastic bottles (soda bottles or water bottles work great) bottles in an equilateral triangle with one of the “points” facing the bowler. Designate a foul line, the line a bowler cannot cross. Have the bowler roll a ball toward the bottles. Count how many bottles are knocked down. If more than one player, take turns bowling and resetting the pins, being sure to note how many bottles were knocked down each turn. After each person has bowled 10 times, the child who’s knocked down the highest number of bottles wins.
MARSHMALLOW SCULPTURE (for ages 5+)
Let your little Michelangelos connect toothpicks and marshmallows, revealing a one-of-a-kind work of art. Best of all, you can keep each sculpture, disassemble and start again, or eat it!
LET’S ROLL (for ages 5+)
Have one child roll dice. They then need to put the dice in order to make the highest number possible. For example, if they rolled a 2, 4 and 5, the highest number they could make would be 542. Have them write the number down and pass the dice to the next player. Each player takes a turn rolling the dice and putting them in order to make the highest number they can. The child who has the highest number wins.
FIREWORKS IN A JAR (for ages 3+, requires adult help)
Fill a large clear plastic jar ¾ of the way with warm water. In a separate bowl, mix 3 – 4 teaspoons of oil and several drops of different colored food coloring (4 drops of each color will do nicely!). With a fork, gently mix the food coloring and oil together and pour this mixture into the jar. Then stand back and watch!
STRAW SCULPTURE (for ages 3+)
Straws are for more than sipping your favorite beverage. They can keep kids engaged for hours! Just cut the long end of each bendy straw about an inch from the bottom so they easily connect. Now have the kids connect the long part of one straw with the short part of another. Consider having the kids build a series of triangles that they can then tape together to make a large sculpture, like a geodesic dome (a structure that looks like half spheres made up of many triangle supports).