The more children learn, the happier their parents become. The more positive and meaningful experiences parents provide for their children by using parenting resources, the more likely children will learn and enjoy learning. Parents, there are lots of exciting things you can do at home and when you are out with your children to help them learn. STEM learning for children is priority; since, the demand for STEM knowledge has paved the way for current and future success of individuals and global societies.
Here are some parenting resources for building children’s STEM awareness. Parents can use them successfully to engage children ages 4-8 years old at home and when out with them. These are exciting play activities families and children can do together and will enjoy. The activities can fit right into daily routine activities making them very appropriate.
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Outdoor Play Activities
There is so much STEM awareness parents can harness by doing simple outdoor play activities. Here are four recommended outdoor activities:
Hop scotch – children enjoying playing this game. They jump on numbers and use left and right differentiation in jumping based on shapes in the design. While they are building motor skills they are also concentrating, using working memory and building executive function skills. These skills are critical for building reasoning and problem solving skills needed in science, technology, engineering and math. Children are also building and expanding on spatial orientation through movement. Their knowledge of space is critical for designing structures and or models which support their engineering prospect.
Chenille Kraft Wonderfoam Foam Hopscotch Mat, Set of 14
Obstacle Course- design activities for running, jumping, climbing, crawling and balancing. Much motor coordination and building complex meta cognitive skills. There is intense concentration and problem solving going on. Children are strengthening and expanding on visuo-spatial skills and spatial awareness in general. Children are learning routines which strengthen their sequential skills and critical thinking skills which support understanding concepts in STEM.
American Ninja Warrior ANW.122 Competition Obstacle Course
Sensory Scavenger Hunt- Parents can allow children to hunt for specific things within sensory categories, such as touch, smell, sight and sound. Predetermine the categories with your child. While there are things in nature like flowers, leaves and rocks to build strong science exploration. Parents can hide a number of interested objects to support the sensory categories. Some objects include jiggly balls, stuff animals, Legos and objects with sound effects. Children’s sensory experiences are important to their knowledge acquisition in the natural and physical world. They need to discriminate diverse materials and media in learning about structure, forms and patterns in STEM development.
My Jiggly Ball
Find-A-Shape -in the Clouds- This is an activity to get children using their visual senses and imagination in observing the clouds. To enhance this activity parents can video tape this for home video. Since, clouds move readily, this experience can be lost easily. By video taping much of this can be revisited and stories told about the experience. There will be so many shapes to find from regular polygons, animals of all kinds, numbers and just about any shape form. This a very interested and fun fill activity for STEM learning.
Water Play Activities
Water is very much a part of STEM learning. Children tend to enjoy water play experiences. There are several concepts and skills they can learn to build understanding in STEM . Water play activities allow children to explore water and make discoveries about the effect of force on water such as floating, sinking and manipulating through pouring, squirting, stirring, blowing and squeezing. Here are four activities parents can engage their children in.
Water bin – Parents can make a water bin for number of activities. The bin can be a large container or bucket. Coloring can be added to the water. Small objects can be placed for children to identify objects that sink and float and categorize them. Please take care to supervise children when playing with small objects to avoid harm.
MarvelBeads Water Beads Rainbow Mix (Half Pound) for Spa Refill, Sensory Toys and Décor (Non-Toxic)
Go-Fishing – Children can use magnet to go fishing for different shapes, numbers animals, just about any science and math activity can be fished for.
Bubble Mania – Parents can use 1/4 cup glycerin, 1/2 cup of water, 1 table spoon liquid detergent then stir all ingredients together in a bucket. Select house holder items such as coat hanger and pipe cleaner to blow bubbles. Parents can purchase ready for use kits to blow bubbles as well. Children will enjoy this activity as they will be able to identify diverse shapes form by bubbles and see color spectrum caused by light on bubbles, they will learn spatial awareness as they try to catch bubbles.
Indoor Play Activities
When children have to stay indoors there are so many engaging STEM activities that can be done. Children enjoying stocking, assemblying and creating. Parents can enhance these skills by providing them with puzzles, games and developmentally appropriate toys such as Lego to assist them in their skill building.
Lego extravaganza – Build multiple structures using Lego. For example, children can build from a room to a city.
Toothpicks and marshmallows – Parents can engage children to use these to create just about anything they can image. These activities give them appreciation for the thought, design and technology behind structural engineering.
Indoor craft activities— Parents can provide craft sticks, glue, card board, pipe cleaners, string, wooden blocks, colored paper cups and plates and a variety of other craft items to allow children to make items such a telephone using paper cups and strings and make pulleys, train, flowers design, painting and a number of STEM crafts.
Shadow animation – Parents can use a section of the wall space indoors to use as an animation studio where lights can be off and using a flash light allow children to use movement to create animation using shadow. Music or sound track can enhance this activity.
Travel Play Activities
Parents can make simple traveling trips STEM engaging ones. From dropping off to school, shopping for groceries or a planned vacation. When traveling with children there is so much STEM learning that can be done.
Categorizing – parents and children can do several activities in categorizing Some of which include, see how many types of vehicles can be identified using color, brand, license plate, number of persons traveling in vehicles .
Signs – emphasis may be placed on particular road signs see how many can be identified, for example school zone sign. Traffic lights, see how many lights on your journey will be on red and play count down awaiting the green light.
Buildings – watch out for tall buildings or buildings with several floors, street numbers- play for a specific street number, type of structures, government buildings, see how many new construction sites can be identified.
Use of technology – how many people seen using cell phone, camera, number of digital bill boards seen and number of TV crew shooting. These are just some engaging ways to harness your child’s STEM awareness while traveling.
Parents are happy when their children are learning and parents welcome all opportunities that are provided in engaging their children in learning STEM. This post presented a number of activities parents may engage their children in. The activities covered indoors, outdoors, water play and travel activities for learning STEM. Parents you do not need to be experts in STEM learning to engage your children. Select as many as possible of the activities presented and I am confident you and your children will have an engaging learning experience.
Please feel free to share your experiences, ideas, opinions, suggestions, questions and concerns. I am will ensure to get back to you soon as possible.
Tracy-Ann Morgan-Smith, PhD, JP
6 Replies to “Best Parenting Resources for STEM Awareness”
Hi,I stumbled across this article online and I found it very helpful.
I am not a parent myself, but i have a 6 year old sister, and this gave me a lot of usefull ideas.The sensory scavanger hunt activity seems really fun and I am sure she will love it and also learn something from it.
Thank you for your comment. I am very pleased you found this article of use. It is my purpose to ensure teachers and families are provided the best resources to advance children’s STEM awareness. You can read the post “How to use Lego to Build STEM Awareness?” to find other activities of interest for your sister.
I welcome your article and say BRAVO! I am just so over seeing young parents, with children at play parks, or supermarkets, or in any number of other public places with their children, while they (the parents) have a set of headphones grafted to their ears and their foreheads glued to their PED!
Maybe I come across as an angry old 61 year old gentleman. But let me tell you that my job took me away too often from my children in the years of their important development and those are times I will never get back that I regret all the time.
It hurts to see those, that have the opportunity, not grab it with both hands and play with, educate and interact, in a meaningful way with their children. In my experience there is nothing they appreciate more than spending time with their parents.
I remember the joy of planning travel games with my Mum before we went on long journeys, we learned while we planned and we learned while we played and I am sure that my sister and I were all the better for the experience.
Thank you for your comment . It is my intention to support parents and families to meaningfully engage their children in STEM learning to secure a brighter future.
The information in your article is very thorough and insightful. Parents in this day ought to take a read and educate themselves so they have a better idea of how to occupy their children instead of just giving them electronic devices.
Thank you . While using technology is part of stem learning . Parents and families must be intentional about their approach to STEM learning.