How to Create a STEAM Learning Environment at Home
With the holidays approaching, school and work are going to slow down and we will continue to spend a lot of time at home with our families. Do not let your family become fatigued from quarantining and social distancing. Embrace something different with STEAM learning activities at home. It is easier than it sounds and will be a nice break from the usual learning routine. By the end of this you will know what STEAM is, the benefits, items you need plus easy projects and activities you can start now.
By Amber Weldon, Mommies R Bomb
What is STEAM?
STEAM is the abbreviation of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. STEAM learning is the integration of all the subjects in a project or activity. Instead of focusing on repetition, like traditional learning, it allows for children to think outside the box and ask questions.
Benefits of STEAM Learning
When you are actively involved in your child’s learning you are providing them confidence to succeed and positive attitudes towards education. When you are actively involved in your child’s learning you are providing them confidence to succeed and positive attitudes towards education. STEAM learning is fun and interactive. Participating in STEAM projects or activities can support your child with critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The cross-subject activities stimulate different parts of the brain and your child will learn how to evaluate problems and make a plan to solve them. Their teamwork and collaboration skills can improve as well. You all can work together and exchange ideas and divide tasks, which will help in their future careers. There are other multiple benefits such as;
- Encourage creativity
- Experience with making predictions and experimenting
- Hands-on learning
- Progress in their reading and verbal skills
Items to Have
Having insight on the positive benefits of STEAM learning is encouraging to get started. The great thing about STEAM is your activity can always be different. One day you could make a paper puppet, another day a small explosion and another time a mini flashlight. No matter what you choose it’s best to be prepared. Here is a list of items to have on hand, you likely have most of them at home.
- Art supplies
- Construction paper
- Paper plates
- Food coloring
- Baking soda
- White vinegar
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Dish soap
- Popsicle sticks
- Paper towel/toilet paper rolls
Easy STEAM Learning Activities
If this is new for you all, start with smaller, easier projects first. That way everyone will not be frustrated or confused in the beginning and your children will be enthusiastic to try other activities. Every activity does not have to be something you put together with various materials. STEAM toys are great for younger kids, such as magnetic building toys, wooden blocks and matching shapes. There are also great STEAM related books, check out our Buy One, Give One event for books that spark creativity and imagination. Here are a five easy STEAM projects that will help you get started.
Simple volcanoes made with vinegar and baking soda
- Choose a cylinder container or plastic cup for volcano
- Add 4 tablespoons of baking soda
- Pour in 1 cup of white vinegar to start eruption
- *Bonus add in 1 tbsp. of dish soap and 2 drops of food coloring for foam and color
Marble art made with shaving cream and food coloring
- Start with white card stock
- Put foaming shaving cream on a paper plate
- Add food coloring to shaving cream and mix in lightly with popsicle stick
- Press card stock onto shaving cream lightly
- Wipe off excess shaving cream with paper towel and see the marble artwork you created
Change the color of a white carnation with food coloring
- Put a single white carnation in a small vase or cup with water
- Add 3 drops of food coloring to water
- Over time watch as the carnation changes color
Build simple structures with paper towel rolls
- Collect paper towel or toilet paper rolls
- Design buildings, sculptures or animals
- Use tape, toothpicks, hot glue or other materials to complete projects
Cooking simple recipes like;
- Vegetable fried rice
- Rice cereal treats
Virtual or Online
Of course you are not always going to be available to create projects with your kids. Encourage them to do engaging STEAM learning on their own. Download age appropriate apps that teach skills that can be applied in real life, such as;
- Play and Learn Science
- Stop Motion Studio
Another option for your family is to virtually tour a museum anywhere in the world from home. The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, NASA Langley Research Center and the Museum of Natural Sciences in Belgium are just a few available. Most kids love watching YouTube videos, there are tons of channels that demonstrate STEAM projects and activities you can do at home. Moms can be assured this screen time is educational and fun.
Introduce Your Family to STEAM
It might be random to say to your kids, “hey guys, let’s do some STEAM projects.” Familiarize them with the concept and the various activities that you all could do together. Designate a place in your home for your family’s STEAM learning activities. This can be called the makerspace, it can be any size space or even portable, whatever works best for your home. Set a time aside that works for everyone and when they are in the mindset to complete an activity. Try to make it part of your regular routine and something to look forward to. We all know life happens and plans may change. Your children will still make memories and reap the benefits no matter how often you create projects.
Tips to Keep STEAM Learning Fun
Feel free to choose and explain the projects that you all will do together, but that is where your authority ends. Think of yourself more as a leader in the activity rather than the teacher. It is very tempting to tell your child the steps to get to the solution but try your best to let them figure it out on their own. Their personal ideas and processes are key to successful consecutive STEAM learning activities. When it is necessary talking and working through steps together is helpful. The moment for an activity could happen naturally without any preparation. There are probably a few activities your family already does at home that are STEAM related. Especially for your toddlers and preschoolers. Examples include, setting the table – bringing the same amount of plates, napkins, cups, utensils helps with number sense. Playing in the bath with different containers filling them a little or a lot and seeing how they sink or float helps with predictions and observation. Your family will enjoy the new experiences and might have a new hobby to get through social distancing.