STEM Activities for Kindergarten Kids

STEM activities are a great way of stimulating kids’ creative skills. It is a great way to motivate them into a future career in any of these disciplines. However, even if they don’t pursue this, the skills sparked from STEM activities are crucial for any future opportunity: problem-solving, and critical thinking, to name a few.

These activities are very important at any age and can be practiced at home. We have long discussed the perks of incorporating STEM (and art) activities into preschoolers’ education. Let’s move on to STEM activities for Kindergarten Kids. 

Topics covered:

What is STEM for kindergarten kids?

As you already know, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, a group of fundamental disciplines for students’ curricular studies and any country’s development. Not only does it serve the global purpose of generating the scientists, technicians, engineers, and mathematicians of tomorrow, but it also changes how kids relate to these disciplines. The importance of curiosity and creativity is vital to their future, and kindergarten kids are especially curious and in touch with their creative side. Finding the right activities for kids to exercise these talents makes them better interpret the world around them, and how things work, and be innovative in their way. Whether or not they choose a different career path. A healthy relationship with STEM disciplines strikes a balance between fundamental capabilities and the ability to enjoy them.

Why is STEM important for kindergarten kids?

Kindergarten kids are at a crucial age where they start to incorporate key concepts. They are learning both this and the ability to learn itself. STEM, especially when incorporating arts, keeps the fun part of learning, and the flexibility for them to influence as much as possible that learning process. Research shows that STEM at an early age is a predictor of future academic success, and helps build strong emotional and social development in gifted students.

The benefits of STEM for kindergarten kids are many, but let’s list a few of the most relevant:

  • It helps kids “learn to learn”: as said before, kids around this age are at a pivotal point where they fix the terms in which they will be learning. It sets important foundations for incorporating concepts onward into their lives.
  • It fosters a lifelong interest in learning: curiosity and eagerness may get lost sometimes during school. STEM taught with a fun and open approach tends to keep kids open to the idea, and pursuing learning on their own. 
  • It teaches critical thinking and problem-solving skills: whether kids choose a career in STEM or not, these abilities are fundamental in almost every job, and for daily life. 
  • It helps kids learn to work with others: STEM (especially, when involving art) requires a lot of interaction with others and building the capacity to share at an early age. 
  • It boosts creativity: we never get tired of saying that STEM activities should be both fun and open for kids’ input. The limits between arts and STEM are blurry when kids enjoy what they’re doing, making room for lateral thinking and innovation.

How do you engage children in STEM?

STEM projects are not exclusive to kindergarten school, so you can find time to do them at home or outside. It is very important that they feel motivated about doing them, so their real curiosity kicks in. Here are 5 tips to engage children in STEM activities:

  1. Choose interactive ideas: museums where kids can touch the exhibits, activities that involve crafting, try to always keep the options to things that need their involvement.
  2. Keep it short: a great idea can fall short when done in excess, so if you notice that your kids start to feel tired, try to wrap it up.
  3. Exploring goes a long way: remember that curiosity is a pillar of STEM. If the activity involves exploration (i.e., a nice park with a lot to look at), kids will feel a spark of checking the world around them.
  4. Simplicity is king: no need for fireworks. Something fun and easy to do should work, and complexity can bring unnecessary frustration. 
  5. Be flexible: kids won’t respond to very strict proposals. The more they can offer their opinion (as small as they might be), the better. For crafting, be sure that creativity is allowed in the form of color and ideas.

How can I create a STEM activity for kindergarten kids?

If you wish to create a STEM plan, both for your kindergarten students or your kids at home, a little planning will give better results. As mentioned before, flexibility is crucial, but a solid plan is easier to change as you progress. 

Here are 9 steps to creating a STEM activity for kids:

  1. Choose the topic first: STEM activities are very open, and can be done in many ways. Select a topic (i.e., shapes) and create/select the activity that helps you teach this. This will help you measure the impact.
  2.  Ensure the topic is based on reality: kids learn better when trying to understand the world around them. No need to be abstract here, work on everyday aspects of their life (i.e., rain, the technology surrounding them, etc.).
  3. Set a clear goal: kids need to know what the expected result should be, so they can gratify themselves from materializing a project. Give them a clear idea of what the completed activity looks like.
  4. Preview potential challenges: understand first what the activity is testing them and what setbacks they may encounter. If possible, try to incorporate them into the learning process. 
  5. Form teams: it can be just one team, but the point is to promote collaboration between kids. Encourage them to come up with ideas within each team.
  6. Multiple ideas rather than one: try to stress that the answer is not just one and that there should be multiple possibilities. Motivate to discuss and share them with their peers.
  7. Work towards a “trial and error” method: there is no point in doing things right on the first attempt here. Their work should be able to be divided into multiple steps with corrections at any stage.
  8. Help them communicate their ideas: once done, kids need to learn how to express themselves and reflect on what they did.
  9. There is always room for improvement: once the activity is done, add some space for a redesign. Continuous improvement is very positive for their learning.

Best STEM Activities for Kindergarten Kids

Let’s share now some STEM activities that you can do with toddlers at kindergarten age. To ease you through the process, we will divide them into the main topics: science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and arts. As always, though all of these are safe to do at home, please always have adult supervision.

Science

  1. Rainbow Walking Water
  2. Fizzy Liquids
  3. Ketchup cleaner for pennies

Technology

  1. Stop-motion animation
  2. Home map
  3. Conductor elements

Engineering

  1. Jelly-bean Building
  2. Spaghetti Strength Testing
  3. Apple Stacking Challenge

Mathematics

  1. Post-it Number Match
  2. Jelly-bean Counter
  3. Flower Patterns

Arts

  1. DIY Fridge Magnets
  2. Natural Sculptures
  3. Turning Shapes into Art

Science

  1. Rainbow Walking Water

Rainbows’ beauty is simply undeniable. A familiar image for kids, you can go into the basic sciences of it with them by creating a walking water experiment, which shows how water moves and color theory. You can teach them primary and secondary colors in an enticing way. 

STEM Category: Science

Materials Needed: 

  • At least 6 jars
  • Food coloring (6 or more colors)
  • Papel towers
  • Something to time the process (i.e., a cell phone timer app)

Instructions

  1. Fill 3 jars with water.
  2. Add food coloring to the 3 (one red, one yellow, and one blue).
  3. Ask the kids to arrange them in a “rainbow” order).
  4. Arrange them together with an empty jar between each color in a small circle.
  5. Roll the paper towels into tube-like pieces and put one end in a full jar and the other end in an empty jar.
  6. After a couple of hours, you will see how the colors mix in the empty jars (you can time this process). 
  1. Fizzy Liquids

Spectacularity is something we should not lose sight of while doing these experiments. Teaching kids about effervescence will be very fun to watch and does not require much.

  1. Ketchup cleaner for pennies

Can you use ketchup as a cleaner? This very simple experiment has a great question and some interesting basics of elements and their properties. 

STEM Category: Science

Materials Needed: 

  • Ketchup
  • Dirty Pennies (or similar copper-based elements)
  • Water
  • Small Cups
  • Other solutions like coke, vinegar, milk, etc.

Instructions

  1. Add different solutions to each cup (make sure one has ketchup).
  2. Add a penny to each and make sure it’s all covered with the solution. 
  3. Wait 5-10 minutes.
  4. Compare the results: which solutions cleaned the pennies and which didn’t?

Technology

  1. Stop-motion animation 

Do you want to produce your home animation? Stop-motion is a simple way to do so, with very fun results.

STEM Category: Technology, Arts

Materials Needed:

Instructions

This activity is quite easy and creative. Stop-motion involves recording each film frame to give a sense of animation, just like Tim Burton’s Nightmare before Christmas. We strongly recommend filming a short clip, ideal with articulated toys (but not necessary). Something very straightforward as two toys waving at each other takes some time but is fun to do, and, depending on your kid’s enthusiasm, it can become something longer. Plus, the apps suggested make it quite easy.

  1. Home map

Maps have been a pillar of technology for centuries. Long before GPS, Google Maps, and many other useful tools, even pirates have to build maps. This is a great hook to teach kids about cartography. 

STEM Category: Technology

Materials Needed: 

  • A pen/a pencil
  • Color pencils (optional)
  • A blank piece of paper (the bigger, the better)

Instructions:

  1. Walk around the house, the block, or the nearby park and decide what the most important places are.
  2. Once decided, draw a map on it.
  3. Try using different colors to differentiate places. No need to know how to write names, as you can ask your toddler to identify each important place with colors/shapes/symbols they can draw.
  4. As always, be flexible to incorporate more places (even imaginary ones, as long as they fit in your custom map).
  1. Conductor elements

Here is a fun way to experiment with it and see what home elements conduct electricity. 

STEM Category: Technology

Materials needed:

  • 2 AA batteries
  • AA Battery Holder 
  • 3 or more alligator clips 
  • LED Lights
  • Scissors
  • Metallic and non-metallic elements from the house (paper clips, nail clippers, pennies, etc.)

Instructions:

  1. Put the batteries in the holder.
  2. Connect alligator clips to each side (matching positive and negative).
  3. On one side attach the LED light with a third alligator clip to the other side.
  4. Try with other objects now. You can clip them on or even just touch them to the object. If it’s conductive, the light will turn on.

Engineering

  1. Jelly-bean Building

Maybe you have a future architecture at home, or your kids keep noticing buildings and structures around them. With this simple game, you can help them learn the basics of structures. 

STEM Category: Engineering

Materials Needed: 

  • As many jelly beans as possible
  • Toothpicks

Instructions:

  1. Start by building a simple cube or base by joining jelly beans with toothpicks. 
  2. Start adding levels.
  3. Don’t mind if it falls down a couple of times (remember that redesign is part of the process).
  4. Once the concept starts kicking in, play with the idea of building taller and more solid structures.
  1. Spaghetti Strength Testing 

There is always spaghetti at home, right? And kids adore playing with them while dry. This small experiment is a basic introduction to construction elements.

STEM Category: Engineering

Materials Needed: 

  • Dry spaghetti (non-cooked)
  • Elements to test its strength (i.e., cans, rubbers, small bottles, cups)
  • Books or similar

Instructions:

  1. Start by showing the kids how hard it is to tear a couple of spaghetti in two to test their strength.
  2. Make two piles of books (a small one, 3/4 should do on each side).
  3. Set the spaghetti as a bridge between the books. Make sure you can place elements on the spaghetti bridge.
  4. Start placing elements on top of the spaghetti bridge. See what it takes to bend it.
  1. Apple Stacking Challenge

Speaking of structures, here is a fun game. Stacking apples in a friendly competitive way (or as one team) defies kids to build on irregular elements. 

STEM Category: Engineering

Materials Needed: 

  • As many apples as possible
  • Optional: toothpicks
  • Optional: baskets

Instructions:

  1. Just like the name suggests, try stacking apples in different ways.
  2. See different alternatives: a wider base, one apple over each other.
  3. If the kids struggle with the pile and start to get frustrated, you can use toothpicks and baskets to help. 

Mathematics

  1. Post-it Number Match

Kindergarten kids are right at the point of learning numbers and how to count. This straightforward game can be done at home to make it an engaging experience.

STEM Category: Math

Materials Needed: 

  • A big blank sheet/a board
  • Sticky notes
  • Pen/pencil/chalk/marker (depending on what you use for the board)

Instructions:

  1. Draw the numbers on the board in points (just like you would see them on a dice). Make sure that they are not in order.
  2. Write the numbers on the sticky notes.
  3. Play a matching game by pasting the notes on the corresponding number.
  1. Jelly-bean Counter

Let’s face it: jelly beans are helpful for learning (and delicious, too!). Still, we can change them with similar elements: peanuts, candies, or any elements that are easily counted and accumulated. If it is edible, the better. Seeing an amount grow (or decrease) gives kids a real-life idea of how math works.

STEM Category: Math

Materials Needed: 

  • Jelly beans/candies/etc.
  • A weighting scale (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Start adding jelly beans one by one to a pile. You can add two or three two (keep it simple)
  2. Create a different pile.
  3. Compare the two in sizes while keeping count. Mark the difference between bigger/smaller ones.
  4. Try now eating one from the bigger pile to see the effect. Try to show them how to make the piles equal.
  1. Flower Patterns

Patterns are a fundamental lesson for math. This very simple game can help your kids understand them, as well as add some basic flowering!

STEM Category: Math

Materials Needed: 

  • 4 or more different flower bouquets (ideally, of different shapes and colors)
  • 4 or more jars/vases/cups with water (depending on how many flower types you have)

Instructions:

  1. Split the flowers from the bouquets.
  2. Add water to the jars.
  3. Ask your kids to rearrange the flowers in each jar.
  4. Start by adding the same types of flowers to each jar.
  5. Once done, try rearranging them as 1 of each flower in each jar.
  6. Involve as many simple patterns as possible. 

Arts

  1. DIY Fridge Magnets

Adding magnets to our fridge is a great way to showcase different stuff, especially, your kids’ art. With this simple activity, you can create your magnets.

STEM Category: Arts, Engineering

Materials Needed: 

  • Cardboard rolls (i.e., toilet paper, paper towels, whatever you have at home)
  • Scissors
  • Magnets
  • Glue
  • Color pencils
  • Any other decorative elements (glitter, markers, etc.)

Instructions:

  1. Decorate the cardboard rolls.
  2. Paste the magnet on the inner side of the roll.
  3. Add it to the fridge.
  4. Create many so they can be arranged creatively. 
  5. Natural Sculptures

Who determines what elements are needed for art? This outdoor activity is a nice alternative to exploring the parks around you or your backyard. Plus, making sure they stand has some basic engineering. 

STEM Category: Arts, Science

Materials Needed: 

  • An open green area
  • As many materials as possible:
    • Grass
    • Sand
    • Tweeds 
    • Barks
    • Flowers
    • etc.

Instructions:

  1. Try building small sculptures with whatever you can find. 
  2. Test their resistance to elements such as water and wind.
  1. Turning Shapes into Art

Math and geometry are part of the arts as well. With small patterns, kids can let their imaginations run wild and create different things.

STEM Category: Arts

Materials Needed: 

  • Many colored papers of different shapes (triangles, squares, circles)
  • Glue or tape

Instructions:

  1. Start by using only one shape (i.e., triangles).
  2. Play with the idea of creating other shapes with them, such as making squares with triangles.
  3. Start adding shape combinations.
  4. Let kids propose their ideas with shapes!

Closing thoughts: STEM Activities for Kindergarten Kids

Motivating kids with STEM activities for Kindergarten is a great way of igniting your toddlers’ curiosity. As you see, these are very flexible and open for your input and, especially, from kids. Fun is still the main objective, and a healthy relationship with these disciplines is the only way to adopt them for a prolific career in the future.  We hope this article is useful for you and your toddlers.