Are all your kids at home, and you’re quickly running out of activities to keep them busy? Well, this sounds like a good time to whip out all those STEAM activity ideas you’ve been stashing for the holidays!
These activities may include one or more of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics elements, and allows children to learn and make connections between the subjects through hands-on projects. In some schools, STEAM is a huge part of their curriculum.
Just take a look at the Canadian International School in Singapore, for example. At the school – which runs the IB programme – students from the IB PYP to IB MYP programme get ample opportunities to get their hands dirty with STEAM learning through fully-equipped makerspaces, STEAM projects, and STEAM fairs. While you might not have the luxury of fancy equipment or a lot of space at home, that’s not to say you can’t still get your child involved in STEAM learning.
Don’t worry if you run dry of ideas – the Internet is a wonderful resource of ideas and guides for STEAM activities you can do at home with your child. However, what happens if you have a few children of different ages at home? Or what if you found a really cool project, but you think your child is too young for it? Here are some tips to ensure that STEAM activities are pitched at the right level for your child:
For very young children: Incorporate learning into everyday tasks
If your kids are still very young, you might not need any special project to build up their STEAM skills. Instead, you can simply get them involved in everyday tasks! Get them to help you with counting and measuring ingredients when you are cooking or baking to improve their numeracy skills. Or use gardening time as an opportunity to teach them about the life cycle of plants, seed dispersion, evaporation, and so on. Learning opportunities abound everywhere, if you just know how to spot them and use them!
Do your research beforehand
If you are taking a STEAM project idea from online, make sure you’re familiar with it before starting on it with your child. Go through all the steps beforehand so that you won’t get caught unawares by certain risks, complicated steps, or materials needed. This allows you to assess the suitability of the project in its entirety to decide if it’s right for your child. It also ensures you are confident of guiding your child through the project – kids can sense when their parents are unsure!
For multiple children: Work together!
Rather than viewing multiple children as a challenge in finding the right STEAM activity, you can use it to your advantage! Split the project so that the younger ones can contribute to the easier parts, and the older ones can tackle the more challenging portions. This develops their ability to work together, and makes for great bonding time as well.
Provide help or demonstrate
If there are still some portions of the project that are too difficult or dangerous for your children to handle, you can step in and do it for them. For example, if there’s a project which requires a lot of cutting, you might want to cut up all the materials to size first before giving them to your child.
Steps involving fire, chemicals, or sharp objects that are crucial to the project can also be demonstrated by the parent instead. Don’t miss the chance to explain to your child the dangers of these elements, so that they respect your decision not to let them do it.
Focus on the learning
At the end of the day, it is not the product that matters, but the process of investigating, experimenting, and learning. So, don’t be too hung up if your child ends up with a less-than-perfect project, or a ‘failed’ experiment!
The key is to be flexible as you go along. If the project proves to be too complicated or long, you can break it into parts and continue another time. If the project goes awry, take the time to figure out why together. Or if your kids find a fascinating idea they want to work on, you can let them pursue it as a side project as well.
With these tips, you can bring STEAM learning into your home! While schools provide some of the most conducive environments and guidance for STEAM projects, stay-home days also give unique opportunities for a different learning experience. On top of that, you get to spend some precious time with your kids! So, pick a project and have some fun this week!