I once lamented to a friend about how my three kids’ “collections” drove me bonkers. Their rooms were cluttered with seashells, rocks, bones, insect casings, and more – all in little piles. As a person who dislikes clutter, it irked me.
My friend’s response to my complaint took me by surprise. She said she used to have collections as a kid, too. She then shared how she went away for a weekend and her mom cleaned her room and disposed of all her items. She said she returned to a feeling of sadness and never picked up “collecting” things again. As an adult, she had concluded that moment was when she lost her passion for all things STEM.
Her thoughts really struck me. Those little things that “irk” us parents are truly the building blocks of learning for our children. In fact, research shows children lose confidence in their potential to “be scientists,” but not in their capacity to “do science” by middle school. It’s up to us parents to encourage exploration and pave the way with positive language surrounding STEM.
From that day forward, I decided to embrace the chaos and let my kids be naturally drawn to whatever strikes their fancy. We came to a truce – as long as the collections had a place and stayed organized, they could keep them as long as they’d like.
That lead me to taking a deep dive into other ways we could incorporate STEM in our household. Below you will find a few simple yet educational ways we practice STEM concepts in our home.
My kids love animals, so a science project we love doing as a family every year is raising butterflies. Watching the metamorphosis happen is truly witnessing science happen right before our eyes.
We also allow our children to help tend to our plants. They love planting beans or some grass and helping to water it. The key is to empower them to do it themselves so they can take pride in their hard work.
Your local library is an amazing resource when it comes to technology. While apps and computer games are always popular with kids, something we also love to do is to rent STEM kits from our library. We’ve gotten the opportunity to rent all kinds of neat items like robots, coding programs, and snap circuit kits – for FREE. It’s a great way to test items before purchasing, and a great way to keep the kids entertained while learning.
Like most American families, we have piles of blocks and LEGOs in our home. But one of the kids’ favorite pastimes is simple loose part play. We have a slanted driveaway, so the kids often challenge themselves and neighbor friends to make ramps using things like blocks, pieces of wood, PVC pipes, empty toilet paper rolls and more. It’s a simple way to show kids that success when it comes to building can come in many different forms.
When it’s cold outside, we love experimenting indoors with Gravity Maze, a marble maze, which builds reasoning skills and visual perception.
It’s true what they say…Math is everywhere! While many of our favorite games require math, such as Math Dice, my kids would say their favorite way to practice math is by counting money or cooking. While it may produce a bit more clean-up time, getting the kids involved in the kitchen to measure ingredients is a great way to practice math skills, not to mention, help develop a life skill of cooking!
Overall, encouraging STEM in your home doesn’t need to be complicated or costly. I hope these ideas help to inspire your family to have fun exploring and keep learning together.
What ways do you incorporate STEM concepts in your home?
Lauren Weber is an adventurous mom to three and a blogger at Mrs. Weber’s Neighborhood. She is passionate about sharing ideas to encourage families to take adventures big and small while bonding together.
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