What does STEM look like for early elementary age kids? It’s a lot of exploring, testing, observing, and doing. It’s about taking simple STEM ideas and taking them a little farther and drawing their own conclusions. Early elementary STEM projects are meant to excite and encourage kids!
WHAT ARE EARLY ELEMENTARY STEM PROJECTS FOR KIDS?
MAKING STEM FUN FOR YOUNG KIDS
For this article, I want to take a look at early elementary STEM projects namely for kindergarten and first grade age kids. Of course, wherever your kids are in these lessons, you can make these work!
MAKE SURE TO BOOKMARK THESE STEM IDEAS FOR LATER!
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Preschool STEM is an introduction to the wonderful world around them, but now it’s time to take STEM a little farther. Kids are understanding more, reading and writing more, and exploring more about why things do what they do. Kindergarten and 1st grade kids are ready for more!
All those 5, 6, and 7 year olds have questions and are thinking a bit more outside the box. They want to test out their ideas, plan new ideas, and figure out why their ideas worked or didn’t work.
AT THIS AGE KIDS MAY HAVE BETTER….
fine motor planning skills
spatial and visual processing skills
critical thinking skills
Because of all these increasing skills, early elementary age kids are better able to explore the concepts presented with a bit less help from teachers or parents. They are able to be more hands-on and investigative of what’s happening, and they are better able to do for themselves.
We have spent the last two years taking part in elementary age STEM projects, and I have really been able to see the gears turning when it comes to planning, designing, participating, questioning, and observing what we are doing.
I can stand back and let him lead us more but still offer important bits of information along the way.
POPULAR EARLY ELEMENTARY STEM PROJECT THEMES
Read more on STEM ON A BUDGET for great STEM project ideas and budget friendly tips.
STEM is the world around us and have you noticed all of the unique buildings, bridges, and structures that make up our world, community, town? There are so many unique ways to build structures.
Kids can use simple materials like cups, cards, toothpicks and marshmallows, and other easy to find supplies to build towers, bridges, their favorite building.
Investigate and build cool structures around the world like the Eiffel Tower, the Coliseum, or even Stone Henge!
Kids can build their own model homes and can also test the strength of their designs after reading The Three Little Pigs; An Architectural Tale. Check out famous architects like Frank Lloyd Wright. Draw a set of blue prints to get started.
Design and plan your own house by drawing out rooms and coming up with ways that room functions and what it can do! You can also have kids look around their own homes and draw out plans. Have them check out the number of windows, doors, stairs, walls, rooms. Take measurements.
Tinkering is a great way to get kids interested in engineering and inventing. Have kids draw and design plans for a new invention. Ask questions! What works well? What doesn’t work well? What could be different? What could you change?
A simple tinkering station we like to use includes straws, pipe cleaners, colored tape, popsicle sticks, rubber bands, string, and recycled items. Check out our dollar store engineering kit for kids!
Another playful way to introduce early elementary STEM projects is with the the physical sciences including force and motion and how things roll, spin, and balance.
Kids can build ramps from various materials and of various heights and observe how a variety of objects roll down them. Also test out differently weighted objects and compare results. Think plastic eggs that can be filled.
You can incorporate engineering too! Kids can build cars to use on the ramps from any type of materials including recyclables, LEGO, and other loose parts. Design, build, test, and modify!
How does gravitational force affect balance? Try our balancing apple activity or come up with your own designs. Can you balance walking heel to toe on a straight line or a balance beam?
Check out things that spin. What spins the best? Can you build your own top or spinner. Set up a things that spin tray for investigating. Learn more about why and how of things that spin here. We also had a blast making these rotating paper helicopters.
WHAT’S YOUR PART IN EARLY ELEMENTARY STEM PROJECTS
Check out our list of fun STEM inspired picture books featuring other young kids who love to engineer, tinker, and explore! Check out some of the activities they are up too and set up your own similar ideas.
Iggy Peck made the St. Louis Arch out of his pancakes. Can you and your kids pick a structure and build it out of something like paper? I wouldn’t suggest pancakes!
The little boy in If I Built a House designed a whole fantasy house filled with out of this world ideas. Encourage your kids to design their own!
Learn about the tallest buildings in the world. What’s the tallest you can build something? Is it a strong design or will it fall down easily? Take a look at the shapes of some of these great landmarks.
One of the best things you can do for your kids who are interested in these types of STEM projects is to provide access to materials that are easy and safe to have on hand.
Grab a large bin and fill it up with scraps and recyclables. Add tape, string, and scissors and your kids have an instant inventors kit.
I made a handy printable with a simplified design process flow sheet. Print one out and see what your kids come up with!
MAKE SURE TO CHECK OUT OUR GIANT STEM RESOURCE FOR TEACHERS AND FAMILIES
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AWESOME KIDS STEM PROJECTS FOR EVERYDAY LEARNING