Stave off the dreaded “I’m bored” syndrome that hits part way into any vacation or down time with a few of the BEST simple STEM activities that cost almost next to nothing. We have a bunch of simple STEM challenges to get the juices flowing, keep the kids thinking, and best of all still learning. As always we have plenty of science and STEM to get through a whole year. Shhh don’t tell them!
BEST EVER SIMPLE STEM ACTIVITIES TO KEEP KIDS BUSY!
SIMPLE STEM PROJECTS
So you ask, what does costing next to nothing look like for a simple STEM activity? What materials do I actually need to do fun STEM activities? I don’t know a whole lot about STEM, can we still do these activities?
Costing next to nothing, simple STEM activities can look exactly like grabbing items from the pantry, recycling bin, junk drawer, and maybe a trip to the dollar store too. I always like to make sure I have a few basic supplies on hand as you will find in our dollar store engineering kit.
Each of these simple and easy STEM activities will provide you with a materials list or you can read about it under the descriptions below. The STEM supplies are pretty simple and you probably have most of it floating around the house.
WHAT IS STEM?
If you don’t know a whole lot about STEM, we have a few good resources to start with to get your feet wet. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math and activities involving these fields have a huge impact on kids. Even the simplest activities like the catapult I talked about below provides numerous opportunities for kids to learn and explore STEM.
It might look like your kids are just playing, but they are doing oh so much more than that. Look closely, you will see the design process in motion. You will see experimenting and critical thinking in action, and you will notice problem-solving at it’s finest.
When kids play, they learn about the world around them!
10 VACATION READY SIMPLE STEM ACTIVITIES
So let’s get started with some of the best, simplest, and most fun simple STEM activities that will have your kids chanting your name and eagerly waiting for the next awesome idea.
DAY 1: Build a Catapult STEM Activity
Storm the castle with a homemade catapult that explores many parts of STEM and that is entirely playful. The kids will come back to this one over and over again. We have several popular versions of the homemade catapult, the best being made out of craft sticks and rubber bands.
DAY 2: Build a Balloon Rocket STEM Activity
Oh the fun you can have with Sir Isaac Newton, a balloon, a straw, and some string. Explore Newton’s Third Law of Motion when you design a balloon rocket. Have races, conduct experiments, and explore physics while you play. Note: right now we have a holiday themed balloon rocket, but it’s awesome all year round.
DAY 3: Build Structures
All you need is a box of toothpicks and a bag of mini marshmallows, gumdrops, or styrofoam peanuts. Turn it into a challenge to build a certain style of a bridge, a famous monument, or simply an abstract creation. Or you can challenge the kids to build a tower 12″ tall (or any other height).
DAY 4: 100 Cup Tower Challenge
Grab a bag of 100 cups at the grocery store and challenge the kids to build a tower with all 100! That will keep them busy.
DAY 5: Think Like the 3 Little Pigs (Architectural Activity)
DAY 6: Learn About Algorithms
DAY 7: Build a Marble Run/Maze
Building a marble run is full of design possibilities and really encourages those engineering skills. You can build it on the wall with cardboard tubes and tape, with LEGO bricks on a baseplate, or in a box top with tape, craft sticks, or straws.
DAY 8: Take Apart An Old or Broken Electronic Toy or Device
We all have those old electronics hanging around. Sit down and spend some time with the older child deconstructing something. We had an old computer we took apart together. There was so much to learn. Make sure the device has been unused for several weeks or more to be safe.
DAY 9: Classic Egg Drop
If you can stand to give your kids a carton of raw eggs, this type of STEM challenge will be a blast. Have each kid design a mechanism that will protect a raw egg from breaking when dropped. Look around the house for items that could work. Challenge your kids to only use what they can find and not buy.
DAY 10: Build A Simple Machine
Simple machines make our lives so much easier. Do your kids know all 6 simple machines? Have them do some investigative research and find a simple machine they can build from materials on hand.
BONUS: PRINTABLE LEGO CHALLENGE CALENDAR
30 Days of LEGO challenges in one handy calendar you can print out and tack up on the fridge!
There are some great vacation STEM activities here that will really keep everyone busy. I highly encourage you to get in on the fun if you can but hold back on providing the answers when things don’t go as expected.
Younger kids may need more assistance while older kids might choose to work independently.
Frustration and failure go hand in hand with success and perseverance. You can provide encouragement when things aren’t working well and offer congratulations for a successful challenge completed.
It’s always good to talk about the importance of failing with our kids. Some of our greatest inventors like Darwin, Newton, Einstein, and Edison failed and failed time again only to make history later on. And why is that? Because they didn’t give up.
SET UP SIMPLE STEM ACTIVITIES AT A MOMENTS NOTICE!
Check out more fun STEM resources by clicking on the pictures below.