Modifying our hectic schedules to spend good, quality time with our kids is a constant effort. And often when we do find small breaks in our day, the time spent together is far from quality. Meanwhile, our children run amok in the background of our Zoom calls and complain of being bored whenever our focus is not completely on them. What if we could maximize our time and our kids’ interest by finding easy activities that will engage them and develop their brains in the process? Sounds like a win for everyone.
Kiddie Academy Educational Child Care Vice President of Education, Joy Turner, recommends hands-on, play-based STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) activities for children starting as early as two years old.
“Current research shows scientific instruction improves abilities in subjects outside science, including literacy, language-learning, and critical thinking,” said Turner. “Integrating STEM activities from a young age will equip kids with a strong head start.”
Here are three activities to engage and educate:
Construct an Inclined Plane Marble Run
Instructions: Use inclined planes to create a marble run. Some options include cutting cardboard paper towels, toilet paper, and wrapping paper rolls in half lengthwise, challenging your family to tape the tubes to the wall, back of a bookshelf or a freestanding poster or foam board to create a series of slides, positioning at angles to allow a marble to travel down the ramps to the bottom without falling off. Or, cut pool noodles in half lengthwise, and have the children build ramps with blocks and pool noodles.
Talk with your children about motion and gravity as you watch the marble travel through the course. Disclaimer: Marbles are not appropriate for children under 3 years old. A golf ball will work if the tubes are large enough!
Materials Needed: paper towel, toilet, and wrapping paper tubes, marbles for children over 3 and golf balls for younger children, pool noodles and blocks
Hold Paper Airplane Races
Instructions: Fold some simple paper airplanes (learn how here). Invite your children to decorate the paper airplanes using markers. Demonstrate how to pinch the base of the plane, flick the wrist and release it to make it fly. Encourage your kids to experiment with flying their planes (away from others, of course). Explain that when the air pushes over and under the wing of the plane, it creates a force called lift which allows the plane to fly. Challenge your children by encouraging them to try and land their paper airplanes into a basket or by competing to see whose airplane flies the farthest.
Materials Needed: paper, stapler, staples, markers
Make Your Own Bowling Alley
Instructions: Get out your recycling bin and gather up your plastic bottles. Cut out various colored shapes and adhere them around each plastic bottle. Find an open space for your children to bowl and place the bottles in a triangular formation as if they are bowling pins. Talk with the children about different ways they can make the ball move and possible ways they could move the ball to knock down the bottles.
Your children can roll, push, kick, or use additional items to help make the ball move. Explain to your children that when you hit a ball you are applying force. You can also try building a ramp to help the ball move. Ask your children to identify or point to the shapes on the bottles they knocked down.
Materials Needed: plastic bottles, construction paper, scissors, glue or tape, soft-sided ball, variously shaped blocks.
Kiddie Academy will host its annual, free STEM Adventures at Academies across the country from March 19-April 23. Parents are invited to register at nearby locations to learn more STEM activities for kids. Now, sit back, relax and regain your focus while your kids grow their minds.