Incorporating science, technology, engineering, and math activities into our kindergarten curriculum may seem like a challenge. However, with a few creative kid-approved activities, you and your students will be eager to incorporate STEM activities into your everyday learning. Kindergarten STEM activities give you the perfect opportunity to have your students practice their fine motor skills, critical thinking strategies, and collaboration skills. Here are a few super fun activities to get you started on your kindergarten STEM journey.
What is STEM?
STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. STEM projects require students to use skills from all of these areas to solve problems and complete tasks. Exposing students to STEM activities helps them to build essential 21st-century skills.
In addition to the academic skills in these areas, here’s just a few of the other important life skills students will work on with STEM activities:
- Problem Solving
- Critical Analysis
Skills, Skills and More Skills
Even our youngest students can build these important skills. By adding STEM into the primary classroom, these thinking and problem solving skills become a natural part of the learning process.
In addition to these amazing thinking skills, STEM activities provide young students with opportunities to develop fine motor skills too. STEM activities lend themselves to being more hands-on than other classroom activities. Many STEM activities include building, cutting and small object manipulation. And . . . while the focus might be on science, technology, engineering and math, there are also elements of reading and writing that are an important part of STEM activities. I don’t know about you, but when an activity can do all of that, I want it to be part of my classroom.
Connecting to the Standards
If you struggle with trying to fit it all in – I get it! What made a big difference for me was breaking down all the standards and skills that a specific STEM activity would work on. When you see it broken down in this way it is really easy to add it into your lesson plans knowing that it is a lot more than just a fun activity for the kids.
Start Out Simple
Like most activities, you can find a range of STEM activities that can go from fairly simple to quite complicated. Just like you would with any new skill or concept you teach, start simple and gradually build. This gives you time to introduce students to STEM related vocabulary and processes. If you’ve never done STEM activities in your classroom before, the thought of jumping into STEM can seem overwhelming. Trust me when I say it doesn’t have to be!
STEM and Play
I actually love using STEM with young students because I find that there is a natural connection to play. When children play, they naturally pull from all skills they know. They get an idea and they problem solve and “figure it out.” They often plan and collaborate with friends to meet a common goal in their play activity.
STEM activities just build on this and begin incorporating new skills and thinking abilities. And . . . while we teach kids to apply what they have learned by using STEM activities, there’s also a lot of learning that happens through these activities too!
Introduce and Get Out of the Way
STEM activities are a little different than teaching a new reading or math concept. When I teach an academic skill I always model the activity we are learning. I show students what I’m doing and thinking in order to teach them how to do the same.
However, in STEM activities I try to avoid modeling the activity. After all, getting students to develop those thinking and problem solving skills is one of the goals. Instead, I focus on explaining the STEM process and providing some helpful guidelines for collaboration.
I have learned that our most successful STEM activities are the ones where I introduce the activity and get out of the way. This opens the doors for students to do the discovery and not just copy what they saw me do. It’s not our natural tendency as teachers – but it is just want our kids need in order to get the most out of STEM.
Planning and Preparing
It takes a little planning to incorporate STEM activities into your classroom routine. Unlike the core academic subjects, STEM activities often use supplies that aren’t always found in the classroom. While most are very common at home, it can be difficult to pull together a spur of the moment STEM activity.
I have had great success asking parents for help with providing the supplies we need for our STEM activities. Each month as I plan out STEM activities, I send home a note to parents asking for donations. Over the years I’ve learned that parents want to help and be involved, they don’t just always know how. By providing a detailed list of exactly what we need, they are eager and excited to be able to help.
I like to provide a deadline about a week before the STEM activity. This gives me plenty of time to follow-up with any parents who might be late sending supplies in. It also gives me time to get to the store to purchase any remaining supplies we will need.
Kindergarten STEM Activities For Any Day
STEM projects can be incorporated into your everyday classroom routine, or used in conjunction with a specific unit of study. I actually love to do both in my classroom. Sometimes a STEM activity fits right in with what we are studying and other times they don’t.
I’ve done a SUPER STEM DAY where we spend the entire day rotating through STEM activities. (Hint: This is a great time to ask for parent help too!) And other times we do a single STEM activity that may or may not have anything to do with the month, season, holiday or academic concepts we are learning.
There’s no right or wrong time to use STEM activities. The key to making them successful is to make them fit you and your unique classroom.
Full STEM Ahead!
I hope you are so excited to try out some STEM activities with your kiddos! I can’t get you pumped up about STEM and then just leave you hanging. So I have pulled together our class favorite kindergarten STEM activities that we use throughout the year. I’ve even put them together based on the time of year I use them in my classroom.
Inside each STEM pack is everything you need to implement these engaging activities (except for the supplies). I’ve even included a note you can send to parents with a list of supplies already for you.
Each STEM activity includes detailed teacher instructions along with pictures to give you an idea of what the project should look like. I also share all my tips, tricks, and lesson ideas to make sure your STEM challenges a success. Then just to make it easy, I have prepared some coordinating worksheets for each activity. These worksheets provide a place for students to make a hypothesis, plan activities, record observations and more.
Kindergarten STEM challenges are always a huge hit in my classroom. While the students think they are fun, I know they are so.much.more! I can’t imaging going back to a time when I didn’t incorporate STEM challenges into my curriculum.
Save these Kindergarten STEM Activities and Ideas
There’s no better time to start STEM than today! But I get it if you aren’t quite ready. Pin this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can quickly come back for these kindergarten STEM activities and teaching tips.