Let's talk about STEM
STEM is a learning approach that addresses the four scientific disciplines including science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In today’s fast paced tech focused world, it is never too early to expose young children to these concepts for supporting the later understanding of sophisticated STEM ideas. Today’s STEM activity will focus on engineering. Engineering concepts give children the experience of what it feels like to take an idea and then create something through trial and error as an entry point to problem solving and creative thinking. And what better way to do this than by building. Here is a construction activity for infants, toddlers and preschoolers to bring this activity to life in your home.
For All Ages
Activity: Construction Play
What you need:
Print pictures of construction workers, construction signs and/or construction equipment
Plastic or wood building blocks
Toy vehicles, lego people, dolls
Here are two book ideas to add to the fun
If it is hard to get your hands on a physical book you and your child can listen to
What to do:
Using the pictures you have printed, set up an area as a construction zone displaying these pictures in the space. The easiest way to do this is to find a space with a wall and post the pictures on the wall
To introduce the theme, put a mountain of blocks on the floor and have your child explore them as they wish
To extend play, you can add trucks and other vehicles and even dolls and play people
And don’t forget to put on the construction sounds for an authentic experience. For those children who can’t get enough of this activity, this video has 10 hours of construction sounds… enough background sounds that might drive you a little bonkers but not your child!
For the “older crowd” to extend this play experience:
Add shredded or ripped paper to replicate a rough terrain.
As your child is building, get them to think like a engineer by testing a hypothesis such as “ how many blocks can we put on top of each other until they fall” or if the blocks fall “ what can we do to make the building more sturdy” - ( the answer is to start with a strong flat foundation before building upwards)
In addition, using language like “let’s solve this problem” will give your child the opportunity to pause and plan before they design of their building
Like a scientist you can then help your child learn the importance of recording their findings with a drawing showing what they built followed by them dictating their story to you.