STEMsational At-Home Activities to Banish Boredom at Any Age

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Winter break is all fun and games until a serious case of cabin fever sets in! Before you grapple with one more meltdown or hear another “I’m bored!” try one of these simple stuck-inside activities to keep learning going while school is out. 

Bonus: each of these activities helps children build the foundational skills they’ll need for success in STEM categories (science, technology, engineering, and math), so your kids can combine fun and learning this winter!

• Engage in sensory play with infants
Babies love to use their senses, and it’s easy to help them do it while working their STEM skills. All you need is a basket or low-sided container with materials in a variety of different shapes, textures, weights, smells, and sounds. Need some ideas? Try crinkly paper, a wooden block, a lemon, a stuffed animal and a pine-cone. Help your baby explore everything in the basket and describe what he or she is doing, seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling, or tasting. This helps your baby build their brain by introducing new vocabulary and hand-eye coordination!  

• Keep learning rolling with toddlers
“Things that go” is a favorite toy category for toddlers, so build on their interest and ramp things up for a simple STEM game! Use blocks, boxes, and pieces of cardboard to build ramps and roads of various heights and angles. Gather objects that will roll and some that won’t. Experiment with each variation and encourage your child to investigate how each thing does or doesn’t go, and how ramps can be adjusted to get the outcome you want. A little trial and error helps develop problem solving and estimating skills. Layer on a math game by measuring how far objects travel when they zoom off the ramp!

• Start cooking with preschoolers
Preschoolers are curious and busy! Keep them interested and engaged with an at-home science activity that you can do right in the comfort of your kitchen. Here’s our recipe for STEM success!

Ingredients:
-Water
-Purple/red cabbage
-White vinegar
-Baking soda
-Milk of magnesia

Instructions:
1. Boil one cup of red cabbage in two cups of water. Invite your child to watch as the water turns purple! Let the water cool and then drain into a clear container.
2. Invite your child to pour a tablespoon of white vinegar into the water. What happens? Add more vinegar, little by little, and notice the change. 
3. Next, have your child measure a teaspoon of baking soda and stir it into the cabbage water. How does the water react? Keep adding more and see what happens!
4. Finally, have your child measure a tablespoon of milk of magnesia and stir it into the cabbage water. How is the water different from when you started? 

Watching the elements react to one another teaches your child exploration, experimentation, and observation—all key STEM skills.

• Get crafty with pre-kindergarteners
Did you know that crafting is STEM learning? It’s true! When kids tinker, build, create, and craft, they practice engineering through art! Anytime boredom sets in, let kids design, build, problem-solve, and create all while having a terrific time. You don’t need much; just a few crafting supplies from around your home like construction paper, markers, fabric scraps, glue sticks, tape, scissors, recyclables, or old toys. Get crafty together or alone, but either way, notice how limiting the number of materials you offer can create more opportunities for problem solving and “aha” moments! 

• Re-purpose materials with elementary schoolers
Elementary schoolers are ready to grow their STEM learning by understanding the science behind how our human habits impact our natural world. Bring the conservation conversation home by seeing how things we typically throw away can be used again for the same purpose, or even a brand new one. Pull a few different containers out of the recycling bin. Can your child think of a new use for anything you found? Let your child invent something new with the help of a few crafting materials. When the new invention is complete, give your child feedback like engineers do! Ask questions, offer suggestions, and of course, test it out! 

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