Five Fun and Easy Ways to Get Kids Learning At Home Without Them Knowing: STEM Skills in Every Day Life!

STEM is a buzzword in education that parents need to become familiar with so they can help prepare their children for higher education and future careers. STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Do not worry parents, it is not as intimidating as it sounds! In fact, your children are experimenting and doing STEM skills every day at home. Making mud pies, building forts, and making pancakes or Jell-O are all not only fun but filled with math and science! The wonderful thing is that children are naturally inquisitive explorers and scientists.

As parents, our job is to model learning and curiosity, to show that taking risks and making mistakes is great, and part of the learning process. When our children ask us a question and we do not know the answer, no matter how awesome they think we are (and we are!), this is a great opportunity to show our children how to research the answer together. Studies show that when a parent shows interest in what a child is learning, they become a more confident and successful learner. Let’s help our children integrate STEM language and skills into everyday life so that are our children can confidently face everyday problems with essential skills for their future.

Here are five fun and easy ways to get children to practice STEM skills at home without them even knowing it! Make sure to ask lots of “what” questions rather than “why” questions, as the first inspires curiosity, wonder, and confidence, while the latter is more intimidating and may cause a child to hesitate to answer, thinking that they may answer wrongly.

1. Build a Fort

Building a fort is the perfect activity to learn the STEM skills of spatial reasoning and problem solving. Children have consider shapes, sizes, location and the materials they will use. Encourage your child to plan ahead and think out loud or draw out what they want to build. Use STEM vocabulary so children can be familiar with scientific and mathematical language. For example:

•Ask the child to describe what they want to build, how large or small, what the shape will be like, and how they plan to execute their structure.

•Ask what materials they will use to build.

•Have them notice if there is a pattern that they see or are using in their construction. Have them tell you how they built it.

By having them explain the steps they took to construct the fort, they are demonstrating computational thinking skills, which means recognizing patterns or sequences, using a series of steps, and problem solving.

2. Make Pancakes

Making pancakes is the best science experiment because everyone gets to eat the final result! Just think back when you were in a science class and had to follow the scientific method. A recipe is just the same, with the hypothesis (to guess what the result will be with the ingredients collected, e.g. pancakes), the materials needed (e.g. the ingredients), the steps (directions for cooking), and so on!

•Have your child help you gather and measure out the ingredients. Math can be very abstract, but cooking makes it simple to understand because kids can visually see what a ½ cup looks like compared to a ¼ cup.

•Teach your child one-to-one correspondence by asking your child to pass you one egg for the mixture, or two cups of flour.

•Have your child observe and describe what they are seeing or predict what will happen when you mix the acid (the liquid) with a base (baking soda).

•Have your child repeat the steps in the recipe, this will help them practice rephrasing and extending their descriptions.

•When measuring, fractions can be introduced as well as geometric shapes, like circles or ovals.

•Have your child predict what will happen when baking powder is added to water. Let them know that there is a chemical reaction that produces a gas. The gas is trapped as air bubbles in the pancake batter. This is what makes the pancakes deliciously fluffy!

•Have your child predict and observe what happens when energy (in the form of heat) is applied. This is when the states of matter change from liquid batter to a yummy solid.

The next time you make pancakes or bake a cake, remember to invite your child to participate as your assistant and share these great STEM skills.

3. Movie Night

Encourage observation. Observation is one of the most important steps in the scientific process.

•For example, notice the weather or storm in a movie and comment on how the tall grass, flying kite, or trees are swaying, or how the waves are getting higher.

•Integrate STEM language into the viewing conversation. For example, ask your child to describe what they see or hear, or how they feel. Have them predict what will happen next.

Ask them to create an alternate ending.

4. Game Night

Playing cards or a board game are great ways to practice many STEM skills such as: spatial concepts (size, shapes, location to fit the object, quantity, etc.), problem solving, critical thinking, predicting, observing, planning, creative thinking, decision making, and logical thinking. So, turn off the screens and get ready to play!

5. Create a Daily Visual Schedule


Studies show that having a visual schedule helps children as young as preschool age to be more cooperative, independent, and more confident. Critical thinking, planning, communication, prioritizing, independent thinking, and collaboration are some of the STEM skills practiced in having a daily visual schedule, like the one I created as a schoolteacher by parent demand, called Easy Daysies, to help children have easier days and get out the door faster in the morning. With a routine, children also learn flexibility -- the ability to adapt to new situations or demands, an important skill in everyday skill, as sometimes unpredictable events occur that may result in changing the schedule. Over 85% of learning for children is visual, so let’s provide them with tools for success.

STEM is all about helping our children to be life-long learners, so that they can have a better understanding of the world around them. It is about problem-solving, innovation, observing, planning, reflecting, creativity, logical and critical thinking. Most of all, have fun learning together and watch your children shine!

By Elaine Tan Comeau, Creator of Easy Daysies

May 04, 2021