There’s no debate about it, your preschooler needs STEM now and in this post I will share 15 reasons to support my claim. I’ve taught in the Elementary grades for 14 years and for 11 of those years, school was what it always was: learning (mostly what the teacher selected, using books and simple resources sitting in a classroom).
Then 4 years ago, my school decided to become STEM certified and school became a magical place where students were more valued, listened to, where our classroom expanded past the 4 walls of each room and wonder and discovery became the norm.
We have amazing data, student, parent and teacher feedback to prove that Stem is great for students and it is even more important with younger students, like preschoolers, who are learning what school is like, how to learn and how to think. This is why I want you to know that your preschooler needs STEM now and I have 15 amazing reasons why. Before I share those 15 amazing reasons your preschooler needs STEM now, I thought it would be important to share some information about STEM.
What is STEM?
STEM has been a hot button topic in education for the past 10 years or so. The acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Sometimes, you may see it represented as its close cousin STEAM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. No matter which way it is written, it stands for the same beliefs or practices, teaching students how to think and act by using the main skills and resources from science, technology, engineering and math. Some of those skills involve problem solving, researching, testing your ideas and improving your ideas. Here is a more thorough breakdown of STEM.
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What is STEM for Preschoolers?
Now, you may be wondering, What is or what would STEM look like for preschoolers? STEM for preschoolers looks very similar to STEM for other kids because it still focuses on the same beliefs and practices, the activities are just changed to make them appropriate and fun for preschool aged children. For example in a STEM activity on diffusion or how plants take in water, I might include weird and wacky colors for a preschooler to make the experience more colorful and memorable, whereas I may not need to be as colorful for older kids.
Why STEM for Preschoolers or What are the Benefits of STEM for Preschoolers?
Are you still not quite convinced that your preschooler needs STEM? Well, let me ask you a few questions:
Do you want your child to be a good problem solver?
Do you want them to ask questions?
Do you want them to take ownership of their learning?
Do you want them to be confident in reading and researching to find out about unknown things?
If you answered yes, then your preschooler definitely needs STEM because STEM will help your preschooler to develop all of those skills and more. Actually, here are 15 amazing reasons you need to start STEM with your preschooler now.
1. STEM for Preschoolers Helps Them Experience New Things
I don’t know about you, but I am tired of my preschooler saying he is bored and there’s nothing to do, even though I’ve given him a million suggestions and he has about that many toys. One way we've tried to deal with that is by approaching "normal" activities in a new way. One example has been with our morning walks. STEM lets children experience new things or even make new experiences from old things. Below, I will give an example of how STEM gave new life to my son’s lego blocks and cured his boredom for several hours.
2. STEM for Preschoolers Helps Them Model Asking Questions
I know, I know, who would want to teach a preschooler to ask more questions. Before you call me crazy and close out, give me a chance, lol. Do you want your toddler to ask real questions and not just say 10 different ones to be talking? Well, STEM will help with them. They will learn how to ask questions to gain knowledge and understand instead of just talking to hear their voice (you can’t escape this entirely, but will see an improvement).
3. STEM for Preschoolers Helps Them Learn to Listen and Ask Follow up Questions
Another skill that STEM will help your preschooler develop is how to actually listen. My son used to hammer rapid fire questions off, without giving me a chance to answer. It was frustrating because some of the questions were really good and I wanted to help him understand.
Now that we’ve started using simple and easy STEM preschool activities at home, he actually listens because the STEM activity was usually his idea and he wants to know the answer or need information to work on his plan. Once your preschooler has listened, be prepared for follow up questions as they try to begin brainstorming how they want to go about their plan.
4. STEM for Preschoolers Helps Them to Experiment
I do not know a single preschooler who doesn’t like experiments. My son wakes up talking about the experiments we can do and all throughout the day as we encounter problems, he keeps telling me of other experiments we could do. For example, one day when he was helping me to cook, I was complaining that both my husband and I had forgotten to take the chicken out to thaw for dinner. My son immediately wanted us to do an experiment to see what would be the fastest way to unfreeze or “help it escape.” He said we could use his Power Rangers action figures, freeze them and then try different ways of getting them out.
For this STEM for a preschooler activity, we froze 3 Power Rangers and then he came up with the plan to put one on the concrete in the sun and one on the concrete in the shade. He decided to save the third for another day. Within minutes, he started noticing changes and was able to conclude that the Power Ranger in the sun would escape first. Then, I was able to ask questions about why that was the case and how we could use that with our frozen chicken problem. He quickly laughed and said we couldn’t put it on the concrete because it was dirty.
5. STEM for Preschoolers Helps Them to Read
Preschoolers need to read and be read to. There is countless data and research to prove this fact. As a reading teacher, I cannot emphasize enough how important reading quality books is to young children, especially preschoolers. How important is reading? So important that there are many organizations and weeks set aside to celebrate books and children. We love our book subscription box from Owl Post Books. If you want to order your own for the special child to young adult in your life, visit Owl Post Books in the link below and type in my affiliate code: OPBKIMBERLIE to receive 10% off.
STEM is needed for preschoolers because it encourages purposeful or intentional reading. Children read with a purpose to find out specific information. This is an excellent way of empowering preschoolers to take charge of their learning.
6. STEM for Preschoolers Teaches Them to Create Things & Encourages Creativity
Possibly, my favorite part of STEM activities for and with my preschooler at home is that we get to experiment and create things together. I am always impressed when it is time to make a plan at the ideas my son comes up with.
His plans are usually well beyond what I was thinking of and much more creative.
7. STEM for Preschoolers Helps Children Make Connections to Known Things
Another excellent reason why your preschooler needs STEM now is that STEM helps preschoolers make connections to known things. When we were working on the Lego STEM activity at home, my son pointed out it was like construction workers and was able to share that their job is harder than he thought or as he puts it, “that’s a hard work, mommy.”
8. STEM for Preschoolers Helps Them to Develop Their Confidence
STEM is a phenomenal way of helping your child develop confidence in coming up with and sharing ideas. While they are doing so, remember to praise and encourage them, even if the ideas are far fetched or impractical. Celebrate the idea and you may even want to let them try it , just so they will see why it wasn’t the best choice. Always remember that STEM for your preschooler at home is not about being “right” , it is about trying, using information to come up with ideas and being comfortable in experimentation.
9. STEM for Preschoolers Helps Them to Research
Another reason why STEM is important and needed for your preschooler is that it teaches them the foundation of research. They learn how to come up with questions, how to try to find answers to those questions and also how to share what they have learned from research.
These STEM skills will help your child throughout their entire educational career and will help them to be more independent in their approach to problem solving.
10. STEM for Preschoolers Helps Them to Learn how to Deal with Failure
This is a huge reason why your preschooler needs STEM in my opinion. How does your preschooler deal with failure? That well, huh? Can you say tantrum? Yes, I get it and I know, but STEM activities at home give preschoolers a chance to “fail” on a small scale. It also helps them to learn how to handle that failure, by trying again.
You will guide them that it is ok to be emotional and upset, but that it is easy to simply try again and work to improve.
11. STEM for Preschoolers Helps Them to Use Technology Appropriately
STEM is a great way to teach your preschooler about appropriate ways to use technology. Preschoolers are curious about technology, but all they want to use it for are games and videos, if parents aren’t careful.
With STEM activities for your preschooler at home, you can model using technology to read and to watch educational videos. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with some games and their favorite programs, but it’s good for them to see that it can also be helpful as a learning tool.
STEM is also good to introduce the idea that technology is not just something electronic, but really covers any resource or tool that makes our life or an activity easier, so you can do a lesson finding all the technology in your house
12. STEM for Preschoolers Helps Them to Practice Basic Math and Language Skills
STEM is a simple and fun way for your preschooler to start learning and practicing basic math and language skills at home. It’s even better because they won’t realize they are learning, so they won’t resist it.
We have used STEM in cooking to talk about measurements (cups, tablespoons etc.), we’ve also used it to work on counting and of course, your child will develop their vocabulary as they work on different experiences, research and share their learning about their STEM activities at home.
13. STEM for Preschoolers Helps Them to Enjoy Learning
For me, the best result from STEM is that children, especially preschoolers, start to enjoy learning at an early age. It has worked wonders at my school and I’ve seen the same effect at home with my son. He wakes up early wanting to find a problem to solve and loves researching and using out STEM steps and procedures to learn more.
14. STEM for Preschoolers Encourages Student led Discovery
If you’ve ever tried to get your preschooler to learn or do something, you’d know that STEM is a lifesaver. Gone are the days when you force your child to count or problem solve, with STEM activities at home, they want to use all the skills they have and learn new skills to be able to solve more difficult challenges.
15. STEM for Preschoolers Helps Them to be More Flexible
STEM allows you the parent more flexibility in how you teach. You are not tied to a curriculum or specific set of lessons, you can allow your preschooler’s interest to be your guide. This is important since their interest in a topic will help them to remain interested, even beyond their usually short attention span.
+ STEM for Preschoolers Helps You Create Activities at Home
Now, I know your next big hesitation is how can I do STEM activities for my preschooler at home. The answer is easy. You probably already have most of the things that you need sitting around the house and later, I will suggest a few other items you may want for STEM activities for your preschooler at home as you begin STEM experts or Stemperts.
STEM Building Activities for Preschoolers
One of the easiest and simplest ways to start off with STEM activities at home with your preschooler is building challenges. If you’ve ever been around a toddler, you know that they love to build and you’ve also witnessed the terrible tantrums when that beautiful building collapses.
When that happens in your STEM building activities for preschoolers, stop, don’t fix the building for them. Give them hugs and kisses and comfort them. Once your preschooler is calm, then you are ready for the next phase to begin. Gently, ask your preschooler why the building fell or collapsed. You will be surprised to know they can usually pinpoint the structural weakness, like an expert engineer. Then talk about other designs or ways they could rebuild to make sure that the building was structurally sound and would not fall or collapse again.
My son and I actually did this exact STEM building activity recently, with the same result. He built it nice and tall and it fell. Once I comforted him and he calmed down, I started asking probing open ended questions:
Can you tell me what caused your building to fall?
What changes do you need to make to make sure it doesn’t fall again?
Do you know what the base of something is?
Did you know that a building is also called a structure?
What does it mean for a building to be structurally sound?
Do you know there are jobs where people make sure buildings are structurally sound and built to protect us against the wind, hurricanes and other storms?
Asking this period of questioning, we usually locate books and or videos on the STEM building or other activity we’re working in. After reading and or watching information about the STEM building activity.
Simple & Easy STEM Activities for Preschoolers
What are STEM activities for preschoolers, toddlers, kids?
I have already mentioned that most of my STEM activities are based on my son’s interest, so yours could be different, but for the most part preschoolers have some of the same interests, namely animals, building things, plants, being active and figuring out how things work in their world. Below I have listed some possible STEM activities you can do at home with your preschooler. I will update this post to include others as well, so come back often.
Preschool STEM Activity Planning Sheet Template
Explore (Hook or activating strategy):
But Why? (Questioning and set learning goals):
Teach Me (Research and discovery):
Draw It (Make a plan/sketch/ get supplies):
Get Messy (Experiment or build):
Try It (Test or evaluate):
Try Again (Revise and try again):
Share It (Summarize results: Did it work? Could it be improved? What will you do better next time?
Download your copy of the Preschool STEM activity planning sheet template below.
Sample Preschool STEM Activity
Explore (Hook or activating strategy): Use Legos to build a building as tall as possible. Allow your child/children to be as creative as possible, (let them go crazy with their design.)
But Why? (Questioning and set learning goals):
Did your building stay standing? Did it fall? Why?
How can you change your building to make sure it doesn’t fall again?
Do you know what the bottom of a building is called?
Did you know that a building is also called a structure?
What does it mean for a building to be structurally sound?
Do you know there are jobs where people make sure buildings are structurally sound and are strong enough to protect us against the wind, hurricanes and other storms?
Teach Me (Research and discovery): Learn about buildings and engineers by reading or watching videos :Building Structures and Towers by Tammy Enz, Construction Workers Help by Tami Deedrick, How High Can You Stack?
Draw It (Make a plan/sketch/get supplies): Draw out a plan of how to rebuild your structure using all the legos to build a building that will not fall and be structurally sound.
Get Messy (Experiment or build): Allow your preschooler to build the building based on their plan or sketch.
Try It (Test or evaluate):Observe the structure to see if it falls. You can simulate wind by blowing or using a fan or rain by drizzling water. You can try to place objects on top of “the building” to see if it would crumble (get creative and have fun).
Try Again (Revise and try again): If the building your preschooler makes falls, brainstorm what was not quite right in the plans and try again. Repeat tests as needed.
Share It (Summarize results: Did it work? Could it be improved? What will you do better next time?) Have your preschooler tell you or someone else what they did, what went wrong, how they fixed it and what they learned.
Download your copy of the Lego Preschool STEM activity below.
Before You Go
Now that you are convinced of the benefits of STEM to preschoolers and you have some resources to get started, I can't wait to see what you and your little one come up with. Come back and share some of your projects and check back often for additional tips and ideas of ways you can make learning fun with STEM for preschoolers.
Do you have older children? I have resources for them too. Are you looking for some educational websites that are fun or need some great writing prompts for students in elementary through high school? Then, look no further. Is your child an avid history lover? Here's a personalized lesson on M.L.K. that they may want to explore and complete.
Have you decided to homeschool and need some fun ways to make learning at home more fun? Check out my post on book character costume day or week. You may also want to teach your child how to play chess.
Is your reader bored with the books you have at home? Check out my post on Owl Post Books subscription boxes. My son loves receiving his monthly box of 3 new books and a craft.
If your child is interested in learning about different cultures and places, have them take a "trip" to Jamaica in my I am an Island Girl series. Each story gives a snapshot of what life was life growing up in Jamaica.
Love my content and want to be the first to know about new posts, resources and freebies like the Stem for preschoolers blank activity template and Lego activity? Subscribe to my blog, by clicking join above, to get more useful tips and resources to help busy moms, teachers and entrepreneurs. As a thank you, you'll receive a personalized Martin Luther King jr. playlist (variety of assignments at different levels) of activities for upper elementary students.