Engaging Kids in STEM at Home Through Play-Based Learning


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Kids are natural, curious learners and the way they discover the world around them is inspiring. They have an innate desire to ask questions, explore everything, and test theory after theory. So at a time when many parents fear their child may be falling behind during the pandemic, how can we nurture these skills, inspire curiosity, and help kids to keep asking great questions? Engaging them in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) at home can get us there—and it’s easier than you think.

By encouraging kids to ask and answer questions, you foster the development of reasoning skills that are essential to understanding and discovering STEM-based concepts. They begin to think about their world by making connections and exploring new ideas, which is essential to developing curious, critical thinkers as they grow older. Questions open the door to inquiry and wonder. They stimulate discussion, interest, and exploration that may otherwise go untapped.

So how do you get there?

Kids are inquisitive and it’s important to lean into this desire from an early age. This curiosity can be fostered no matter where they are—even while playing. In the process of identifying, comparing, and predicting, kids can be encouraged to explore sizes, shapes, patterns, and quantities, and question outcomes.

Recent studies show that play builds many abilities, including language and grammar skills, which in turn develops the curiosity to support continued learning. But best of all, it may open opportunities to create positive family moments as you get involved with your child’s learning experiences in a fun and engaging way.

Play-based learning can take many forms, using materials you probably have at home.

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© Pexels/Tatiana Syrikova

1. Water Play

Water can be used to help children grasp concepts such as more/less, same/different, many/few, empty/full, before/after, greater than/less than, and counting.

2. Sand Play

Incredibly versatile, sand can be used to learn about states of matter. Show your kids that though sand may seem like a liquid, when it’s in water, it is a solid.

3. Block Play

Through block play, children learn how to build math skills and problem solve as they create different structures and buildings.

For more activities to fuel the power of creative, critical thinking with STEM, check out Let’s Talk Science’s free resources. Through virtual, hands-on programs, Let’s Talk Science uses STEM to support critical skill development and inspire kids of all ages.

Visit Stem at Home at letstalkscience.ca to see the full range of programs that will leave them asking for more.

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