little girl building a pink tower

Sparking Early Curiosity: STEM Activities for Preschoolers

Research shows that preschool is a crucial period for fostering a lifelong love for learning, especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Engaging preschoolers in stimulating STEM activities not only creates a solid foundation for their future academic pursuits but also ignites their natural curiosity and problem-solving skills. This article aims to provide teachers and parents with a comprehensive guide to 20 exciting and accessible STEM activities ideal for preschoolers, focusing on hands-on experimentation, exploration, and play.

Building Structures:

Encourage young architects to construct structures using materials such as building blocks, LEGOs, or toothpicks and marshmallows. Discuss concepts like balance, stability, and patterns as they build and experiment with different designs.

Sink or Float: 

What things float?

Invite preschoolers to explore buoyancy by conducting a sink or float experiment. Provide a range of objects and encourage them to predict and test whether each item sinks or floats in a tub of water, fostering critical thinking and observational skills.

Bug Hunt:

Take the preschoolers on an outdoor adventure to observe and learn about insects. Encourage them to observe different bug characteristics, habitats, and behaviors. Provide magnifying glasses for a closer look and create an insect sorting chart.

Sensory Science:

Expose preschoolers to the wonders of chemistry through sensory exploration. Create sensory bins with water beads, sand, or cornstarch mixed with water, encouraging children to observe, touch, and explore their physical properties.

Shadow Play:

Have preschoolers trace their shadows at various times on a sunny day and discuss how the position and shape change as the sun moves. This simple activity helps children understand the Earth’s rotation and the concept of light and shadow.

Shape Sorters:

Introduce preschoolers to geometry by providing hands-on shape-sorting experiences. Use shape puzzles, sorting games, or even real-life objects like food, encouraging children to identify and classify different shapes.

Nature Scavenger Hunt: 

Organize a scavenger hunt outdoors to inspire preschoolers to observe and collect natural materials like leaves, rocks, or flowers. Afterward, discuss the findings, explore differences and similarities, and foster conversations about the environment.

Simple Machines: 

Introduce basic engineering concepts to preschoolers by exploring simple machines. Demonstrate how levers, pulleys, and incline planes work, encouraging children to experiment with everyday objects that can be used as simple machines.

Weather Watchers: 

Encourage preschoolers to observe daily weather changes, such as temperature and precipitation. Create a weather chart and discuss the different seasons, fostering an understanding of weather patterns and connecting it to the world around them.

Magnetic Exploration: 

Introduce preschoolers to magnets by providing a range of objects and materials with different magnetic properties. Encourage them to discover what materials stick to magnets and test attraction and repulsion between magnets.

Nature Art: 

Combine art and science by creating nature-inspired masterpieces. Collect leaves, flowers, or twigs and use them to create imprints or rubbings. Discuss the different textures, shapes, and colors found in nature.

Bubble Fun: 

Allow preschoolers to engage in bubble experiments to explore surface tension and airflow concepts. Provide tools like bubble wands, straws, or even household objects, and encourage them to experiment with bubble size and shape.

Seed to Plant: 

Demonstrate the magic of life and growth by allowing preschoolers to plant seeds and observe their transformation into plants. Provide them with gardening tools, soil, and seeds, and discuss how plants need food, water, and sunlight to thrive.

Colorful Experiments: 

Introduce preschoolers to color mixing by inviting them to conduct colorful experiments. Allow them to mix primary colors and observe the resulting secondary colors. Use various materials such as acrylic paints, food coloring, or colored water.

Sound Exploration: 

Introduce the concept of sound to preschoolers by conducting sound exploration activities. Provide musical instruments, allow them to experiment with different materials for creating sounds, or engage in a “sound walk” outdoors to listen to the environment.

Animal Adaptations: 

Invite preschoolers to learn about animal adaptations through interactive activities. Create stations where children can experience how specific animal adaptations work, such as bird beaks or animal feet, using objects and props.

Find the Shapes: 

Create a scavenger hunt indoors or outdoors where preschoolers search for specific shapes in their surroundings. Encourage them to find circles, squares, and triangles, enhancing their shape recognition skills while engaging in physical activity.

Ice Excitement: 

Explore the properties of ice and water by allowing preschoolers to experiment with ice cubes in different scenarios, such as comparing how long it takes for ice to melt in different locations or observing the effects of salt on ice. Another demonstration could be the time that it takes to decrease or increase the temerature of a touching or close object.

Buoyant Boats: 

Have preschoolers engage in designing and building their own buoyant boats using various materials such as foil, corks, or plastic containers. Test their creations in water and discuss their observations and experiences regarding buoyancy and design.

Nature Science Journals: 

Encourage preschoolers to keep a nature science journal to document their observations, experiments, and questions. Provide sketchbooks and encourage them to illustrate, write, or dictate their findings, fostering writing skills alongside their scientific curiosity.

Let’s get some learning done!

Engaging preschoolers in STEM activities creates a strong foundation for future learning while nurturing a natural enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. By incorporating hands-on experiments, exploration of the natural world, and imaginative play, teachers and parents can foster an enduring passion for STEM in our future scientists, engineers, and inventors.