What is STEM?


STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. It is an interdisciplinary approach to learning that combines these four subjects to solve real world problems. STEM education is becoming increasingly important in today's world as many jobs require skills in these fields.

The importance of STEM

STEM is important for children’s development for several reasons:

  • Promotes critical thinking and problem solving skills: STEM education encourages children to think critically, analyse information, and find innovative solutions to problems. It helps them develop logical reasoning and problem solving skills that are essential in various aspects of life.
  • Fosters creativity and innovation: STEM activities and projects provide opportunities for children to explore their creativity and think outside the box. It encourages them to come up with new ideas, design and build prototypes, and test their solutions. This fosters a culture of innovation and prepares children for future careers that require creative thinking.
  • Develops technological literacy: In today’s digital age, it is crucial for children to develop technological literacy. STEM education exposes children to technology and helps them understand how it works. It equips them with the skills needed to navigate and utilise technology effectively.
  • Enhances collaboration and teamwork: STEM education often involves collaborative projects where children work together in teams. This promotes teamwork, communication, and interpersonal skills. It teaches children how to collaborate, listen to others’ ideas, and work towards a common goal.
  • Encourages curiosity and lifelong learning: STEM education nurtures children’s natural curiosity and encourages them to ask questions, explore, and seek answers. It instills a love for learning and a mindset of continuous learning throughout their lives.
  • Prepares children for future careers: STEM fields are rapidly growing and offer numerous career opportunities. By engaging in STEM education from an early age, children develop a firm foundation in these subjects and are better prepared for future careers in STEM related fields.

STEM education is important for children’s development as it equips them with essential skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the 21st century. It prepares them to become critical thinkers, problem solvers, and innovators who can contribute to the advancement of society.

Introducing STEM activities to Children has numerous benefits. It can spark their curiosity and creativity, improve their communication and collaboration skills, and prepare them for future careers in STEM fields.

STEM is an interdisciplinary learning approach that combines the four subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics to solve real world problems

Easy and fun STEM activities for children of all ages

Here are some easy and fun STEM activities for children of all ages:

Infants (Under 1 year old)

While traditional STEM activities may not be suitable for children under 1 year old, there are still ways to engage them in age appropriate STEM experiences. Here are some easy and fun STEM activities for children under 1 year old:

  • Sensory Play: Sensory play is a great way to introduce young children to STEM concepts. Fill a shallow container with various materials such as water, sand, rice, or cooked pasta. Let your children explore the different textures, temperatures, and properties of these materials. You can also add safe objects like plastic toys or kitchen utensils for them to manipulate and investigate.
  • Mirror play: Place a child safe mirror in front of your baby and observe their reactions. They will be fascinated by their own reflection and may try to touch or interact with it. This activity helps develop their visual tracking skills and spatial awareness.
  • Cause and effect exploration: Provide your baby with toys or objects that produce different sounds or movements when manipulated. For example, give them a rattle or a toy that lights up when shaken. This helps them understand cause and effect relationships and develop their fine motor skills.
  • Water play: Fill a basin or bathtub with a small amount of water and let your babies splash and explore. Provide them with different containers, cups, and toys that float or sink. This activity introduces basic concepts of buoyancy and helps develop hand eye coordination.
  • Tummy time with toys: During tummy time, place age appropriate toys or objects in front of your babies to encourage reaching, grasping, and exploring. Choose toys with different textures, shapes, and colours to stimulate their senses and promote their motor skills development.
  • Nature walks: Take your babies for a walk in nature, such as a park or garden. Point out different plants, flowers, and animals you encounter along the way. Talk about the colours, shapes, and textures of the natural world, fostering their observation skills and appreciation for nature.

Remember to always supervise babies under your care during these activities and ensure that all materials and objects are safe and age appropriate. The focus at this age is on exploration, sensory experiences, and building foundational skills rather than explicit STEM concepts.

Traditional STEM activities may not be suitable for children under 1 year old, but there are still many ways to help infants participate in STEM experiences such as playing with mirrors, playing with toys, or getting acquainted with nature

Toddlers (2-3 years old)

Here are some easy and fun STEM activities for children aged 2 to 3 years old:

  • Building blocks: Provide your toddler with building blocks of different shapes and sizes. Encourage them to stack and arrange the blocks to build structures. This activity helps develop their spatial awareness, problem solving skills, and fine motor skills.
  • Sink or float: Fill a basin or tub with water and gather various objects from around the classroom. Ask your toddler to predict whether each object will sink or float before placing it in the water. This activity introduces the concept of buoyancy and encourages critical thinking and observation skills.
  • Sensory bottles: Create sensory bottles by filling clear plastic bottles with different materials such as coloured water, glitter, beads, or small objects. Seal the bottles tightly and let your toddler shake and explore them. This activity stimulates their senses and encourages curiosity and investigation.
  • Nature scavenger hunt: Take your toddler on a nature scavenger hunt in your backyard or a nearby park. Create a list of items for them to find, such as leaves, rocks, flowers, or insects. This activity promotes observation skills, curiosity about the natural world, and vocabulary development.
  • Magnetic play: Provide your toddler with magnetic letters or shapes and a magnetic surface, such as a cookie sheet or whiteboard. Let them explore and experiment with the magnets, sticking them to the surface and discovering which objects are magnetic. This activity introduces basic concepts of magnetism and encourages fine motor skills.
  • Color mixing: Set up a colour mixing station with cups of primary colours (red, blue, yellow) and empty containers. Encourage your toddler to mix different colours together and observe the changes. This activity introduces the concept of colour blending and encourages creativity and experimentation.
  • Building bridges: Use wooden blocks or other materials to create a bridge structure. Encourage your toddler to experiment with different designs and test the stability of their bridges using small toy cars or other objects. This activity promotes problem solving skills, spatial reasoning, and engineering concepts.

Remember to provide supervision and ensure that all materials used are safe and age appropriate. These activities are designed to be hands on, engaging, and promote exploration and discovery, which are essential for toddlers’ STEM learning and development.

Introduce children aged 2-3 years to STEM with activities and appropriate toys and supplies

Preschoolers (3-6 years old)

Here are some STEM activities for children aged 3 to 6 years old that promote their higher order thinking skills. Remember that preschool children are ready and need opportunities to develop their higher order thinking skills, and the best way to do it is via hands on learning activities, accompanied with good questions. Here is our suggestion of these activities and questions that can go with them:

  • Building structures:Provide preschoolers with building materials such as wooden blocks, LEGO bricks, or magnetic tiles. Encourage them to build structures using their imagination and problem solving skills. Ask questions like:
    • How can you make your structure taller or wider?
    • What happens if you remove a block from the bottom? Why?
    • Can you create a structure that can support a small toy on top?
  • Design and build a marble run: Give preschoolers materials such as cardboard tubes, paper cups, and tape. Challenge them to design and build a marble run using these materials. Encourage them to think about the path the marble will take and how to make it move smoothly. Ask questions like:
    • How can you make the marble go faster or slower?
    • What happens if you change the angle of the tubes?
    • Can you create a loop or a jump for the marble?
  • Sorting and classifying: Provide preschoolers with a collection of objects such as buttons, shells, or toy animals. Ask them to sort and classify the objects based on different attributes such as colour, size, or shape. Encourage them to explain their reasoning. Ask questions like:
    • How did you decide to sort the objects this way?
    • Can you find another way to sort the objects?
    • What would happen if we added a new object to the collection? Where would it go?
  • Nature investigation: Take preschoolers on a nature walk and encourage them to observe and investigate the natural environment. Provide magnifying glasses or binoculars to enhance their exploration. Ask questions like:
    • What do you notice about the plants or animals you see?
    • How are they similar or different from each other?
    • Can you make a hypothesis about why certain plants or animals live in specific habitats?
  • Pattern creation: Give preschoolers materials such as coloured blocks, beads, or pattern cards. Encourage them to create and extend patterns using these materials. Ask questions like:
    • What comes next in the pattern? How do you know?
    • Can you create a pattern that repeats in a different way?
    • What happens if we change the starting element of the pattern?
  • Science experiments: Conduct simple science experiments with preschoolers, such as mixing colours, exploring sinking and floating, or observing the growth of plants. Encourage them to make predictions, observe carefully, and draw conclusions. Ask questions like:
    • What do you think will happen? Why?
    • What did you observe during the experiment?
    • Why do you think this happened? What can we learn from it?

Remember to provide guidance and support during these activities, allowing children to explore and think critically. Encourage them to ask questions, make connections, and explain their thinking. These activities promote higher order thinking skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, and analysis, which are essential for their cognitive development.

Children ages 3-6 are ready for more complex STEM activities

Tips for introducing STEM activities to children in your early year setting

Introducing STEM activities to children in early years settings can be a rewarding and engaging experience. Here are some tips to help you successfully incorporate STEM into early years education:

  • Start with simple concepts: Begin by introducing simple STEM concepts that are age appropriate and relevant to the children’s everyday experiences. Focus on concepts such as shapes, colours, patterns, and cause and effect.
  • Hands on experiences: Provide children with hands on experiences and opportunities for exploration. Use materials and manipulatives that allow them to actively engage with STEM concepts. Encourage them to touch, manipulate, and experiment with objects and materials.
  • Encourage curiosity and questions: Foster a sense of curiosity and encourage children to ask questions. Create a safe and supportive environment where children feel comfortable exploring and seeking answers to their inquiries. Encourage open ended questions that promote critical thinking and problem solving.
  • Incorporate play: Use play based activities to introduce STEM concepts. Play is a natural way for children to explore and learn. Provide open ended materials and toys that allow children to experiment, build, and problem solve.
  • Connect STEM to real world contexts: Help children understand the relevance of STEM concepts by connecting them to real world contexts. Show them how STEM is present in their daily lives, such as in nature, technology, or everyday objects. Encourage discussions about how STEM impacts their lives.
  • Collaborative learning: Promote collaboration and teamwork among children. Encourage them to work together on STEM projects, allowing them to share ideas, problem solve, and learn from each other. Collaboration enhances communication skills and fosters a sense of community.
  • Document and reflect: Document children’s STEM experiences through photographs, drawings, or written observations. Use these records as a basis for reflection and discussion. Encourage children to reflect on their learning, ask questions, and make connections between their experiences.
  • Professional development: Stay up to date on the latest research and best practices in early childhood STEM education. Attend professional development workshops or search for resources online, for example by accessing learning resources STEMsmart, to enhance your knowledge and teaching strategies.
  • Parent engagement: Involve parents in the STEM learning process. Share information about STEM activities and encourage parents to continue STEM exploration at home with their children. Provide resources and suggestions for STEM related books, games, or experiments that families can engage in together.
  • Flexibility and adaptation: Be flexible and adapt activities based on children’s interests, abilities, and developmental levels. Allow children to take the lead in their learning and adjust activities to meet their individual needs.

Remember, the goal is to foster a love for STEM and provide children with a firm foundation for future learning. By incorporating these tips, you can create a stimulating and engaging STEM learning environment in early years settings.

Applying STEM to preschool education will give children a solid educational foundation for the future


STEM activities can help children develop important skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and analytical skills. These skills are essential for success in the modern world and are applicable to many different STEM fields. To start, there are many online resources that can help you find fun and engaging activities for your child. STEM training course for preschool teachersby Educe, STEMsmart blog about STEM education , and Free e-book librarySchoolisting's for kids are great places to start. So why don't you try some STEM activities with your preschooler today?