“STEM” stands for science, technology, engineering and math. STEM can refer to the subjects individually or one or more working together, but can also mean a way of doing things that includes solving problems, asking questions and exploring the world around us.
For example, children learn about the concept of technology when they’re exploring tools or simple machines. These can be items they use every day like a pair of scissors, or things they might see like the wheels of a car as they walk outside.
For young children, we focus on STEM through exploration, play and building curiosity about the world and the way things work. STEM learning is important for everyone and can happen anytime, anywhere. The real-life skills that people develop when learning STEM help make everyone better problem-solvers and learners.
Let’s Count Cars. When walking down the sidewalk or in a parking lot, count the cars together as you pass them: “1, 2, 3, 4, 5. We passed five cars to get to the store.” You can also count buses or other vehicles together while you are outside.
Explore Sizes. Ask your child to compare the sizes of measuring spoons when cooking. Use words like smallest, small, medium, big, bigger, and biggest to describe each spoon.
Whole and Half. At meal time, show your child a whole piece of toast and cut it in half. Then say, “These two pieces are the same size. They’re called halves.”
Let’s be Scientists! At the grocery store, have your child hold two different pieces of fruit in their hands. Ask, “Which one is heavier? Which one is lighter?” Ask other questions that encourage observation and description, like “Which fruit is red? Can you find the yellow fruit?” Exploring together builds skills for future scientists!
Compare Amounts. At dinner, compare the size of your food portions. Say, “You have more carrots than I do. I have fewer carrots than you.”
Cause and Effect. Stand in the bathroom and turn the lights off and on. “When I flip the switch up, the light goes on! What will happen if I flip it down?” They are learning about technology!
What Rolls? Spheres are round, three-dimensional shapes. Look around your environment for something that is a sphere and predict what would happen if you dropped it on the ground. Would it roll? Bounce? Spin? If it’s safe to do so, drop the sphere and check your prediction!
Enjoy a Shape Snack. Offer a square (or rectangle) cracker. Cut a piece of cheese into a triangle. Talk about and trace each shape with your finger before you eat it.
Count Hugs & Kisses. Before putting your toddler to bed, ask if they want two kisses or three kisses. Count aloud as you give each kiss. You can count hugs too!
Sing about STEM! Songs with repeated phrases like “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” “Wheels on the Bus,” or “Los Cinco Hermanitos” can teach children about patterns.
You can discover STEM with your child in many ways. Talk, read, sing, play, sign or use other ways to communicate – whatever works best for your family. Share with us and others like yourself on our social networks the ways that you introduce S.T.E.M. to your toddlers!