How to Teach STEAM to Children in Fun and Exciting Ways
STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Maths. The “Art” part of STEAM is there because the other subjects benefit from creativity. For example, innovative design in engineering or planning experiments in science.
Playing is a great way to learn STEAM because it is naturally hands-on, creative, and engaging. This can help make education fun for your children, as well as yourself. And after the long weeks of remote learning, I’m sure we’ll all be glad of that!
Here are a few ways to enjoy learning STEAM with your children, from Reception up to Year 6.
For younger children, the main focus of STEAM is introducing some basic concepts, such as counting objects or exploring the natural world.
For example, the Magicube Sea Animals and Jungle Friends sets (RRP £20, 2-5 yrs) feature a range of animals that you can talk to your child about as they play, such as asking what noise the animal makes or where it lives.
You can also have a giggle mixing the animal pieces up, by putting the wrong body parts together! The added bonus of Magicube is that the blocks are magnetic so your child can also see how the magnets connect and disconnect easily.
Key Stage 1
Children face a big change when they move from the Early Years curriculum in Reception, to Key Stage 1. This is when their play-based learning becomes more formal, with fewer toys and more pencil and paper tasks.
At home however, you can support your child’s learning and keep it fun with playful activities that reinforce their learning in school. Toys like Magicube Maths Building (RRP £40, 3-5 yrs) make maths a more hands-on and creative experience.
Your child can enjoy building with the colourful magnetic cubes. You can also use the number tiles to make number lines or sums for your child, leaving blanks for them to fill in with the other tiles. The blocks can be used to make this more visual and easier to understand, for example, showing a stack of three blocks and taking one away, to show “3 – 1 = 2”.
Construction toys are popular with children of all ages and can be a good way to encourage your child to learn about engineering. Sets such as the Geomag Classic Panels – 100% Recycled (RRP £22.50-50, 6+ years) are perfect for making an unlimited number of designs, so children can learn how to create a sturdy building.
Key Stage 2
Other construction sets can teach children about forces. The Mechanics Gravity Magnetic Race Track (RRP £30, 7+ yrs) includes mechanical elements such as a magnetic cannon to set off cool chain reactions, so your child can explore the invisible forces of magnetism and gravity.
This can be fun to build together, then experiment to see what happens if you move pieces or add to your track with other Geomag Mechanics sets.
Many older children also thrive on having the freedom to experiment with their own ideas through construction play. The Pro-L NY Skyline (RRP £90, 8+ yrs) is perfect for engaging children who have different interests, which is helpful when you have siblings of different ages to entertain. For instance, you could focus on the imaginative side, and ask your child to design their ideal city or home.
Or, you could set your child a challenge such as building the tallest tower they can. Both tasks will get your child thinking and problem solving. You can also join in and work together, or compete against one another, to make it a whole-family activity.
As your child approaches secondary school, it’s important that they start understanding the theory behind the concepts they are learning too. You can still make this playful, but take it one step further to extend your child’s knowledge.
For example, you could search for information and diagrams online to create a presentation together, or watch videos that explain the concepts in more detail. BBC Bitesize England has some great content available online for both Key Stage 1 (Years 1 & 2) and Key Stage 2 (Years 3-6).
Playing is an enjoyable way to engage children of all ages in learning. Toys give you and your children a shared activity and encourages them to focus on the subjects they are learning. Toys can also motivate your children to carry on playing and learning independently after the activity, so they can strengthen the knowledge they have learned with your help.
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