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Summer STEAM Activities for Creativity and Exploration

Jun 15, 2023    |   STEM LearningSummer

Next week marks the start of summer! The sun is out, the weather is warming up, and it’s a great time to refresh your classroom’s curriculum with activities that match the weather. In this article, we share some fun activities that incorporate STEAM learning into your program’s early learning curriculum by inviting children to explore, tinker, and create. 

What is STEAM Learning? 

Those of us in the world of early learning might be familiar with STEM, which refers to education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEAM learning is a similar concept, but it takes STEM learning one step farther by adding in the arts. Both STEM and STEAM learning highlight the power of combining all of these different kinds of learning together into cohesive activities, rather than teaching each subject individually. 

In STEAM learning, little ones are encouraged to be curious and creative, and to learn through hands-on exploration and play. For more information about STEAM and STEM, you might enjoy this G2K article from the archives: What is STEM Learning?  

Activities for STEAM Learning

The activities below encourage children to explore while learning about concepts in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and art. These activities can be enjoyed year-round, but are especially well suited for Summertime! 

Seashell Painting

image & activity idea from
Fantastic Fun and Learning

Summer is the best season for trips to the beach – and this simple activity brings ocean life right into your classroom! It requires only seashells and paint. You can collect your own seashells if you live in a coastal community, or you can find them available for purchase online. Some children might even have their own collection, so you might consider inviting families to bring in any shells they have at home.

To set up this activity, simply place various shells, paints, and paintbrushes on a tray. Invite children to paint the shells, using any color or design they like. While children are painting, invite them to compare the different shapes and markings in each shell. Talking about the animals that live in different shells is a great way to introduce concepts in biological sciences as children enjoy a creative, artistic activity.

Exploding Watermelon Volcano

image & activity idea from
Little Bins for Little Hands

Nothing says summertime like juicy watermelon – and this science experiment uses watermelon to create an exciting chemical reaction! All you’ll need is baking soda, vinegar, dish soap, food coloring, and the watermelon (you might also want a tray or a bin to catch the fizz). To prepare your watermelon, cut a small hole on top, just big enough to scoop the fruit out of the inside. Little ones will enjoy helping with this step, and the fruit can be saved for a tasty snack later! Once the fruit is cleaned out, add about ½ cup of baking soda, a couple of squirts of dish soap, and a few drops of food coloring. 

When you’re ready to start the eruption, pour vinegar straight into the watermelon and watch it flow! As it erupts, talk with children about the chemical reaction that occurs when the baking soda and the vinegar are combined. (You might explain that mixing a base, which is the baking soda, and an acid, which is the vinegar, produces carbon dioxide). This activity is full of learning about chemistry and mathematics! 

To add art to this activity, invite children to decorate the watermelon before the eruption, with paint, stickers, tape, and other fun items to make a colorful volcano! Or, mix two food colorings to make a new color for the eruption. 

Shadow Sidewalk Chalk Art

image & activity idea from
Rhythms of Play

This shadow sidewalk chalk project for kids is a hands-on activity that shows children how  shadows form. This activity can be done with store bought paint or you can make your own

While playing outdoors, invite children to use their bodies and other objects to block the sun’s light and form shadows. Invite the children to trace the outlines of the shadows with colored chalk. Once the outlines have been created, use chalk paint to fill in the shadows. Encourage children to get creative, using lots of different colors! To extend the learning, you and the children can revisit the chalk art at different times during the day to see how the shadows move. This is a great way to introduce conversations about how the earth rotates around the sun each day! 

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