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Summer STEM Activities for Young Children

Jul 21, 2022    |   STEM LearningSummer

The new school year is approaching and summer will soon be coming to an end. It is the perfect time of year to invite children to engage in playful outdoor STEM learning activities. In this article, we share summer-friendly STEM activities that encourage creativity while building foundational skills in math, science, and engineering.

Math Water Balloon Toss Game

image & activity from Primary Playground

This math activity is sure to make a “splash” with the children in your care. Using water balloons and sidewalk chalk, children can enjoy an engaging and active outdoor activity that is perfect for a hot, summer day. (If you don’t have water balloons available, this activity can also be set up with wet sponges). Using chalk, draw several different numbers on the ground. Then, call out each number and encourage children to use the water balloons to try to hit the number you called.

If you work with younger children, you might stick with smaller numbers or basic shapes, while older children might be familiar with larger numbers. This game is a fun way to practice number recognition, and can easily be adapted for more advanced mathematics by adding simple addition and subtraction problems. Children will also get to practice gross motor skills as they toss the balloons.

Pool Noodles and Shaving Cream Summer STEAM Activity

image and activity from Little Bins for Little Hands

Pool noodles are great, inexpensive summer toys that can be used for a variety of different activities and projects in your classroom – no need for a pool! Noodles’ light, squishy texture makes them a unique and interesting material for young children to use for building and construction. 

This fun learning activity requires just two items: pool noodles (cut into small pieces) and shaving cream. If you have them available, you might also offer plastic utensils or spatulas for children to use to spread the shaving cream. 

Invite children to use the shaving cream to stick different pieces of pool noodles together. Encourage them to make their structures as tall as they can! This activity is a great way to incorporate geometry and fractions, as children build with the noodle circles and semicircles. Engineering also comes into play, as children think about different ways to create their structures and keep them from falling over. And, spreading the shaving cream exercises both fine and gross motor skills! 

Ocean Slime 

image and activity from
Natural Beach Living

Bring the ocean inside with this fun, sensory activity for children in preschool and pre-k to enjoy. All you need for this DIY slime recipe is glue, borax, and blue food coloring. Mix the ingredients together until they turn into a thick, gooey consistency. Offer the slime to children along with small seashells and ocean animal figures for them to engage with! You might even encourage children to help mix all of the ingredients together so they can observe the mixture as it turns into slime. While the children are playing with the slime, introduce conversations about ocean life by talking with them about what kinds of animals live underwater! There are some popular ocean-themed children’s books like Shark Lady, The Blue Whale, or Deep in the Ocean if you would like to use storytime or circle time to continue the conversation.

Please note that this particular slime recipe is not safe for eating, so the activity is best for older children who are less likely to try a taste!

Color Mixing with Ice Cubes and Water

image and activity from
Frogs Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

This ice cube activity is perfect for cooling down on a hot day, while also helping children learn about how colors interact with each other. 

This activity requires very little set-up. All you’ll need is water, tempera paint (in yellow, red, and blue), plastic containers, and easy-to-make colorful ice cubes. If you are working with younger children who might be interested in tasting the ice cubes, or if you don’t have tempera paint on-hand, you can also set up this activity with food coloring, but note that the colors might not be as vibrant.

Mix a few squirts of paint (or a few drops of food coloring) with about ¾ cup of water and pour into ice cube trays. Let them sit for a few hours, or overnight. Once the ice is frozen, set up different containers with two different colors in each and encourage children to guess what the water will look like when the ice melts. Young children will get to observe the colors changing, and some might even enjoy putting their hands in the icy water to add a fun, sensory experience! 

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