Toddler STEM Activities
Kids are never too young to start doing STEM and STEAM activities. This doesn’t mean you need to start doing massive research projects, science experiments with toddlers are meant to be fun and easy.
Toddlers are natural explorers. They want to experience their world and understand what is happening around them. Your job is to help find ways for them to do that.
And it can be very easy to do this.
Here is what STEM with toddlers should look like, ideas to get you started, and some of the best activities you can do with your toddler today.
What's In This Post?
- Toddler STEM Activities
- Goals for Toddler STEM
- Easy Toddler STEM Activities
- Toddler STEM Activities
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- 5 Simple Sensory STEM Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers
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- Simple and Fun Dice Games to Boost Number Sense (and Why That Matters)
- Number Treasure Hunt: Sensory Number Sense Activity
- Bean Counting Game: Easy DIY Number Sense Game
- Science by the Pool: Easy Summer STEM Activities
- Funicular Trains: Pulleys for Kids
- DIY Confetti Poppers for Kids!
- STEM Activities for Toddlers
Toddler STEM Activities
Doing STEM activities and science experiments with young children can be intimidating. Not only is it easy to feel like you don’t know enough about science to be able to teach your child, there is a very high potential for big messes. This isn’t something most parents want to deal with often.
No worries, it doesn’t have to be like that. STEM with toddlers can be fast, easy, and fun.
What Ages Do We Mean?
I keep talking about toddlers, but what ages am I actually talking about here?
The targeted age range when I say toddler is 2 years old to 3 years old.
It is important to note that this does not mean you cannot do these activities with other ages! 2-3 is just a jumping-off point. You will find that these activities can be made more challenging for older kids and simplified for younger children. (In fact, I recommend a lot of them for ages 2-5 actually!)
If you have a younger toddler, you can still do these! Have older children? These are still good. This is extremely helpful because it means you can do these when you have more than one kiddo. (If I am doing a science experiment I do it with all 3 of my kids, so they need to work for multiple ages. So these activities can be adjusted to take you from toddler stem activity to preschool stem activities to elementary school stem if needed.)
These particular activities work well for toddler learning and interest, so that is what we are aiming for.
What is STEM/STEAM?
What does STEM stand for and what is the difference between STEM and STEAM?
STEAM is just STEM with art added. And yes, art matters. I am a huge science fan and want to make sure every child gets access to the scientific fields, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need art too. Both are helpful.
Here is a breakdown of STEM.
This is what you usually think of in terms of science. Biology, chemistry, physics, that kind of thing.
For toddlers, this sort of science involves things like sink or float, color mixing, rolling down ramps, Learning about animals, how plants grow, and about the solar system.
You are building the foundation for future science learning, so keep it simple. Everything is brand new to toddlers, so simple and basic is best.
Don’t worry, technology for toddlers does not mean you need to park them in front of a screen for hours. There are lots of ways to explore tech without them.
Early coding skills involve being able to recognize patterns and understand cause and effect, things you can work on with fun games.
Building fine motor skills to manipulate tech is important too, so hands-on learning through play is perfect.
Just like technology, you don’t have to think too high level for engineering with toddlers.
Engineering is about solving problems. So your goal with your child is to build problem-solving skills. This means stepping back and letting them try things without jumping in to save them.
It also means giving creative freedom. We as adults might know a solution to a problem won’t work like a rock is probably not going to float on a leaf. But we need to let them try these STEM projects and build those skills.
I know math makes a lot of people freeze up, but toddler math activities are about building number sense. That is just the understanding that numbers have value and those values can interact.
One part of this is introducing numbers. Count out the blocks as you play, talk about how many forks you are putting out when you set the table.
Math for little ones is also talking about bigger and smaller, more and less. Compare sizes, talk about how tall a tree is, show one cup of water has less in it. This is the sort of real-world math toddlers are working on.
You will love these fun toddler activities!
Goals for Toddler STEM
So we know what STEM stands for and what that looks like for toddlers, but what are the real goals for these activities?
No, I’m not being cheesy or sarcastic. The number one goal for toddler STEM learning should be fun. Children learn best through play, and if we want to encourage them to embrace science they need to find the fun.
Hands On Experiences
As much as possible, let your toddler get in there and have hands-on experiences. (Yes, safety is goal number one. But after that hands-on.)
Let them get in there touch, see, hear, and even smell and taste when safe.
A lot of STEM with littles is helping them work on observations. Obviously, we don’t expect them to understand all the scientific phenomena going on sometimes, but we can expect them to observe what they can.
Guide your children through these observations and help them build the vocabulary that goes along with them. (This is also why sensory play is so important. Learn more here: Sensory Play Learning.)
Yep, like with all things and toddlers, be prepared to do activities more than once. The more you do them the more your child learns.
And honestly? The more you do them as an adult the easier they are to do. You’ll experience less stress about doing them and build your own scientific confidence.
Easy Toddler STEM Activities
Alright, now that we know what the goals of STEM learning for toddlers are, let’s get into the simple STEM activities!
STEM Activities for Toddlers
So which one are you going to try first?
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