Getting on the Bandwagon

Hope found her own way of developing a zest for life at a very early age. She was giggly, energetic and free spirited from the start. She had a special education teacher for a mom and Lockheed Rocket inspector for a dad. I was working and studying art therapy when she was a baby. So I couldn't wait to use her love for nature and art as a way to connect with her. I found her bubbly carefree nature intoxicating. She was just what I needed. Always reminding me that life isn't just about making learning fun, sometimes life was really about the moments in between that had the potential for laughter and sheer joy. Her dad's affinity for building and desire to create a continuous supply of scientific curiosity didn't dull her shine either.
She became a constant ray of sunshine with a craving for both science and art experiences.
So, I started to combine both of them into her play. Let's just say that I never heard her say that she was board. Now that she is 24, she is still a sponge when learning something new and still craves mastery of everything art and science that she can get her hands on.

The world was different in the 1990's

There were no popular websites or books on combining art and science in early childhood in the 1990's- STEM was being introduced but not popular and art wasn't added until 2005ish. So again I felt like I would have to develop a suitable program. I could use my process art staff trainings to introduce the participants to the concept that children could indeed develop skills in both art and science at the same time.

What to do? What to do?
Luckily, nothing had to perfect in process art or science to start with. So I could use trial and error to get started. My unique training had me thinking that both process art and science could be presented as playful inquiry based and hands on experiences. This graphic below should help you for the flow of inquiry based learning.

One of my first thoughts was that process art (or open ended art) was kind of the same thing as a an experiment. So was cooking for that matter and I love that. I found that the process was easier for me to work with than the thought of adding art to science at first. And so I looked through my resources from the YMCA that I used to train the child care staff there in process art. And I gathered information on fun science experiments in nature for the classroom or home.

I wanted a sense of adventure to permeate through all experiences and eventually wanted to stir a sense of wonder on what would happen if we did something differently on the next project.

And, how would it change the outcome? The question that ran through my mind was, would I be able see the progress in her art skills or understanding of the combination elements scientifically. Or was that even important?
I wanted her to be intrigued by or even fall in love both art and science.
BUT...Could the scientific process be applied to process art? Just the thought of grabbing something in the house and asking if we could come up with an idea of how to use it in art was an experiment in itself. I got excited with that thought. It stimulated some brainstorming almost immediately.
These posters and recording sheets below would have been great.
Click the photogragh below for your copies.
Scientific Method Posters in color and black and white that teach students how to perform a science experiment and record their ideas each step of the way. Includes science experiment recording sheets and a flip book. Posters for the hypothesis, experiment, conclusion, observe, research, and more! #scienceexperiments #scientificmethod #funscienceexperiments #elementaryscience #secondgrade #secondgradescience #thirdgrade #thirdgradescience
Where would I find simple objects or supplies for older babies and toddlers?
at home...puzzle pieces, blocks, cars, balls, Lego's, shapes from her other building toys, animals and action figures, construction pieces from the boys stuff, Mc Donald toys and stuff from her theme bags that I had started, etc.
FREEBIES: Nature, pieces from discovery baskets and sensory bottles, recyclables, kitchen tools, junk drawer, office supplies, etc.
OTHER TOOLS: animal and flower sponges that I used when painting Hope's room, natural sponges, my scrapbook supplies (stencils, stamps and ink pads, stickers, watercolors, scraps from construction paper and scrapbook pre-printed paper, glitter, gel pens, scissors for fancy edges, paint markers, Sharpies, colored pencils etc.
My art bag was full of kid sized tools from the YMCA Children's Programs
OMG there were lots of things that I already had in my home or at work.
I eventually realized that it was time to play, both her and I were ready. As I refined my methods over time, the process became easier and we whipped ideas out in seconds. Hope learned if she picked up something in a store and asked "ART?" that she was going to get to use it as soon as we got home.

I was so proud when people started to respond to my ideas and STEM became STEAM by infusing art to the process.      
Tinkering with Science to Build or Create

Nurturing Creativity and Tinkering From the Start

process art sculpture

How a baby learns to explore:

By Polly Banks

As your baby's eyesight and coordination develop, she'll delight in discovering the world around her. Find out more about how your baby learns to explore.
Photos by David Browne

baby holding toy sitting and smiling

We've tracked Sara's development each month to see how she learns to explore.

  • Sara's sight, movement and grasp will lop she discovers the world around her and learns about playtime! Of course, your baby is unique and will reach milestones at her own pace.

newborn reaching out for black and white toy
  • One month: sees black and white
    Sara can't see far, but she can distinguish black and white patterns or high-contrast colours. When she spots something interesting, she turns her head and tries to reach out towards it. Most babies will distinguish black and white patterns within their first few weeks. Find out more about how your baby's sight develops.

baby lying down fascinated by colourful toy
  • Two months: follows complex patternsSeeing more detailed designs, colors, and shapes is easier for Sara. A colored or patterned toy in front of her face transfixes her. She will happily lie on her play mat for a while, gazing up at the colorful mobiles.

  • Most babies will start to follow complex patterns around the age of two months. Learn how to stimulate your baby's sense of sight.

baby lying down looking at a toy
  • Three months: bats at toys
    Sara can bring both hands together, open her fists and play with her fingers. She may even use a closed fist to bat at dangling toys. Most babies will be trying to reach out and touch objects close to them around the age of three months. Learn how to develop your baby’s hand-eye coordination by holding out a toy to see if she’ll grasp it.

52 weeks of discovery bottle ideas for kids, 1 sensory bottle per week for a year. Fun, hands-on learning for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.

Perfect time for introducing Discovery Bottles. I used spice bottles but you can order bottles online as well. Amazon sells premade discovery bottles and kits to make them. OMG -These are so fun.

Take mental notes when babies reach or become enthralled in something- pop it into a bottle. It becomes a toy. Lucky for me, Hope first reached for flowers on a walk.

baby touching toy made from wood and string
  • Four months: touches shapes and textures
    Sara has discovered her sense of touch. She loves to explore shapes and textures, such as cool plastic, warm fur, soft felt and crunchy tissue paper. Most babies will start exploring different shapes and textures by around the age of four months. Find out more about your baby's sense of touch.

baby mouthing soft toy
  • Five months: mouths objects When Sara picks up a toy, she studies it for a moment and then puts it in her mouth for a good gnawing. Mouthing objects is how Sara explores new things around her. By about the age of five months most babies will be gnawing on anything they can pick up! Find out more about how your baby learns to mouth objects.

baby throwing fabric book
  • Six months: throws and grabs
    There's so much to explore for Sara. She's discovered it's fun to throw things to see how and where they fall, or to watch mum pick them up! And she doesn't always play with one thing for long. If she sees or hears something more interesting, she'll quickly turn towards it and try to grasp it. Most babies will try to grasp and throw objects by about the age of six months. Find out more about how your baby learns to throw and grab.

baby holding wooden toy and grabbing soft cube
  • Seven months: pulls toys towards herself.
    Sara loves to touch colorful objects, and she can pull things towards herself. She can pass things from one hand to another, too. Any toy that makes a noise or has striking colors and patterns will get her attention. Most babies will start trying to pull toys closer by about the age of seven months. See which toys your baby will love at this age.

baby crawling towards toys
  • Eight months: investigates distant objects
    At eight months, many babies are starting to crawl or shuffle around on their bottoms. Your little one’s eyesight is better too, making it easier for her to see distant objects. All this means your baby is probably keener than ever to explore anything that catches her eye. Learn more about how your baby learns to crawl.

Great time to Introduce Discovery Baskets and Brilliant Baby Play. Hint: If you are working on crawling: move their favorite toys out of reach to motivate them to move.

baby bashing bricks together
  • Nine months: bashes objects together
    The idea that you do something to an object has occurred to Juliet, and she loves bashing her blocks together. Anything new she gets her hands on, she will explore by shaking, dropping, banging and gumming. By about the age of nine months most babies will delight in trying to bash their toys together. Find out more about how your baby learns to bash objects together.

baby putting yellow block in a bag
  • Nine months: fills and empties a container
    Sara understands that small things can fit into big things. So she loves to put objects in a container, and remove them again. And when she's finished, she'll enjoy turning the container upside down and emptying everything onto the floor! Most babies will have a go at filling and emptying by around the age of nine months. Find out more about how your baby learns to fill and empty containers.

smiling baby crawling under chair
  • 10 months: crawls and explores Now Sara is confident at crawling, she's keen to explore her surroundings. She delights in playing peekaboo behind a chair, and in crawling around under tables and chairs to see what she can find. Most babies start exploring their surroundings by about the age of 10 months. Find out more about how your baby learns to crawl and explore.

baby looking at picture books
  • 11 months: looks at picture books Sara is ready for storytime! She loves to look at books and leaf through the pages, though she won't always turn them one by one. Juliet likes books that have flaps to lift up, different textures to touch, and brightly colored pictures. By the end of their first year, most babies already have their favorite stories! Find out more about reading to your baby.

baby putting plastic container on her head
  • 12 months: energetic play
    Playtime is very energetic! Juliet finds it fun to push, throw, and knock everything down. She particularly loves raiding the kitchen cupboards for tubs, pots and pans that she can bang together and throw on the floor. By around the age of 12 months most babies will be a bundle of energy when they're at play! Find out more about how your baby's senses develop through play.


Inquiry Based Adventures

Our role in inquiry based experiences is to believe that curiosity and passion drive learning. We are doing more than observe what young children are naturally curious about. Our passion should be to activate student curiosity and inspire new passions through exciting and challenging inquiry based experiences.

We know that children’s play is an expression of their inner thoughts and feelings. Play is the avenue through which they build understanding of abstract ideas, patterns, and concepts. We are eager to present and foster such playful experiences for our children and to provide a framework for them to respond to new situations through out their lives.

What is Inquiry-Based Learning?

Simply put, inquiry-based learning focuses around a question that students want to answer. That means that the unit or lesson to be learned begins with a question, and the entire activity is meant to answer that question. This approach makes student questions and ideas a priority, forming the foundation for any assignment, project, or experiment to be completed.

Talented & Gifted - All Worksheets and Games in One App

Simple Inquiry Based Learning at Home

t&g app

From a student’s point-of-view, kids get to investigate their curiosity. By forming an open question or posing a problem to be solved, kids set a motivating purpose for their learning. They then seek to answer the question by using creative problem-solving skills, analyzing evidence to form a reasonable conclusion. Kids must then be able to defend or prove the conclusion they reach to ensure accuracy of the information learned.

From a parent or educator’s point-of-view, inquiry-based teaching is pushing kids to think beyond their initial curiosity to think critically about the problem at hand, and possible solutions or answers. Kids must be encouraged to ask additional questions, and adults should guide students through the investigation process to ensure learning and success.

It’s important to remember that parents or teachers should carefully model the inquiry and investigation processes to guide kids through their learning. Inquiry-based learning in kindergarten doesn’t mean simply letting children loose to find answers to any question they’ve ever asked themselves. Using age-appropriate grade level subjects and topics, students should form questions under the guidance of an adult and pushed in the right direction through structured activities. These activities can take many forms:

  • Group or family projects

  • Learning and using the research process

  • Science experiments

  • Exploring deeper-level questioning

  • Hands-on learning and manipulatives

  • My ARTventures

As you can see, versus traditional learning, inquiry-based activities directly involve active student engagement instead of passive listening and rote memorization of facts. Not only is it more effective, but it’s just more fun and motivating for kids.

Inquiry-Based Strategies to Use in the Classroom

If you’re an educator looking for more ideas to implement inquiry-based learning in your classroom, try the following strategies to get started:

inquiry-based learning activities

Start class with a surprise!

Warm-ups are a must to get young brains fired up and ready for learning. Instead of handing out a worksheet or math problem to start, get ready for inquiry-based learning by surprising your students. Without pre-teaching or providing context, show a short video to students, introduce a new concept like a math formula or a list of problems.

In social studies, share a primary source document. Of course, the topic should be of high interest and geared towards the appropriate grade level. Pair students with partners to examine the material and pose a question for students to solve after analyzing the content.

Use guided inquiry in stations

Learning stations are a great way for students to collaborate, examine, and learn new concepts. Inquiry stations take this idea one step further by guiding students to solve multiple problems or examine several attributes that support the overall concept being learning. Perfect for subjects like art, math or science, decide upon the subject and the challenge ahead of time and prepare the stations or centers for students to rotate throughout the class period.

Students can ask questions about and investigate topics such as character motivations, setting, mood, and more depending on the grade and level of your class. Throughout the process, students investigate story details that will lead them to determining the book’s overall theme.

Allow students open inquiry time to explore their curiosity

Especially important for younger children, allow students time to explore the interesting topics and burning questions they have about their favorite subjects. Allow time and support and watch as students use their own methods to discover the information they care about the most! If you’re uncomfortable with this method, offer more structure by choosing the subject, or giving students a list of topics to choose from during their open inquiry time. Present the project as a experiment or adventure so they feel the focus is on the learning, so there are no feelings or fear of failure

How to Set Up Inquiry-Based Learning

These examples of inquiry-based learning take seconds (literally, seconds!) to set up!

Step 1. Place a tray or caddy with supplies and tools in front of your child’s seat.

Anything will do. You can also use a colored card or a piece of cardboard you have lying around!

Step 2. Add a visual starting place.

You need to give your child a prompt rather than an instruction to start. Remember, this is inquiry-based learning, so let them take the play in the direction they want to go.

Step 3. Put the open-ended supplies and tools of on the left of the paper.

Your kids can do whatever they like with these supplies, all you need to do is provide them! They have no specific purpose and are simply there so they can experiment and play.

PRO TIP: I like to place supplies to the left, so my boys get used to tracking the eyes left to right, just like we read and write.

What do you notice about…

Inquiry-based learning activities at home should be simple and focused on your child’s observations. Take a topic your child is interested in, let’s say for instance, rainbows. Ask your child what he or she notices about rainbows and ask him or her to make one using play dough or colorful pipe cleaners. Ask your child what he or she wonders about rainbows and use the answer as the catalyst for a project, such as the one below.

Bring on the projects

Project-based learning is a great way to foster inquiry because the projects completed center around the concept that kids are trying to solve. Projects are often quick and simple to complete at home, and can take many different forms, from science experiments to STEM building projects. Be sure to allow for open inquiry by taking your child’s lead, exploring the concept or topic your child really wants to learn. After pinning down a question to be answered, find a project that will seek to answer it. For example, if your child wants to know how rainbows are made, explore how light is refracted using a cup of water, a flashlight, and paper.

Plan a party

Believe it or not, planning parties takes a lot of problem solving, requiring the party planner to ask many questions and make several predictions. Allow your child to help you plan a real or fictional party or family gathering and turn it into an inquiry-based math project as an authentic way to learn and practice math skills. Encourage your child to ask questions about the supplies needed and the quantity of food to prepare based on the guest list and making assumptions about who may or may not show up.

It's clear that inquiry-based learning is here to stay and serves as a meaningful new method of learning that fosters critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Whether you’re a parent or a teacher, it’s easy to make the switch by exploring strategies that center around the child’s questions and unique curiosities.

Depending on who you ask, the inquiry process can have as few as three steps or as many as twelve.

But at its core, inquiry-based learning is natural learning—it’s the way scientists discover a new species, artists create a new technique, mathematicians solve puzzles and historians uncover details about the past. Inquiry is curiosity in action.

And curiosity doesn’t have a distinct starting or ending point. When cultivated, curiosity can grow into new questions and lead to even more avenues of inquiry and discovery. Because of this, I prefer to think of inquiry as a moving cycle rather than a set of distinct steps.

The cycle of inquiry may look different for different learners, but essentially, inquiry-based learning begins looks something like this:

the process of inquiry

What are Examples of Inquiry?

With the world changing rapidly and unexpectedly, it is impossible for teachers to know exactly what their students need to learn. Instead of filling their heads with our book knowledge, it’s now our job to show them how to be curious, how to solve problems, and how to change the world of their own volition.

Maker Play with Nature-

Exploring And Enjoying Nature

Stepping outside opens the door to limitless creativity. Kids can create and enjoy art, music, treasure hunts, and more. Encouraging your child to create will help them connect with nature in new and exciting ways.

Outside water play at How we Montessori  17 months  water wheel and sand table

"Children are naturally curious and seek out opportunities to make sense of their world. When children are left to their own devices, they experiment and with their surroundings, take risks, make mistakes, and then learn from their mistakes." The author also provides practical ideas for spending time outside starting with babies! I love the concept that the outdoors offer a perfectly balanced sensory experience. I talk so much about the indoors, here is a snapshot of our outdoor play today.

While our backyard isn't like an open meadow or forest we do provide unrestricted access. It's still winter but the sun has been out and it's been so very beautiful.

Outside water play at How we Montessori  17 months  water wheel and sand table

Our outdoor space is treated much like our indoor space. Weston has free access to his materials. It's almost a 'yes' space, there isn't anything he can't touch or do (besides eat the dirt or the plants). Our neighbor's dog keeps on getting over the fence which is a delight, Weston looks for her first thing in the morning.

Although we have an art easel, a sand/water table and, a few materials, Weston spends most of his time outdoors running around with a stick, or his rake - just being busy or digging. Buckets are very important to our outdoor space as Weston will spend a lot of time transporting water. He's also barefoot outdoors as much as he can while the warm weather is here. The feet get a lot of sensory feedback and going barefoot helps to develop those little feet muscles.

Outside water play at How we Montessori  17 months  water wheel and sand table

I'm also passionate about block play. In we had a unit block set that the boys often used outside. Unit blocks are very large and the children could build high structures. I wanted a set of blocks just for outside, we decided to use the very affordable tree branch blocks pictured above. These have a lovely texture and are perfect for Weston, with some big pieces and some little pieces. He can throw them, he can bang them together and he's not going to do any damage.

Outside water play at How we Montessori  17 months  water wheel and sand table

While we have chosen not to have a Pink Tower at home (Weston can use that once he starts school) we have toddler stacking boxes which are fun to use outside too.

Otto building coloured tower at him 17 months

The stacking boxes are large and heavy so they provide a different kind of experience for Weston.

Otto building coloured tower at him 17 months

It's all about experimenting and free play when you are outdoors!!!

Nature can be a great inspiration for artwork.

Using colorful leaves and flowers is a great way to change up your kid’s art supplies. They can make all sorts of collages and patterns with natural materials, or even combine them with traditional art supplies as well.

You can make interesting things to look at, and you can also make interesting things to listen to. Help your kids experiment with sound by creating a space where you can hang up bells, old pots and pans, PVC pipes, and any other interesting materials. Kids can use sticks and hands to discover new sounds.

Getting creative with nature goes way beyond pictures. Kids can also create huts, obstacle courses, or treasure hunts.

These are great ways for your child to practice independent creativity, and they are also perfect for group play.

Teamwork through a treasure hunt or coaching each other through an obstacle course are great activities for social, physical, and mental development.

Taking learning activities out into nature is crucial for the development of a child.

They will learn and grow in so many different ways. You likely have tons of opportunities for play and learning in your backyard or neighborhood, but you might also consider special trips to exciting outdoor locations like a beach, forest, park, or nature walk.

Many practical life activities are best done outside.

The Montessori philosophy includes an emphasis on teaching children through real-life activities that are part of an adult’s regular life. There are plenty of outdoor chores that could be adapted for child play and learning.

Imaginative play, different from the fantasy that Montessori avoids, can also flourish outside where there are a lot of new objects and environments to experience. All the new items that a child wouldn’t be able to find inside will spark their creativity. Art projects and sensory play become even more intriguing when they are based on outdoor materials.

The physical development benefits cannot be ignored. When you take play and learning outside, there is so much more space for the child to practice their mobility, as well as opportunities for challenging activities like balancing and climbing.

The outdoors provides an ideal environment for practical life activities, imaginative play, sensory work, motor skill development, and concrete learning. Learning activities rooted in nature are inexpensive and effective.

One of the best Montessori outdoor activities is gardening. Digging and weeding are excellent sensory activities that will increase dexterity and introduce appropriate challenges. Children will learn about plants as they see their garden grow over time and can gain a better grasp of the life cycle of the food that they prepare and eat inside. They can practice patience while watering and waiting for growth, and they will be intrigued by the different colors and textures that can come from a garden.

Kids Gardening Set from Amazon

With their very own kid-sized gardening toolset, they will feel important and independent while gardening. They can also use their mini gloves, shovels, and watering cans to help with other yard work. Kid-sized “toy” tools will help encourage imaginative play. Montessori encourages children to use their imagination to play and pretend in ways that are based on reality. They could pretend to be a farmer, or imagine that the rocks they dig up are seeds.

Another great outdoor practical life activity is washing. Lots of water, soap, and grime can get pretty messy, especially with younger children. Taking this activity outside can allow for greater freedom. Being outside also allows for kids to use the hose or wash something large like a car. A child-size bucket or spray bottle like the one in the gardening set may be easier for the child to use. They can wash toys, play equipment, or help you with larger tasks.

Washing is an important skill to learn, and soapy water adds a lot of sensory interest. Children will experience greater motor control, patience, and concentration. Practical life activities will really engage the mind as well as the body.

Climbing, Balance, and Movement

When you think of playing outside, you probably think about fun adventures based on physical activity, like running around, exploring, playing tag, or leapfrog. One of the best parts about taking children outside is all of the extra space they have to move.

Physical activity is obviously very important to the physical development of a child. Their coordination, balance, and strength will be greatly improved through outdoor play. Playing outside will also help them to connect with the world around them. Incorporating movement into learning will help kids process and retain information.

There are lots of great activities that mother nature provides all of the materials for. You really don’t need to have anything extra to successfully use the Montessori philosophy in outdoor play. Maria Montessori definitely didn’t have any fancy outdoor equipment in her school. However, there are certain products you can buy to enhance what is already available in nature.

If you are on a tight budget or don’t care for any extras, encourage your kids to climb, jump, and explore using logs, stones, and other natural materials that they can find. Sticks can make the borders on an obstacle course, and logs can be balance beams. You can kick pine cones and climb trees. There are plenty of ways to practice balance, coordination, and movement in a typical backyard space.

However, you may not always be able to count on finding the perfect sticks, stones, trees, and logs appropriate for a young child to play with. For climbing, you might consider purchasing a set of climbing holds that you can use to make a rock wall, or add onto a tree to make more appropriately spaced handholds and footholds.

For balance, these stepping stones or this balance beam are portable and dependable. You can arrange the pieces to create developmentally appropriate challenges or even create an obstacle course of sorts. Encourage the child to arrange these materials on their own to create the activities that they think are interesting and appropriate for themselves. Using plastic stones and beams with a non-slip coating will be a lot safer for children who are still struggling with balance.

Bicycles, balls, and jump ropes are great ways to encourage creative movement beyond the classic run, jump, and skip. Providing your child with alternate ways to get their energy out and practice their movement can help encourage them to experiment more and grow stronger.

Sensory Play

Nearly everything you find in nature can be used as part of a sensory activity. All the different textures, colors, smells, and sounds are incredibly stimulating. With mindfulness, even just stepping outside could be considered a sensory activity. You can feel the wind, smell the rain, and listen to the birds. Providing an exploration kit with various tools can encourage your child to seek out these sensory opportunities.

Kids seem to love getting messy. Dirt and mud will not only make a kid happy, but it will also aid in their cognitive development. The gardening set is perfect for digging, scooping, and pouring anything they find outside. Another great way for kids to play dirty is with a mud kitchen. Mud kitchens allow kids to “cook” with dirt, sticks, and stones. This is a great way to simultaneously encourage imaginative play and sensory play.

An easy way to switch between various sensory activities is by using a sensory table. Sensory tables are great for indoor or outdoor activities. Honestly, sensory tables are great to do outside whenever possible to help minimize mess and clean up. Dirt, sand, shells, pinecones, rocks, sticks, acorns, leaves, and so much more could be incorporated into a sensory bin.

If you are struggling with ideas of what to put in your next sensory bin activity, take some inspiration from nature. You can include materials straight from your backyard or make a bin that is themed around a certain season or outdoor location. The beach or snow could both make great themes for a sensory bin.

Wooden Sandbox with Corner Seating on Amazon

If you don’t like the idea of your kids playing in the mud or dirt, or if you want to provide more options, a sandbox is a great place for controlled digging, scooping, and pouring. It also provides a new texture and building material for kids that are looking for a change.

Seasons and Weather Exploration

Mother nature creates her own “toy rotation” with the changes of seasons and weather. It is common practice for parents and Montessori teachers to rotate toys and activities in and out of availability to help maintain interest and keep choices manageable. You don’t ever have to worry about planning rotation for outdoor activities (assuming you live somewhere with multiple seasons and weather conditions).

The four seasons will create slow and gradual changes that continuously introduce new experiences and opportunities. Outdoor play can also change on a day-to-day basis with different weather conditions. You aren’t limited to only playing in sun or shade; you can also take children outside to play in rain and snow for an exciting new experience. Excepting dangerous conditions, of course, there isn’t any “bad” weather for outdoor Montessori play. You just need to make sure that the kids have the proper clothing and gear for whatever is going on outside.

Children can rotate through collecting things like stones, leaves, acorns, seashells, pine cones, and more. Build snowmen in the winter, and make sure to include lots of water play in the heat of the summer. Kids will be fascinated by all the new things they can find and experience and the changes are awesome for their cognitive development.

They can start to gain an understanding of the progression of the seasons, and older kids can learn the science behind weather changes.

Opportunities to Create

Stepping outside opens the door to limitless creativity. Kids can create art, music, treasure hunts, and more. Encouraging your child to create will help them connect with nature in new and exciting ways. This is great for their cognitive development as they explore possibilities and aids in their independence and confidence. Creativity is super important to the Montessori philosophy. Giving a child space to create freely is incredible for their cognitive development.

Nature can be a great inspiration for artwork. Using colorful leaves and flowers is a great way to change up your kid’s art supplies. They can make all sorts of collages and patterns with natural materials, or even combine them with traditional art supplies as well.

You can make interesting things to look at, and you can also make interesting things to listen to. Help your kids experiment with sound by creating a space where you can hang up bells, old pots and pans, PVC pipes, and any other interesting materials. Kids can use sticks and hands to discover new sounds.

Getting creative with nature goes way beyond pictures. Kids can also create huts, obstacle courses, or treasure hunts. These are great ways for your child to practice independent creativity, and they are also perfect for group play. Teamwork through a treasure hunt or coaching each other through an obstacle course are great activities for social, physical, and mental development.

Explore and Play in Nature

Toddlers are just starting to learn about their world. Outdoor activities for 1-year-olds allow them to explore, learn, and play in nature. These activities help toddlers develop skills in every learning domain. Outdoor play is a full-sensory experience that helps build a love of nature early on. This blog post will share excellent, inspirational outdoor activities for 1-year-olds.

1-year-old toddler playing outdoors with mom using people toys

Table of Contents

How Do I Entertain My 1-Year-Old Outside?

I talked about this topic in my very first post on this blog (cringing at myself but also proud that I made that first entry). Unlike older toddlers, 1-year-olds are better entertained by open-ended activities that give them to chance to explore engaging objects or test their own skills.

Extra support from adults helps build up your toddler’s confidence and motivation to keep exploring outside. These outdoor activities support the developmental stage of play that 1-year-olds are in. But they still encourage caregiver participation.

What Kind Of Activities Can You Do With A 1-Year-Old?

1-year-old toddlers relish active, sensory-rich activities. They are also naturally curious and want to better understand the world.

Outdoor activities offer toddlers the perfect balance of wonder, action, and sensory stimulation.

How Long Should A 1-Year-Old Spend Outside?

There is no set amount of time that a 1-year-old should spend outside. Outdoor activities for toddlers can happen throughout the day, as long as there is supervision and appropriate weather. And I use the term “appropriate” to describe almost all weather. Extra layers or shorter chunks of playtime can make nearly any weather worth enjoying.

In general, it’s more critical for 1-year-olds to get plenty of physical activity. Outdoor play is a great way to help toddlers meet their daily activity needs.

When Is The Best Time Of Day To Take A One-Year-Old Outside?

As you’ll find in this activity, I believe outdoor play for a 1-year-old can be pretty flexible.

The best time of day to take a 1-year-old outside depends on the weather and the child’s schedule. For hot days, aim for mornings or closer to the end of the day to avoid the heat.

Mid-day may be the best time to take advantage of the warmer temperatures if it is cool out.

Planning around naps and meals is always a good idea. Toddlers thrive with consistent routines, so if possible, try to make outdoor time part of a regular schedule.

Outdoor Activities for 1-Year-Olds

Outdoor Meals

Food is still a rich sensory learning experience for 1-year-olds. Taking a snack or meal outside gives them a chance to enjoy nature while eating. Plus, the clean-up can be a lot easier, and spilled drinks aren’t a crisis.

Skills + Senses: Taste, Touch, Smell, Fine Motor, Social, Language

Treasure Hunt

This activity takes a little extra preparation. Think of this as an Easter egg hunt, but with whatever toys or curiosity-inducing objects you’d like to use. If you hide a collection of things that your toddler can collect, they will have everything they need to keep playing at the end of their treasure hunt.

Some ideas might be:

Skills + Senses: Sight, Gross Motor, Cognitive

Outdoor Art

Outdoor art is a great way to encourage creativity and imagination. Outdoor space allows for messier play and larger canvases. This is perfect since 1-year-olds are still learning how to manipulate art materials. Outdoor art gives toddlers the freedom to turn an art activity into a full-body experience

  • Spread out a large sheet for painting (with hands or feet)

  • Use paintbrushes to paint walls or buildings with water

  • Turn driveways or porches into sidewalk chalk murals

  • Dip branches or pinecones into paints

Skills + Senses: Touch, Creativity, Cognitive, Fine Motor, Gross Motor

Toddler-Friendly Outdoor Toys

Each of the toys I’m sharing is developmentally appropriate for toddlers. Because 1-year-olds are still learning how to use and manipulate objects, many popular outdoor toys might be too advanced for right now. Still, caregivers should be comfortable that their 1-year-old might have some unique ideas on how to play with them.

  • Sidewalk chalk (wet the sidewalk first for an extra element)

  • Balls (large and small because they each have unique uses)

  • Bubbles

  • Small hula hoops

  • Push toys

  • Bean bags

  • Pinwheels

  • Water tables

  • Sandboxes

  • Pop-up tents (or DIY a blanket fort!)

  • Kiddie pool (check out my complete list of Kiddie Pool Activities)

Skills + Senses: Gross Motor, Fine Motor, Cognitive, Language

Flower Picking

Flower picking is a great activity for toddlers just starting to walk. It is also a great way to talk about characteristics like colors, shapes, and sizes.

Bringing flowers indoors adds a touch of nature to your home or classroom. These flowers can also spark conversations about the play experience your toddler had.

Alternative: Bring a jar your toddler can fill with nature objects such as stones, twigs, flowers, leaves, or nuts.

Skills + Senses: Smell, Cognitive, Fine Motor, Gross Motor

Risk-Taking Play

1-year-olds are starting to explore their world and test their limits. Outdoor activities for 1-year-olds should include some opportunity for risk-taking play. This type of play helps toddlers develop a sense of self, build confidence, and learn about cause and effect.

Some great examples of risk-taking play for 1-year-olds include climbing on playground equipment, running, climbing hills, or jumping.

Check out my post on risk-taking play for toddlers to learn more about its benefits and find more ideas.

Skills + Senses: Gross Motor, Vestibular, Proprioceptive, Emotional

Visit a Nature Park

Nature parks are rising in popularity. It’s hard to nail down exactly how to describe them because each is so different. Generally, these parks are designed to highlight the terrain and natural features of the area.

Children can learn about plants, insects, and animals. They have the chance to explore rocks, sand, water, and more.

Nature playground as an example of an outdoor activity for 1-year-olds

Instead of plastic and metal playground equipment, these parks encourage active play with hills, tunnels, rock climbing, small streams, bridges, etc. Some have no equipment, others have equipment made from natural materials.

Unfortunately, not every community has access to a nature park. But I highly recommend looking into what might be available in your area. This can be a great learning experience for toddlers.

Skills + Senses: Gross Motor, Vestibular, Proprioceptive

Outdoor Dramatic Play

Outdoor dramatic play is a great way to encourage imagination and creativity. This activity can be as simple as setting up a pretend picnic or tea party.

Take your toddler’s favorite dolls, toy toolset, or costumes outside. Even toy kitchens become an exciting new activity when moved outdoors.

Find more imagination games for toddlers here.

Skills + Senses: Cognitive, Creativity, Social, Emotional, Language

Reading Outside

Bring your toddler’s favorite nature story to life by taking reading outdoors. You can plan to sit and read with your toddler. Or you can lay out a cozy blanket and set their favorite books in a basket. This is a perfect invitation to rest for a bit and read during outdoor play.

Skills + Senses: Language, Literacy, Social, Emotional, Cognitive

Exploring During Early Morning or Dusk

Sunrises and sunsets are a unique part of nature that children often do not experience. The colors, shadows, unusual sounds, temperature changes, frost, fog, or slow appearance of stars are all sensory-rich experiences toddlers can engage with.

These times are the perfect opportunity to offer your toddler a flashlight to investigate the shadows.

Skills + Senses: Sight, Cognitive, Emotional

Scavenger Hunts

I don’t just mean any scavenger hunt because I have shared somewhat out-of-the-box ideas about scavenger hunts outdoors.

6 Free Nature Scavenger Hunt PDFs here (I don’t even ask for your email.)

Skills + Senses: Sight, Gross Motor, Cognitive

A toddler standing on a log while looking at a woman. Both are smiling while they do an outdoor activity.

Outdoor activities for 1-year-olds are a great way to help toddlers explore, learn, and play in nature. These activities can be done throughout the day and encourage creativity, exploration, problem-solving, and physical activity.

Inspiring Creative Thinking

The Inquiry Cycle For ARTventures

It’s important to remember that parents or teachers should carefully model the inquiry and investigation processes to guide kids through their learning. Inquiry-based experiences doesn’t mean you simply letting children loose to find answers to any question they’ve ever asked themselves. It means you will guide them through the process: offering encouragement and supportive and innovative conversations so they get the most out of their learning experience.

Using stage or grade-appropriate subjects and topics, students should form questions under the guidance of an adult and pushed in the right direction through structured activities.

Orientation: Your littles are introduced to the ARTventure challenge in a broad sense. They learn the basics of the challenge to use something new in their process art. They should become intrigued with some of the most exciting aspects of the subject, and their neurons start to fire with questions and curiosities. The team shares ideas on the other tools, supplies and surface they want to use in this experience.

Questioning: Students ask questions about the experience based on their own curiosity and interests. And we remind them that their focus is to enjoy the learning process and that they are just experimenting. They may make predictions or hypotheses about the outcome.

the process of inquiry

Exploration: Explore and discuss old projects with similar processes that they have tried and been successful with. Students use any and all resources available to them to explore information and find solutions to their challenge.

Discussion and Reflection:
Students deepen their understanding of their own learning by discussing it with their peers and teacher.
Students reflect on their learning process, and determine how they can ask more questions or create something new.

Why should we use inquiry-based learning?

As your child grows, you will want them to hold conversations with their peers and be able to form questions (even if it includes asking how eyeballs work…*sigh*).

  • Allows children to construct – Who doesn’t love building blocks? I do! They’re my preschooler’s jam when it comes to figuring out how things fit together and build.

  • Allows reasonable risks – We’ve all got to take risks (yes, even your children!). It’s a way for them to learn so they can figure out how to do things for themselves.

  • Connects play and problem-solving – Problem-solving by itself is, dare I say it? Kind of boring. I mean, what kid wants to solve algebra when they could be doing it through play?! Put those math worksheets away and introduce inquiry-based learning instead. You can read more

  • Expands upon prior knowledge and experiences – For your kids to develop, they need to build up their skills and knowledge, especially when they reach Kindergarten.

  • Explores creativity – We use creativity for EVERYTHING. I mean it, figuring out how to stop your child from getting into your makeup bag? Yeah. That requires creativity. But mom troubles aside, kids need imagination for math, literacy, art, and communication.

  • Flexible thinking – Kids need to learn to think more than one way, and they do that by expanding their mindset by trial and error. If something doesn’t work, they need to adapt their thinking to find a way that does!

  • Hands-on learning through play – The best kind of learning is when you don’t even realize you’re doing it. It’s way less stress on your little one’s brain, and it’s fun!

  • Tests hypothesis – Children are little scientists. If they have an idea, they’ll want to experiment and see if it’s true. If it doesn’t, let’s try something else!

RELATED: Kid activities at home are our jam. You will LOVE this list of easy ways to play at home.

How Process Art and Open-Ended Experiences Inspire Creativity


Process art and open-ended experiences allow children to engage in creative expression that focuses more on their own exploration than what the product of their art will be. Allowing children time for creative experiences has many developmental benefits and is an important part of curriculum.

What is Process Art?

According to NAEYC’s online article, How Process-Focused Art Experiences Support Preschoolers, process art has the following characteristics:

  • There are no step-by-step instructions or samples for children to follow; and no right or wrong way to explore and create

  • The art is focused on the experience and on exploration of techniques, tools, and materials

  • The art is unique and original and entirely the children’s own

  • The experience is relaxing or calming and is the child’s choice

How does Process Art Encourage Creativity?

When teachers emphasize the process rather than the product and provide a classroom environment that allows children to explore without constraints, children can let their imagination run free. These open-ended experiences allow children to create and enjoy the use of artistic materials. Children can express themselves, their thoughts, and their ideas through art. When children are handed projects with a specific outcome in mind, it can limit their self-expression by focusing on making a specific product rather than simply creating.

Early Childhood News’s article, Fostering Creativity, summarizes ideas for teachers to encourage creativity with preschoolers through open-ended experiences, using James Moran III’s suggestions below:

  • Adapt to children's ideas rather than trying to structure the children's ideas to fit the adult's.

  • Use creative problem solving in all parts of the curriculum. Use the problems that naturally occur in everyday life.

Early Learning Benefits

NAEYC’S article, Supporting the Development of Creativity, lists the several benefits for children, including the following:

  • Physical Development: Small motor skills develop as children use glue, paints, and play with clay. These small motor skills are important for future writing skills and kindergarten readiness.

  • Language & Literacy Development: Engaging in art with children, leads to conversation that expands their vocabulary. Children are able to express ideas through art and this type of conversation supports literacy development.

  • Social and Emotional Development: Art is a form of self-exploration and self-expression. Engaging in creative projects supports the development of self-regulation and self-control as children practice focus and take pride in the work they have done when their project is complete.

Ideas for Activities

  • Collaging with Tear Art: An idea that worked really well for a Colorado pre-k teacher was to encourage the 3-5 year-olds in her class to create using only construction paper a glue stick. There was not a pattern nor were scissors used…Just tear and create!

  • Painting with unique materials:Try to use different materials as paint brushes! Use feathers, leaves, sponges, sticks, or kitchen utensils to make unique markings on paper. Talk with children about the different patterns and textures you see. Or swap out your paper for foil, clear plastic wrap, or even a rock!

  • Add music: Try to play music with a quick, upbeat tune and then switch to music with a slower and more peaceful melody, and ask children to paint how the music makes them feel. Watch as they allow their bodies to move to the different beats and then talk later about what they created.

  • Work together: Create a mural by allowing the children to all work on a large piece together! This type of project inspires collaboration, teamwork, and creative problem-solving.

NAEYC also suggests the following when Leading Process-Focused Art:

  1. Approach art like open-ended play—for example, provide a variety of materials (including regularly introducing new materials) and see what happens as the child leads the art experience

  2. Make art a joyful experience. Let children use more paint, more colors, and make more and more artwork

  3. Provide plenty of time for children to carry out their plans and explorations and let children come and go from their art at will

  4. Notice and comment on what you see “Look at all the yellow dots you painted”

  5. Take art materials outside in the natural light

  6. Display children’s books with artful illustrations, such as those by Eric Carle

Unusual Paint Brushes: Simple Process Art Projects for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Toddlers and preschoolers enjoy opportunities to be creative and engage in an open-ended project, and painting is just that! You can change up a child’s creative and tactile experience offering stamps, sponges or other items for applying paint. Unusual paint brushes are any materials that children dip in paint to stamp, smudge, or smear. MORE...

Recycled materials, also referred to as “found materials,” are easy to access, versatile, and economical. They can be incorporated into a variety of classroom activities, such as canvases and materials for art, and loose parts for construction projects. MORE

Seasonal themed potato print ideas

22 Rainbow crafts, experiments and activity ideas


Tataki zome – Flower pounding and leaf bashing


Nature painting – DIY nature brushes and easels

Simple suncatchers

You want us to Create Art with WHAT!?!

Babies that are zero to two are in the SENSORIMOTOR stage of cognitive development. “During the sensorimotor stage infants learn mostly through trial and error learning. Children initially rely on reflexes, eventually modifying them to adapt to their world. Behaviors become goal directed, progressing from concrete to abstract goals. Objects and events can be mentally represented by the child (sometimes called object permanence).” Saul McLeod, SimplyPsychology

Enabling Open Ended Tinkering


During open-ended play or tinkering, children have the ability to make their own decisions and have full access to their creativity and imagination.


It enables your child to practice decision making skills. When children aren’t handed a set of instructions, they make their own. Rather than telling a child how to do something, open-ended play leaves the decision-making up to them.

It encourages children to be more open to experiment with new ideas and learn new concepts.

There’s no “wrong” way for children to engage in open-ended tinkering. When children have the ability to play without instruction, they become less concerned with doing the activity correctly.

Open-ended tinkering instills confidence within your child to experiment with new concepts as they realize there’s no right or wrong way to engage.

It promotes problem solving skill in children, one of the most important skills needed in today’s world.

Take an open-ended toy like building blocks. They have the cause-and-effect feature: “When I stack too many blocks, they fall.” “When I hit two blocks together, it makes a sound.” “And when I place the square on the rectangle, it stays, but on the ball, it falls.” And because open-ended toys have no clear instructions, he need to solve problems on his own. For instance, he learns how to stack the blocks so they resemble a house without them falling down.

It encourages creativity and imagination in your child to flow freely.

Open-ended play is a chance for a child to use their imagination. Electronics have taken away a child’s ability to use their imagination because it does everything for them. For just a little bit, open-ended play allows a child to pretend and to use their imagination, which is ever-so-exciting.

And more importantly, many of the open ended toys and materials are TIMELESS.

Many open-ended toys kids play with today are the same ones we played with in our childhoods. They’re simple, timeless and last through the ages. The same zeal you once had with opening a cup of play dough is the same that your child will feel as well.

I know many friends who are still tinkering with Lego blocks even at 30 years old! They were presented with toys and materials to create and build with at an early age. Tinkering became a part of who they are.

Timeless toys and materials also mean that they can be used again and again with your 2nd child or your 3rd child, and they will still instill the same interest and passion, and benefits in the child!

Something I’ve learnt in my personal journey of 40 years working with children is when it comes to open ended play, is that if you are newly introduced to your child or in the very initial stages a little guidance and prompting is very helpful as they build their imaginations and are new to gleaning ideas from their own mind. Below are some tips!

Exploring how things work in our world

Discovering our World
with Science & STEM

AnnMarie Thomas with The Maker Education Initiative captures the mentality of The Maker Movement. “… making allows kids to follow their own interests and passions and create something that is uniquely theirs, while applying the knowledge they are gathering in all aspects of life.”

Fun and Engaging Science Activities for Infants

By Michele Meleen M.S.Ed.

inquiry-based learning

Children are born with an inquisitive mind and learn about their world through discovery. Scientific concepts are a natural part of every baby's life. A combination of structured activities and free play will help babies discover what things are and how they work.


inquiry-based learning

Given most babies' sometimes wacky sleeping schedules, it may be possible to take your baby outside and show her the starry night sky. However, if you have a great sleeper, or live in an urban area, observing the sky at night could be impossible to try at this age.

Seeing Stars

This activity can be done with infants of any age and requires parental assistance.

What You Need:

• Hole punch

• Index card

• White envelope

• Flashlight


1. Punch several holes in the index card. You can make a fun shape if you want.

2. Place the index card in the envelope.

3. Keep the lights on indoors and hold the envelope out in front of you with the flashlight about two inches from the front of the envelope. You can either sit baby on your lap or hold the items directly in front of him. Observe the "stars" you created with the hole punch.

4. Move the flashlight to the back of the envelope, at the same distance. Allow baby to hold the flashlight and experiment while you make descriptive statements and ask questions.

The Result:

You should see the stars better when holding the flashlight behind the envelope because your body is blocking some light from the room. This is the same concept behind why stars can only be seen at night.


inquiry-based learning

Biology is the branch of science that deals with living things, such as plants and animals. Simple activities like following a pet around and observing its behaviors can be entertaining for infants. While younger babies might only be able to watch, projects such as planting and tending to a garden will help teach biological concepts. Older infants will be able to take a more hands-on role.

Fish Out of Water

In this activity, you will create a thaumatrope to show your baby. A thaumatrope is a toy that moves quickly causing two separate pictures to appear as one. Adults will need to make and demonstrate the project, but babies of any age can enjoy watching the rapid movement revealed in this science experiment appropriate for infants and toddlers.

What You Need:

• White card stock

• Pen

• Scissors

• String

• Hole punch

• Ruler


1. Cut a four-inch circle from the card stock. You can trace the bottom of a can or jar to make a perfect circle.

2. Near the edge in the middle of one side of the circle punch two holes, one slightly above the other. Repeat this on the opposite side of the circle.

3. Measure and cut two equal pieces of string, about 24 inches in length.

4. Using one string and one set of the punched holes, thread the string through one hole and out the other. Repeat on the opposite side.

5. Draw an empty fish bowl on one side of the paper and a simple fish on the opposite side, centering each as best you can.

6. Holding the strings to the sides, twist the paper disc so the string gets twisted.

7. Pull straight out on the strings as far as you can and watch the paper spin.

The Result:

As the circle spins faster it will appear as if the fish is actually inside the bowl. Your mind retains each picture as it passes and when the pictures pass this quickly, they overlap in your mind.

This experiment can also be done with a piece of sturdy paper taped to a pencil. In this case, you would twist the pencil by holding it upright between the palms of your hands. You can also get creative with the images by drawing other objects like a bird and a birdcage.


inquiry-based learning

Chemistry is the study of matter, which is anything that has mass and takes up space. Because babies learn through sensory experiences this particular branch of science can be the most fun for babies and small children. There are many simple ways to explore chemistry with your infant. However, keep in mind one sense babies use frequently is taste. When offering these activities be sure to use ingredients that are safe to ingest in case baby eats some.

• Make edible play dough. Younger infants can watch as you mix ingredients while older babies can help dump in pre-measured parts.

• Using milk, food coloring and liquid dish soap you can show 'currents' of color created by the resistance of the milk fat to the watery food coloring.

• Demonstrate the attraction between positive and negative parts by rubbing a balloon against your (or baby's) hair then picking up small circles of paper made with a hole punch.

• Make edible finger paints. Show baby how mixing two colors can create a new color.

• Demonstrate how gas is removed from a solution by taping a balloon over the top of a pop bottle, then shaking the bottle. (Make sure to use a thumb to hold the balloon in place.) The balloon will fill with the gas as it is released.

• Create a fizzy chemical reaction by mixing baking soda and vinegar.

Earth Science

inquiry-based learning

Earth science encompasses geology, astronomy, oceanography and meteorology where our planet and surrounding areas are studied. Simple activities that showcase Earth Science concepts include:

• Making waves in the bathtub or water table

• Playing in the sand or at the beach

• Watching videos of meteor showers

• Playing with a collection of medium-sized rocks (that can't be ingested or cause a major injury)

Acid Destruction

Babies who are able to grip small objects can help with this experiment by dropping the chalk into the vinegar when it is time. Younger infants can watch as the bubbles magically appear.

What You Need:

• Standard stick of white chalk

• Vinegar

• Tall glass


1. Fill the glass about one-quarter full of vinegar.

2. Drop a piece of chalk into the vinegar.

The Result:

You will see bubbles rise from the chalk and eventually see the piece of chalk break apart. As an acid, the vinegar reacts with the chalk which is made from limestone. This reaction causes the release of carbon dioxide, which is why you see the bubbles.

For older babies you could experiment with different types of rocks and natural materials to see if the effect is different. These variations may not capture the attention of younger babies, especially if the new materials do not cause a reaction.


inquiry-based learning

One of the more complicated branches of science, physics involves studying how stuff (matter) and energy relate to and affect each other both literally and theoretically. Some concepts covered under this branch include magnetism, electricity and mechanics. Fun activities for infants that involve these ideas and can either be demonstrated or acted out by baby include:

• Placing and removing magnets on the fridge

• Turning on the power switch of a toy or safe object like a desk lamp

Boom, Boom

Parents and caregivers can demonstrate this activity and older babies may be able to participate in a more hands-on way.

What You Need:

• Tennis ball

• Wagon


1. Put the ball in the middle of the wagon bed.

2. Quickly pull or push the wagon forward.

3. Reset the ball and repeat.

The Result:

As the wagon moves, the ball will hit the back of it making a 'boom' or 'bang' sound (using a tennis ball helps ensure the sound is not too loud). The ball is stationary; it is actually the wagon that moves from under the ball which is why the ball hits the back of the wagon and not the front. This represents a demonstration of inertia which is the resistance to a change in motion.

How to Encourage Science Learning

inquiry-based learning

You don't have to be a certified scientist to help your child learn about the scientific process or science concepts. The natural curiosity of babies combined with bits of useful information from a trusted adult creates an ideal environment for science learning. Experts at Head Start and parent intuition demonstrate there are many simple ways you can encourage your baby to question, explore and discover the world.

• Describe what your baby is seeing and doing as she explores.

• Ask questions about everyday objects and actions.

• Allow for unstructured exploration.

• Read books related to planned activities.

• Introduce different environments and a wide variety of objects.

Attention Span Considerations

Keep in mind, infants have a very short attention span and plan activities accordingly. suggest by eight months old, a baby's attention span is only two to three minutes. By the age of one, this attention span may increase to a maximum of 15 minutes. It is important to be aware of this whether you are working with your own child or if you are preparing science activities for babies and toddlers in a childcare setting.

Adapt for Age

Another key point to consider is most scientific experiments and activities can be adapted to work for children of all ages. Scientist Steve Spangler has a great website with loads of experiments that can be used to create science lesson plans for infants and toddlers, as well as for older children. It also showcases science-related products.

Age-Appropriate Scientific Concepts for Babies

There are many scientific concepts babies can easily learn about.

• Cause and effect

• Object permanence

• Gravity

• Problem-solving

• Size and shape

• Buoyancy

• Spatial awareness

• Opposites (empty/full, in/out, wet/dry)

Science lessons that include sensory activities are particularly beneficial for infants.

Science Is Fun for Everyone

inquiry-based learning

The skills used in making scientific discoveries are helpful in many other aspects of life. Helping your child develop an early love for discovery can be a lifelong gift. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) activities for infants and toddlers can help lay the groundwork for your child's future success, as can age-appropriate learning activities related to art, sign language, math, and more. Begin teaching your child about science and other topics when he or she is an infant, and continue into the toddler years, preschool, and beyond.

How To Introduce STEM Activities To Babies And Toddlers For Better Learning

Stem activities for babies and toddlers #STEM #STEMactivitiesforbabies

Albert Einstein said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”

Maybe you have heard of STEM play, its a new philosophy and method on how to teach kids in a well-rounded manner.

STEM is an acronym for “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math” (also known as STEAM if you include art in there as well and you should).

Way before your child knows how to do math or completes science projects, they begin learning the skills that will lead up to those things, and that’s what STEM Learning is all about.

You can start STEM activities at a very early age too, even young babies will benefit from them.

Learn more about how STEM works below!

Stem activities for babies and toddlers #STEM #STEMactivitiesforbabies

Bright Hub Education explained each element of STEM very well:

  • “Science is a way of thinking through experiments, observation, making predictions, asking questions, and deciding how things work.

  • Technology is a way of doing. With learning tools, kids become inventive, identify problems, and make things work.

  • Engineering is also a way of doing. A child can solve problems with a variety of materials – they design and create. Little learners build things that work.

  • Math is a way of measuring. Preschoolers explore shapes, size, volume, and learn about patterns and sequencing.” Bright Hub Education

What are the benefits of STEM learning?

  • STEM gets kids excited to learn.

  • STEM is all about curiosity which strengthens the brain.

  • STEM teaches kids to fail – and that it’s okay!

  • STEM prepares kids for today’s technology.

  • STEM fosters creativity and imagination.

  • STEM promotes independent play – let your child lead and see what they discover on their own.

  • STEM helps kids relate to the world around them.

  • STEM helps kids with memory retention.

  • STEM will better prepare kids for school.

Stem activities for babies and toddlers #STEM #STEMactivitiesforbabies

 STEM learning does not mean a complicated DIY science experiment where you need a ton of time and materials. It can be as simple as going outside in nature with your child.Ask “What” questions when exploring:What are those bugs doing?

What shape is that stone?
What is on the tree branch?
What is under that rock?
What do you see in the clouds?

For babies, try to not say “no” often and instead let your baby explore more freely. For example, our son used to get into this cupboard in the kitchen that was located on the ground level (all the other cabinets had safety locks), but this particular cupboard was filled with old baby bottles, plastic containers, lids, and things like this so we left it unlocked.

Our son LOVED opening this cupboard and taking out everything inside and then he would even climb in the cupboard and play in there (the door was always open).

Yes, it made a huge mess on the kitchen floor, but instead of saying “no,” we allowed him to play and explore. Afterward, I just cleaned it up – no big deal. This cupboard would keep him entertained for a good 45 minutes! With a baby’s short attention span, this was amazing and proves that STEM activities and toys are more engaging for kids.

For toddlers, STEM gets even more fun when we can talk with our kids, listen to what they have to say, and watch them imagine and figure things out.Stemsational is a fabulous blog about STEM activities for kids. It can give you some great ideas!“STEM projects for toddlers help children explore a variety of thinking skills that boost both their creativity, logic, space awareness, fine motor skills, and gross motor skills. Toddlers who engage these systems, versus toddlers who largely learn from screens and immobile activities have a huge advantage once they reach school-age.” (Source – Steamsational)

In addition to DIY STEM learning, STEM toys are really important because these are the best toys that will help your child develop and learn instead of just sitting around collecting dust.

Stem activities for babies and toddlers #STEM #STEMactivitiesforbabies

Take a minute to think about your child’s top three favorite toys. I bet they are interactive in some way, right?We just donated two trash bags of toys to our son’s pre-school because we noticed he only played with three main toys:

  • His cars / hot wheels (he loves to line them up and one by one he looks at each car carefully, it’s really cute. Especially when he says, “Look, Camero!” or “Mama, Hummer!” Also, he sorts all his cars by color in piles)

  • Building blocks

  • Lincoln logs

Baby Savers published an amazing list of ideas and activities for parents to refer to when choosing STEM toys:“Seek out toys that encourage one or more of the following ideas or activities:

  • Comparing

  • Sorting

  • Sequencing (putting things in order)

  • Observing

  • Speed and distance

  • Cause and effect

  • Questions

  • Predictions

  • Identifying shapes, numbers and/or letters

  • Measuring

  • Spatial sense

  • Problem-solving

  • Building or balancing”

Baby Savers

Additionally, here are some great tips to follow when introducing your baby / toddler to STEM toys:

  • Keep it simple.

  • Avoid technology.

  • Don’t use battery-operated toys that tend to guide the child on how to play instead of the child exploring and learning on their own.

  • Avoid teaching.

  • Make it fun.

  • Talk together.

  • Follow your child’s imagination – there’s no right or wrong way!

  • Switch it up a bit – dad can be cooking and mom can be mowing the lawn.

easy stem activities

STEM Projects for Toddlers

Even toddlers can explore STEM! Check out our main idea list of STEM Projects for Toddlers and find a STEM activity even a one year old can try!

STEM Activities for Preschoolers

For preschoolers, STEM is all about learning how things work and the whys behind everyday occurrences. Check out the complete list of preschool STEM activities and then check out these seasonal STEM activities for preschool!

How Can I Teach Preschool Science Lesson Plans?

preschool stem activity ideas

The coolest thing about STEM activities is that the focus is not on results, but on the process.

This means that even if you were terrible at science in high school, you can still learn alongside your kids to teach them the basic principles of STEM thinking.

All of the preschool STEAM activities in this list use household materials, so it is unlikely that you’ll need to many any special trips to weird stores to find supplies. Just gather your supplies, do the activity, and learn together!

Don’t Miss: Quick STEM Activities for When You’re in a Rush

Tips for the Success of Your STEAM Lesson Plans for Preschool

Teaching STEM to preschoolers doesn't have to be hard. Use this list of amazing STEM activities for preschool to teach STEM concepts to preschoolers! #stemed #preschoolactivities #stemactivities #handsonlearning

Like any other kids activity, the success of your STEM activities will depend on a few things. Follow this simple guide to improve your overall STEM experience and reduce frustration (and messes!).

  1. Have all supplies on hand.

  2. Know how to do the activity in advance.

  3. Introduce the materials to kids one step at a time.

  4. Explain the STEM concept before bringing out hands-on materials.

  5. Encourage kids to wait for instructions before starting the activity.

  6. Expect that messes and errors will happen. The kids are in preschool, after all!

  7. Have the kids help replace the supplies when finished. This will help establish respect for supplies and tools.

Your Kids Will Love: Spectacular Science Experiments in Jars

Tons of Fun STEM Activities for Preschool

Check out the list below of the best STEM activities for preschoolers!

Preschoolers can learn with preschool STEM activities! STEM activities for preschoolers are the ultimate STEM experience!

Try these preschool STEAM activities that your preschoolers will love! STEM activities for preschoolers have never been so much fun before!

Seasonal STEM Activities for Preschool

Preschoolers will love these STEM experiments with a seasonal twist!

Spring STEM for Preschoolers

Spring STEM Activities for Preschoolers

Frog Activities for Preschoolers with a STEM Twist

Summer STEM Ideas for Preschool

Hands-On Activities for a Preschool Circus Theme

Summer STEM Calendar

Fall STEM Experiments for Preschool

23 Halloween Fine Motor Activities for Preschoolers

11 Books about Pumpkins for Preschool (with a STEM twist!)

Thanksgiving STEM Activities for Preschool

These are our favorite Thanksgiving STEM activities for preschool.

Winter STEM Projects for Preschoolers

Fun Winter STEM Activities for Preschoolers

Easy Winter Science Experiments for Preschoolers

Christmas STEM Activities for Preschool

You won’t want to miss this fun list of Christmas STEM activities for preschool.

Easy STEM Activities for Preschoolers

No need to be overwhelmed by the challenges of doing STEM activities with preschoolers. These STEM activities are easy!

Fluffy Slime Science Experiment

Tornado in a Jar Science Experiment

Making Butter STEM Activity

Classic Baking Soda and Vinegar Volcano Science Experiment

Magic Milk STEM Activity

Fizzing Rainbows Chemical Reaction Science

Flower Dissection Tray Science

Magic Milk Rainbow Science STEM Activity

Rainbow Naked Eggs Science Experiment

Liquid Density Jar Science Experiment

Walking Rainbow Science Challenge

Turning Pennies Green STEM Activity

Seed Sprouting STEM Activity

Non-Newtonian Fluid Oobleck Science Experiment

Oil and Water Science Experiment

Magnifying Glass Discovery Tray Science

Preschool Animal STEM Activities

Salt Crystal Dinosaur STEM Activity

STEM Crafts for Preschoolers

These STEM experiments are not just an experiment, but also a STEM craft you can take home!

Apple Tree Life Cycle STEM Activity

Color Mixing Flower Science Activity

Falling Glitter Jars

Bee Life Cycle Craft

Get Our STEM Challenge Prompts for Preschoolers!

preschool stem challenges


School Age Challenges

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Educational nature and wildlife activities you can enjoy with children of all ages, using natural found materials or everyday items you can find at home.

Exploring trees and woods 30+ activity ideas

33 bird activity ideas + fun facts

22 Butterfly and caterpillar activities + fun facts


16 Beetle activity ideas + fun facts

14 Bee activities + fun facts


20 ways to make a home for wildlife

12 Seaweed activity ideas + fun facts

Exploring the shore 20 activity ideas

16 Freshwater and aquatic wildlife activities


Nature slime (Non toxic and taste safe)


8 Rain Science experiments and activity ideas


30 Rose activity ideas and recipes

11 Bat activity ideas + fun facts

11 Daisy activity ideas

22 Moth activity ideas + fun facts

Colourful capillary action experiment


14 dandelion activities and recipes + facts


12 Fossil activity ideas

12 Hedgehog activity ideas + fun facts


Mammal tracking activity ideas

12 ideas for finding insects and minibeasts


14 Frog activities

10 Land snail science and craft activities


Woodlice activity ideas + fun facts

14 spider activity ideas + fun facts

20 Gardening activity ideas + STEM

8 Slime mould activity ideas

14 Hoverfly activity ideas +fun facts

12 Ant activity ideas + fun facts

Crab Acttivities

Plant life – STEM growing activities and experiments


Worm and soil activity ideas

10 Pollution activity ideas and experiments

Hover fly lagoons


Make your own birds nests and feather quill pens


How to make a wildlife pond

The Great British Wildflower Hunt 2021


Citizen Science activities with the Wildlife Trust


Insect houses and bug hotels


Spider web catchers


Crabbing guide and fun facts


Wildlife at night fun facts and activities


Colourful capillary action experiment


Making spore prints from mushrooms and DIY insect tumble traps


Arctic and Antarctic animals

New Year Plant Hunt



Provide some downtime for your child.

If your child has a really packed or busy schedule for the day, he may be exhausted and it will be more difficult to engage him in open ended play. Instead, ensure he has some down time in the day. “Mummy, I’m bored”, when he whines that he/she , this is usually the best time to encourage him to tinker with his open ended materials or toys.

Throw him ideas to start him off, leave it as a comment or an open ended question. Don’t make it sound like an instruction for him to follow.

”Wow, you have so many vehicles here. I wonder if it is possible to have a carpark big enough to park all of them.”

Become a collaborator in play and praise your child’s creativity and when he/she is courageous in taking the lead with his own idea.

Ask open ended questions during the play.

Encourage open-ended play by asking open-ended questions. Whether you’re playing with your child or asking about his play, open-ended questions avoid directing his play or taking over his lead.

Start by giving him your full attention as he shares about his open ended play:

“What is this figurine doing here?”

“This structure looks interesting, do you want to tell me what is it?”

Play with them!

Sit with them, be present, show them some ways of using these toys and enjoy some sweet time together. I would steer clear of telling them what to do with the toy.

Rather, I would simply play next to them.

They will watch you and copy what you're doing. Before you know it, their own imagination will take over! This will not only help the child see the possibilities with the toy but also foster a stronger connection with you.

It is really important, especially at the start of the open ended play, to just sit with your child and play next to him. Tinker with his open ended toys and materials.

Build something.

Build a house with those blocks, and he might add a roof to it, a garden in front of it, and he might put his animal figurines around the house.

Build a carpark, and he might add a “slide” to it. He might start building another structure next to it and call it the “petrol station”.

Soon you will realize that he is building onto your imagination and creativity! And even when you leave him alone to his play, he might not have realized you’re gone because he’s so immersed in his own open ended play now!

Fill your house with open ended toys and materials.

Every home has a variety of toys for different purposes. Some promote creativity, entertain, and encourage physical activity. Others challenge kids mentally, while some are games that are fun for the whole family.

And toys are anything. I sometimes catch myself telling my son not to play with an item because “it’s not a toy.” Meanwhile here I am giving him pipe cleaners and a colander to play with. Kids will explore anything they’re curious about.

Open-ended materials are usually materials or items you can find around the house, below are some examples:

  • Pipe cleaners

  • Scoops and spoons

  • Containers

  • Popsicle sticks

  • Tissue boxes

  • Pom poms

  • Bottle caps

  • Toilet rolls

  • Paper

  • Stones / Pebbles

  • Play silks

  • Art and Craft Materials

The same holds true with open-ended toys. Fill your home with these kinds of toys and encourage your child to use them as tools to create. Below are our top highly recommended open ended toys which we personally own (and some ideas of how to play with them)!

1) Magnetic Tiles

We have 1 set from Magnatiles and 1 set from Playmags. These magnetic tiles are the ones which are taken out most often for his open ended play!

Using magnetic tiles to create multi-story carpark for his vehicles

2) Lego Building Blocks

I actually personally prefer the Duplo blocks to Lego blocks, because they are larger in size and more versatile in terms of open ended play.

Duplo blocks from Lego official website

3) Grimm’s Rainbow

We use these wooden rainbow pieces as bridges and tunnels for his vehicles, or to create animal enclosures or to do color sorting. Possibilities are truly endless!

Our Grimm’s Rainbow with Grimm’s peg dolls

Grimm’s Rainbows as a tunnel for his vehicles

Grimm’s Rainbows as animal enclosures for his animal figurines (Hope didn't like the idea of cages. We used alot of trees

 4) Grimm’s semi-circles

These semi-circles are newly acquired so we haven’t had a chance to explore with them much yet. But they are definitely a perfect accompaniment to the Rainbows!

Using the peg dolls with the semi-circles to create different levels

Example of how the semi-circles complement the rainbows!

5) Grimm’s wooden peg dolls

These peg dolls are so great because they can be anyone that your child wants them to be! One day, the red peg doll is a firefighter; another day, the red peg doll is a little girl; and yet another day, the red peg doll is a farmer. We use these peg dolls in almost every pretend play session!

Grimm’s peg dolls as spectators at a race track

6) Gluckskafer’s building slats

Another great brand for wooden toys, our other go-to brand aside from Grimm’s! These rainbow building slats is another hot favorite in our home!

Building slats as dominoes

Using the building slats as a multi-storey carpark

Building slats as a see-saw for his peg dolls!

7) Waytoplay Tracks

We really really love these tracks, and the only regret I had was not buying it earlier!!! I had previously spent money on 2 ready-made track sets which didn’t hold my boy’s attention for long. He got bored with each set after about 1 month.

On the other hand, because the waytoplay tracks can be manipulated for different configurations, every play is different and as interesting as the last!

Play dough sets

And yes, how can we forget good ol’ play doughs! I prefer home-made play dough (you can get them from The Tiny Trove or Doughnme) sets because the texture feels better and smoother and they are non-toxic!

Or you can always make your very own play dough at home!

Those are our recommendations on toys for tinkering!

I hope the above helps you to get started on your open ended tinkering journey with your little ones! Remember, give them the freedom and flexibility to explore these open ended toys and materials on their own terms. And more often than not, you might be pleasantly surprised by how creative and innovative your little one can be!

Hopeful Art Inquiries and Choice Art

Activities in the arts invite children to play with the balance of "head and heart." There are no wrong answers in creative activities. And risk taking is definitely encouraged! Through improvisation and experimentation with the arts in a non-judgmental environment, children learn more about themselves and their world. Inspiring their creativity through any form of art, enables them to be not only confident, but also capable of great things. So discover and appreciate the joy of sharing any art experience with them.

How to create open-ended Process Art, Tips for teaching art at home,

Tips For Hopeful

Whether your student is particularly active, hearing or visually impaired, or developmentally delayed, always point out the achievements that she made in this project.
Always, always, always, focus on the positive and not on the concepts not yet mastered. You have all the time in the world to create a joyful experience. You can always praise their creativity in using rich colors, fabulous textures or creative layering. And of course: praise their courage in using new tools and supplies.
Not A Tidy Year
Art tips and secrets for those who aren't trained art teachers

Some basic art secrets and tips that will make you feel ready

As the Meri Cherry website says: Art with your kids does not have to be scary and it doesn’t even have to be messy. It can be fun, engaging, confidence building, therapeutic and contained. Your kids will thank you for it and you might find out that you are more comfortable with a little mess than you thought.

Presenting the materials on a tray allows the child to access what they need, they can carry their work to their table and easily pack up and put it away when finished. Presenting the materials on a tray makes it very easy for the child to know what they need and focus on the activity rather than collecting supplies. I often did the project the night before so I felt more prepared and that I had everything I would need on the tray. Trays will also make for easier clean-up.

Plan an fun adventure to discover how to creatively use their supplies and tools and how to combine them for an exciting experience. Sometimes the combination doesn't work the colors get muddled or the textures and layers don't come out but YOU HAD FUN exploring. Focus on enjoying the experiment and only display their art if they are proud of it.


Not A Tidy Year

Painting From The Heart

Children are creative entities waiting to release their imagination and transpose it into fun crafts that will keep them entertained and connected with the environment.

Anything that arouses their senses, stimulates their interests and creative juices can trigger their wonderful enthusiasm -which we all adore to watch and surround ourselves with. There are multiple methods of connecting with a child’s creativity but painting has been proven to be a very effective one. Consider teaching your little one how to mix various hues with a sponge or empty tissue paper rolls to exercise their imagination. This way, the idea that one has to stick to a paintbrush in order to create a masterpiece, will be interpreted as a narrow minded way of thinking.

Not A Tidy Year

Snip and Stick Sensational Collage-Creating Joy in Every Layer

I love collage for so many reasons, but mostly because the process is so therapeutic. You can do layer after layer and it never gets old. Plus my shaky hands don't seem to affect the outcome like in drawing and painting. Gluing, snipping, cutting, tearing, and pasting, sticking, or stacking layers…whatever it takes, they all are so exhilarating to me.

However, simple collage is one of the easiest, open-ended, art activities you can offer your child. To me, a collage is a bunch of odds and ends, with a common theme, that were creatively pieced together. It is taking existing materials and putting them together in new ways and creating a "whole" new piece of art.

For kids, creating collage is about their freedom to create, imagine, and express themselves in a playful and explorative manner. There’s no right and wrong in how toddlers create and respond to art.

By taking a step back from directing your child’s experience, you can encourage your kids to explore his world in his own way. This is important for learning and development.

-Unique Surfaces-
-Our Favorite Tools-
-Intriguing Media-

25 Cardboard box activity ideas


Open Ended Drawing & Direct Drawing

Not A Tidy Year

Quick Tips for Presenting
a Drawing Project

Drawing is a fun way to develop or redevelop writing and motoric skills. But to a child drawing is not meant to be just pencil marks on paper, you have to combine it with other forms of art and give the line some flair!!

I would preface the following tips by saying that every child is different and there are a number of influences to when and how you would start out offering little ones the opportunity to draw. Crayola agrees saying "all budding artists develop at different rates so simply select the stage that matches your toddler’s current ability regardless of his or her actual age." I use their “My First” creative tools on all ages for new artists. I liked using homemade paints, glue and play dough, however they attract bugs if your not careful storing their artwork. But if I used store bought, I bought Crayola supplies. They were always safe for little hands washable, and easy to clean up. I am not being paid to say that. Hope, at 24 years old, still reaches for Crayola when she can.

So here are my thoughts and tips on starting out with drawing with toddlers;
In my opinion it’s a good idea to wait until children are about 4 years to start drawing with an expectation of any control in their scribbles. However, giving them time to practice coloring, painting, sculpting with clay and play dough and cutting and sticking a collage together all work on getting the muscles ready to draw. If your child is interested in drawing there are many stage appropriate projects with scribbles in our “Making Drawing Fun” book. The section on Scribbles and what they mean to a budding artist, has several opportunities to make scribbles into wonderful projects that you can do over and over as they progress through that stage of drawing. It also covers the stages of creative development to track which projects are just right for your child on his creative journey

o Choose drawing tools that make marks easily – good quality crayons, oil pastels (the more traditional kind or slick stix), chunky pavement chalk or felt tipped pens. Ensure they are non toxic. I look for well known, child friendly brands like Crayola and Ooly. “My First” Crayola products are designed to meet the early stages of a child’s creative development. Children develop the ability to use art tools at different stages of their toddlerhood—regardless of their actual age. So it’s important to provide little artists with the tools that match their readiness.

o Supervise closely, especially if your toddler is still mouthing objects. Pointy pens and pencils are really unsafe for toddlers.

o I found that Hope is most comfortable standing at a low table or using an easel to draw. Don’t limit yourself to sitting and drawing on a vertical surface. Any position assists with the development of hand and wrist strength and stability. It’s a matter of letting your child do their best work and enjoying it..

o Allow your toddler plenty of time and regular, repeated opportunities for mark making with a range of different drawing mediums. Every project can be repeated and still be different. Notice that they build a drawing from previous experiences with their supplies. The more they use them the better they get at using them independently.

o Remember, it is not about them representing any particular idea, instead they are learning to co-ordinate their body, arms, hands and fingers, and exploring what is possible when they manipulate each drawing tool. Learning to draw is a journey and your are their guide.

NOTE- Always praise their creativity and courage to use of new supplies and tools. Then display their work proudly-scribbles and all. Remember, we all went through a scribble stage and know that they make for wonderful projects and gifts. One way to perk up a young artist, is to let them draw on one of their colorful process art paintings. They make for great backgrounds to draw on and they are doubly proud when they are finished drawing.

Making Drawing Fun

Drawing is a fun way to develop or redevelop writing and motoric skills. But to a child drawing is not meant to be just pencil marks on paper, you have to combine it with other forms of art and give the line some flair!!

As soon as your toddler can hold a crayon comfortably, he's ready to scribble with it. By giving him plenty of opportunities to doodle to his hearts content, you can help him develop strength and control in his fingers now — and eventually, help him understand that marks and lines can represent objects, shapes and letters. Some say that drawing allows us to take the line out on a stroll. I kind of like that because it sounds like the beginning of an adventure of exploring with drawing tools and supplies. Practicing drawing helps train the eye to see what is really there and not what you presume to be there. Drawing helps train the hand to be comfortable with using, um, drawing utensils. Drawing is easy to start and stop- it can be done anywhere, at any time. You don’t need a big space or fancy setup to draw; you just need to be willing to do it.

Tracing and Drawing Worksheets

Doodling and Drawing

Easy Directed Drawing and Fingerprint Animals

Drawing with Symmetry

How to Teach STEM At Home

These STEM activities are the perfect STEM enrichment activities for kids and include hundreds of STEM activities for kids! STEM challenges FTW!

You don’t have to be a professional teacher to teach STEM! I have never taught full-time in the classroom, but I am so happy I started doing STEM activities with my kids at home anyway!

If you’re not a teacher, you’ll want to check out my guide on how to teach STEM at home.

Creative STEM Activities for Kids

There are tons of STEM activity ideas out there, but not all of them are as creative as others! These creative STEM activities for kids are hands-on, fun and will appeal to kids who aren’t necessarily into science already.

Super Fun, Hands-On STEM Activities for Kids from Toddlers Through Teens!

Find everything you need for STEM activities for kids with these lists of 100s of fun science activity themes!

Science Experiments for Kids

Kids science projects provide a foundation to STEM studies and are usually the kids’ favorite projects!

These science experiments for kids are all made using basic household supplies and will provide the “wow” factor that your STEM studies need!

Technology Activities for Kids

stem projects for adults

These fun technology activities for kids help kids use technology in their studies. We believe all kids should learn to code! Our list of Technology Activities for Kids includes resources for coding, electrical engineering, measuring weather and climate, and more!

Engineering Activities for Kids

Engineering is an important part of STEM. Engineering teaches out-of-the-box thinking, critical thinking, and creative learning!

Engineering can be as simple as fitting the pieces of a puzzle together or as complicated as building a backyard swing set.

Engineering skills will stay with a child for life and benefit her/him in creative thinking, logic, critical thinking, and common sense. Don’t miss our best Engineering Activities for Kids.

Math Activities for Kids

Although not all adults use all forms of math in their lives, math provides an essential foundation for learning how to think logically and solve problems in a calm, clear way.

Even if your child never even calculates the tip at a restaurant when they get older, learning math skills will create logical thinking patterns that will benefit your child in every way.

But that isn’t to say math can’t be fun! We love doing these hands-on math activities for kids.

January STEM Activities

If you want STEM activities for January, check out this list of January STEM Activities!

February STEM Activities

Here you’ll find our favorite
February STEM activities.

March STEM Activities

These March STEM Activities teach kids about weather, growing new plants and seeds, the rain cycle, and a whole lot more!

April STEM Challenges

Why not try these fun April STEM challenges when April arrives?

May STEM Activities

When it’s time for May showers, these May STEM activities are perfect!

June STEAM Activities

Celebrate the summer with these June STEAM activities for kids.

100+ STEM activities for kids using materials you already have on hand. Super easy and spectacular STEM learning for kids!

July STEM Activities

Sometimes July is the hottest month of the year and summer gets really serious! Kids will love these refreshing July STEM activities during July.

August STEAM Activities

August is for back to school STEM and other fun early fall STEM themes! Check out our favorite August STEAM activities here.

September STEM Activities

September means apples, acorns, and falling leaves! Celebrate the early fall with these September STEM activities.

October STEM Activities

Halloween, pumpkins, and other fun fall themes can be found in these October STEM activities.

November STEM Activities

Say goodbye to fall when you do these fun November STEM activities with fun themes like Thanksgiving, cooking science, and more!

STEM Activities for December

When December rolls around, we think holiday and Christmas fun! Kids will love these STEM activities for December with these fun December themes.

STEM Activities For Kids
Age 2-14!

Find appropriate STEM lessons for ages toddler through middle school! A year's worth of ideas!

STEM challenges and projects are important for every grade level. Research suggests that the more hands-on STEM learning a child has as they grow and develop, the better they will do in life as they become adults.

Multiple types of research have identified how important it is for kids to engage in hands-on STEM learning to maximize knowledge and skills.

Mathematics and Science are practical and activity-oriented and can best be learnt throughinquiry and through intelligent manipulation of objects and symbols.(Okebukola in Mandor, 2002)
Informal learning environments increase students’ interest in STEM.(e.g., Mohr‐Schroeder et al. School Sci Math 114: 291–301, 2014)

But over and over what these studies show is that during the early years, it’s not the complicated, in-depth exposure to STEM topics that help children succeed in the future, it really is just the chance to learn, experiment, and play hands-on.

So whether you are a teacher trying to find activities to meet Next Generation Science Standards by grade level, a daycare worker or after-school program looking to find education-focused activities, or just a parent hoping to encourage a love of STEM in your child, you don’t have to worry about getting things “right” or “perfect.”

What matters is that a child is exposed to STEM themes and excited in the activities. That is the piece that a child will remember for life and will benefit them in more than just math and science as they grow up.

So, find age-appropriate STEM lessons below for ages toddler through middle school!

easy stem activities

STEM Activities for Kindergarten

If you’re following the Next Generation Science Standards for Kindergarten, you’ll love this list of STEM Activities for Kindergarten.

STEM Activities for 1st Grade

The Next Generation Science Standards for first grade have clear topics to cover in first grade! We have a whole list of STEM Activities for 1st Grade that meet these standards.

STEM Activities for 2nd Grade

2nd grade STEM activities are all about hands-on learning for basic science concepts and themes! We have a bunch of seasonal STEM for 2nd grade, including:

Need more science, technology, engineering, or math in your classroom? These STEM activities are the perfect STEM enrichment activities for kids and include hundreds of STEM ideas as a list of STEM activities. It's the ultimate STEM challenge list of STEM activities! #stem #stemed #stemactivities #science #scienceclass #scienceexperiments #handsonlearning #kidsactivitiers

STEM Activities for 3rd Grade

In third grade, things start to get a bit more involved! Kids complete science fairs, start putting the pieces of ecosystems and climate together, and learn about properties of matter! Check out our third grade STEM activities below.

STEM Activities for 4th Grade

In 4th grade, kids learn a lot! These fourth grade STEM activities cover all the core 4th grade science concepts, plus add in a fun seasonal twist!

STEM Activities for 5th Grade

STEM starts to get serious in 5th grade! Check our our full list of STEM Activities for 5th Grade, but also check out these seasonal activities, because 5th graders love to have fun, too!

Middle School STEM Activities

Calling all middle school teachers! Middle school STEM activities are still hands-on and can be lots of fun.

middle school stem challenges

STEM Summer Camp Themes

If you want to run your own summer camp or after-school program, check out these fun STEM Summer Camp Themes!

STEM Kit Ideas

Sometimes it is easier to just buy a STEM kit pre-made with everything you need in one box. These are our favorite STEM and science kit providers:

If you love science and STEM but don’t like hunting for supplies, we love the Mel Science kits. They have options for elementary and middle school, and each kit comes with all the supplies needed for each experiment!

Winter STEM Activities for Kids

When it’s cold out, try these winter STEM activities for kids!

Spring STEM Activities

When things start warm up and flowers emerge, these spring STEM activities will teach kids all about it!

Summer STEM Activities

When summer rolls around, try these summer STEM activities at school care programs, summer camps, or at home!

STEM Activities for Fall

STEM activities for fall will keep kids learning all fall long with fun themes that include pumpkins, leaves, acorns, Thanksgiving, kitchen science, and more!


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