Albert Einstein said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”
Maybe you have heard of STEM play recently around your parenting circle. It’s 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!
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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.
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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.
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:
- Sequencing (putting things in order)
- Speed and distance
- Cause and effect
- Identifying shapes, numbers and/or letters
- Spatial sense
- Building or balancing”
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.
Here are some really awesome STEM toys for babies and toddlers. You can buy them on AMAZON at a really good price:
***As with any toy, please access whether or not it would be a choking hazard to your baby or toddler depending on their developmental stage.
Rocking Baby Birds 12 Piece Balance Toy – STEM Toy
Rocking Baby Birds is a fun Balancing/learning toy for babies and children by Tender Leaf Toys.
It is part of a vast array of STEM products that we offer to enhance your child’s cognitive function, strategic thinking and problem-solving.
Made of 100% All natural Renewable Resources (Rubberwood), and accented with Non-Toxic water-based paint, this toy is sure to be a favorite of your child for years to come. You can find it here or click on the image below!
CozyBomB Magnetic Wooden Fishing Game Toy for Toddlers
This is a fun and creative take on the old school fishing game we all had as youngsters.
Your little one will love the colorful wooden fish blocks and they will be learning the whole time as well.
You can find this awesome game right here or by clicking on the image below.
Coogam Toddler Fine Motor Skill Toy, Clamp Bee to Hive Matching Game
This little Bee’s nest is such fun for your little one or toddler.
Toddlers under the age of 3 can use fine motor skills to identify colors and shapes.
Preschoolers will improve their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills development as well as strengthen basic math skills.
You can get it here or in the pic below.
These are just a few cute examples of what kind of fun STEM toys are out there. You can find more right here.
I hope you found this post helpful and good luck to you and your babe!
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