Little kids are naturally curious and love to explore and investigate the world around them. Make STEM play part of their early learning experiences with these fabulous tools and resources.
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STEM in the Early Years
There is no better time to introduce STEM (standing for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) to your kids than in the early years. Little ones are born with a natural curiosity about the world around them so it’s not difficult to engage them in STEM play. It’s actually very simple- start by taking them outdoors to explore nature, ask them questions about what they are observing and foster their innate curiosity.
Whilst you don’t need lots of extra resources to encourage STEM play with your kids, I’ve compiled a list of 10 tools that you may find useful in getting started. Some of these would also make great gifts for friends and family.
These tools will help your little explorers look more closely, investigate the world around them and encourage all sorts of STEM-related play. And if you’re already on board with the idea of STEM play but just don’t know where to start, why not check out my Instagram to see some of the STEM activities that we’ve been enjoying.
1. My First Microscope
A microscope is a great way of getting little kids excited about science. It encourages them to notice the features of different objects and marvel at those little details that are not possible to see with the naked eye. This microscope has been designed especially for young children with two soft eye pieces and chunky knobs for little hands.
2. Jumbo test-tubes
These jumbo test tubes are perfect for setting up all sorts of science experiments, exploring colour mixing and a favourite of ours- potion making! These could be teemed with a simple science experiment book as a great gift for a budding scientist.
It can be hard to get little ones to slow down and observe their surroundings which is why I think kids binoculars are a great idea. These ones from primary resources (they call them kidnoculars) have been specifically designed to be easy for young kids to handle and use focus-free lenses.
There is so much fun to be had with a torch! Just going out on a dark evening with one fills little kids with excitement and wonder! A favourite of ours is to make a dark den and read by torch light. A torch is a great tool for STEM play activities, for example learning about shadows and colour.
5. Bug Viewer
This bug viewer is great for taking a closer look at all those mini-beast finds. With magnifiers at the top and the side it enables kids to observe creatures from different angles.
6. Magnifier & Tweezers
This jumbo magnifier was one of the first tools I bought for my own little explorers. We use it in the garden or take it on outings to add to the sense of adventure. The tweezers are useful for those that are not keen to touch any specimens they find and again help to make little kids feel like proper scientists! They are also excellent for developing fine motor skills!
7. Magnetic Wands
These are an absolute favourite with my kids. They are easy for little hands to grip and contain super strong magnets. Magnetic wands are great for early explorations into magnetic and non-magnetic objects, which always fascinates young kids. We love to play with ours alongside a set of paperclips or magnetic counters. Not only is this such fun but it is also very therapeutic!
There are so many art and science activities that droppers or pipettes are useful for, as well as being a must-have for any water play! Droppers have the added benefit of strengthening little hands with all the squeezing that is required to use them.
Whether it’s for pond dipping, stream dipping or rock pooling kids love using nets! Some of our favourite family memories have been the times we’ve been rock pooling together. It’s great to develop patience, observation skills and experience moments of awe and wonder. And if you can’t get to a stream or a rock pool its still fun to use these in a water tray or even in the bath tub!
10. Safety Mirror
Right from a baby, playing with mirrors helps encourage exploration. This one is perfect for little hands to hold when they are off on their explorations. To explore with mirrors on a larger scale consider buying a piece of acrylic safety mirror.