Easy Hands On Activities That Introduce STEM in Early Education

It’s never too early to think about STEM in early education. There is so much you can do, to introduce ideas and thinking around STEM.

stem in early education

Source: What does STEM look like in preschool and what is STEM anyway? by Deborah.J.Stewart

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) is a hot acronym in education, with a global drive to provide greater STEM education in schools and preschools. This is due to a declining number of graduates in these areas in countries including US, AUS, and NZ. There is also a global lack of female students, researchers, and teachers in STEM fields.

Recently, there has been much debate over whether Art and Design should also be included with STEM, making the field of study STEAM instead.

But how early should children be starting STEM education?

It’s never too early  for all children to start developing STEM skills according to many academics and educators. A great podcast discussion led by Rae Pica highlights what STEM can look like in preschools.

Here at Educa, STEM or STEAM is a popular area of interest (and not just because we design software). So we thought we’d share a few age appropriate STEM ideas for you to use in your preschool/early learning service.

Say “What?”

The best STEM activities in early childhood use intentional teaching strategies that balance “free” and “prompted” exploration. STEM activities give children the opportunity to ask questions and also become the experts by answering questions about what they observe.

Instead of asking why? – Try asking what?

• What happened there?

• What did you try?

• What could you change?

• What have you seen other people trying?

• What do you think will happen if we _______?

These 9 Resources use items that you will already have – or can access readily and cheaply to use in your STEM investigations.  Have fun!

1 & 2 Baking Soda and Vinegar – Science

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is alkaline so when it combines with an acid like vinegar or lemon juice, it releases carbon dioxide and water and FIZZ.
Great experiments include:

The Fizzing Colours Experiment [happyhooligans] uses food colouring in a tray and an eyedropper to add the vinegar.  It’s a great fine motor activity –  and with a big enough tray this one can be done by a whole group.

A Volcano – if you don’t already have a favourite one of these try the Tape Volcano [Inspiration Laboratories] but it’s always best to take this one outside!

3 & 4 Scissors and Paper – Technology

Source: pre-kpages.com
Source: pre-kpages.com


Technology doesn’t only have to mean digital technology.  Using tools and developing fine and gross motor skills is just as important. See our post for a range of  scissor skills activities and try these two as well:

Make Confetti:  Use single hole punches or hole punches that make different shapes (stars, hearts, etc.). Hole punches will help with hand strengthening.

Snipping: Snipping is foundation work for cutting lines. Make fringes on paper or snip bits off the edges of paper .

5 & 6 Blocks and Sand – Engineering

What makes the best foundation for a block tower?

Building towers, constructing roads, making mounds with sand. Children design their structures, build them, test their strengths and problem solve for solutions (moving blocks from carpet to a hard surface to a sandy space).

You can Build a City [hands on as we grow] or try taping out some roads and build the town or community around you. What happens if you build the city on sand?

Source: Handsonaswegrow
Source: Handsonaswegrow

7 & 8 Leaves and Rocks – Mathematics

Counting, ordering and classifying is the perfect opportunity for some nature collecting. Take a walk and see what you can find, then bring the children back for some maths activities.

Source: theguilletots
Source: theguilletots


Sorting – sort by color, size, texture

Stacking – Can you stack 5 rocks? (combining maths and engineering)

Counting – This numbered nature tray [cutting tiny bites] is one simple example of counting natural objects.


9 Paint – Art/Design: STE(A)M

Any/all of these activities incorporate vibrant art/design components. Food coloring and paint in the Science experiments. Painting paper before using it to make confetti (Technology). Town planning and block architecture (use painted cardboard boxes for building) in the city design! (Engineering). Once leaves and rocks have been ordered, use them as stamps or stencils to create lasting impressions (Maths) .

Hands On Learning

Whatever form they take preschool STE(A)M activities are all about participation, questioning, experimentation and experiences.  It’s not show and tell – it’s get in and do.

For a whole range of resources and learning activities – see our Educa STEM for Early Childhood Educators Pinterest Board

We’d love to learn about the STEM activities you have been up to – share with us in the comments below and we’ll publish a resource list! 

Check out the following resources for starters:

STEM Family Activities Workbook – Boston Children’s Museum


Nurturing STEM Skills in Young Learners, PreK–3: Successful STEM Education

STEM Resources for Early Childhood: NAEYC

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