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What is STEM Play?

STEM Play is a concept which pops up regularly, but what is it? In today’s blog post, I hope to cover this topic along with some practical, real-world activities you can use with your own children!

So, what is STEM play?


Quite simply, STEM is short for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. This might sound like a crazy concept for a toddler, but actually they are using these skills all the time! For example:

· Does your little one build towers and building with blocks? That’s engineering!

· Do they notice if one of their toy cars is missing? That’s Maths!

· Do they explore different textures from materials in the garden? That’s Science!

· Have they used equipment, such as scissors, wheels, crayons or cameras to achieve a simple goal? That’s technology!


Why is STEM play important?


Research shows that children who have developed efficient STEM skills in early life, have higher achievement in both maths and reading in school. Children are naturally curious. They want to understand how and why things work. They want to know what will happen if they push that button or pull that string. Focusing on STEM play enables children to foster that natural curiosity in a way that builds upon other skills, too. They learn without even realising they are doing so and they problem solve while having fun.

Furthermore, STEM play helps children to learn about the world around them. They develop so many key skills along the way, but crucially, they develop the ability to problem solve. Regardless of the activity at hand, or the skills your child develops, having good problem-solving strategies opens an incredible number of doors to further and more meaningful learning.

This activity was perfect for Maths as it involved shape, colour recognition and counting. We also linked it to our science activities exploring bugs in the garden!

Play features our Lanka Kade Minibeasts and Kinder Woodcraft sorting tray.


Do I need loads of equipment for STEM play?


Absolutely not! STEM play can use a variety of equipment or none at all! For example, ‘Look at that road sign. What shape is it?’ This is developing STEM (maths) skills while on a daily walk and with no equipment whatsoever.

Other examples:

· I wonder how many pieces of pasta you can fit on your spoon.

· Wow! How many bricks have you used for your tower?

· Which one of your cars is biggest?

· Can you spot 5 flowers?

· How many steps does it take to walk to the kitchen?

· How many birds are in the garden?

· How could we measure that without a ruler? How many leaves long is it?


How can I use STEM play to support my child’s development?


The good news is children are developing these wonderful skills every single day through play! Whether your little one is building a block tower, painting a beautiful sunny scene or sculpting a dog from playdough, they are developing crucial STEM skills. Our job as parents is to facilitate that development through simple activities and tweaks.

Below I have collated a list of examples for each STEM strand. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but a few suggestions to help you on your way. Have other ideas? Drop me a DM over on Instagram (@CatkinToys).


Science

In this activity, Arlo had a range of resource to explore including different textures, how they react with each other, what they smell like and where they come from!

This play features Green Earth Learning Toadstools and