The summer holidays are just a few weeks away and I always find that having a basic (but adaptable) plan helps things run much more smoothly. This year, I’ve decided to focus on some STEM activities (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) for the summer.
Plan Your Pins
If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll want to spend most of the school holidays watching TV and eating junk food. Then they’ll complain that they’re bored and they’ve got nothing to do (despite the big pile of toys in the corner of the room…!).
But over the years, I’ve developed a solution that keeps the kids happy, fires their imagination, and doesn’t cost the earth!
I call it “pinning”.
The basic idea is to have an activity to “pin” your day on – this can be something small like a game in the garden or it can be a full day trip to the beach. But if you have something different planned for each day that you can fall back on when the kids get cranky, you’ll find the school holidays much easier.
To get a bit of continuity going (and to give me inspiration for activities), I like to choose a theme per week and then allocate a relevant activity to each day. Here are some of the previous themes we’ve looked at:
- The Gruffalo
- Disney Princesses
- Under The Sea
But as I said, this year I’m going to be choosing themes so that we can do some STEM activities. When I was reviewing a brilliant maths game for pre-schoolers last year, I found out that boys are four times more likely to end up in core STEM occupations than girls!
As a mum to two intelligent girls, this concerns me.
I want them to pursue careers that they are interested in rather than ones they have been forced into because of their gender. Looking back on my previous theme choices (above), I can see that we have done very little in the way of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths. So this summer will be all about fun STEM activities!
I’ll list our themes and activities below. Simply choose a theme you like the look of and assign a week of the school holidays to it. Then put the STEM activities for the week in an order that works for you.
30 STEM activities
- Float or sink – collect some objects from around the house and predict which will float / sink. Then test your hypotheses!
- Apple bobbing – fill a washing up bowl with water, stick some apples in, and try to grab them using only your teeth
- Make a paper boat – make a paper boat and see if it floats. Try wafting it from behind to get it moving and race with other paper boats
- Make your water walk – fill 5 cups with water. Put red food colouring in the 1st, yellow in the 3rd, and blue in the 5th. Roll up some kitchen roll and make a bridge between the different cups – watch the coloured water move…!
- Go on a boat – take the kids on an actual boat trip!
- Set up a production line – make a sandwich by each doing a single task (e.g. take bread from bag, butter bread, add ham, etc) and then passing it on, like machines in a factory
- Robot dance – learn some robot dance moves and have a robot disco
- Design a robot – think of a job you don’t like doing (e.g. tidying your room) and design a robot who can do it for you
- Junk modelling – make a prototype of your robot out of junk. Think about creating joints that move, how the robot will travel, where it’s battery will go, etc
- Watch – watch some robot-themed programmes such as the film Robots or the TV series Robot Wars
- Have a tide fight – build a sandcastle near the incoming tide and create defenses to make it last as long as possible. Try competing against a friend to see whose castle lasts longest before being washed away.
- Play Jenga – Jenga is all about choosing the right brick to maintain the structural integrity of the tower, and about creating balance as it gets higher
- Build a cardboard fort – use some old cardboard boxes to make a castle of your very own – How many people do you need to fit in? How will you create the windows and door? What defensive structures will you include?
- Design a coat of arms – a coat of arms should say something about you because it represents who you are – design a coat of arms or a flag to fly from the top of your cardboard fort
- Make a spaghetti tower – make the tallest tower you can using just 30 pieces of spaghetti and 5 marshmallows
- Do a survey – research different types of cakes and list them – now ask lots of people which they like best and make a tally chart to decide which cake will be most popular
- Go shopping – you’re going to need to some ingredients for this week – make a list and then go and buy them using coins – add up the coins to the correct amount
- Bake some buns – weigh out the ingredients using some scales – use mathematical language like more, less, grams, millilitres, equal to, weigh, measure, 5 minutes, 200 degrees, etc
- Decorate quarters – lightly score a line on your cake which divides it into quarters – decorate each quarter in a different way
- Rate your buns – evaluate your cake and mark it out of 5 for different categories. Plot the scores on a spider diagram –>
- What’s magnetic? – use a magnet to find lots of magnetic things in your house – list the things that were magnetic and the things that weren’t
- Make a fishing game – draw some fish, cut them out and place paperclips on their noses. Then fasten a magnet to a piece of string and try and catch the fish
- Magnet painting – put a piece of paper in a shoe box and blob some paint onto it. Then put a paperclip on the page and wave a magnet underneath the box – the paperclip will “magically” move spread the paint around
- Make magnetic slime – slime is big business at the moment. This recipe shows you how to make your own magnetic slime!
If your child hasn’t come across coding before, this video explains what coding is and why we use it
- Make a binary code necklace – reproduce your name using beads and the ASCII code for a great introduction to binary code
- If this then that – this game is similar to Simon Says in that the children have to react (e.g. jump) depending on what the group leader does – each new leader can create a new “if this, then that” rule
- Do a blindfolded obstacle course – set up an obstacle course and one blindfolded child has to complete it just by being programmed by (listening to the instructions of) the other children
- Play Go Digital – The Go Digital game on Cbeebies introduces children to simple coding ideas and concepts in a simple, hands-on way
- Do some pixel pictures – use squared paper to create some pixel pictures – every box must be a single colour. Have a look on google if you need some inspiration!
So there are 30 STEM activities for you to try – one for each weekday of the school holidays! Let me know which ones you like the look of and if you have any other ideas for STEM activites that could be incorporated into this list.
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