22 STEM Ideas for Kindergarten to 2nd Grade

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Looking for STEM ideas to implement in your homeschool? This is what we do for my kindergartner and 2nd grader.

But first, quick question for you.

Have you noticed the recent focus on STEM or STEAM in our kids’ education lately? I certainly don’t recall these two acronyms growing up in the 80’s and 90’s. Do you?

Okay, if you don’t already know (which I am pretty sure you do), STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. STEAM is basically STEM, but with Art added in there.

In December of 2018, the Trump administration rolled out a strategic 5-year STEM plan that they say,

“Would serve as the “North Star” to broader STEM education community and chart a course for collective success.”

Progress Report on the Federal Implementation of the STEM Education Strategic Plan

While this strategic plan is received with open arms by some, it does not come with some pushback.

A quick Google search on this topic, you will be sure to find articles on both sides of the fence.

Here is an article from Teach Thought on why the push for STEM education matters.

On the flip side, some are saying the U.S. is focusing too much on STEM like this article here from The Atlantic.

This article here by a professor of chemical engineering and dean of undergraduate studies at Carnegie Mellon University College of Engineering warns educators and parents to not push our kids to focus on STEM too early and narrow-mindedly.

You’re thinking, ” Wow, I just came here for some STEM ideas for my kids, not political news of STEM!”

Well, my friend, I was just gonna write a list of STEM or STEAM activities we do in our homeschool, too.

Didn’t know there was a big push from the government, either. I typed a few words in Google search and opened a can of worms.

Oh well…now we both know.

Anyway, something to think about. Or not.

We welcome STEM in our home, in fact, it is our favorite.

Here’s a video right below if you don’t want to read. But, I share more when I write. 😉

Prior to COVID, we attended different STEAM or STEM classes offered on base or local libraries, and community centers; the kids really enjoyed it.

My kids are 8 and 5 so I try to find activities that both of them are able to enjoy, so here is how we incorporate STEAM in our homeschool.

Science

1. Sonlight Science B

  • We didn’t get the whole kit and caboodle. I purchased the Usborne Science Activities (Vol. 1) book, the science kit, and the DVD for $30 off Facebook marketplace. A steal right? Check your local homeschool group first or a Facebook homeschool buy/sell/trade group like this one or this one.
  • If you want to get the whole Sonlight Science set, you are welcome to do so. My kids just want more of the hands-on part of science, rather than textbooks & lectures.
  • The DVD is cheesy, but it does show you how to do the experiments so I’d say it’s quite helpful. My kids find it funny, too.

2. Crosswired Science

  • Christian science curriculum.
  • If you can catch their sale, it’s an affordable $19 for the whole year (usually $100/year).
  • Notebook pages are colorful with lots of spaces for them to doodle or write.
  • Videos are excellent and engaging.
  • For Kindergarten and up.
  • Lots of fun experiments.

3. Curious George Discovers

  • Great for younger ones like my 5 year-old.
  • Simple, easy-to-do at home experiments

If you want more hands-on science curriculum that come with kits, here’s some awesome ones I rounded up.

Technology

Well, kids nowadays are at an advantage (or disadvantage), depending on how you look at it or use it, when it comes to technology.

I try to find a balance when it comes to kids with technology because it’s essentially kids with electronics or screens, right?

I do limit my kids’ screen time and everything is pre-selected when it comes to what they can do or watch on the computer, iPad, or phone.

4. iPad

This year, we bought an iPad, which is something I’ve been trying to hold off on for as long as possible.

Switching their piano lessons to an online piano teacher, rather than in studio (thanks to COVID), gave it that last push and I finally caved in.

We needed a screen that can sit on the piano stand so they can see the teacher, while the laptop sits on the side so their teacher can see their posture and hand and finger positioning.

So, we bought an iPad.

My son learned how to use that iPad faster than me! Anyway, we explored the different functions and features of the iPad together.

5. Procreate

Create anything from watercolor art to beautiful fonts. Procreate is for sketching, painting, animating, and illustrating art digitally.

It’s a one-time $9.99 payment to download the app on your iPad. We also purchased the Apple Pencil to go with it, but my kids tend to use their fingers to draw at this point.

My son absolutely loves to draw, he is fascinated by the color palette so Procreate is a great way to introduce him to the world of digital art.

6. Algodoo

Algodoo is a 2D-simulation software. Kids can build structures with different shapes and add physical elements with hinges, motors, tracers, and more.

My son builds marble race courses on here. It’s a fun and interactive way to introduce kids to physics, art, and engineering.

It’s FREE if you download it on your Macbook or PC, but it’s $4.99 (one-time payment) to download on the iPad.

7. Coding

We’ve tried a few online coding classes.

Micah had a 1:1 trial class with a tutor that showed him how to code, but it was out of our budget to have him continue.

However, there are lots of FREE coding programs to choose from:

There are many other out there and pricing is quite affordable, but for now these free programs will do for my 2nd grader.

Engineering

8. Usborne Flapbook How Things Work

Both my kids really enjoy the Usborne flapbooks, we have a few of them but this one is great to show kids how a toilet works, etc.

The flaps make it really fun, it’s very colorful and explanations are easy to understand for little ones like my Ellie who is a kindergartner this year.

9. Tinker crate

We are obsessed with Kiwico around here.

I love the fact that all the materials you need come in a box. Instructions are very visual and easy to follow.

Micah started building his own Tinker crates when he was 7, sometimes he will ask for help attaching a few parts, but he makes most of them himself.

They can create things like an automaton, walking robot, a hydraulic claw, and more.

Budget Tip: You can see if Rakuten is offering cash back at the time of your purchase, here is my referral link for using Rakuten. For using that link, you get $20 and I get $20 when you make a qualifying purchase within 90 days.

I always check Rakuten to see if I can stack it on top of any sales going on when purchasing online.

So, like right now (a week before Christmas), Kiwico is offering a 4 months free deal on their subscription packages and Rakuten has a 15% cash back on Kiwico. I’d say if you are seriously considering subscribing, now would be a good time.

10. Marble Run & Maze

A fun way to get kids working with their hands to build a marble run, it’s great for creativity and engineering.

The price tag on most of these are high unless you can find them second-hand. We purchased them for Micah’s birthday or Christmas.

They are well worth the money if your kid is as crazy about them as mine, not to mention hours of fun.

11. Legos

They can literally let their imaginations run wild and build all sorts of things with these tiny, sharp, painful pieces of tiles and blocks.

Legos are great for our little engineers. It’s hands-on, creative, and fun.

We started out with Lego Duplo, the bigger blocks so they don’t accidentally choke on the little pieces and then as they got older we played with these.

Here are 22 STEM activities you can do with legos.

Also, check out the Lego website for more STEM ideas for homeschoolers.

12. Magna Tiles

Magna tiles are magnetic building tiles for kids. Another great way to use their imagination and hands to build various structures.

Younger ones can learn names of the different shapes and colors as they build their creation.

13. Snap Circuits Jr.

Snap Circuits Jr. is a really fun one. It comes with a booklet with very clean instructions and 101 projects. After a few projects together, they can do most of the other ones by themselves.

Everything you need is already in the box, you don’t need any other tools.

They can build circuit that will make the fan spin or turn on a motor, switch the light on, etc.

14. Cardboard Box Creations

Amazon boxes anyone? Uh…I am pretty sure you have some lol! From time to time, we like making cardboard mazes and cars. Here is a YouTube channel if you need some inspiration.

A great (and cheap!) way of using their imagination and creativity to create something out of cardboard boxes.

STEAM for kids cardboard box creations

Art

15. Art (Drawing, Sketching, Painting, Coloring)

With all those flashy technology and engineering activities, simple art like drawing & painting may seem like a step back.

But, not so.

Kids still love to color, paint, and draw.

I am not too picky about art supplies, usually it’s what is within our budget that will last us at least a school year.

Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Target, and the Dollar Tree are other places I’ve purchased from, but majority of our art supplies are either from Walmart or Amazon.

The following list of supplies are what we’ve used in the past and/or are using now.

I have your Walmart pickup or Amazon order below if you are just starting out in building a little art studio.

Walmart pickup:

Amazon Order:

16. Hands-on Crafts

Here are some craft activities we’ve enjoyed together.

They are all under $20 at the time of this writing. I have a list for a Walmart pickup order, but sometimes they can be in the clearance aisle if you are on a budget and don’t mind browsing in-store.

Walmart Pickup Order (All under $20 each):

I also included an Amazon order set below as well. Some items may not be exactly the same, but similar.

Amazon Order (All under $20 each):

17. Music

Music is in the fine arts category so technically it’s an art, right? Like dancing.

Here is a list of 24 online piano lessons for kids, there are plenty of free options so take a look if piano is something you child enjoys.

My kids loves Simply Piano app by Joy Tunes, and they take private piano lessons as well.

Prodigies Music is a great one for little kids, it’s fun, lively, and colorful. You can start a free trial here.

18. Kiwico Crates

Kiwico has a line of Koala, Kiwi, and Doodle crates that have plenty of fun art projects.

We’ve tried all three crates and enjoyed them.

The Doodle crates are for older kiddos, like age 9+. Ellie was looking forward to this one but she needed A LOT of help and I felt that it was a bit too advanced for her. We were making paper and soaps, but it was a bit too difficult for a 5 year-old.

Koala crates are great for preschoolers and kindergartners, while the Kiwi crates are perfect for your 1st and 2nd graders.

Doodle crates are super cool, but for kids under 8 I would say the adult would be doing most of the work lol!

Math

19. Life of Fred

A series of elementary math “textbooks” written in a story-like way. Author Stanley Schmidt is a math professor and saw how disinterested his students were about math.

He wrote the Life of Fred series to make math come alive and fun.

Well, I’d say he did a pretty good job because my son (8 years old) can blow through one “textbook” in a day.

It’s a complete math curriculum on its own, or you can use it to supplement whatever math curriculum you are using.

20. Math Mammoth

This is our main math curriculum for Micah (2nd grade). It’s a more traditional way of learning math, but I want to make sure he has a solid foundation.

Math Mammoth was written by Maria Miller, a homeschool mom and math professor.

Here is a list of my Top 8 Homeschool Math Curriculum if you are interested.

21. Gameschooling Math

We love gameschooling. I love to use this form of learning for the little ones rather than worksheets and textbooks.

There are lots of games that kids can learn math. Here are some we are currently using.

Gameschooling kindergarten math

22. Cooking and Baking

Cooking or baking together is a fun way to teach kids measurements.

1 teaspoon of this or 3/4 cup of that, when done on a regular basis they will soon know these measurements without even realizing it.

Even though it can be hard baking with a toddler, I started baking with my kids when they were around 3 years old.

Little by little they will acquire motor skills, math and measurements, and learn how to read ingredient labels, recipes and instructions.

I throw in marketing strategies with my 2nd grader, too. How shelves and food items are arranged in the grocery stores, packaging and pricing. Why not? LOL!

I didn’t grow up cooking by measuring and not much baking was done. My mom is one of those a little bit of this or oh maybe about this many splashes of soy sauce. Just gauge it.

Trust me, even to this day I have a hard time with the 1/4 and 3/4 cups. I just can’t tell which is which without a label.

My husband loves to cook & bake so they are really used to eating a lot of things from scratch. But, if you are not a cook or baker, there are lots of YouTube channels or blogs that can help.

Here are some examples:

You may also want to check out specially curated subscription boxes with kid-friendly recipes. Here are some fun ones I found.

  • Eat2Explore – Try recipes from around the world, learn about different countries, their food and culture!
  • Raddish Kids – Great way to learn culinary skills and try different recipes with your child.
  • Kidstir – There’s a theme for each month, making this a very popular and fun recipe subscription box for kids (and adults)!
  • Little Sous – Comes with high quality kitchen tools for kids, recipe cards, and fun food experiments with each box.
Baking & Cooking for Kids

Additional STEAM Games & Resources

The Stem Laboratory

Science Buddies

STEM Activities for Kids

Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit or Coding Game Kit

Bloxels (build their own video games)

Wrapping it Up!

Alright, that’s all I have for STEM or STEAM ideas for the lower elementary age kids.

Please share in the comment section below if you have come across an awesome STEM resource not mentioned above.

I would love to hear from you!

Until next time!

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