Play in the Library: STEM

For today’s post, I wanted to explore some STEM concepts that could be used with young children in our library programs. I picture these ideas as being inspiration for things we could implement in special events such as STEM night, or as things that we could do as centers with selected early childhood programs. I am going to share with you two videos that demonstrate some play activities that we could implement at low cost.

This video shows children playing with a variety of materials in STEM centers in an early childhood/preschool setting. Notice that the children are using a variety of tools and toys which we may already own, such as blocks and building toys, as well as things we can acquire inexpensively such as nuts and bolts to string together (a great fine motor activity).

It is also interesting that the video points out ways in which these activities enhance social and emotional development, cooperation, problem-solving, and critical thinking.

This video is a great example of how children learn through play. The children in the video appear to be perhaps 4’s and pre-K age, maybe some who are 3, and they are quite capable of learning how to use simple tools such as levels and simple circuits.

Next I want to share with you an idea that we already do in our preschool classrooms that is SO much fun and SO interesting for kids to play with.

You can buy an expensive ramps and pathways kit online, but that isn’t necessary. The wood ramps are made from unfinished quarter-round trim, which you can get at the hardware store. They will even cut it for you (sand the cut edge to make it smooth – no splinters). Prop the ramps up on wood blocks, cardboard blocks, stacks of books, whatever you have available – or lay them on the floor. Now drop a marble in and see what happens. Then put a small brick (like a Lego) in and see what happens.

This is an instant, logical, hands-on lesson that incorporates learning about¬†gravity, shapes, planning and problem-solving, velocity, and more. It’s so clever – I’m a big grownup and I love playing with our ramps. This is a great center activity or something we could incorporate into a STEM event as well, at a very low cost.


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