What is STEM? And why should you get your toddler excited about it early? Well, if you have never heard of STEM, it stands for Science Technology Engineering and Math. These areas of study are absolutely the wave of the future. As your child embarks upon their educational career, they will see and learn about STEM more and more. Best of all…it’s awesome!
*The following is a sponsored post by Shape Mags. I was provided their product for free in exchange for an honest review.
What is STEM Learning and Why Do Toddlers Need It?
STEM learning is hands-on, fun, and all about problem solving. What toddler does not like getting their little hands on something and trying to figure it out? That is STEM! So, if your toddler already likes these things, why consciously try to incorporate STEM into your learning at home or at preschool?
As I mentioned, STEM is our future. Whether we like it or not, we are living in a fast-paced techological society. Even five years ago, I could not have imagined that I would transition from the brick-and-mortar classroom to the virtual classroom. Technology is ever-growing and ever-changing…just like our tiny humans.
If you are curious about what your little tyke might be doing for their career when they get older, check out this post on the expected top jobs in 2025. You will see technology-based jobs will most likely be number one.
How to Get Your Toddler Excited about STEM Early
As we are always trying to prepare our children for the future, it certainly does not hurt to introduce them to STEM learning. However, you just may find that your toddler may not be the only ones getting excited about STEM!
STEM: S is for Science
I try to include science at least once per week with my toddler. Science is really all about observing nature and the world around you. You want your toddler to ask those 4,782 questions that they have been just dying to ask. Science is defintely the time for it! However, science with your toddler does not have to include beakers and harsh chemicals. Here are some easy things you can do with your little scientist:
Go on a nature hike and discuss what you see
Plant a garden and observe how the plants/flowers grow
Study the life cycle on an insect
Watch ice melt/water boil
Mix paint to discover new colors
For more, check out these activities on PBS Kids or the related posts below from my Preschool at Home series.
Related Post: How to Do Preschool at Home (Plants Theme)
Related Post: How to Do Preschool at Home (Bugs Theme)
STEM: T is for Technology
Technology and toddlers is kind of conumdrum for me. This a technological world in which we live, however it is very important to me that my daughter uses her imagination. I do not want her sitting in front of a screen all day. Instead, I would rather she play outside with her imaginary friends and animals.
I have learned that it is all about setting boundaries. For example, I allow her to play with her Kidloland App, but only for 20 minutes at a time. A great educational and interactive app on your phone or tablet can be a life saver when you are trying to heat up dinner or dining at a restaurant. Plus, toddlers are naturally curious about what you are doing on your various devices. Moderation is the key.
STEM: E is for Engineering
You may not even realize it, but you already have a little engineer! When your toddler is building those Lego towers or balls with Play-Doh, they are learning how to make and construct things with their own little hands. There is so much problem solving and spatial reasoning that goes into using these fun toys. But, I have a new toys to introduce that your toddler is just going to love!
Shape Mags: Award-Winning STEM Toys
If you have never heard of Shape Mags, imagine Legos or blocks…but with magnets! They are magnetic tiles in various shapes, used to create new shapes or build all kinds of cool things. This is seriously the perfect toy for STEM learning.
The first time I gave my toddler Shape Mags, I simply emptied the tiles on the floor and told her to explore. I was looking to see how she might apply her creativity and imagination to problem solve. When she realized that there are little magnets inside of the tiles, she was mystified! She wanted to figure out how all of the pieces could “stick” together.
For parents, an important point to note with this toy is that it is low frustration. The magnets easily attach, but there is no straining or difficulty to pull them apart. When attempting to build three-dimensional towers, you do need to be a bit more precise when placing the tiles so that the magnets align just right. However, my three-year-old figured this out independently!
Your toddler can build a variety of 3D multi-colored towers and buildings. Or, your toddler can make brand new two-dimensional shapes. For example, my toddler likes to place the semi-circle and triangle together to create an “ice cream cone”. I let my toddler’s creativity run free and each time, she creates something new. She even dictates little stories to accompany what she is making with her shapes!
For toddlers, the “big ideas” in math at this age center around number sense, geometry and spatial reasoning, and measurement. These are some math activities that you are already probably introducting to your toddler:
Comparing groups of objects to determine which has “more” and which has “less”
Comparing sizes of objects
Determining whether one objects “fits” into another object
Recognizing mathematical vocabulary like more, less, bigger, smaller, up, and down
Shape Mags are perfect for all of these skills, too! You can ask your toddler to sort the shapes by color, size, or shape. Then, compare the number of objects in each group or compare the sizes of shapes. As your child is manipulating the shapes, they will begin to problem solve to determine which shapes fit together. They will also perform some rudimentary measurements to evaluate whether or not a shape fits. The possibilities are endless!
Related Post: How to Teach Your Toddler Number Sense
STEM: Getting Your Toddler Excited
I think that you will find that these activities are naturally exciting for toddlers. They are so infinitely curious at this age! However, it always helps the excitement level to see mom and dad engage in a little learning of their own. Ask your toddler to help you in the kitchen (science and math), to assist with your next DIY project (engineering), or to figure out how a household tool works (technology). STEM is something that can be fun for the entire family while preparing your little learner for the future.
What are your favorite STEM activities to do with your children? Please comment and share below!