As parents, we want the best for our children, and we want them to thrive in all aspects of their lives. One exciting aspect of a little one’s learning is in the area of science and technology. We are living in an age where science and technology are evolving at a rapid pace, and it is beneficial for children to have a solid foundation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and science from an early age.
Incorporating STEM and science activities into the daily routine of babies and toddlers can be a fun and exciting way to promote learning and development. Here we will discuss some ways parents can incorporate early STEM and science for babies and toddlers.
Explore The Outdoors
Exploring the outdoors is an excellent way to introduce STEM and science concepts to babies and toddlers. When babies and toddlers are outdoors, they can explore the natural world and develop an appreciation for nature. They can learn about the different types of plants, animals, and insects that live in their environment. They can start to notice the patterns that happen in nature like the petals of a flower or pinecone, the swirl of a snail's shell or their reflection in puddles or ponds.
Try taking your baby or toddler on nature walks, where you can point out different plants, trees, and animals. Ask them questions about what they see and encourage them to touch and feel different textures. You can also simply take them to the park or playground, where they can explore different structures, discover shapes within them and learn about cause and effect.
Experiment with Sensory Play
Sensory play is an excellent way to promote early STEM and science concepts for babies and toddlers. Sensory play involves activities that engage the five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. These activities can include playing with water, sand, playdough, and other materials that stimulate the senses. Simply laying on the grass outside to feel it with their fingers and toes while listening to the sounds of the world around them is a deeply immersive experience for a baby.
If space allows you can try setting up different sensory play activities for your baby or toddler. For example, fill a bin with rice or pasta and let our toddlers explore the textures with their hands, set up a few bowls and cookie sheets filled with water and let your baby splash and play with their hands, cups or funnels. Check out our Sensory Book for on the go sensory fun where your baby or toddler can feel, listen and search for many different textures, colors and sounds.
Build with Blocks = Build STEM and science
Building with blocks is an excellent way to introduce engineering concepts to babies and toddlers. So much so that it gets its own category! When babies and toddlers build with blocks, they learn about balance, stability, and cause and effect. They also develop their problem-solving skills and creativity.
Provide your baby or toddler with blocks of different shapes and sizes. Finding a set of Unit Blocks allows them to absorb fractional relationships from a very young age. Encourage them to build towers, bridges, and other structures. You can even get down on the floor with them too play and stack the blocks together and watch them knock them down.
Introduce Simple Machines
Introducing simple machines is an excellent way to introduce science and STEM concepts to toddlers. Simple machines are tools that make work easier, such as levers, pulleys, and wheels. Toddlers can learn about how these machines work by playing with simple toys that incorporate these concepts like a Balancing Scale or something simpler like these Balancing Rings.
While they play with the toys you can offer them new language and vocabulary to describe what they’re seeing and experiencing - heavier and lighter, taller and shorter and so on. You can also read books about simple machines and point out examples of these machines in your environment.
Cooking together is probably the best way to introduce science concepts to toddlers. Toddlers can learn about measurement, fractions, cause and effect, prediction, and observation just by being in the kitchen with you.
Set up simple recipes to start and add complexity as they’re ready. Include them in everyday meal prep as they are capable - plucking grapes one day, peeling bananas the next and chopping carrots as they get older! The Monti Kids Cooking Together Set has 10 recipes and instructions for prep as well as small, child sized tools to set your little one up for success.
Encourage Mistakes and Problem-Solving
Encouraging problem-solving is an essential aspect of STEM education. Toddlers can develop their problem-solving skills through their play by practicing trial and error and repetition. Many toys will have more than one way to play with them just like many problems can be solved with more than one solution.
Encourage your toddler to solve problems on their own by asking questions like, “I wonder if there is another way to do that?”. Offer them lots of different puzzles or activities that are self-correcting allowing them to see for themselves when something is not right. Check out this puzzle series for inspiration!
Incorporating art into daily activities is an excellent way to reinforce STEM concepts for toddlers. You can incorporate these activities into their regularly accessible work or set up a bigger project for collaborative work.
Monti Kids has many age appropriate art materials available for you to choose from based on your little one’s interests. For example, using watercolor paints requires them to follow a few specific steps, in order, to achieve a successful outcome. They can also experiment with color mixing and concepts of light and dark as extensions of STEM play.
Incorporating early STEM and science concepts into the daily routine of babies and toddlers can be a fun and exciting way to promote learning and development. By exploring the outdoors, experimenting with sensory play, cooking together, encouraging problem-solving, and providing opportunities for art and self expression, parents can promote early STEM education for their children.
It is essential to remember that every child develops at their own pace, and there is no one right way to introduce STEM concepts. The most important thing is to provide our children with opportunities to explore, play, and learn in a safe and supportive environment. By fostering a love of science and STEM from an early age, we can help our children develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in an ever-changing world.
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