14 December 2013

9 STEM-y snowy-day indoor ideas for young kids

[or "STEAM," given that Maeda suggests including ART]

1. Hexaflexagons: three-sided paper!?

Gather 'round and watch Vi Hart explain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIVIegSt81k
Download this template & make some: http://www.puzzles.com/hexaflexagon/activities.html

2. Consider some neat games

Have you tried:

Set - http://www.amazon.com/Set-Family-Game-visual-perception/dp/B00000IV34/
Spot It! - http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Orange-410-Spot-It/dp/B0039S7NO6/
Monopoly Jr.

3. Spend 15 minutes with these videos

Brief videos suitable for kids and interesting enough for grownups: The Kid Should See This.
At night sometimes our kids will ask to also watch a few minutes of Carl Sagan (the "Sagan Series") or Richard Feynman ( the "Feynman Series") videos, but you should preview them first in case their viewpoints differ from yours. Beautiful visuals and background music carry important thought-provoking themes.

4. Cook something

  • Slowly stir scrambled eggs
  • Double or halve some other recipe - hot chocolate, lemonade, veggie dip
  • Experiment: how do you make a perfect soft-boiled egg?  Do you put the egg in water before or after it's boiling?  For how many minutes?  Do you run it under cold water afterwards or not?  Make a table with results.

5. Grab a small hardback notebook & Plan a business

Leaf raking? Lemonade selling? Show them how profits = revenue - expenses!

6. Stop-motion or remote video special effects

Have a small camera on your smartphone, or a tiny "spy camera" like this from Playmobil? It's easy to grab the real-time output from USB into Mac Photo Booth... sit the camera on an R/C car, or on your trainset, or... your cat... and make a little movie.

7. Make a map of your house

Pick one room, or several. Measure it with really tight accuracy, or just sketch it.  Consider downloading that cool iOS app (Magicplan) that converts photos into floormaps.

8. Relax with some "Fetch with Ruff Ruffman"

It's goofy yet manages to show great examples of teamwork, humor, and a little science.

9. Got a big sheet of stiff cardboard? Make a "paper city" on it.

For some reason we have a couple of large (maybe 3' x 4') stiff cardboard planks. We began folding pieces of paper into rectangular buildings, and cutting little V-notches into it to make folded tabs for gluing down to the planks.

You can get as detailed as you want: decorate the buildings, draw roads, plan the city's utility pipes, or string up LED lights inside the buildings and see it glow through the windows.

Of course post your ideas in the comments!

For more traditional bite-sized lessons, see a bunch of my prior posts, e.g. http://g-fav.blogspot.com/2012/10/yet-more-bite-sized-stem-nuggets-for-5.html


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