Are you looking for some simple, engaging engineering challenges for your kids at home?! Look no further!
I’ve been using STEM Bins in my classroom for the past four years, and my two kids at home love using them as well! I have a 9 year old daughter, Ellie, and 5 year old son, Beau, and we keep it simple with lots of open-ended play and simple challenges that use materials around our house. At home, actual bins (or even baggies) aren’t even necessary. Random piles of stuff will do…as long as your kids can create with it! Here are five common household materials and some project ideas that your kids are sure to love.
Don’t throw away those toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls! Your kids can use them for SO many creative projects. They can explore simple machines with Paper Playgrounds, creating slides for inclined planes and seesaws for levers. They can even “play” on their playgrounds with LEGO mini figures or small animals. CLICK HERE for a great video about the science of pushes and pulls in playgrounds.
You can also have your kids build simple marble roller coasters like the one shown above, or if you really want to unleash their creativity, have them build one right on the wall with painter’s tape! This is a great way for your kids to explore potential (stored) and kinetic (working) energy. Check out Ellie and Beau’s roller coaster!
My kids absolutely LOVE to build towers and structures with all types of cups, and mini cups are even better because they’re so easy to store in a large ziplock baggie. These colored mini cups from Amazon kept them busy for hours! We even filmed some slo-mo videos of knocking them down and rebuilt the towers using different color patterns.
Using mini cups, you can challenge your kids to build forts to keep their stuffed animals and action figures safe. They can even construct their own mini cup vehicles using a few extra materials.
Our entire family absolutely LOVES creating with LEGO, and the possibilities are truly limitless! Our kids are usually building BIG with cities, amusement parks, and dream homes. We are huge fans of the LEGO Masters show and love to recreate some of their challenges, like the bridge building from Episode 6 or story building from Episode 7. You can download THIS FREE TEMPLATE to recreate the Storybook episode with your family at home!
You can also challenge your kids to create their own interactive games and toys with LEGO, like a fidget spinner, chess set, or table top hockey game like the one shown below. They can explore volume and capacity by creating a new and improved crayon box, piggy bank, or jewelry box. If you have any large baseplates, they work great for building multi-leveled structures or marble mazes.
Check out LEGO’s How To Academy on YouTube for tons of cool building tutorials!
Whether you have KEVA planks, Jenga blocks, or any other type of wooden blocks at home, they can be used to create some AMAZING structures! Challenge your kids at home to build a bridge that will hold the most weight, or explore Newton’s third law of motion by creating the longest possible chain reaction. My kids love to combine marbles, toy cars, dominoes and more with their wooden planks to create chain reactions.
The KEVA website has an amazing library of structure ideas with tutorials for your kids to try.
Last but certainly not least is one of my childhood favorites, Play-doh! Throw in some toothpicks or craft sticks to take it to another level of engineering. My kids also love to use plastic knives, scissors, cookie cutters, and small toys to create interactive scenes. They can use play-doh for vertices and create 3D solids such as pyramids, cubes, and triangular prisms. You can even have your kids recreate a baking competition by sculpting cupcakes and other desserts!
If you’re looking to incorporate more academics with playdough, check out my Number and Letter Builders for Pre-K and Kindergarten:
The Hasbro website also has a library of video tutorials with all sorts of cool projects and sculpting techniques!
Download my FREE STEM Bins at Home choice boards below!
Looking for some low prep STEM Family Projects to share with your families?! The following 12 open-ended projects include resource videos, student recording sheets, and extension options in both printable form AND digital Google Slides form!
***This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. By purchasing an item on the Amazon site using these links, I will receive a small commission on your purchase.***