A STEAM activities approach to education has been a growing trend in many educational settings. It uses science, technology, engineering, art, and math as a way to guide and grow students toward critical thinking, dialogue, and inquiry. Using STEAM in your homeschool, classroom, CO-OP group, and the like will help children learn the problem-solving, collaboration, and creative processes often presented within the educational framework.
STEM vs. STEAM: What’s the difference?
You may be familiar with the acronym STEM, but in the recent years, there has been a shift from only focusing on science, technology, engineering, and math to the addition of the arts. Why is that? The simple answer lies in the components missing that parents, educators, and employers have voiced that are important for children to have.
This all has to do with the direction our job market, workforce, and economy is heading. Things look much different in the 21st century than it did just a few hundred years ago. Innovation and creativity are gaining traction in forms of entrepreneurship and our children need to be prepared for that. This is what the arts focus on.
Overall, there’s not much difference; however, with STEAM there’s an additional focus to help give children a holistic educational experience.
Is STEAM education important?
Absolutely! Before adopting a project and activity-based approach in education, the school systems were pushing lessons that were taught from a perspective of preparing students for jobs that simply didn’t exist. It was more about performance and reaching a certain status. However, there came a point in time when a group of people began realizing that preparing children for the real future also includes tailoring their education to learning that was relevant to today and the future.
STEAM education takes learning outside the box, giving teachers and home educators the ability to integrate topics, concepts, and tools that students truly enjoy. It takes learning from the classroom (or living room) and opens it to the great outdoors in which it can be lived.
The STEAM model focuses on several key components that are beneficial for every student:
- Connections between standards, lessons, and implementation.
- Combination of multiple subjects in one lesson through valid connections.
- Process-based learning obtained through inquiry and collaboration.
A good STEAM lesson walks students through six key phases:
- Focus: in this stage, a question is selected as the primary focus.
- Detail: elements are looked for that relate to the focus question.
- Discovery: students search for active solutions to the question with the details given.
- Application: this is where the hands-on activities begin with experiments and applications used to find the solution to the question (or problem).
- Presentation: students can be given the opportunity to share their findings through a presentation.
- Linking: students reflect and provide feedback on what was learned.
Of course, you don’t have to be a STEAM professional to implement these modals into your children’s lessons. Having a good set of activities (like the ones below) is a great place to start. Most activities that you find online are already put together in a way that incorporates the variety of steps previously discussed.
15 Fall STEAM Activities for Kids
What better way to add STEAM to your classroom or homeschool than through season-specific lessons. The activities listed below offer a great hands-on experience with a touch of fun (and learning). Enjoy!
- Leaf Preservation (Red Ted Art)
- Salt Crystal Leaves (Little Bins for Little Hands)
- Popcorn Salt Experiment (Awefilled Homemaker)
- Fall Sun Catchers (Sixth Bloom)
- Pumpkin Sensory Bag (Messy Little Monster)
- Pumpkin Math (Sixth Bloom)
- Pumpkin Volcanoes (Team Cartwright)
- Apple Balance (Days with Grey)
- What Makes a Strong Spider Web? (From Engineer to SAHM)
- Apple Science (Pre-K Pages)
- Leaf Color Experiment (Green Kid Craft)
- Hidden Colors in Leaves (Share It Science)
- Discovering a Pumpkin (Share It Science)
- Learn What Dissolves in Water (Hands On As We Grow)
- Decomposing Pumpkin Experiment (Share It Science)
How to Plan STEAM Activities in Your Homeschool (or Classroom)
Now that you have a nice supply of fall STEAM activities to start with, here are some quick tips for easily planning them in your homeschool or classroom. STEAM activities can be done as stand-alone activities or they can be used in unit studies. You can also use these activities to create a unit study.
First, decide if you’ll be doing it as a stand-alone or as part of a learning unit. Once you have that in mind, jot down when you’d like to do the activity. Now you’re ready to gather your supplies and prepare to execute. Some parents enjoy pairing the activity with books, videos, and/or documentaries. Speaking of books, here are a few to consider pairing with some of the activities above:
- From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer
- Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
- The Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Steven Kroll
- Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
- The Runaway Pumpkin by Kevin Lewis
- How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow? by Wendell Minor
- Wonderfall by Michael Hall
- Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert
And since we mentioned videos, use these to help you create a well-rounded fall STEAM lesson:
- Candy Hypothesis
- The Teal Pumpkin Project
- Dancing Popcorn
- The Science of Corn
- The Science of Fall
- Why Leaves Change Colors
Depending on the ages and grades of your children, you can add (or take away) supplements to compliment the activity. Consider having your older children write a report and your younger children create an interactive lapbook. This will give your children extra things to do as well as something to look back on later.
As you can see, planning STEAM in your homeschool or classroom can be super easy and fun!
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