February 6, 2019

5 Ways to STEAM-Power Your Child’s Chores

By Allison VanNest, Head of Communications at littleBits

As parents, we are always looking for new ways to engage our children in learning — especially when it comes to STEAM. Often, learning experiences can be found in the simple daily activities that take place at home. Let’s look at a few ways that you can incorporate some fun — and some STEAM — into simple chores.

1. Make a Guess
My children love to ask questions. How about yours? Help your child learn about making a scientific hypothesis by asking simple questions while cleaning up. For example, you could ask your child to suggest a way to clean up a room or do dishes faster and then evaluate the suggestion together when the task is done. Ask thinking questions such as, “Was it faster? What would you do differently next time?”

2. Work Smarter
Does your child love to build, but hate cleaning up after? When cleaning up a room or play area, challenge your child to build a ramp or other structure to make the cleaning easier. For example, these preschoolers built ramps out of whatever pieces they could find, and ended up asking some great questions. This kind of task requires problem-solving skills and some critical thinking about how to build a structure strong enough to get the job done yet simple enough to make the job easier. It also makes cleaning up that pile of blocks more fun!

3. Incorporate Colors
It seems like children always manage to get out every piece of every toy they have, leaving a rainbow of toys strewn around the room. Rather than simply sorting toys as you normally would, have your child sort them by color. Start with the solid colors, and then move to those that are not as easy to categorize. Looking at color in this way will help your child understand and appreciate the full spectrum of color in the art around us. You might want to check out this information on the visible spectrum so you’re prepared when you child starts asking questions!

4. Keep Track
Does your child like to draw or count? Use those interests to keep track of how long it took to finish each task or count how many toys there were to clean up. Graph the data each day for a week, and look for patterns. For younger children, you can ask questions such as, “What was the greatest number of toys you had out this week? On which day did the chores take the least time (or most time)?” For older children, encourage comparisons and simple addition and subtraction problems, such as “How much longer did it take to clean up yesterday than today?” Encourage your child to make observations about the data.

5. Find a Technological Advantage
For any of the suggestions above, encourage your child to think about how technology could make the task easier (or more difficult). For example, using technology (like a spreadsheet or this tool) would make it easier to track and display the data each day, while automating a task such as color sorting would not be completely practical because there are so many variables involved. Other ideas, like this Automatic Washer, might require less effort but still need to be monitored.

Incorporating STEAM into your child’s chores makes the work more fun and also provides the rich learning and problem-solving experiences that will help your child to grow. Do you have any fun strategies for STEAM-powering your chores? Share your favorites on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!

Posted in: Parents, STEM/STEAM
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