On this blog, I cover over 40 topics, and within each topic, I include links to activities, books, songs, and videos related to that topic. On this page, I’ve collected some resources I use again and again because they’re full of great information on a wide variety of topics. Within each section, they are listed in a purely subjective order, where I list my very favorite resources first. But all of the resources on this page come highly recommended! Here’s the categories I cover on this page:
Books for Parents and Teachers
STEM Books for Kids
Websites with STEM curricula
Ideas for hands-on STEM Activities
Videos and TV Shows
Songs about STEM topics
Online Classes and Camps
Books for Parents and Teachers with Activity Ideas
- Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors by Doorley. My review
- The Curious Kid’s Science Book: 100+ Creative Hands-On Activities for Ages 4-8 by Citro. My review.
- The Preschool Scientist: Using Learning Centers to Discover and Explore Science by Williams. Ideas clustered to teach big ideas, like alike and different, change, tools, and water.
- Big Science for Little People: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Child Discover the Wonders of Science by Brunelle. My review.
- The 101 Coolest Simple Science Experiments: Awesome Things To Do With Your Parents, Babysitters… by Homer and Miller. My review.
- Picture-Perfect STEM Lessons, K 2: Using Children’s Books to Inspire STEM Learning by Morgan. Pricey, but worth it if you’re planning/teaching STEM classes to kids. Each chapter includes recommendations for two kids’ books AND a full curriculum built around those books: crafts, games, circle time discussions, etc.
- The Kids’ Book of Simple Machines: Cool Projects & Activities that Make Science Fun! by Doudna. (Also The Kid’s Book of Simple Everyday Science) My Review.
- Kitchen Science Lab for Kids: 52 Family Friendly Experiments from Around the House by Heinecke.
- Energy Lab for Kids: 40 Exciting Experiments to Explore, Create, Harness, and Unleash Energy by Hawbaker.
- Growing Up Wild Activity Book: Exploring Nature with Young Children. (Distributed at their trainings.) Read My review.
- The Smithsonian’s Maker Lab: 28 Super Cool Projects: Build * Invent * Create * Discover by Challoner.
- STEAM Kids: 50+ Science / Technology / Engineering / Art / Math Hands-On Projects for Kids by Carey, et al
- Rosie Revere’s Big Project Book for Bold Engineers by Beaty
STEM books for Kids – both non-fiction and fiction picture books
- My personal favorites:
- Any of the books recommended in Picture-Perfect STEM Lessons. (see above) Here’s a listing of the Picture Perfect Science Books.
- The National Science Teachers’ Association (NSTA) has great recommendations for k-12. Each year they issue their list of “Outstanding Science Trade Books” for that year. And they have a list of recommendations you can search! So, I can type in a search for book titles containing the word electric in books for kids in K-4th grade, and it gives me LOTS of results: www.nsta.org/recommends/
- Children’s Book Council also releases a list of Best STEM Books of the year. It’s a joint project with NSTA, American Society for Engineering Education, International Technology and Engineering Educators Association.
- Kodo Kids’ list of 66 Essential STEM Books
Websites for Curriculum Planning
- Exploratorium Activities. Free.
- Big Science for Little Hands – 18 complete lesson plans for kindergarten age. Free.
- Preschool STEM Curricula from Massachusetts. Great detailed lesson plans on topics from gardening to birds, weather, and simple machines.
- Invent It! Build It! from PBS Design Squad. Challenges for 9 – 12 year olds
- Discover Engineering has a collection of about 200 ideas for hands-on activities for k-12 (some will work for younger kids as well).
- STEM Sprouts Teaching Guide from Boston Children’s Museum (features characters from Peep and the Big Wide World)
- Virginia Children’s Engineering Council has design briefs for K-5 that are lesson plans for activities like: English – Building a Letter; Math – Shapes all Around Us; Science – Magnet Motion and History – Shipping Across the Centuries.
- Dawn Publications – companion activities for their books – all activities are about connecting children to nature
- Teacher Enrichment Resource Packets from Explorit Science Center – designed to accompany their exhibits but several ideas stand alone.
- STEM Resource Finder from the Concord Consortium. Interactive STEM activities for elementary through higher ed.
- Preschool STEM Teaching Units from Audubon in Massachusetts. Early childhood science in the outdoor classroom.
- K-12 STEM Lesson Plan Guide. Tips for building STEM lesson plans, STEM Resources for teachers.
- STEM Games: A collection of links to fun ideas for activities.
- Bill Nye – Experiments You SHOULD Try at Home. A collection of fun hands-on ideas, many with an environmental lesson included.
Facebook Groups and Blogs with STE(A)M Activities
These are just a few of my favorites, that I find myself going to time and again. Each of these resources has a website / blog and they have a Facebook page where you can follow what they’re up to. These links are all to the “about me” page of each site.
- Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls – https://frugalfun4boys.com/about/.
- TinkerLab – https://tinkerlab.com/meetrachelle/
- Science Snacks from Exploratorium – exploratorium.edu/snacks/.
- Happy Hooligans – http://happyhooligans.ca/about-me/.
- Lemon Lime Adventures – http://lemonlimeadventures.com/.
- Artful Parent – https://artfulparent.com/jean-vant-hul-writer-childrens-art-enabler.
- Fun At Home With Kids – funathomewithkids.com/p/new-start-here.html.
- Babble Dabble Do – http://babbledabbledo.com/about-bdd/.
- Hands On As We Grow – https://handsonaswegrow.com/about/about-us/.
- What We Do All Day- whatdowedoallday.com/aboutcontact/.
- Steve Spangler Science – stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/.
- STEAM Powered Family – https://www.steampoweredfamily.com/about/.
- Buggy and Buddy: https://buggyandbuddy.com/about/all-about-me/
- Steve Spangler: https://www.stevespanglerscience.com/ (although they’ve become very commercial lately – pushing their product more than sharing science ideas. 😦 )
- Club Tinkerlab on Facebook is a large group of parents, educators, and librarians who post questions about topics related to teaching STEM to kids, and always get great advice in response.
What favorites of yours have I missed?
Videos / TV shows
- Sid the Science Kid is absolutely fabulous for teaching STEM concepts to preschoolers!! It’s set in Sid’s home and preschool with lots of relatable characters, a predictable structure to each episode and a definite talent for simplifying concepts for this age group.
- Bill Nye the Science Guy. Just search YouTube for his “full episodes” or buy DVD’s. This is more aimed at 8 – 12 year olds, I think, but my 5 year old loves it and learns from it.
- PBS’s current line-up includes: Bob the Builder (age 3+, tools and construction), Cat in the Hat knows a lot about that (age 4+, natural science including topics like migration and animal classification), Cyberchase (ages 5+, computers, math and the environment), Design Squad (middle school to high school, engineering and making), Dinosaur Train (age 3+, dinosaurs and paleontology), Go Jet Go (ages 4+, focus on astronomy and technology), Nature Cat (ages 3 – 8, about engaging with and developing an understanding of nature and free play outdoors), Peg + Cat (age 3 – 5, math and strategies for problem-solving), and SciGirls (ages 7+, focus on science problem solving and includes interviews with women scientists and engineers).
- Amazon Originals includes Annedroids (age 5+, STEM), Creative Galaxy (age 2+, art plus problem-solving), the Stinky & Dirty Show (age 3+, building and problem-solving), and Tumble Leaf (age 4+, simple science concepts)
- There are several stand-out science shows from the past that are available online, either legitimate streaming or not. Dragonfly TV, Magic School Bus, Myth Busters, Little Einstein, and more.
- Songs for Teaching: this website has a huge collection of science themed songs from multiple artists. They include the full lyrics for each song, a sample of the tune, and options for purchasing MP3’s of the song. Many of them would be better for the upper elementary to middle school age than the little ones I usually work with. http://www.songsforteaching.com/sciencesongsforyoungchildren.htm
- In my blog posts, I always include songs that we sing that are tied to specific STEM themes. Many of these I found online, simply by searching the web for “preschool songs [theme]” or searching YouTube for “kids songs [theme]”. I collected all the songs we sing in class here: https://inventorsoftomorrow.com/2017/06/23/kids-science-songs/
- The King County Library has produced videos of librarians singing LOTS (hundreds!) of classic children’s rhymes: http://kcls.org/content/ Jbrary also has a ton on their YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/Jbrary
These are all great for car rides. My six year old (and I) enjoy listening to them all: Brains On Science Podcast, The Show About Science, Tumble Science Podcasts, and Wow in the World from NPR. Free, fun, and educational!
If you don’t already know about the delights of podcasts for kids, learn about: how to listen, where to find them, and my recommended best podcasts for kids, and read more reviews at www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/20-podcasts-for-kids.
Here is just a sampling of the STEM focused apps for kids. They’re all for kids age 4 – 7, and all rated 4 or 5 stars by Common Sense Media, which looks at age-appropriateness, educational quality, entertainment value, and how much emphasis is put on spending money on in app purchases. You can read reviews of all of them on Common Sense Media. I have added affiliate links for the ones my son (who’s almost 7) has played and enjoyed.
- Puzzle / maze games which apply concepts about physics: Thinkrolls, World of Goo, Cut the Rope, Where’s My Water?and Busy Water.
- Build/test contraptions: Inventioneers, Pettson’s Inventions Deluxe, Bad Piggies, CATS, Leonardo’s Cat.
- Build vehicles and tracks: Train Kit, Fiete Cars, Blaze the Monster Machines.
- Simple Machines: Crazy Gears, Simple Machines by Tinybot.
- General STEM skills: Curious George Adventures in STEM, Sid’s Science Fair, Space Racers.
- Coding Skills: Coda Game, Code Karts, Kodable, Daisy the Dinosaur, PBS Kids Scratch Jr., Goldie Blox Adventures in Coding, The Foos.
- Specific Science Topics: Toca Lab Plants, DNA Play, This is my Weather – meteorology for kids, This is my spacecraft – rocket science for kids, Star Walk Kids, Apollo 11 by Bean Bag Kids, Robot Factory, Toca Lab Elements, This is My Body – anatomy for Kids, and Dinosaur Train.
On a related note: do you wonder about screen time for kids? How much is too much? Is some OK? Here are my tips on finding the screen time balance that works for your family.
In my class, we try as much as possible to do activities with cheap materials parents already have at home – popsicle sticks, pompoms, things from the recycling bin… but we do have a few specialty toys that just show some cool concept – like the conveyor belt, grain auger, domino train, and some robots. Learn about them all here: https://inventorsoftomorrow.com/2016/10/10/gadgets/
I can’t make any personal recommendations on these, because subscription kits just aren’t my style…
- I don’t like to own a lot of stuff so don’t want new things shipped to me monthly,
- I would rather search for my own activity ideas online than have one handed to me, and
- some of these kits seem to create a lot of waste (such as companies that send you a new pair of scissors in each kit so that the kits are totally self-contained… handy if you’re taking the kit on a trip, but what do you do with all those scissors?)
But, I know that some people love these, so I am including them for your reference…
There are several smaller companies that offer subscription programs carefully designed to provide a consistent, quality learning experience:
- Young Scientist Club: theyoungscientistsclub.com. Clifford the Big Red Dog Science Club for ages 3+, Magic School Bus Science Club and Young Scientists Club for ages 5 – 12. Kits provide materials, instructions / science info for adults, and instructions for kids. $19.99 per kit. Note that you can also purchase single kits on Amazon: Clifford The Big Red Dog Kits, The Magic School Bus Labs, and Young Scientist Series.
- Tinker Crate’s KIWI Crate kiwicrate.com/tinker. Ages 9 – 16. Detailed step-by-step instructions for one high quality project, tinker zine with directions for additional projects, video tutorials, and all the materials you need. $16.95 – 19.95 per month.
- Little Passports Science Expeditions, littlepassports.com. Ages 9+. (Or Science Junior for age 5 – 9.) Each kit includes comic book, detailed instructions for multiple experiments, and access to bonus videos online. Kits include all needed materials, even everyday items like rubber bands. $22.95 – 25.95 per month.
- Spangler Science Club stevespanglerscience.com/club/ for ages 7 – 14. The website doesn’t offer much info, just saying “includes material and instructions for experiments.” $9.99 – 29.99 per month depending on which plan you choose. (1 – 10 experiments per kit) On Amazon, you can purchase Spangler’s STEM in a Box kits, which I’m guessing are similar.
- MEL Chemistry https://melscience.com/en/ For older children. There’s a review here: www.amazon.com/gp/product/B071GDXRKG?ie=UTF8
Also, Amazon has STEM Club Toy Subscription: 8-13 year olds. This is just a curated collection of toys, where each month, they ship you a new STEM toy, often one that’s exclusive to Amazon.
Online Classes and Camps
In 2020, due to coronavirus quarantine, many parents are seeking out online education options and online summer camp activities. And many teachers and camp counselors are looking for students to teach. So, here are some places I’ve run across where you may be able to connect. I have no experience with any of them yet. (They’re things I found when looking for options for my 9 year old this summer.) Details current as of June 16, 2020.
- Outschool is a huge marketplace, where teachers offer interactive online classes with small groups of learners. I’ve written a review of Outschool. It’s an extremely diverse platform… Here are some sample classes, the first 6 results to today’s search for science for 5 year olds: How Does my Body Work – 35 minutes – $10. STREAM Story Time: 3 little pigs – 30 minutes – $6. Baby Goats – 25 minutes – $7. S’More Heat, Energy, Science – 30 minutes, $6. A Beekeeper Teaches about Bees – 40 minutes – $10. Rocks, Fossils, and Crystals, 45 minutes, $36. (Note: I will be teaching for Outschool in summer 2020.)
- Wise Camps. For kids 1st – 11th grade. July 13 – 17 or July 20 – 24, 9 – 12 or 1 – 3, $274 a week. These are formerly in-person camps pushed online. (I think they’re in Seattle area, thought the website never says.) Little Scientists for 1st-2nd grade; Chemistry Wizards grade 3 – 5. Includes a personalized box of supplies for camp.
- Pacific Science Center, Seattle. Small groups, led by 2 staff. Includes supply kit. Week-long sessions. K-1 is 1.5 hrs daily, $120 non-members; grade 2-3 or 3-5 is 3 hrs daily (morning or afternoon options), $225 non-members. Lots of different themes including space, Minecraft, anatomy, nature, design.
- Destination Science. Weekly, from July 6 through August. Half day for k-5, 2 hours of Zoom per day, $200. Full day 2nd-5th, 3.5 hrs/day, $375. Includes a kit of supplies (e.g. K’nex kits), and video instruction in case your child misses any sessions. Same teacher and camp-mates all week for social connection. 4 themes.
- Young Explorers. Based in WA state. K-5. $300 for 2 weeks – 10 days, with 2 hours per day. Includes programming, chess, reading/writing, math, and critical thinking.
- Trackers Spark – Oregon. Live, small group interactive webinars – one day, one hour sessions, so easy to pick and choose – include: wilderness survival, traps and snares, woodcarving, birding, knot tying.
STEM and STEAM: A Guide for Women, Minorities and Persons with Disabilities.
Explains STEM associated education and career opportunities, average earnings, representation and disparities in diversity, and inclusive strategies for various age groups. Includes links to many programs, including many scholarship programs.
A Guide to Supporting STEM Education for Students with Disabilities. Identifies barriers, suggests possible modifications, ways to support student learning, and things parents can do at home to support their child’s STEM learning (these tips apply to non-disabled children as well.) Also includes links to other resources.
Women and Minorities in STEM. Links to professional networking groups, advocacy and membership programs, and a guide for how high schoolers can prepare for a STEM education in college.
On this page, I include many links to help you find these resources. The links to Amazon are affiliate links, and I do get a small portion of the proceeds if you choose to purchase items after clicking on these links.