Summer is my favorite season for STEAM kid’s activities (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) because it’s easier to clean up! Yes, I know. That’s maybe not the best reasoning. But it’s a very valid reason. STEAM activities can get messy, but taking them outside helps the cleanup process become faster and easier. Here are some of our favorite STEAM activities, along with a few cleaning up tips!
Sunscreen Painting: I found this gem activity on Pinterest, but we’ve been doing it on repeat at our house! Take a dark sheet of construction paper (black, blue, deep reds, etc) and paint with sunscreen! Leave it out in the sun for a few hours to dry, then come back and see the work you’ve created. It was such a great conversation about sunscreen and how it can help our skin while we’re out playing in the sunshine.
Oobleck: Such a classic, messy sensory activity. The non-newtonian substance is addicting for kids and adults to play with! I love playing with this in a plastic bin or bowl outside because cleanup is just a simple hose down of everything. Because it’s made of cornstarch and water, it’s safe to hose down into the grass or down the gutter. Please use your best judgment with this and verify if it’s safe for you to do so in your own area or not.
Diet Coke + Mentos: We all know this activity is also for adult enjoyment, as well as kid entertainment and education. The science behind Diet Coke and Mentos is really fascinating. And if you’re still scratching your head about why it’s a physical reaction instead of a chemical reaction, we’ve got you covered! Check out our article on Chemical vs. Physical Changes.
Egg Drop: A perfect excuse to use up all of that recycling that’s taking up a corner of your garage (I’m not the only one, right?) Find different ways to protect your egg at different heights of dropping them. The garden hose is also the MVP when it comes to clean up.
S’mores with Tin Foil: Setting up a little stove with tin foil to make a s’more is not only a great STEM activity, but also a great snack!
Ice Painting: Have you ever tried painting on ice? The effect is incredible! There are a few ways you can do this. Freeze your own ice cubes or pull cubes out of your ice maker and dump them into a plastic bin or bowl to paint. Freeze a block of water in a big container and paint on the ice chunk. Or buy a bag of ice from a gas station and dump it into a bowl or bin for painting.
Sink or Float: It may feel boring and overused to you, but I’m willing to bet your child hasn’t done the experiment dozens of times as you have. Find random toys and items, place them in a bucket of water, and see what sinks and what floats.
Make Your Own Bubble Solution and Wands: We typically make bubble wands out of pipe cleaners, but there are so many materials you can use to create bubble wands. Leaving out different materials and letting the kids come up with their own creations is exactly what STEAM is all about! There are dozens of bubble recipes online, but this one is our favorite:
½ C. Dish Soap
1 ½ C. Water
2 tsp Sugar
Bubble Foam: Have you tried this yet? It’s a fun outdoor STEAM activity for your kids. I use Busy Toddler’s recipe and instructions.
Stack Pool Noodles with Shaving Cream: Slice up a pool noodle into smaller discs and build towers by using shaving cream as the “glue.” This is one that is an “outside only” activity for me. Messy play is important, but I have limits too!
What STEAM activities are you trying out this summer? What cleaning up tips do you have for messy outside play?