By: Andrea Dillon
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Tapping into your child’s creativity is an excellent way for your child to learn, explore, and build confidence. One great way to do this is by encouraging your child to invent and practice engineering or STEM. That can sound like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be! We have plenty of ideas, tips, and projects to help inspire your young inventor.
Creating an Engineering Makerspace
One of the best and easiest ideas for teaching engineering for preschool and elementary children is to create a makerspace. A makerspace is an area that contains a multitude of materials that students can use to experiment and invent. Your makerspace can be as elaborate or as simple as you like, and you shouldn’t feel the need to purchase a lot of materials as the best makerspace ideas are with things you probably already have around the house. For older children, you can still use a makerspace but will need to provide more advanced materials.
If you want to expand your makerspace or a more elaborate one for older students, give this book a try!
The Kickstart Guide to Making GREAT Makerspaces
by Laura Fleming
“Anyone can create a makerspace. This is the guide to creating a GREAT makerspace. Written by makerspace pioneer Laura Fleming, The Kickstart Guide to Making GREAT Makerspaces is filled with step-by-step, practical ideas that demystify the process of planning and creating a makerspace.”
The most important aspect to remember in creating your makerspace is to use materials that you and your children are comfortable with and to practice using them safely together while starting.
Engineering Activities for Kids
Once you have your makerspace set up, it might be difficult to get the creative juices flowing. Help spark your homeschooler’s creativity with these engineering projects for kids.
- Scamper – Use this free and fun activity anywhere, anytime. Try SCAMPERing in the car, while walking, or just sitting around! It’s a game for inventive kids and their parents.
- Idea Generation Techniques – “Ideas are things that come and go and fairly frequently too. However, the really great ideas usually spring unexpectedly in moments of inspiration. Get those ideas flowing with these techniques!”
- Design a Pneumatic or air-powered machine – How can you invent your own air-powered machine? Practice being an engineer by brainstorming, drawing a picture, and planning how you can make your own pneumatic machine.
- Engineering Adventures – A free curriculum created especially for kids in grades 3 – 5 in out-of-school time programs! Follow India and Jacob as they solve real-life problems by using the engineering design process.
- Flight Test – Experiment with drag from air friction in this plane simulation activity. The students compete to design a “spoon plane” that glides down a zipline the fastest. Find more activities on DiscoveryE.
- Mini Catapult – Create a catapult with things you find around your house! Explore the mechanics of this medieval weapon and learn about potential energy in the process. Find more activities on EngineerGirl.
- STEAM Activities – Get more STEM and engineering activities for kids on our Pinterest board.
Engineering Inspiration For Kids
Even the most creative people need inspiration at times. Inspire your homeschooler with these additional engineering and STEM sources.
|Engineering For Kids Videos||Engineering For Kids Books||Engineering For Kids Products|
Engineering For Kids Videos
Design Squad Global is a PBS KIDS show all about real-world problems and how to use engineering to solve those problems. This show is geared for later elementary and middle school children.
Doozers is the perfect show to introduce engineering for preschoolers. “Join the adventurous and innovative Pod Squad as they play, invent, design, and engineer solutions to the challenges they face in their fantastic kid lives! Team up with Pod Squad as they play, invent, design, and engineer solutions to the challenges they face in their fantastic kid lives!” Available on Amazon, Hulu, and YouTube.
Mark Rober is a former NASA engineer turned YouTuber that helps make science, inventing, and engineering fun! Check out one of our favorite videos below!
Tumble Leaf helps to encourage children to discover STEM and its connection to the world around us through play.
Engineering For Kids Books
Basic Engineering Mathematics by John Bird
“Now in its seventh edition, Basic Engineering Mathematics is an established textbook that has helped thousands of students to succeed in their exams. Mathematical theories are explained in a straightforward manner, being supported by practical engineering examples and applications in order to ensure that readers can relate theory to practice. The extensive and thorough topic coverage makes this an ideal text for introductory level engineering courses. This title is supported by a companion website with resources for both students and lecturers, including lists of essential formulae, multiple choice tests, and full solutions for all 1,600 further questions.”
Engineered!: Engineering Design at Work by Shannon Hunt
“How do you land a rover on Mars, resolve a perpetual traffic jam or save a herd of caribou from potential extinction? Ask an engineer! Author Shannon Hunt presents nine real-life problems for which engineers designed inventive (and even crazy!) solutions. Each was solved using a different field of engineering — from aerospace and mechanical to the new field of geomatics. A helpful seven-step flowchart of the engineering design process is also featured: define the problem, investigate the requirements, develop solutions, design a prototype, test it, improve it and share the idea. These steps are highlighted in each chapter with helpful icons that refer back to the flowchart. Sidebars, biographies of the engineers and fun detailed illustrations by James Gulliver Hancock help flesh out the stories and bring them to life.”
How to Be An Engineer by Carol Vorderman
“Teach kids to think like an engineer! The engaging projects in this book will encourage kids to investigate using items from around the house. Build a robot arm out of rulers; learn about jet propulsion with balloons; crush toilet-paper rolls to explore materials; and much more. Read about how engineers use STEAM subjects and their imaginations to think critically and solve problems. Be inspired by engineering heroes such as Leonardo da Vinci, Mae Jemison, and Elon Musk. Fun questions, engineering experiments, and real-life scenarios come together to make engineering relevant. In How to Be an Engineer, the emphasis is on inspiring kids, which means less time at a computer and more time exploring in the real world.”
How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson
“In this illustrated history, Steven Johnson explores the history of innovation over centuries, tracing facets of modern life (refrigeration, clocks, and eyeglass lenses, to name a few) from their creation by hobbyists, amateurs, and entrepreneurs to their unintended historical consequences. Filled with surprising stories of accidental genius and brilliant mistakes—from the French publisher who invented the phonograph before Edison but forgot to include playback, to the Hollywood movie star who helped invent the technology behind Wi-Fi and Bluetooth—How We Got to Now investigates the secret history behind the everyday objects of contemporary life.”
by David Macaulay
“Explainer-in-Chief David Macaulay updates the worldwide bestseller The New Way Things Work to capture the latest developments in the technology that most impacts our lives. Famously packed with information on the inner workings of everything from windmills to Wi-Fi, this extraordinary and humorous book both guides readers through the fundamental principles of machines, and shows how the developments of the past are building the world of tomorrow.”
Engineering For Kids Products
“Encourage creativity, build fine motor skills, and stimulate narrative play with these cool tools. Kids can get to work with the included actual steel saw, 2 screwdrivers, sturdy wooden and steel hammers, pliers, wrenches, and more!”
Let your children explore and create with this LEGO engineering for kids book. This book comes with “33 LEGO pieces, Instructions for 10 modules, 6 plastic balls, string, paper ramps and other components.”
by Learning Resources
Help your budding engineers develop their problem solving and creating thinking skills while making skyscrapers, cranes, bridges, and more.
Let the kids design on a larger scale with this fort building kit! This kit contains 28 geometric balls and 49 reinforced sticks to create various shaped forts. Add a sheet, and you have the perfect hideaway for fun.
How To Be An Inventor As A Kid
Has your child blossomed with engineering and created something amazing? Wonderful! They are following in the footsteps of many kid inventors! Do you need help with how to help them take their invention to the next step? Learn more about the patents and trademarks you might need and find a Camp Invention near you to help them connect with other young inventors!