8 No Prep STEM Activities [Elementary & Middle School]

Are you looking for quick, easy activities to keep your children entertained while at home? STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) activities are a great way to engage your child in learning new concepts and expanding their minds. Many STEM activities require parents to purchase a ton of supplies or spend more time preparing the activity than your child will spend completing it. 

Here are 8 no prep STEM activities using common household supplies that you can complete with your child at home today: 

  • Fizzy Foam Activity 
  • STEM Building Task Cards
  • Coding With a Deck of Cards
  • Oreo Cookie Moon Phases 
  • Water Cycle in a Bag 
  • Pretzel and Marshmellow Structures
  • Lego Challenge Cards
  • 3D Drawing Workbook

Continue reading for more information on the above STEM activities and resources to help provide enjoyable and intriguing activities for your little guy or gal. 

1.Fizzy Foam Activity 

The fizzy foam activity is an entertaining and creative chemistry activity that was put together by the 4-H STEM lab. The experiment is geared towards children who are in Preschool to 2nd grade. 

What Does the Fizzy Foam Activity Teach Children?

The goal of this experiment is to teach young children about chemical reactions. You also use yeast to demonstrate what a catalyst is – a substance that is used to speed up a reaction. 

Children can also exercise their creativity by adding different food coloring to their reaction to create different colored foam fountains. Art is a great component to add to your child’s STEM activities – sometimes referred to as STEAM. 

How To Create Your Foam Fountain?  

This STEM activity is an easy 20-minute project to complete with your little one. No prep work is required and all of the supplies are common household items – yeast, hydrogen peroxide, dish soap, etc. I suggest conducting your experiment over a baking sheet for easy clean-up. 

You can find a full list of supplies to complete the project, as well as the activity steps on the 4-H website. The page also provides ways to make the activity more challenging and complex for older children, reflection questions, and related no prep STEM activities. 

2.STEM Building Task Cards

The only prep required for STEM task cards is to print out the cards. Once they are printed out you can task your child with cutting them – if they are old enough to do so alone. Then you can keep these cards to supply to your child to complete on their own for a STEM activity. 

STEM building cards are an easy activity you can complete with your preschooler or kindergartener. You can find multiple, free STEM building card PDFs online that you can print out to guide you and your child throughout the activity. 

Here are a couple of links to some STEM building cards you can use: 

  • STEM Building Shape Task Cards
  • STEM Building Alphabet Task Cards

The blog that I am linking these task cards from has a ton of different sets of task cards you can print out for your child based on their age. These task cards are great because they use crayons to build the object on the card, also teaching your little one to match up colors. 

3.Coding With a Deck of Cards 

If you have a child (or children) at home who are interested in learning to code but have no idea how to start teaching them basic concepts, then coding with a deck of cards is a great activity for you to provide them. 

What Does Coding With a Deck of Cards Teach Children?

This coding activity is aimed at children who are ages 4 and up. Coding with a deck of cards is a screen-free coding activity that teaches your child the basic coding skills of algorithms, debugging, and loops. 

How To Code With a Deck of Cards? 

This STEM activity requires no prep work and the only supplies you will need are: 

  • Deck of cards
  • Tape
  • Any toys you already have around your home
  Summer Camps in Summerville, SC [Grades PreK-5]

Click here for full instructions on how to perform this activity with your child or get them started and have them work on their own. 

This link will also provide options for increasing the difficulty for older children or children who understand coding basics already. 

4.Oreo Cookie Moon Phases 

Building an Oreo Cookie Moon Phase Model is a yummy and easy activity you can do during snack time or for a sweet treat with your little one. This activity is geared toward preschool-aged children or toddlers. 

How to Make the Phases of the Moon? 

All you need is a package of Oreo Cookies and knowledge of the phases of the moon. 

You will start with 8 Oreo Cookies. You can use any sandwich cookie, but I feel Oreo Cookies are the best representation of the moon and easily show the individual phases. Then follow these steps to create your model:

  1. Leave one cookie intact and uneaten – this will be your new moon.
  2. Take one side of the cookie off so that the cream filling is showing – this will be your full moon. 
  3. Place your new moon at the top of the plate and the full moon at the bottom. 
  4. Have your child take small bites out of the remaining 6 Oreo Cookies to represent the phases of the moon. 

If you are a visual learner like me it may be helpful to check out this example of a completed Oreo Moon Phase Model and other STEM activities about the moon. 

5.Water Cycle in a Bag 

Water cycle in a bag is an easy science project that you can throw together really quickly with a couple of supplies you have in your kitchen – water, Ziploc bag, food coloring, and a sharpie. 

This project can be completed by children of any age group – the younger ones may just need a bit more help with creating their water cycle model. 

How to Make Your Water Cycle in a Bag?

You can quickly put this activity together with your kids and have them watch the science behind the water cycle for days as it hangs on a window. Follow these easy steps: 

  1. Draw a sun, clouds, and water on your Ziploc bag with a sharpie. 
  2. Add food coloring to a small amount of water (around ¼ cup should do). 
  3. Pour the water into the bag. 
  4. Tape the bag up in a window in your home. 

Step-by-step pictures are provided here if you want to visualize what the finished activity looks like or find out a bit more about the activity. This webpage will also provide you with some information you can share with your child about the water cycle as it is demonstrated by your model. 

6. Pretzel and Marshmellow Structures

Building structures out of pretzels and marshmallows is another fun activity you can add to snacktime or use to offer a treat to your kids after they complete the task. It is a super easy and fun way for your children to learn engineering basics. 

This activity only requires a bag of pretzel sticks and miniature marshmallows. If you don’t already have them in your pantry, then just add them to your next shopping list. 

All you have to do is provide your children with the supplies and let them figure out how to place them together to build whatever structure they may have in mind. 

7. LEGO Challange Cards  

LEGO challenge cards are another easy and printable PDF you can provide your child for a no-prep STEM activity. If your child already loves playing with LEGOs this would be an excellent option to get them engaged in something educational while still having fun. 

These cards are aimed to teach your child engineering and construction basics. Depending on your child’s age they may need help with some of the cards. After a simple explanation of the task, they should be able to complete this activity on their own. 

8. 3D Building Workbook 

You can sign up here to receive access to a free printable workbook that provides drawing/coloring pages for your child to learn how to draw in 3D. This activity will not only teach your child the basics to draw different shapes and structures in 3D but also practice and develop hand-eye coordination skills. 

This is a great place for your child to start if they are interested in engineering. They will develop basic 3D skills that they can use when they eventually start learning how to design structures using different online software programs. 

To receive access to this printable workbook you are signing up for a newsletter from a blog that specializes in providing STEM resources for educators. Many of the links and resources within the free library you will have access to can also be done at home. 

What are STEM Challenges? 

STEM refers to an educational curriculum that integrates the following academic disciplines: 

  • Science – biology, chemistry, etc. 
  • Technology – computer programming, software design, etc. 
  • Engineering – construction, robotics, electronics, etc. 
  • Math – algebra, physics, etc. 

STEM curriculum is often used all the way from Pre-K to high school. STEM challenges are activities or tasks teachers (or parents like you at home) can give to their students (or children) to help master the STEM disciplines. 

What Is STEAM? 

You may sometimes see activities or challenges that are categorized as STEAM challenges. These challenges are also integrating art into the activity. The addition of art to the STEM curriculum includes teaching children about: 

  • Humanities
  • Ethics 
  • Ideals
  • How to express themselves

Creativity and being able to think outside the box, no matter what career field your child may end up in one day, will set them apart from other applicants and co-workers. 

Why Should We Be Teaching Children STEM Curriculum? 

STEM curriculum was developed to prepare and educate our children in the areas or fields that we believe will become dominant in the future workplace. It is designed to teach “real-world skills” to your child that they can use later in life – possibly in their career. 

Along with practical skills – like coding, construction, etc. – that are taught in STEM challenges, children also learn basic skills needed to be successful in their education, career, and lives. These skills include: 

  • Problem-solving 
  • Finding and utilizing evidence 
  • Teamwork – if working with others on challenges or tasks 
  • Critical thinking 

Ensuring that our education system and lessons learned at home are STEM-focused will better prepare our children of today for the future workplace and “real world” they will step into once they graduate and leave the nest. 

No Prep versus Regular Activities 

STEM activities can range from really complex to super simple. Complex and regular STEM activities can often include a lot of prep work beforehand. They may also include supplies that you would need to purchase – not common household items. 

No Prep STEM activities are the best option for parents to perform with their children at home. As you can see from the activities that are listed above, the activities regular little to no preparation. The steps involved in the project can be done by your child alone or with your help. 

No Prep STEM activities also only include supplies that most people have within their homes already. No Prep STEM activities are meant for you to look up and be able to complete them with your child that day. 

No Prep STEM Activities - Middle School

Let’s Wrap It Up 

Pinterest is your friend when looking for STEM activities to do with your children at home. There are tons of links to websites that provide creative STEM activities to keep your child busy, learning, and having fun all at the same time. 

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