8 Simple Toddler STEM Activities You Need To Try

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Toddlerhood is such a fun age to start introducing STEM activities. They are so curious and ready to learn that it is simple and easy to engage in STEM learning at home. But isn’t STEM for older kids? Nope, children are born scientists! As parents we need to support their natural curiosities that can foster a life-long interest in learning.

What Is STEM Learning

STEM learning is all about science, technology, engineering, and math as well as how these subjects are interconnected and support each other. Similar to how the 5 areas of child development (physical, social, emotional, language, and cognitive) are interconnected to support the development of the whole child.

Now you might still be thinking that STEM is only for older children but I am here to tell you that toddlers are already engaging in STEM activities and we just don’t realize it.

When dealing with STEM in the early years it’s important to remember to go back to basics. When children are observing and exploring they are engaging in STEM. Many toys and sensory activities can also promote early STEM concepts. For example when children dump toys out they are exploring cause-and-effect as well as spatial exploration.

toddler exploring

Why Toddlers Need STEM

Now is it really that important to support STEM during the early years? Absolutely and here is why. STEM during the early years is setting the foundation of more complex STEM learning as they get older. Remember that STEM is all about science, technology, engineering, and math. These subjects are everywhere in our daily lives. Science and math are especially crucial as they are at the core of so much learning.

Toddlers can explore and engage in these foundational skills. As they play and continue to develop they will learn new and more complex skills. Playing with blocks for example is a foundational skill of STEM. Count the blocks as you stack them, this is early math. As a toddler starts to stack more blocks the tower may fall over. They will learn to be more precise in how the blocks are stacked. This can lead to learning about gravity, centre of mass and applied physics.

While it may seem like children are just playing with blocks, the learning possibilities are limitless.

8 STEM Activities For Toddlers

Now that we’ve established STEM learning is important during the toddler years what exactly can they do that is STEM related? Here are 8 simple activities to get you started!

Building Blocks

This is a toy I recommend for all children. So much learning is possible with a set of blocks. Coordination of sensory and motor skills (such as hand-eye coordination), self-regulation, problem-solving, cause-and-effect exploration, and other early STEM concepts are all skills supported through block play. Engineering is all about design and building, blocks are a perfect way for children to explore this.

children playing with blocks

Play Dough

This is a great way to introduce science, specifically chemistry. Make the play dough together with your child, mix the individual ingredients together to make something new. Get my recipe here. Once the play dough is made use your hands to sculpt and build. Use various tools to help you roll or shape the dough. This is a great opportunity to explore early math through shapes and sizes.

play dough

Water Play

Toddlers love playing in water. Use cups, bowls, measuring cups/spoons, and scoops. Measure and pour the water. How many scoops of a small spoon will it take to fill up a large cup. This is another fun way to explore early math concepts.

STEM water play

Sorting Activities

Sorting objects based on their characteristics. There are many different ways to engage in sorting activities. Sorting by shape, colour, or size are some examples you can start with. You can make your own activity with toys you already have or there are many options available for purchase. An alternative way to engage in sorting is by matching objects by their function such as a spoon with a bowl.

soring activity


Puzzles offer a wide variety of learning opportunities. Fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, problem-solving, and early math concepts are all supported when playing with puzzles. These are all skills that children will continue to refine and build upon in order to engage in more complex STEM learning.


Sink or Float

This is a fun experiments to try with a toddler. You can try it in a sensory bin or even during a bath. Collect a variety of items, some that sink and some that float. Then allow your toddler to explore and test to see which ones sink and which float. Use the same objects a second time, and see if your toddler can remember by guessing which ones will sink or float. You can take this further by sorting them out afterwards into a sink and float pile or even marking it down on a chart for an additional language aspect.

water play

Baking Soda & Vinegar Experiment

A great first science experiment that you can even try with infants. All you need to do is mix baking soda and vinegar together and watch the chemical reaction. If you want to can even add some food colouring. Provide small amounts of each of the ingredients to your toddler to they can do the mixing themselves.

STEM science activity

Explore Outside

Much of STEM during the early years is all about exploration, and outside provides enormous potential. Botany, biology, and earth sciences are all available for exploration in nature. If you’re in a city talk about the buildings, vehicles, or machines you see (engineering and technology). Talk about the weather, the plants and trees you see, and any animals or bugs you come across. Count the number of trees in your yard or try and find the tallest building for ways to also support early math.

STEM exploring

If you ever feel overwhelmed by STEM learning just remember to keep it simple. When they are curious let them explore (if safe to do so of course). Answer their questions as best you can. Provide toys and materials that use and refine skills needed for STEM learning. Books are also a great resource for STEM learning. National Geographic Kids Look & Learn series is perfect for young STEM learners.

Children learn best through play. Most of the time they are already engaging in STEM learning. Providing opportunities for periods of uninterrupted play where your child can explore as well as learn and refine their skills is one of they best ways you can support their learning at home. However, if you are ready to take STEM learning to the next level than these eight activities are a must. Are you going to give them a try?

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