STEM vs STEAM for Kids

STEM vs. STEAM…are they both the same? While they may look the same at first glance, there are a few differences between the two, even when you’re talking about educational programs for infants and toddlers. It’s important to know the differences between STEM and STEAM so you can choose the right projects for your child.

Picture of a young girl learning STEM vs STEAM while playing with blocks at a preschool in Raleigh

We’re going to review how STEM and STEAM differ, as well as how infants and toddlers can benefit. Our preschools in Raleigh engage in hands-on, STEM and STEAM projects that inspire mental growth and healthy development.

What is STEM?

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It’s come to be known as the acronym used to symbolize a modern approach to science and related subjects. It teaches concepts and focuses on solving problems using critical thinking and analytical skills.

While that may sound a little heavy for babies and toddlers, STEM can be taught at different levels for children of all ages. 

STEM Projects for Babies and Toddlers

You can help your little one learn STEM skills through play and exploration activities that are easy for them to understand and are fun. Here are some ideas to get that STEM ball rolling:

Build Ramps

Use building blocks to make ramps. Let them grab a ball and roll it down the ramp. This is a simple little STEM activity for preschool-aged children and babies that can help them see how engineering and science work (even though they may not be able to quite realize it yet). 

Play with Mirrors

Mirror play shows babies and toddlers how light and reflection work. Using a shatterproof mirror, lay out some toys and let them see how reflective properties work. They’ll also enjoy just looking at themselves in the mirror!

Water Play

Will it sink or will it float? Try a variety of toys and objects and see how they react in the water. You can also let them play with a sponge and check out how water absorption works. It doesn’t take a lot of equipment to see STEM in action.

What is STEAM?

STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. STEAM learning combines all of these to guide kids of all ages to explore and learn. Just like STEM, STEAM can be taught at different levels for different age groups. As you can tell from the acronym, the main difference between STEM vs. STEAM is the incorporation of art in STEAM projects.

STEAM Activities for Babies and Toddlers

STEAM activities for babies and toddlers don’t have to be complicated. In fact, the easier the better! Here are some fun STEAM activities for babies and toddlers. 

Show Them Their Shadows

Whether you’re showing them their shadows on the wall or making shadow puppets, helping your little one understand how light works and how it creates shadows is pretty cool for them. You can even use stuffed animals to make it more fun.

Get to Building

Building is a great way to introduce STEAM activities to babies and toddlers. No matter the size of the blocks, your child can have tons of fun building all sorts of things. They’re little engineers in the making and they don’t even know it!

Playground Fun

While babies can’t fully enjoy the benefits of using the playground, preschoolers can get in on the action. As they’re playing, they’re also exploring gravity and seeing how different forces work as they hang from the monkey bars and go down the slide.

Build a Snowflake

If you’re looking for STEAM art activities for preschoolers, helping them build a snowflake is an easy project to get them going. You can check out all of the instructions here to get started. This is a fun and artistic project that will also teach them some building basics. 

Benefits of STEM and STEAM for Babies and Toddlers

As we compare STEM vs. STEAM, the benefits of babies and toddlers engaging in both activities can help them to develop their independence as they learn the art of exploration. They quickly see how they can do things on their own. No matter if you choose STEM vs STEAM learning projects, your child will learn something new, grow, and will hopefully have fun doing so!

Other STEM and STEAM benefits for babies and toddlers include:

  • Introduces Cause and Effect and Problem Solving
  • Teaches Creativity
  • Helps with Multisensory Learning

Through different STEM and STEAM projects, babies and toddlers can reap these benefits and more as they grow. One of the best parts is that if you introduce these types of activities early on, they will learn to love them and want to continue to know more as they get older.

Let Your Child Explore at Primary Beginnings

At Primary Beginnings, we introduce children to all areas, including STEM and STEAM activities. To learn more about the activities we offer as well as our infant child care or preschool programs, call us today. Contact our North Hills Drive center or our Spring Forest center. You can also schedule a tour. We look forward to meeting you!