Did you know that play is an essential part of kids’ education? Play is a great way for kids to unwind and learn things that are not taught in a normal classroom.
For instance, do you know what kids can learn just from playing tags? A game of tag can help kids develop a variety of skills, such as movement, agility, coordination, balance, and spatial awareness. They are not going to develop these abilities if they don’t play!
Play is what allows our kids to hone their creative skills and develop their imagination. And there is plenty of play for them to try. Play can be as simple as playing tags and experimenting with kid-friendly engineering projects.
In this article, we’re going to share more fun engineering activities for kids to try. But first, don’t forget to read our previous article about five must-try simple engineering projects for kids here.
Understanding meaningful play
According to the book “From Play to Practice: Connecting Teachers’ Play to Children’s Learning”, meaningful play is all about having kids as active participants. And there are five characteristics of meaningful play:
- Kids are allowed to make their own decisions.
- Kids are intrinsically motivated.
- Kids are immersed in the play.
- The play has to be spontaneous.
- The play has to be enjoyable.
Rather than just passively taking in a lesson, meaningful play allows kids to take on their own role and actively respond to the rules of play that they created. When kids learn to volunteer, create play rules, select a leader, and govern the terms of their play, they can put together the logical and creative parts of their brain. Having said that, here are fun engineering activities that your kids can play at home!
Fun engineering activities for kids
Similar to how play can benefit kids’ development, engineering can also help them grow in the aspects of social and emotional learning. Check out these simple yet very fun engineering projects you can introduce to your kids!
1) Build a hand crank winch machine
All you need is cardboard paper towel rolls, a pencil, tapes, and a spool of ribbon. With these kid-friendly tools, you can encourage your kids to get crafty! Have them learn how machines work—this project shows them how people build things using simple machines like pulleys.
- Tape two cardboard paper towel rolls on a solid surface. The paper towel rolls must be facing up.
- Use a pencil or a straw to determine how far apart the two paper towel rolls should be. (The pencil should be able to rest on top of both paper towel rolls)
- Put a spool of ribbon on the pencil and you’re done!
Tie a small paper towel roll or an eraser at the end of the ribbon and use the hand crank winch machine to pull it up. Have your kid decide if it makes lifting heavy things easier!
2) Build a catapult
- Stack about 10 popsicle sticks and tie them together with a rubber band on each end.
- Place the large stack of popsicle sticks in between two more popsicle sticks.
- Tie the two popsicle sticks together but only on one end.
- Use the rubber band to tie the large stack of popsicle sticks to the upper side of the two popsicle sticks.
- Tie a spoon to the upper popsicle stick and put a pom-pom onto the spoon.
- Hold the catapult with one hand and use the other hand to pull down the spoon.
- Release the spoon and there you have it—a working catapult!
“Would all the pom-poms travel the same distance? How can I make the pom-poms travel further?”. These are some of the questions that kids will have when they engage with this project.
But to make it more interesting and a little more challenging, here at Young Engineers Singapore, we use LEGOs to build our catapult! See the picture above!
This engineering project can be a STEM challenge for kids! Kids will learn how to build a rollercoaster using straws, glue, a cardboard box, and a ping pong ball.
- Place a cardboard box upside down. The bottom of the box will be used to plant the straws in.
- Plant the straws to build the highest part of the track.
- Use straws for the legs and tracks of the rollercoaster. (Glue or tape straws together) Feel free to get creative when building the turns, drops, and twists.
- Drop the ping pong ball from the top of the track and let it run.
If the ping pong ball drops before it reaches the end of the track, then let the kids use their creativity to improve their track. They must also ensure that their track is sturdy enough for a ping pong ball. To make it more challenging, allow the kids to add new materials to the rollercoaster!
Teaching your kids to build is not as complicated as it may seem. Sometimes, all you need is some kid-friendly tools! To help your kids become interested in engineering, allow them to learn through play. And that is what we do here at Young Engineers Singapore. Our bright little minds foster interests in STEM subjects through play! For more information about our enrichment programmes, get in touch with us now!