I’ve done a lot of preschool STEAM programs at the library in the past. Not all of them are well documented, so, instead of trying to recall the details of programs long forgotten, I’m giving you this post, where I list program ideas and describe them in 30 second paragraphs (or less!). AND GO!
1. Food Stamping and Stenciling
Explore two new art mediums using food. Buy different stamp-able fruits and veggies (potatoes, bell peppers, apples, peaches, grapes, etc.), cut them in half the morning of the program with a paper and tempura paint and let them go wild! Use dropcloth to limit mess and provides stencils, colored pencils, and paper for a second activity.
2. Magnet Mania
A program to help preschoolers learn about magnetism. Make DIY magnet wands with popsicle sticks and round craft magnets. Have different stations for exporing, such as:
Sensory Bottles – Put magnetic objects in some water bottles and non-magnetic in others, fill with water and glitter (it’s pretty). Kids try to figure out what is magnetic.
Sensory Bins – Fill small bins with craft sands and tons of paper clips. Kids dig out paper clips using their magnet wands.
Magnet Cars – Make magnetic cars by printing clipart on paper, laminating, cutting, and hot gluing magnets to the back of each car. Kids draw maps on paper plates and move their car with their wands.
3. Primary Painting
Practice color theory by fingerpainting and paint mixing. For station one, provide tempura paint in primary colors only and large paper. Encourage kids to mix new colors. For station two, use Holi colors and water for kids to mix and make their own paint. It dries chalky, but it’s a fun way to learn about color mixing. Provide tons of cupcake liners for this station. Use dropcloth and baby wipes to limit mess.
3. Painting With Natural Objects
Mix biology with art by encouraging preschoolers to make their own paintbrushes with natural objects. Gather twigs beforehand and help them find interestingly textured plants to paint with. Provide paper plates and staffed paint pouring station. Rubberbands and clothespins work well for making sure the paintbrushes stay together.
4. Making Rainbows
Station 1. Provide a variety of supplies for children to experiment with reflecting light and making rainbows. Here’s a list of good supplies to offer:
- Water in clear cups
- White cardstock
Station 2. Provide old CDs and have children draw the spectrums they catch on the CDs. Place them in the center of paper and use crayons for coloring.
Station 3. “Catch” a rainbow” using clear nail polish and black cardstock.
5. Beachy STEAM
Station 2. DIY Flip Flops – Prep the flip flop bottoms by cutting out foot templates on poster board. Make three hole punches (sides and middle-top). Let children decorate their flops and make the thongs using pipe cleaners and beads.
Station 3. Faux Beach! Use several blue tablecloths and butcher paper. Lay butcher paper on the ground as “sand” and bunch the tablecloths as “water.” Let children draw on the beach and throw some play fish in the ocean. Pretend play ftw!
6. Silly Sensory Activities
Station 1. Clean Mud— soapy, mashable, sensory fun from Laughing Kids Learn. I let the kids make the mud. I prepped the soap by grating it first. There is also opportunity to talk about science concepts here as well!
Station 2. Bubble Kitchen— Since I had plenty of soap from clean mud, I also provided bins of soapy, bubbly water and tons of kitchen tools so they could wisk, measure, and “cook” with bubbles.
Station 3. Sensory bins— Craft sand with interesting objects. A simple, but effective activity.
7. Preschool Gardening
At this program, the children planted their very own flower seed to take home and watch grow. When shopping for seeds, make sure your seeds are set to sprout around the time you facilitate the program. For the main station, children decorated their pot, planted their seed, and made a tiny plant marker to show what type of flower they planted, or to put their name on their pot.
What you’ll need:
- Mini flower pots
- Spray bottles with water
- Popsicle sticks
- Washi tape (decorating)
- Sticky gems (decorating)
I facilitated this program outside and we also had sidewalk chalk available to play with.