Make a Mess and Explore STEAM

About this resource
Reviewed: 2018

IEL Resource(s)

IEL Tip Sheet: Say Yes to the Mess! Water Works

IEL Tip Sheet: Say Yes to the Mess! Snow Time

IEL Tip Sheet: Say Yes to the Mess! Play with Rocks

IEL Blog: “Mud-Luscious”: Some Thoughts on Messy Play

IEL Blog: Make Art a Part of Every Day: Focus on the Process

IEL Video: Shaving Cream

IEL Video: Mila Paints the Fence

Illinois Early Learning Guidelines: Domain 4: Science Concepts and Exploration

Online Resource(s)

Understanding STEAM and How Children Use it
This resource from the Head Start Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center explains each subject of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) and how children engage in each subject as they grow.

All About… Messy Play
Messy play is beneficial for many areas of child development. This resource by the Kernow Education Arts Partnership discusses the benefits, obstacles, and sources for messy play.

Peep and the Big Wide World
This resource from PBS includes videos and games for children relating to science, engineering, and mathematics. There are also activity ideas for teachers and parents to do with your children.

STEM at Sea
This article by the National Association for the Education of Young Children encourages families to let kids get messy by incorporating STEM activities into a day at the beach. These suggestions could also be used in a sandboxes, ponds, or other bodies of water available to families.

Scribbling Machines
In this blog from National Association for the Education of Young Children, the author describes a classroom project in which children work in groups to build scribbling machines. This project emphasizes science, technology, engineering, arts, math, and other developmental areas.

Engaging Children in STEM Education Early
Many parents wonder what age their children should begin learning STEM. This article from Natural Start Alliance (an organization committed to environmental education) stresses that it is never too early to begin teaching STEM to children.

Back to School: Making and Tinkering with STEM
This 45-minute webinar provided by the National Association for the Education of Young Children shares tools and resources for incorporating STEM projects into the classroom.

Everyday Fun with Technology and Engineering
This three-minute video from Zero to Three explains that children are naturally “little engineers.” Caregivers can help foster problem-solving by following the steps in the video.

Everyday Fun with Science
Infants and toddlers observe, explore, and test the world around them. This four minute video by Zero to Three discusses how adults can help their children learn by joining in on play and asking questions.

Take it Outside! Adventures in Nature with STEAM
This hour-long webinar provided by the Head Start Early Learning and Knowledge Center shows teachers how they can use nature and the outdoors to teach science, technology, engineering, art, and math concepts to young children.

Let’s Talk about Math Series
This video series from Zero to Three covers math concepts such as subtraction, spatial awareness, patterns, shapes, and measurement. Each three to five-minute video explains what parents can do to support math skills in young children.

Additional Resource(s)

Making and Tinkering With STEM: Solving Design Challenges With Young Children
Cate Heroman
National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2017

Loose Parts: Inspiring Play in Young Children (Loose Parts Series)
Lisa Daly
Redleaf Press, 2014

Loose Parts 2: Inspiring Play with Infants and Toddlers (Loose Parts Series)
Lisa Daly
Redleaf Press, 2016

Loose Parts 3: Inspiring Culturally Sustainable Environments (Loose Parts Series)
Lisa Daly
Refleaf Press, 2018

A Little Bit of Dirt: 55+ Science and Art Activities to Reconnect Children with Nature
Asia Citro
The Innovation Press, 2016

The Curious Kid’s Science Book
Asia Citro
The Innovation Press, 2015

Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors
Rachel Doorley
Roost Books, 2014

The Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Fill Your Family’s Life with Art and Creativity–Includes over 60 Art Projects for Children Ages 1 to 8
Jean Van’t Hul
Roost Books, 2013

Art Workshop for Children: How to Foster Original Thinking with more than 25 Process Art Experiences
Barbara Rucci & Betsy McKenna
Quarry Books, 2016

Exploring Math and Science in Preschool
The Editors of Teaching Young Children
National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2015