STEAM Adventures: Play to Learn!

Shelley Tate

If you haven’t heard your child’s inevitable “call” of summer… it’s coming.

“Mom, I’m sooo bored!” Or better yet, “I don’t have anything else to do but play Fortnite.”.

Sound familiar? Then it’s time to transform your family’s ordinary day into an exciting STEAM Adventure.


What is a STEAM Adventure?


A STEAM Adventure is your family’s plan for fun, educational play. 

STEAM is a hands-on educational experience using Science,Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. By combining a family activity, like a hike, with the elements of STEAM, you can have an educational, yet playful adventure with your child. Don’t let all that science and math intimidate you. STEAM really does make learning fun! And, it’s easier to create than you might think…

With the steps below, you can design an activity that has endless educational play possibility, sure to cure summer boredom.

  1. Choose a theme: Think of your child’s current interests. Animals? Dinosaurs? Plants? Star Wars? This theme will be the guide for your plan.
  2. Create simple, fun activities for each category:
    • Science – A great opportunity for some science Q&A.
    • Technology – Use technology for you and your child to research your theme.
    • Engineering – How do things work? How are things built?
    • Arts – Find creative ways to capture your adventure through drawings, photos, clay models, collections, etc. 
    • Math – Think shapes, measurements, estimations, distance, or time.
  3. Schedule a time and location: Make your location easy and accessible. Take a walk in the park, Explore somewhere new while on vacation. Or stay right in your own backyard!

To get you started, here is an example of a STEAM Adventure designed for young learners…


Let’s Go on a Family Hike: A STEAM Adventure about Plant Life


Science: While hiking, talk. Ask questions, lots of questions. You made it through their “why” phase, now it’s your turn!

  • What are the parts of a plant? (Roots, stem, leaves, flower)
  • What do plants need to grow? (Seed, soil, sun, and water)
  • Where do plants get water from? (rain, underground resources, storage in their stems)
  • Why does the Earth need plants? (Oxygen, food, stop erosion)

Technology: Before your hike, sit with your child and research the regional plant life. Choose 5 plants to look for on your adventure together. 

Engineering: STEAM activities help to explore deeper thinking in learning.  Ask these thought-provoking questions to inspire engineering type thinking.

  • How do animals use plants to build their houses?
  • How do the houses stay together?
  • Why do animals need protection?
  • What could they build to protect themselves better?

Arts: Collect small items while hiking. When home, transform a small box into a memory box, decorated with stickers, markers, or paint. This is a creative and artistic way for them to store and show off their nature collection, which can include anything really (maybe not that dead bug that they will beg to bring home!)

Math: Bring along a measuring tape to measure the height of plants and small trees. Estimate the height of larger trees. Compare your child’s height to a large plant. Measuring, estimation, and comparison are strong pre-math skills to build upon.

It truly is that easy to have an adventure in STEAM. Consider all the other possibilities to build educational opportunities into your family’s play… now, it’s your turn to go have an adventure in STEAM!

Shelley Tate
Shelley brings a unique perspective to her writing with experience as a teacher, curriculum author, volunteer and her favorite role, Mom. Together with her husband Dave, they are seasoned parents raising their five perfectly imperfect children in beautiful Waxhaw, NC.

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