Animals, Art Crafting, Holiday, Lake MetroParks, Nature, STEM Careers, STEM Resources

Lake Metroparks STEM Programs for Children and Families

For those that live in Northeast Ohio, Lake County Ohio’s park system known as the Lake Metroparks has extensive STEM programs for children and families. They also have specific programs geared towards home school parents and children.

Our family has greatly enjoyed the convenient, educational and fun programs that the Lake Metroparks system provides – specifically, the young child story times / explorations through the parks as well as numerous programs that are provided by the FarmPark and Penitentiary Glen Reservation. We have learned a great deal about farming and agriculture as well as the natural habitats and animals / insects that live in Northeast Ohio.

During the story times, children listen to stories associated with a nature theme, make a craft, play games and (weather permitting) take a hike outside along the paths in the park with a guide. The last one we participated in was all about frogs and it was held at Penitentiary Glen Reservation. The educator that ran the program was absolutely wonderful with the children. She taught them about the lifecycle of a frog, they made crafts, sang ‘5 little speckled frogs’, went on a nature hike outside, went on a scavenger hunt to find their own (fake) frogs, and many other activities.

Some of our favorite family friendly activities at the Farmpark have been Working Dog Weekend, Sheep Sheering Weekend, Horse Fest, Halloween Hayrides and Christmas Country Lights. At Country Lights, children are able to build a wooden toy with an elf from Santa’s Workshop. It’s a truly magical experience but also gives young children the opportunity to use real tools, listen to instructions and take pride in creating a wonderful toy for themselves.

For more information on their available educational programs for teachers and schools, click here. For more information on their upcoming family friendly events, click here. For more information on upcoming programming and registration, view the latest Parks Plus! magazine here.

Have you participated in any of these programs? Which is your favorite? If not, what park systems or parks have you enjoyed the most that provide STEM educations?

Art Crafting, Inexpensive and Versatile, Math and Numbers, STEM Resources, Tips and Tricks

Finger Counting Math Sheets

My preschooler LOVES math.  She is learning and understanding simple addition and subtraction.  I found this simple math project years ago and I loved it because it also incorporates a little bit of art and crafting, which my child also LOVES.  I do not know the official name for this project because I no longer have the source (it was stored to my memory for years), but I am calling them “Finger Counting Math Sheets”.

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These Finger Counting Math Sheets can be used for practicing addition and subtraction with simple numbers.  As you can see above, both my preschooler and I made one.  Mine was used as a model when making the hands and gluing them and also for how to write the numbers / equations correctly since she is just learning how to write them herself.  I did not write the solution to the problems until after my child solved them.

For simplicity, we focused on numbers that add up to 10 using numbers 1 through 9.  I wanted my child to recognize patterns in the equations I selected, which she did end up finding.

In our project, there were two patterns, (a) the same numbers added together, regardless of their order have the same result (for example, 9+1 = 10 and 1+9 = 10) and (b) many different numbers when added together can give the same result (all of the equations equaled 10).

Here’s the step by step on how we made one, if you are interested in making one yourself below are the supplies required and the steps we followed:

Supplies:

Two different colors of paper (1 large enough to trace hands on & 1 large enough to glue hands and write math equations on), a glue stick and a writing instrument (we used a marker).

Instructions:

  1. Trace your hands and cut them out.  (For a preschooler, this is a great task for improving hand-eye coordination and motor skills.  My child chose to color the fingers.)
  2. Glue the palm of the hands near the top of the second piece of paper.  It’s okay if the fingers and thumbs hang off the paper.
  3. Fold the fingers and thumbs down at the lowest joint.  (Technically speaking, this would be the joint between the metacarpals and phalanges on your hand.)
  4. Write down the addition or subtraction problems on paper. (Or you can let your child do this, like I did.  You will notice that the 9 was written backwards on my child’s sheet.  This is normal for a young child.  I still recommend encouraging your child to try on their own even if they don’t get it exactly right.) 
  5. Work with your child using the paper fingers on each hand to solve the problems.  For example, if the problem is 9+1, first have your child lift 9 fingers, then have your child add 1 more finger and count all the fingers that are opened  After your child gets the right answer, have your child write down the answer on the sheet.
  6. Continue with each math problem until completed or if your child loses interest.

Most importantly, remember that this is meant to be a fun activity.  If your child seems uninterested or frustrated, praise them for what they accomplished, take a break and try again another time. Some children are not ready for certain concepts or may need more breaks in between.

If you try this out with your young child, send me a note on how it went on my social media pages, at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com or comment below.

Disclaimer: This project was not my original idea.  Unfortunately, I can not re-locate the source of this idea.  If I do come across it in the future, I will add it to this post.  

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Art Crafting, Book Review, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland Zoological Society, Great Lakes Science Center, Museums, STEM Resources, STEM toys

S.T.E.A.M. Themed Easter Basket Gifts

DISCLAIMER: I am an Amazon Associate and may earn from qualifying purchases made from the links in this post at no additional cost to you.

Also, be sure to measure the size of your Easter basket and compare it to the items listed below to ensure proper fit. All items would fit in a large size Easter basket.

With Easter (and probably many birthday parties) quickly approaching, you might be left wondering, what to get for your kids. Here’s a list to help those looking for S.T.E.A.M. themed (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) gifts that could fit inside of an Easter basket.

Memberships to Local Museums, Centers and Parks: My kids love going to the local Zoo, Science Center, History Museum, MetroParks, Aquarium, etc. These would be perfect gifts to explore and appreciate S.T.E.A.M. Membership cards or registration forms fit perfectly inside an Easter basket.

Paid S.T.E.A.M. Classes / Courses / Camps: Check around at your local centers for classes and courses that allow your child to explore and appreciate S.T.E.A.M. You could add a pamphlet or certificate to their basket indicating their enrollment. In Northeast Ohio some great places to look for S.T.E.A.M. activities, events and camps would be Cleveland MetroParks Zoo, Great Lakes Science Center, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Lake MetroParks, Geauga Park District, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Akron Art Museum, Fine Arts Association, Center for Arts-Inspired Learning and Art House, Inc.. Also, check out the 2019 Northeast Ohio Summer Camp Guide provided by Northeast Ohio Family Fun or the 2019 Summer Camp Guide provided by Northeast Ohio Parent Magazine.

Make a Tinker Basket: Fill a basket with all kinds of items that kids can create with like pipe cleaners, buttons, pom pom’s, glue, tape, card stock, crayons (check out these fun confetti crayons!), colored pencils, markers, popsicle sticks, clay, play-doh, ribbon, ruler, scissors, feathers, stickers, stencils, stamps and stamp pads, yarn, fake flowers, cardboard pieces (from all those deliveries you get at your door), glitter, etc.

Membership to Mail Delivery Activities or Magazines that specialize in STEAM:

We hold two memberships through Kiwi Co. They ship age appropriate hands on science and art projects each month. My girls love them! Click here to get 60% off your first crate!

(Disclaimer: I earn $10 off a future order for every Kiwi Co. crate ordered through my link above.)

Other subscription ideas to check out include: ToucanBox, Highlights for Children Magazine, National Geographic for Kids, National Geographic for Little Kids, Muse Magazine, Ranger Rick, Ranger Rick Jr. and Ask.

(Disclaimer: I have not personally reviewed all of the subscriptions above but I have researched the reviews of others, so please be sure to complete your own research before purchase to ensure they are appropriate for your child. My children have personally enjoyed Highlights and National Geographic.)

My Recommended S.T.E.A.M. Toys: Check out my list below as well as my Complete List of STEM Buy for Kids Under 12 that I posted right before Christmas for additional ideas.

The Original Buddha Board: Relaxing Water Drawing, Painting & Writing Board with Bamboo Brush & StandKids can paint with water to create an image. The image dries and then they can paint again. My kids love this so much, I had to purchase two of them. It’s great for learning how to use a brush, it keeps messes down, it’s great for fine motor skill development and creativity.

Dicfeos Shatterproof 3.5X Magnifying Glass for Reading and Hobbies, 75mm Non-Scratch Glass Lens, Thickened Rubbery Frame, 4.3oz Lightweight, Perfect for Seniors & KidsMagnifying glasses will always be on my top list of favorite gifts for kids. My children bring them outside on warmer days and examine nature – fallen leaves, flowers, grass, tree nuts, bark, insects, etc. They also uses it inside, for example, to examine clothes, books, toys and the floor. They pretend to be a detectives too. We’ve pretended to be underwater divers looking for “treasure” with it also. If you get one of these, watch your child’s imagination take over.

Jiusion 40 to 1000x Magnification Endoscope, 8 LED USB 2.0 Digital Microscope, Mini Camera with OTG Adapter and Metal Stand, Compatible with Mac Window 7 8 10 Android Linux – If you already have a magnifying glass for your child, I recommend this miniature microscope that is easy to transport and hooks up for your phone so your child can view items up-close. It’s fun for adults too. Don’t forget the carrying case for protection too.

Bee-Bot (AA Battery Powered with Batteries Included)Bee-Bot’s are robot’s designed to introduce the concepts of coding and problem solving to young children. Children use the arrows to code the robot to move and turn, then press GO and they watch it move. Children and adults can set up obstacle courses and allow kids to determine how to code the Bee-Bot. We do not have one of these at home, but we’ve played with them at our local science center and love them. A similar toy that we have at home is the Code-a-Pillar.

Awesome Science Experiments for Kids: 100+ Fun STEM / STEAM Projects and Why They WorkThis book is filled with many easy to do home science experiments. We received this book as a gift for my daughter’s birthday and we’ve tried out many of the experiments. The experiments are easy to follow, use common household items and give great explanations to the science behind the experiment for kids and adults to understand easily.

Learning Resources LER2779 Jumbo Eyedroppers, Set of 6 with StandThese eyedroppers are fun for use in the bath tub. We’ve also used them for our home science experiments. They are great for fine motor skill development and when pretending to be a scientist!

Melissa & Doug Scratch Art Box of Rainbow Mini Notes, Arts & Crafts, Wooden Stylus, 125 Count, 3.75” H x 3.75” W x 1.75” L – These scratch pads are fun for children, help with motor skills and are fun for adults too.

Play-Doh Party Bag Dough, 15 Count (Assorted Colors) – Play-Doh is a great tactile toy that allows for endless hours of exploration, design and creativity. I picked this party pack because the size of the play-doh containers are definitely small enough to fit into an Easter basket.

Bug Viewer Box – Bug Jar for Children – Plastic Transparent Insect Catcher Kit with 3X Magnifying Lens, 2.5 x 3.1 x 2.5 Inches, Red and GreenIf you children enjoy being outside and exploring, a bug viewer magnifying jar may be perfect for them to explore nature more closely. This jar is transparent and the lid has a magnifying lens for closer viewing.

Summer Gardening Tools – What is better in Spring time than getting outside and working in the garden. My children LOVE working in our garden. They love digging for worms and planting seeds and plants. Gardening is an excellent way to teach your children and immerse them in nature.