[Feeling overwhelmed trying to figure out STEM and STEAM activities to incorporate in your homeschool? Discover simple and fun homeschool activities that make learning fun for everyone!]
Do you ever scroll through Pinterest looking for inspiration and activities and projects to do with your kids. But end up feeling overwhelmed?
Figuring out which homeschool activities into your school day can make you want to pull your hair out.
Whether you are looking for fun ways to connect and learn with your kids on your homeschooling journey, or you are looking for simple and fun activities to incorporate in between riding bikes and splashing in the pool this summer, you are going to love the latest episode of the Soul Care Mom Podcast!
In this fun-filled episode I chat with Stephanie Ryan all about how to:
💚 Ease the stress and overwhelm that can accompany homeschooling
💚 Teach multiple ages at the same time
💚 Embrace not having all of the answers and learning as a family
💚 Use ingredients from your kitchen to inspire simple & fun science projects
💚 Make learning fun for everyone!
Let’s jump in.
[Disclaimer: we are not health professionals. This chat is solely based on research and personal experience. If you have any concerns please seek out the help of your trusted health professionals.]
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Welcome to the Soul Care Mom Podcast. I’m Catherine Wilde of soulcaremom.com. I’m a mom of three amazing kids, a Soul Care Mom Coach, and yoga and meditation teacher.
I’ve helped hundreds of women. And I’m here to help you feel calm and find your unshakable confidence as a mom. If you’re ready to stop living in survival mode and you’re ready to drop the mom guilt and overwhelm this podcast is for you.
Think of this is a lunch date with a girlfriend. Grab a cup of tea and get cozy. It’s time to get honest and vulnerable and shift the traditional mindset around motherhood.
Be sure to subscribe to be the first to know when new episodes are released. Get ready to grow and feel empowered. As a mom. I’m here for you, Mama. Let’s get started.
Fun Homeschool Activities
Stephanie, I am so excited to talk with you today. Thank you so much for joining me.
Thanks so much for having me. I’m really excited to talk today.
So before we jump into all of the homeschool activities and ideas and other amazing things that you have to share with us, could you share what you do and how you came to do this work?
That’s a really long story, but I will give you the short version.
So I am a science educator.
I have a background in chemistry. And I have my Ph.D. in Learning Sciences. Which is just kind of a fancy way for saying, “how do people learn different content?”
So I really focus on that learning aspect of it. Not the fact that you memorize something, but actually learning what’s going on. And so I do a lot of curriculum development and assessment writing. And I kinda got thrown into this after writing a book.
So I wrote a book when I became a parent. I noticed my son playing and I thought, wow, he sorted his toys and chemistry the first couple weeks of learning about it in school, sorting and the categories.
And I was like, I bet we could do this with different content. So I actually have a few spreadsheets and PowerPoints with ideas of other subject areas that we can approach it. But the book, “Let’s Learn About Chemistry”, which you said you you’ve got the copy there.
Yes. Such a great book.
And so it started to take off on Instagram a little bit with the pandemic. And because I couldn’t do any, like book readings, we decided to pivot a little bit and do experiments on Instagram.
And let’s learn about science now has 6,400 followers as of this morning. It’s just taking off.
Homeschool moms are loving the content. And I’m kind of getting more into her role of switching that up.
So I’m still doing pre-K things with my son during quarantine, so I’m including art and cooking and things like that as well. So it’s a bit of a hodgepodge at times, but it’s real life.
But yes, that’s kind of how I got into that Instagram account.
Developing a Growth Mindset Through Homeschool Activities
I love that.
And I love that you said that you focus more on the learning and the absorbing of the material instead of the memorizing of it. Which I felt like I did a lot of memorizing when I was in school.
We homeschool, and so I realized how much of it didn’t stick. I’m relearning everything.
Yes, the last ten years I have learned so much more chemistry than I ever learned in high school because it was like, oh, I memorize the periodic table and I know all the elements, but I didn’t know they were in there because of their attraction between electrons and protons holding it together and things like that.
I never looked at it in that way. And so I’m learning a lot, teaching it to my son earlier that I learned it. And then to be wrong is OK.
So I helped them build his own his own understandings.
Yes, we learn so much from our mistakes. Right? Trying something one way and then realizing maybe another way is better.
And your son, you said, is four, right?
That’s amazing that he’s already starting to gather the ideas around chemistry. That’s awesome.
It’s fun to do because I like to highlight when I make mistakes in front of him. I’m a pretty anxious person myself and a perfectionist. So something I try to not have instill in him.
Today we actually did an experiment to do down the road. We’re going to be talking about jobs on Instagram. And each week it’s going to have a theme of the pretend play, a science activity, an art activity, and some things like that.
And we made a fire extinguisher today and I did not get the stoichiometry right, of baking soda and vinegar. And it exploded all over me.
And he was laughing so hard. He’s like, “Oh, Mommy, you really messed up.”
And I’m like, “but we’ll try again.” And so I showed him that we all make mistakes.
And it worked. It just worked too well.
How to Let Go Of Overwhelm on the Homeschool Journey
It was a great way to look at it.
So I have three girls and we’ve been homeschooling since my oldest was in preschool. So your topic today is is one that so many parents are going to find valuable because so many parents with preschool and school-age kids have been thrown into this world of homeschooling or virtual schooling or something in between.
And so, yeah, I’m I’m really, really excited about this topic.
And when I started homeschooling, I remember being overwhelmed, like just with the sheer task that was put before me. You know?!
So I can imagine that whether it’s a mom that’s listening, that’s just starting out with her preschooler or a mom that’s being thrown into it kind of somewhere in the middle, what tips do you have besides being OK with making mistakes.
What other tips do you have to get her started into, like let go of some of that overwhelm?
And I, I am one of those who got thrown into it and was not expecting it. So I’m an educator, but I have never educated little small ones like this.
And so it was very different going from full-time daycare to having him home for the last, what, three hundred and twenty days?
Not that I’m counting.
But one of the things that took me a minute was to go with the flow. That there are going to be days that he doesn’t want to do certain things and because he’s a little person and you know what?
There are days I don’t want to do things.
And so to embrace those days and remember then that a Saturday or Sunday could be something learning or even watching a movie can be learning because you can talk about how they interacted with each other.
One great way to find your flow is to practice yoga with your little ones.
Grab this FREE yoga poses printable to bring more movement and play into your day with your kids!
And so we love Toy Story. And in the beginning of parenting, I was still working full time. So I was doing all of this and we would watch it. And I felt really bad about screen time.
We talked, though, about like how it wasn’t really nice to push your friends and there should a consequence for that.
Or why do bullies become bullies? And how maybe someone wasn’t nice to him and didn’t pay attention to him and that’s how he ended up that way.
And so there’s even lessons and stuff like that. So just finding the science and reading and all the subjects just in your everyday life, it’s it takes a second to take a step back.
Gardening Homeschool Activities
It took me a few months to really get in the groove. But if he was really interested one week in gardening, we would dig and we would look at worms and like all the critters.
And I was so grossed out. But he wasn’t. So I didn’t show him I was grossed out. And we let him plant his own part of the garden and we made meals with his potatoes and he was so excited.
And so it’s just like a different approach.
He didn’t he doesn’t know the names of certain things yet. He’s only four. But he does know the plants need water and sunlight. And maybe we put too much water and things like that. So I think that you can really do a lot based on their own interests.
It’s lovely that you say that. That’s part of and the beauty of homeschooling is there is that flexibility. Learning can happen at different times.
And so much learning is happening all the time, really. They’re always observing. They’re always asking questions. They’re learning through play. Like you said, a video can show them so much. And you can talk about it with them. They’re so naturally curious and inquisitive.
And I remember struggling with I mean, as moms a lot of times we just put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do everything perfectly.
And when you start homeschooling, my idea of homeschool was traditional school, you know, so it needs to look like sitting down and doing your worksheets and just allowing that to kind of fall away and broaden my horizons there and how I can be more flexible and make this more fun and actually bring in more of that absorbing and getting curious and learning through exploring has been really fun.
But it also was a struggle for me at the beginning.
And just not having to have all those answers.
Homeschooling Learning Toys and Resources
Definitely. Yeah. This is a permanent, keeping him home for me. I’m going to get back to working full time. But once we realized this was more than just a month at a time, I went out and got a bunch of learning kits from Lakeshore Learning.
It’s one of my favorite places to go. They’ve got a bunch of magnet kits for kids and things like that, and they’re great for independent time.
And that is how I started to like, get into a groove a little bit. I would say, “go pick out a learning toy.” And he would go get it. And so now sometimes I’ll be like, “yeah, we could do this or we could do a learning toy.”
And he’ll say “I want to learn.” And he’ll go get it.
So they’re fun, but it’s not to him he’s just doing a puzzle of the human body. He’s not thinking about it learning, but he knows that the rib cage goes over the lungs and they’re similar and so like just stuff like that.
But it it takes yeah, you’re right. It takes a while to feel like you’re doing it because he’s not going through it memorizing body parts, like we did.
Right. Yeah, yeah. It is a kind of a mindset shift that happens.
STEM & STEAM Homeschool Activities
You specialize in STEM or STEAM learning. So can we talk a little bit about what that means for anybody who’s unfamiliar with it?
Yeah, learning is anything science, technology, engineering and math. And then that can often include art. That’s called STEAM learning.
And it’s it doesn’t have to be so formal. It’s like we’re going to build the specific thing, even measuring pouring water from one cup to another to see which one is bigger, learning scale and things like that is STEM.
Designing an experiment, even if it’s just what if I add more vinegar to this baking soda, like that’s that’s STEM.
But even just patterns. That was something that we had. It was so funny. His preschool still had a parent teacher call frequency, and I was like, do you want me to tell you what I’m doing? I didn’t understand it.
And I told her all the stuff I was doing. And she goes, “Whoa, you were doing more than you think you are.” And I was like, “I am?”
And so she helped me see it in that light of like, “wow, you just did so many things that we would have done in a week.”
And it’s like, oh, you’re right, we can space this out a little. But also the fact that the skills of like just water pouring water and finding a pattern. And I was like, oh, we could do that and so many things.
Learning About Patterns with Yogurt
So we even made yogurt parfaits last week where he picked the pattern that he was going to follow EBC and he had to keep doing it for all the layers of it. And so, like, that was STEM and it was our snack.
So there’s just so many things you can do that are so simple and they don’t feel like science, technology, engineering, or math, but they are.
Oh, that’s awesome. I love that you talked about doing things in the kitchen, like pouring water in the pattern with the yogurt.
More Kitchen Learning Activities
What other tips do you have that are activities that parents could do with their kids in the kitchen?
Oh, there are so many.
Baking Soda & Vinegar
I like baking soda and vinegar. It’s one of my favorites and you can do a lot with it.
For the smallest of the kids, you can just do baking soda and vinegar in a dish and have them watch it. For kids who are a little older, you can have them design something to catch the gas. By having a bottle and you put a balloon over the top and it inflates. That one’s really fun.
And then you could probably look at the inflation rate of it by doing what’s it called on your camera where it goes every five seconds.
Yeah. So if you put it on timelapse, you can watch which one gets bigger, faster and things like that. And so that’s really fun.
You can make raisins dance by using baking soda water, vinegar and raisins. And then they like they move around when the bubbles catch them.
You can make lava lamps out of water, Alka seltzer and oil.
Food Coloring & Milk
I like food coloring and milk together. There’re so many.
And I encourage people that head over to Instagram. I’ve got so many experiments on there that I do with a four-year-old. He’s my little sidekick.
And you get the full experience of a four-year-old going through it.
Homeschool Activities for Multiples Ages
Those are awesome!
A lot of times when parents are homeschooling, they’ll have varying ages in the room.
Do you have any tips for teaching multiple ages at the same time?
Learning Through Reading
I do, yes.
So one of the things with my book, funny that you bring that up. One of the homeschooling parents who was reviewing it when I first sent it out.
She had, I think, five kids and they were all different ages. And she was able to use the book to teach all of them. And it was so cool because you can approach every science phenomena at different levels.
Learning About Snow & the Water Cycle
So snow melting you can talk about – that’s a solid that’s a liquid. Realy easy stuff.
You could have the older kids draw the particles of the difference of them.
Even older than that, you can talk about the movement of those particles and how they became that way.
And then you could talk about the water cycle.
So you can pull these things in and layer it.
Then with chemical and physical changes.
More Fun With Baking Soda & Vinegar
With baking soda and vinegar, you can say that the bubbles formed. What’s inside the bubbles?
Are they solid liquid or a gas? And you can just do the basic stuff with the young ones.
And so, like, my son can say, “yeah, that’s a gas.”
But he doesn’t know what gas it is.
But the older kids, you could have them do that.
And then find the stoichiometry ratio that gets the amount of gas you wanted. And they could get it to where they could calculate probably the volume of the balloon that they’re going to get and compare it.
So there’s just you can approach it all the different ways at the same time with just them watching it once. And then they learn from each other.
Making Observations & Asking Questions
Yes, that’s so true.
And, you know, when we were reading your book, the I have a three year old, a six year old, a nine year old. And they all were listening and they all had different sorts of questions about it.
And you could see the varying levels. But they were all sitting there together. So I love that. It’s beautiful.
We really wanted that with the illustrations. And I’m sure you notice that the colors of them sometimes the answer could be that these are all red and that one is green.
And that’s OK. That’s for the two-year-old. To pull out that observation. And that is fine.
As long as kids are backing up their reasoning with evidence, that’s fantastic.
Yes, yes, it’s all learning.
It is, yeah.
And they’re skills that are just so much more important than a fact.
It’s the being able to make a claim supporting it. And then even the fact that they’re feeling confident enough to share it. That’s important too.
More Simple Homeschool Activities
Yes, for sure.
Did you have any other homeschooling activities that are simple that you want to share with us?
Creating a Density Column
Oh, let’s see.
There’s a really fun one. That’s a density column. Where you can layer liquid’s by their densities and then you can drop solids into it and guesstimate their different densities based on where they fell in the column. That one is fun.
I like doing magic milk. Where you have milk and you drop food coloring into it whatever pattern you want and then you take a q-tip and you dip it and nothing happens.
But then you take the Q tip and you dip it in soap and then you do it. And then it swirls around like magic into patterns. And it’s good because it shows them the before and after. Like a comparison.
I made a change and this is what happened.
That’s really fun.
And there’s all there’s so many. Science is so fun.
Oh, I love that. I love your enthusiasm about it too.
I love that you’re taking just simple ingredients that probably most people already have and bringing them together to make learning, fun. I love that.
That’s something I tried to do is that in the beginning of quarentine, I got on one of our grocery orders. I ordered most common things that people would have like toothpicks or like rubber bands and things like that.
Trying to think of like what we can do with these things.
Rain Cloud in a Jar
One of my son’s favorites is making a rain cloud in a jar.
And you use shaving cream. And it is on top of water in a jar.
And then you add food coloring into the cloud until it can’t hold anymore. And then it starts to rain in the jar.
And it shows them that clouds rain when they get too heavy and can’t hold anymore. And so now whenever it rains, he’ll say “it got too heavy and it let out some water.”
And it’s like that’s I mean, that’s so cool.
I also like projects that you can use the parts again. Or use it for multiple concepts.
Shaving Cream Art
And that one with all that shaving cream, you can do that art project where you take a piece of paper over the top of the shaving cream and it gets the pattern from the food coloring. And then you can make art out of it.
And so that’s fun, too.
Self Care For Homeschool Moms & Kids
I love those for sharing those.
There are all the mom things to do, and the teaching, and maybe you’ve got tiny ones who are still needing more of your attention.
And so I find that when we don’t take care of ourselves, we end up feeling burned out and we’re running on empty.
And so I would love to know if you found that to be true. And what are some of your favorite ways to practice self care?
Yes, I do find that.
And we’re fortunate enough that we are very close to our families and they are both in our bubble for a quarantine. So when I am really feeling like I need a little time, he’ll have a visit with one of them.
But my husband is an active partner. And takes on as much responsibility. So we’re both taking it on.
And then really during quarantine it’s making sure we both get our self care to make sure everybody’s their best self.
I like to take baths and binge watch TV shows that are just mindless.
Those are two of my favorite things to do.
I love baths. They are so relaxing. They’re my happy place. I love that.
So thank you so much for sharing all of these amazing homeschooling activities and ideas with us.
Could you let us know where we can find you online?
Yeah, most of the time you’ll find me on Instagram. And my account @letslearnaboutscience.
I post activities and we have a lot of giveaways on there because I also review products for a lot of stuff and toys. And so it’s a good place to catch some real fun stuff.
And my website, letslearnaboutscience.com is a great place to catch me too. And that’s where you can find information about my book.
Thank you so much for joining me today.
Thanks for having me.
Thanks for joining me, Mama. I’m over here smiling from ear to ear and giving you a big virtual hug.
I love spending this time with you. You are amazing for showing up and carving out this space to nourish your soul.
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