STEAM Art Activities to Try with Your Kids at Home
From painting pictures to building towers to singing songs, kids love to express their creativity with fun hands-on activities. But what they don’t know is that plenty of arts and crafts activities also teach them valuable lessons about science! So we’ve come up with a few informative and seriously engaging STEAM art activities that you can enjoy at home with your children.
Accessorize in Style with Craft Stick Bracelets
What we wear says a lot about who we are as people. So the more control kids have over their outfits, the easier it is for them to explore their individuality. With craft stick bracelets, you and your kids can use the science of plasticization to make stylish accessories that nobody else in the world will have!
What you need
- Craft sticks
- A drinking glass
- Decorative paper
- Ribbon (optional)
- A pan
- A bowl
1) Boil your craft sticks in a pan of water for five minutes. This will allow them to bend rather than snap.
2) Soak your boiled craft sticks in a pan of cold water for 30 minutes.
3) Bend your craft sticks around the inside of the drinking glass. The narrower the glass, the tighter the curve, so choose a glass that’s appropriate for your child’s wrist (and one for yours, of course!). Leave them to dry for 24 hours.
4) Remove the craft sticks from the glass. They should stay bent and still be quite flexible.
5) Cut strips of decorative paper and glue them to your craft sticks to make unique bracelets!
6) If your bracelets are too loose, poke a hole in either end and tie them tighter with a ribbon to keep them on the wrist.
The science behind craft stick bracelets
If you try to bend a craft stick without boiling it, it’ll just snap. That’s because wood and other plant materials contain a polymer called lignin, which keeps them rigid.
But heating the wood in boiling water weakens the lignin bonds. This allows the fibers in the craft stick to bend rather than break. The process of changing the structure of a polymer to make it easier to bend is called plasticization.
Make Funky Fashion with Tie Dye T-Shirts
Nothing says wild, free, and me quite like a tie dye t-shirt. But while the designs are different every time, the science always stays the same: a simple and straightforward chemical reaction.
What you need
- A plain white cotton t-shirt
- Rubber bands
- Fabric dye
- A paint brush
- A large ziplock bag
1) Check your fabric dye to see if your t-shirt needs to be wet to absorb it. If it does, run your t-shirt under the tap or dip it in water.
2) Scrunch up your t-shirt and put rubber bands around it at different angles to hold it in place.
3) Use your paint brush to apply the dye to your scrunched up t-shirt. Use different colors in different sections to create a super-cool multicolored effect. Remember to wash your brush before you change colors and leave a gap between each one to keep them from bleeding into each other.
4) Put your tie dye t-shirt into the ziplock bag to avoid getting dye on your surfaces.
5) Give it time to absorb the color. For a pastel effect, wait for around two hours. For a more vibrant pattern, leave it for six hours or more.
6) Remove your t-shirt from the ziplock bag and take off the rubber bands.
7) Rinse your t-shirt under cold water until the color runs clear.
8) Put your t-shirt in the washing machine. When it’s dry, put it on!
9) If you want to make more tie dye t-shirts with different designs, head over to YouTube and search for videos on making spiral, stripe, or bullseye patterns.
The science behind tie dye t-shirts
Cotton t-shirts contain cellulose fibers. When you add fiber dyes, the dye molecules form covalent bonds with the cellulose molecules and become a part of them.
Covalent bonds are some of the most basic and powerful types of chemical reactions. That’s why the dye doesn’t come out when you wash it.
Become a Musical Maestro with a Homemade Pan Flute
Scientific research has shown that there are many benefits of music in early childhood development, such as improving brain growth and fine motor skills. By making your own homemade pan flute, you can take it a step further by learning how sounds of different pitches are made. And who knows? You might even have a little Mozart on your hands (or Joey Ramone, depending on their taste).
What you need
- Eight colored plastic straws (wide straws like those for bubble tea straws work best)
- A black marker
- Colored markers
- A ruler
- Double-sided tape
- Single-sided tape
1) Cut you eight colored straws to the following lengths to create different pitches:
Do = 17.5cm
Re = 15.5cm
Mi = 13.5cm
Fa = 12.5cm
So = 11cm
La = 10cm
Ti = 9cm
Do = 8.5cm
2) Seal one end of each straw using single-sided tape.
3) Cut two strips of cardstock to 11”x1.5”.
4) Decorate them with your colored markers.
5) Place an 11” length of double-sided tape onto the inside of one cardstock strip.
6) Place the longest straw on the tape near the left edge. The open end of the straw should extend around ¾” over the top. Place the shortest straw near the left edge with the open end ¾” over the top. Repeat this for all other straws at equal distances apart, moving in order from longest to smallest.
7) Place an 11” length of double-sided tape onto the inside of the other cardstock strip. Put it on top of your straws, lining up with the first strip.
8) Number each straw in order from 1-8 with your black marker.
9) Your child can make sounds with the flute by resting the tops of the straws on the lower lip and blowing across them. (Younger children might find it easier to blow right down the straws.)
10) Make up some songs! You can use the number of each straw to write your songs down and practice them. And if you put videos on social media, remember to tag us so we can listen!
The science behind pan flutes
Sound is made when air particles vibrate. This is what happens when you blow into the pipes of a pan flute.
The pitch of the sound depends on the frequency of the vibrations. Since there’s more air in the longest pipe, blowing causes few vibrations, creating a low-pitch sound. The shorter the pipe, the more vibrations and the higher the pitch.
Enjoy a Whole World of STEAM Art Activities
So, you’re decked out in spectacular bracelets and a flashy shirt, and you perform a faux-woodwind rendition of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon at the drop of a hat. What comes next in your creative journey? Well, we’re so glad you asked.
Our catalog of hands-on STEAM activity kits is perfect for helping your kids express their thoughts, feelings, and creativity through many types of art. Some of our most popular art products include:
- Art Feeds Journals: Whether you prefer Sparkling, Collage, or Color, these fun journals let your kids engage in one-of-a-kind explorations of their artistic self.
- Pioneering Fingerprints & Structures Multipack: An all-inclusive hands-on twofer for ages 3-8. The Fingerprints kit allows kids to create doodle stories with animal and human shapes, while the Structures kit gets them to build with fuzzy shapes.
- Exploring Mazes & 3-D Art Multipack: A combination puzzle and craft art kit for elementary-level kids. In Mazes, they’ll design their own labyrinths and use them to create stories. And in 3-D Art, they can pair pop-up art with poetry to make amazing greetings cards.
For more STEAM art activities to try at home with your kids, check out the Creativity & Design section of our online store today.