STEAM Challenges with Household Objects

Although school buildings are closed, our students are still learning! Even though that means our regular in-class activities are gone this year, you can still share fun STEAM challenges with household objects for your upper elementary students. And when school does resume, it’ll make bringing STEAM back into the classroom a bit easier!

Are you looking for some STEAM/STEM activities without having to purchase a lot of materials? Check out these activities that use just regular household objects!

Begin by sharing these STEAM challenges with household objects with your students and parents! Share via email or on your online learning platforms. For instance, consider using Google Classroom or Seesaw.

Start by encouraging problem-solving through challenges at home. All of the challenges below will need both cameras and writing materials.

STEAM Challenge 1

Objective:

Students will create artwork, from recycled materials, about their community.

Skills assessed:

community; recycled materials; sustainability; problem-solving; resources

Materials needed:

recycled materials

Instructions:

  1. First, discuss recycled materials, waste, and sustainability.
  2. Next, brainstorm household materials that create waste.
  3. Discuss community, focusing on different types (family, school, town).
  4. In addition, brainstorm communities and the value of those communities.
  5. Have students also look at relationships between materials and communities. (Glass may work in a town that has a glass factory; a cardboard box may work for a family with a member moving; a school poster may work for a student).
  6. Finally, challenge students to create artwork from recycled materials that relate to their community.

Recommendations:

  • First, have students plan out their artwork, including a materials list and a timeline.
  • Then have students take pictures and journal about their work. (Each step above = a picture and a paragraph about the step.)
  • In addition, create your own example to show students. Models are always key!
  • Have students also explain what makes their result art.
  • Finally, share artwork with online communities. For example, students might blog about their work or you can share on social media.

STEAM Challenge 2

Objective:

Students will create a scale model of a room in their house, using only materials in that room.

Skills assessed:

perspective, measurements, models, diagrams, problem-solving

Materials needed:

ruler, tape measurer, cardboard box, materials from rooms (i.e. q-tips, paper plates, spaghetti noodles, toy soldiers)

Instructions:

  1. First, discuss measurements.
  2. Next, practice reading rulers and tape measures.
  3. After that, discuss both fractions and scaling.
  4. Complete a whole-class scale activity.
  5. Finally, challenge students to create a scale model of a room in their house, using only materials in that room.

Recommendations:

  • To begin, have students plan out three room options, including both a material list and a timeline.
  • Next, instruct students to rate those options based on 1) easiest material use, 2) easiest to complete quickly, and 3) most complex room.
  • After that, have students select the room, based on your preference or add points, based on the rating above (most complex gets 2 extra points).
  • In addition, create your own example to show students. (For example, use your classroom.)

Finally, have students showcase their “rooms” from multiple angles.

STEAM Challenge 3

Objective:

Students will measure varying conditions of the same fruit or vegetable.

Skills assessed:

perspective; life-cycle; conditions; conditional changes

Materials needed:

fruit or vegetable

Instructions:

  1. First, discuss fruit/vegetable and their life-cycles.
  2. Next, discuss conditions that impact those life-cycles (heat, cold, air, salt, preservatives, specifically discussing natural, wet, and dry conditions) and what leads to rotting.
  3. After that, discuss the process of and the importance of cataloging life-cycles and preserving.
  4. Have students find a fruit or vegetable in their house. Cut that fruit or vegetable in half. Place each half in a different cup that is the same (ceramic, plastic, styrofoam).
  5. Add one dry condition to one cup (salt, sugar, baking soda) and one wet condition to the other cup (water, lemon juice, milk).
  6. Finally, challenge students to measure varying conditions of the same fruit or vegetable over a specified span of time.

Recommendations:

  • First, have students plan out their process, including a materials list and a timeline.
  • Next, have students make predictions, based on their process.
  • In addition, have students take pictures and journal about their process. (Each step above = a picture and a paragraph about the step.)
  • Finally, have students write about why their predictions were accurate or inaccurate.

STEAM Challenge 4

Objective:

Students will create an automated sound machine from household objects.

Skills assessed:

problem-solving; constraints; resources

Materials needed:

household objects

Instructions:

  1. First, have a discussion of sound waves and how they are created.
  2. Next, discuss sound variances and what causes those variances.
  3. Also, discuss automation processes like propelling, self-propelling, and motors (battery-powered, magnetic).
  4. Finally, challenge students to create an automated sound machine from household objects.

Recommendations:

  • First, have students plan out their process, including a materials list and a timeline.
  • Next, have students take pictures and journal about their process. (Each step above = a picture and a paragraph about the step.)
  • Also, create your own example to show students.
  • Finally, have students showcase their instruments in a concert. For example, you can host a “talent show” or concert on Google Meet or Zoom for both parents and students.

Your students are at home, however, they can still have fun and learn! Overall, STEAM challenges with household objects are simple ways to get our students up and actively thinking about the world around them! Help your students experiencing both innovation and creativity with science, technology, engineering, art, and math activities during their time with distance learning.

If you’re looking for other STEM activities, check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store here.