Ramirez-Barroeta, L., and Andrews, A. 2020, Make Your Home a Great Place to Play, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno

It's important to keep families connected and children learning in the time of COVID-19. So, professionals from Extension's Let’s Discover STEM Program in Washoe County reached out to past program participants, and asked the Washoe County School District families if they were interested in doing a STEM activity at home with their young children. The response was incredible, and nine families are participating in the at-home offerings.

Program professionals then selected educational materials for the families according the children's play interests, including dinosaurs, trucks, the zoo, art and more. This was so the materials would bring out the best of the children's imaginations and so the children would have fun. The carefully selected materials were then dropped off at families' front doors. From there, families and children made their homes great places to play.

A night at the museum

One of the STEM activities introduced children to museums. Families and kids can tour museums from the comfort of their couches. Museum visits for children can provide memorable, hands-on learning experiences, provoke imagination, introduce unknown words and subjects, and offer unique quality time with family.

Families exploring this activity received a free copy of the STEM-related children's book, Eric and Julieta at the Museum by Isabel Muñoz. In the book, Julieta is convinced that dragons are real, and she is excited about visiting the museum. Her big brother, Eric, and his friend try to make a dinosaur skeleton look like the dragon Julieta expects to see at the museum.

The Bravo family participated in this activity. The parents prepared their young children to visit a virtual dinosaur museum and to use their imaginations to make a dinosaur exhibit at home. They created a dinosaur museum in their living room through play. 

The Ochoa Carmona family read books and virtually toured museums to learn more about some famous paintings. The family then transformed a box into a museum! The museum features Musicals Instruments painted by Pablo Picasso, Starry Night painted by Vincent Van Gogh, The Flower Carrier painted by Diego Rivera and Water Lilies painted by Claude Monet. The child of the family also made an elevator connecting the first and second floors of the box museum using technology and engineering skills.

A young child with his family's museum in a box diorama

A leaf on the wind

Another at-home STEM activity provided by the program this summer was designed to introduce families to life science. The Gomez Diaz family participated in this activity. They covered leaves with paper and rubbed a crayon across the page. This created a colorful instant picture of the leaves. Creating pictures like these helps children and families learn about the basic structure of a leaf. It helps the families to capture the leaves' shapes and see their veins.

It's child's play

The many forms of play enrich a child’s brain, body and life in important ways, and STEM in the early years makes a difference in children’s lives. Any time, even this time of coronavirus, can be the right time to make time for STEM. All families can learn more about STEM at home through virtual field trips. Here are a few to try:

For more information about Let’s Discover STEM, please contact Project Director & Human Development Specialist Daniel Weigel, Ph.D.

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