Great Engaging Activity: Fun Ways To Use Straws

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Questioning and thinking outside of the box are such important skills, not only for STEM, but for life in general. By exposing your children to experiences that require them to look at things differently you are helping them to develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills. In the Stay At Home Discover series I will be giving you tips and ideas for using everyday objects in fun and engaging ways. Invite your children to discover ways to use these objects and have fun experimenting.

stay at home STEM straws

In the last week we have been finding new and exciting ways to use straws! From using them as building materials to blowing bubbles every time is a great chance to sneak in some STEM learning. In this case, I refer to STEM learning as sharpening those problem-solving and critical thinking skills and not necessarily the Science Technology Engineering and Math aspect. 

How can you guide the learning? 

I will be giving you some ideas of what we have been doing with straws but feel free to explore and come up with your own ideas. Depending on your kids age you can then collect the materials from each activity and invite them to find ways to use or play with them. Or you could just gather some straws and without any guidance let them collect things around the house that they could use to create or play in any way they want.

Activities we have been doing

Bear in mind that our daughter is almost 3 years-old so if you have older/younger kids you might need to adapt the activities. 

Bring straws to bathtime! 

This was so fun! We started by just blowing air through the straw into the bath water and to her surprise bubbles started coming out! Our daughter also tried drinking the bath water and spit it back out so be prepared for this. Then we started making soap bubbles with the straw. For this we got some toy cups, put some soap and water in it and just blew with the straw. We were amazed to see how the bubbles came out!  We experimented by blowing fast, blowing slow and watching how the bubbles changed. It was so fun we did it a few days later outside!

stay at home STEM straws

Preparation

For this activity you will need:

  • Straws
  • Small plastic cups
  • Soap 
  • Water

How to sneak in some critical thinking:

  • Invitation to create: Lay out the materials and ask them what you could do with them
  • Once you are set up blowing bubbles you can ask:
    • What will happen if we blow faster/slower?
    • What happens to the water when we blow bubbles?

Use straws for moving things around

Feed the bunny

I had some colorful pom poms lying around from when I did activities with kids on the weekends so I brought these out to use with the straws. If you don’t have pom poms you could use ping pong balls or cotton balls or even try making some balls out of cello tape and paper. We also had a bunny rabbit made out of cardboard so we brought that out and tried to feed the bunny by blowing the pom poms into the bunny’s mouth. You can turn this into a game by seeing how much food you can get into the bunny’s mouth in X amount of time. (I’ll leave it up to you to decide on the time).

stay at home STEM straws

Get the ball through the maze

Another day we used our blocks to make a maze and tried getting the ball from one side to the other. This can be done as a race (you can time each person) or it can be done as a collaborative game. 

These games are great for older kids and younger kids just enjoy discovering what they can do with straws. As I write this I am thinking that it would also be fun to suck the air in through the straw and try to get the balls from one point to another. I’ll leave you with that thought and see what fun games you can come up with. 

Preparation

Materials you will need: 

  • Straws
  • Balls to push/carry around (pom poms, ping pong balls, cotton balls, paper balls…)
  • Containers to push the balls into or drop them into (fun animals made out of cardboard, plastic cups, tupperware…)
  • Materials to make a maze or a road: blocks, tin foil (have fun creating the road too!)

How to sneak in some problem-solving and critical thinking:

  • Invitation to create: Lay out the materials and ask your kids what you could do with them
  • If you have been blowing the balls around, change something in the game and ask them how they would get the balls around now. For example, if the container was horizontal so you could push the balls in put it in a position so that you have to suck the air in and carry the balls in or maybe use two straws to pick the balls up

Use straws for creating objects:

Bring out some straws, something that will connect them (we used scotch tape) and start creating! 

Ideas for things you can create:

  • 2D Shapes (this is what we did)
  • 3D Shapes
  • Bridges 
  • Towers
  • Houses
  • Ramps (slides for toys)
  • Any type of structure really
stay at home STEM straws

Preparation

Materials you will need:

  • Straws
  • Something to connect the straws (playdough, tape…)
  • Scissors (to adjust the size of the straws)

How to sneak in some problem-solving and critical thinking:

  • Invitation to create: Lay out the materials and ask your kids what you could do with them
  • Challenges: How can we make a bridge strong enough to hold a book? How can we make a tower as tall as…? How can we make 3D shapes out of the 2D ones we already made? Is it possible to make a slide for your toys?
  • If we just use 5/10… straws what can we create?

For the challenges you can also do some research online with your kids beforehand. This is a great way to get your kids motivated about the activity and you are teaching them to research before starting a project which is so important in STEM! For bridges for  example you can google “bridge” and look at the images and see which one you could create.


More Fun Activities and Games:

Make sure to Bookmark the Stay At Home STEM post which will be updated with all our fun STEM activities that are perfect for doing at home.

Have fun and discover new ways to use everyday objects!

So these are the ways in which we discovered straws and I hope you can find some fun and engaging ways too! Enjoy the time with your kids and reconnect with your family through play, exploration and discoveries! 

stay at home STEM straws

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