Anatomy of a Take-Home STEM Kit: 10 Kids' Activities, 21 Items

When Michigan's stay-at-home order went into effect in spring 2020, Stair District Library closed its doors to the public — but that didn't stop us from using our partnership with the local school district to reach kids stuck at home.

Because the library was closed by executive order, we distributed our STEM Creativity Kits through the local elementary school. The free kits were conceived by fourth grade teacher Mrs. Elliott, who also works at the library, with some input from children's librarian Martie Yunker of Archbold Community Library in Archbold, Ohio. Library and school staff worked together to help assemble the kits, offered through a NASA @ My Library grant received from ALA.

The project boiled down to 10 kids' activities that could be completed with 21 budget-friendly items. 

Photo of markers, crayons, paint on a table.
STEM kits -- activity sheets and corresponding materials -- are a smart way to keep kids entertained at home. Plus, they don't require a computer!

10 activities

The kit contains more than 20 items for use in hands-on STEM projects with the goal of engaging students in scientific and artistic inquiry and creativity. Selected activities were drawn from NASA’s Space Place, Steve Spangler Science and the San Francisco Exploratorium.

  1. Catapult
  2. Paper Airplane
  3. Alien/Martian/extraterrestrial
  4. Nature Models
  5. Super Sound Cone
  6. Toothpick Experiment
  7. Sound Sandwich
  8. Straw Rocket
  9. Straw & Circle Plane
  10. Mrs. Pickett’s Challenges

While instruction sheets include links to websites, the goal of the kit is for students to explore the materials without needing to go online. In the library’s rural area, there are still many families for whom internet access is not a given.

21 kit items

Included in the kit are several household items that may not be so common in some homes (nearly 65 percent of students receive free or reduced lunch). Except for a couple supplemental activities, everything that is needed for successful completion of the activities is included in the kit.

  1. Crayola 8-pan watercolors
  2. Crayola 16-count crayons
  3. Make-a-face stickers
  4. Extra paintbrushes
  5. Scissors
  6. Elmer's Glue
  7. Scotch tape
  8. “Kiddie Dough”
  9. Pom-poms
  10. Pipe cleaners
  11. Craft sticks
  12. Colored tissue paper squares
  13. Pipettes
  14. Plastic spoons
  15. Straws 
  16. Toothpicks
  17. Rubber bands
  18. Pencils
  19. Sharpener
  20. Paper
  21. Poster board