Birds-eye view of a STEAM cart filled with microscope, paper, markers, pom-poms, pipe cleaners and more.
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What’s a STEAM Cart and Why Will Your Kids Love One?

Apr 21, 2017

You’ve probably heard of STEM before (science, technology, engineering and math) since the term has been around for awhile now. This program encourages children to be inventive, to communicate their ideas to others and to learn by doing. STEAM, however advocates for adding art into the mix, which helps bridge the gap between critical thinking and creativity. This approach gives kids the tools and knowledge to draw on design principles and standards to come up with creative solutions.


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Many schools across Turtle Island (North America) are taking note and incorporating STEAM activities into their curriculum. Some are even going so far as establishing STEAM rooms, like my kids’ school. You don’t need a lot of expensive equipment, materials or tools to create a STEAM environment at home for your kids either. We’ve been slowly building our own STEAM station in the corner of my at home office/studio/work-out space. The STEAM station needed to be mobile so we used a cart with wheels to make it easy when we need to make space.

A microscope among markers on the top shelf of the STEAM cart.

A self-serving STEAM cart will be a great choice for you too, if you don’t have a lot of space or a lot of money to get started at home. If you’ve been parenting for a while, you likely have lots of art and craft supplies, but if you don’t the dollar store is a great place to pick up inexpensive craft and science experiment materials. Make sure to take your child’s interests into consideration when adding items to your cart, but also have fun with it and use your own imagination. If you’re looking for a little inspiration, simply Google age-appropriate STEAM activities. Pinterest is also great resource, and look! I’ve given you a head start: check out my board.

Containers full of beads.

MATERIALS

I’m going to share what we have on our cart — like I said, play around with yours based on age(s) and interest(s)!

TOP SHELF

  • paper or various types and colours (construction, cardstock, textured craft papers, tissue paper, etc.)
  • repurposed BBQ condiment carrying tray: magnifying glass, microscope, test tubes, liquid droppers, rechargeable batteries, measuring tape, containers with washers, nuts and bolts, nails, hooks, big and little magnets, mini screwdrivers, wrench, markers, scissors, paints and paintbrushes

MIDDLE SHELF

  • jars of rubber bands, pom-poms, googly eyes, craft/paint tray, more markers, various sketch and paint pads, watercolour paper, oil and chalk pastels, watercolour pads
  • basket filled with various washi tapes, spirograph kit, math kit (protractor, compass, etc.) coloured masking tapes, paper bags, pipe cleaners, glue, recycled paper products like egg cartons and toilet paper rolls, a few rolls of string, jars of glitter

Paints and pom-poms and elastic bands on the STEAM shelf.

BOTTOM SHELF

  • paper box with various coloured ribbons
  • tupperware container with plasticine and tools
  • tupperware containers of various beads and beading wire, elastic other accessories
  • big wire basket filled with stickers, popsicle sticks, stamps and stamp pads, old magazines for collaging
  • baking soda, vinegar, baking powder, small measuring cups and spoons

STEAM cart shown in author's home office/studio.

Article Author Selena Mills
Selena Mills

Read more from Selena here

A multidisciplinary creative professional and artisan, Selena has over 10 years of experience writing and editing for acclaimed publications, B2B content creation, social management, brand building, design and VA services. Passionate about elevating Indigenous and FNMI stories, perspectives and voices in digital media, she strives to build bridges renegade style. When the chaos permits, Selena is an avid four-seasons permaculture gardener and a hobby “chef” who looks for other parents to revel (and or kvetch) in motherhood with. Clearly, she doesn’t like rules, most visionaries don’t.

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