STEM Summer, Chicago Style with Bright Horizons

Guest post by Bright Horizons Early Education and Preschool

Bright Horizons STEM-focused activities, ChicagolandThe end of the school year doesn’t have to mean the end of the learning. Summer is a great time for families to get outside, connect, and learn! Keep reading for some STEM-focused gardening activities to help your family explore, discover, and dig into summer.

The garden is a wonderful environment for children to be active, engaged learners at any age. Infants experience a great deal of the world through sensory opportunities. Activities could include using wind chimes or flags to bring attention to the wind.

Toddlers and Two’s love to be outside and, like infants, experience the world through their senses. They want to touch and see everything new. Expose them to the ways things in your garden feel or smell. Use comparison words: smaller, taller, bigger, shorter, etc. Invite your child to help with watering, measuring, weeding, harvesting – and tasting.

Preschool and Kindergarten Prep-aged children are interested in the why’s and how’s of plant growth. How does a seed become a tree? Allow them to hypothesize, observe, and draw their own conclusions about how plants grow.

Ask age-appropriate questions:

  • What shapes do you see in the garden?
  • How many tomatoes do you see on the plant?
  • How many legs does that spider have? Is a spider an insect?
  • Invite your child to help “build” your garden. How can we keep this tall plant from falling over? We should plant these seeds 12” apart. Can you help measure 12” with a ruler?
  • Collect a few rocks or leaves. How are they the same? How are they different? Feel the different textures. Use a magnifying glass for closer examination.
  • How will we get water to our garden? Why do plants need water? What else do they need to grow?

Bright Horizons STEM-focused activities, ChicagolandThese activities can be done anywhere. Use your backyard garden (or create a container garden on your balcony). Make a terrarium. Visit the Garfield Park Conservatory, the Botanic Garden, the Morton Arboretum, or a local U Pick Farm to see gardens on a larger scale. Your local parks and forest preserves are also loaded with opportunities to learn and explore!

Gardening and STEM learning activities are incorporated into the Bright Horizons curriculum each and every day. We offer programs for infants – kindergarten prep, plus school’s out programs and camps for school age children. For more information about how our school readiness program helps children become socially prepared, excited to learn, and well-versed in the language, math, and science skills they’ll need to succeed and to find the center nearest you, visit or call (877) 624-4532.