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STEM Exploration: Building a Floating Island

STEM Exploration: Building a Floating Island! (A Fun and Engaging Preschool STEAM Lesson)


This STEAM lesson plan (incorporating Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) is designed to spark curiosity and creativity in preschoolers. Through hands-on activities, they'll explore concepts of buoyancy, stability, and problem-solving while having a blast building their own "floating islands."


  • Aluminum foil
  • Various small toys or objects (lightweight and waterproof) - animals, cars, buttons etc.
  • Shallow baking pan or tray
  • Water
  • Optional: Craft materials like pipe cleaners, construction paper, markers (for decoration)

Lesson Plan:

1. Setting the Stage (Science & Art):

  • Begin by reading a children's book about mythical creatures or faraway lands, such as "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak.
  • Discuss the concept of imaginary places and how they might look or function.
  • Ask children: "Imagine a land that floats on water. What would it look like? What creatures might live there?"

2. Building the Floating Island (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math):

  • Divide the aluminum foil into squares or tear off pieces of manageable size for small hands.
  • Challenge the children to create a "floating island" using the aluminum foil.
  • Encourage them to experiment by shaping the foil in different ways (e.g., flat, boat-like, cupped).
  • Once they have a basic island shape, demonstrate how to carefully place a few objects on the foil.
  • Guide them to gently place the island with objects on the water in the baking tray.
  • Observe what happens. Does the island float? How many objects can it hold before sinking?

3. Experimentation and Problem-Solving (Science & Engineering):

  • If the island sinks, encourage children to try modifying their design. Can they make the foil flatter or create a more cupped shape to trap air?
  • Discuss the concept of buoyancy – how much weight the island can hold before sinking.
  • Let them experiment with different lightweight objects, observing which ones the island can support best.

4. Adding Artistic Flair (Art):

  • Once they've built a successful floating island, allow children to decorate their creation using craft materials like pipe cleaners, construction paper, or markers.
  • This adds an artistic element to the activity and allows for further creative expression.

5. Wrap-Up and Discussion (Science & Math):

  • After playtime, gather the children and discuss their observations.
  • Ask questions like: "What shapes worked best for floating? Why do you think so?"
  • "How many objects could your island hold before sinking? How did size and weight affect the outcome?"

Learning Outcomes:

  • This STEAM lesson plan exposes preschoolers to basic scientific concepts like buoyancy and stability.
  • They develop problem-solving skills through experimentation and design modification.
  • The use of art materials allows for creative expression and reinforces hand-eye coordination.
  • Through exploration and discussion, basic math concepts like size and weight are introduced.

Extension Activities:

  • Take the activity outdoors and explore floating objects in a kiddie pool or a large container of water.
  • Read another children's book about water and discuss the properties of water (e.g., "The Rainbow Fish" by Marcus Pfister).
  • Have children draw or paint their imaginary floating islands and the creatures that might live there.

This engaging STEAM lesson plan provides a fun and educational experience for preschoolers, sparking their curiosity about the world around them and fostering a love for learning through exploration and play.


Thanks for reading STEM Exploration: Building a Floating Island

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