Animal STEM for Kids in Kindergarten and Primary


Can you build a home for your animal and make sure that it is sealed all around? Kids love animal STEM activities and this challenge was no exception. If you are looking for a creative activity to do with your kids at home or in a classroom, this animal STEM for kids challenge will keep them busy, and learning.

STEM activities involve Science, Technology, Engineering and/or Math mixed into a hands-on learning activity. STEM activities for kids can create a love for science, creating and building. For a huge collection of STEM activities, visit 45+ STEM challenge ideas for kids.

These activities have become very popular with kids and they are perfect for a hands-on activity that promotes creativity, trial and error, and perseverance.

As a teacher, I frequently try to incorporate a STEM activity into my units and lessons. As a parent, I love giving my kids activities that are open-ended and require them to use their imagination and build with their hands.

I have done a lot of STEM for kids activities. Every time I introduce one of these activities to children, they are excited and full of ideas. Plus, it’s great, screen-free time.

Since STEM activities don’t usually have only one solution, children will often approach STEM activities with confidence and a positive mind set.

STEM for kids shows a plastic lion toy inside a popsicle stick house.

STEM for Kids

This STEM challenge is part of the 10 STEM sessions with 10 Materials program. With just 10 simple materials, children can be challenged with 10 different, hands-on STEM activities. Gather the materials ahead of time and simply pull out the materials needed for each challenge with out any extra prep!

STEM for Kids – Materials

  • Popsicle Sticks, or Tongue Depressors
  • Plastic Animal Figure (Optional)
  • Clothes Pins
STEM for kids shows a stack of colorful jumbo popsicle sticks, a toy lion and clothes pins.

The materials are simple, and beyond collecting them, there is no other prep involved. The more popsicle sticks and clothes pins you have, the better. Kids will use as much as you have.

Tongue depressors work best because they are bigger and hold better with the clothes pins. If you are doing this animal STEM activity with young children, tongue depressors are also better for little hands.

However, if you only have popsicle sticks, they do work too, and can add an extra challenge for older children. When I did the activity in class, I gave children both tongue depressors and popsicle sticks to build with and gave them the choice.

If you don’t have an animal figure, don’t worry you don’t need it to do the challenge. If you want to use something similar, you can use some other small toy to build a shelter for or even a stuffed animal. Technically you don’t really an animal at all; however, it can help to keep kids engaged.

stem for kids shows a toy lion in a popsicle stick house.

With this activity, children have the chance to become architects and engineers. 

When I give STEM challenges I typically give very little direction/instruction to students. I try not to guide their creations. Children have the freedom to create anything they imagine, but the challenge is still structured because there is a goal/focus.

In this case, it is to build a home or shelter for their animal.

Animal STEM Activities

Challenge your children to create a structure or home to keep an animal in. Sounds simple enough. But here’s the hard part. You can only use popsicle sticks and clothes pins and your animal (the plastic figure) must fit inside the home.

At first, children played around with the clothes pins to figure out exactly how they worked. Some groups simply stacked their pins and sticks to create a wall. Children then began to figure out that how to use the pins and pinch the tongue depressor inside the pin.

Children can work in small groups, or independently. When I did the activity, each small group was given a bin with only clothes pins, popsicle sticks and larger tongue depressors. Then I gave each group a small animal critter. 

stem for kids shows a toy lion in a popsicle sticks, clothes pin home.

They had half an hour to complete their animal STEM activity, but the children could have gone on much longer.

By pinching the clothes pin and holding the tongue depressor, children began to create small homes with the clothes pins looking like walls. Once they figured out that they could do this, they then really started to create.

The structures began to have roofs. They had separate rooms for the animals to move into. Children worked to figure out ways to secure the sides and attach them together.

Animal STEM for Kids Results

The homes that my kids created were amazing! They were very focused and excited while they built. In the end, no two structures looked the same, but all children were successful in making their animal home. 

I was very proud of all of the beginner architects!

STEM for kids shows a toy lion in a popsicle stick home.

One of my favorite things about STEM for kids is when I have the opportunity to talk to the children about what they have built. At first glance, each house, may simply look like a house; however, talking to the creators of the house you may find some details and features that you didn’t notice.

I discovered that some houses had two walls for extra protection. Some homes had a secret door for the animal to get in and out whenever they want. Some structures even had a second floor!

When preparing STEM for kids it doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple materials can lead to some of the best challenges! Have fun creating!

Extension Activity

Depending on time, I sometimes give students time to draw/plan what they are wanting to create before they start building. As children build, they explore the materials and find ways to make their structure stable.

STEM for kids shows a birds eye view of a structure made from popsicle sticks.

For older children, you can have them work independently versus a small group. I love giving children a chance to work together and share ideas. There is a lot of learning and lessons that come from groups work.

However, if you have done STEM challenges before, allowing children to work on their own also allows them to create whatever their personal imagination comes up with.

I have done this STEM for kids at home and at school. With my own kids at home, they sat and built for hours on their own. I have found that if I leave the STEM activity open ended, like this one, my children will sit and create and keep expanding on their idea – if they are given the time, and enough materials, to do so.

Join Hands-On Teaching Ideas

Join Hands-On Teaching Ideas to gain access to my Free Resource Library filled with lots of printable learning resources, from a choice board full of STEM activities for kids to escape room games, you can download anything that interests you for your classroom or home. 

Download the activity card featured above, for FREE!

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Use the materials to continue building. This collection of 100 STEM activity cards can be used with any materials – like popsicle sticks and clothes pins.

More STEM and Hands-On Teaching Ideas

Looking for more simple STEM challenges? I have created a collection of over 45 STEM building challenges that you can try out today!

If you are looking for some extra hands-on activities your kids will love, check out some other activities I had done at home and in the classroom. They are all kid tested, and approved!

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