April 15, 2019

Enriching STEAM Activities for a Healthy Spring

This post is part of our Wellness & Nature series, featuring simple and inexpensive ideas to support physical and social-emotional health through nature-based activities.

Artwork with a snack

As the season changes from winter to spring, nature activities are a great way to brighten up your classroom and add some fresh energy to your out-of-school time site or program. In this article, I explore the benefits of enrichment activities and provide a list of healthy STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math)-themed activities that are perfect for a spring day. 

 

Benefits of Enrichment Activities

Last month at the National Anti-Hunger Conference I spoke on one of my favorite topics: fun, low-cost activities that promote healthy habits. As I shared my ideas, I asked attendees to note how healthy enrichment activities – such as gardening – have benefited their programs and participants. Together, we created a list.

Enrichment activities:

  • Create safe, fun, and inclusive environments for kids
  • Encourage kids to visit or return to a program or site
  • Reduce the stigma associated with meal program participation
  • Enhance children’s in-classroom learning · Provide informal opportunities to practice social-emotional skills, like teamwork and empathy
  • Improve children’s ability to focus
  • Provide students with creative outlets and opportunities to express themselves in new ways
  • Prevent summer learning loss and the “summer slide”
  • Create partnership opportunities and foster community cohesion

Which of these statements resonate with you?

For me, it’s the power of enrichment activities to create welcoming spaces for children while supporting their academic success and wellness. I believe that by integrating STEAM and nature into these activities, we can further provide youth space to develop a curiosity about the world around them and instill lifelong healthy habits. 

 

Healthy STEAM Activities to Make the Most of a Spring Day

Craft supplies on table

With April showers in the forecast, now is the perfect time to spring clean your supply closet and put any leftover or unused craft supplies to good use! Try these creative indoor STEAM activities for some wellness-inspired learning: 

  • Use construction paper, tape, art supplies, and a little imagination to create your own creatures. Prompt students to decide what healthy foods their creature eats, where it lives, and how it moves. Then, act out your creatures’ movements together!  
  • Short on time? Play Zoo Lib (page 151) or use inexpensive animal flash cards for a quick game of wildlife charades.
  • Monitor the skies and make weather predictions using Wildlife Explorer’s Weather Watching activity (page 4) – perfect for an interactive bulletin board.
  • Write poems and create art based on weather and plants. Ask students to share their early experiences in nature by creating their own haiku bookmark using construction paper and craft supplies.
  • Use construction paper to create your own healthy food-themed guessing game. Hang keywords and answers on the wall and then read descriptions, like Fun Facts about Apples (page 4). Pair your game with a healthy hands-on snack. Have you tried Animal Toast Faces?
  • Create posters that encourage healthy behaviors using ideas from Healthier Generation’s Environmental Supports Roadmap. Or, make some noise and move around by acting out a nature-themed book, like “Giraffes Can’t Dance,” from the DC Healthy Schools Booklist.
  • Create DIY nature journals and plan your next outdoor adventure. Provide students with a prompt for the first entry using “I Wonder” from the BirdSleuth Guidebook

 

What fun nature-based or STEAM enrichment activities do you have planned for spring? Share your ideas on social media and mention @HealthierGen.

 

Daniel Hatcher

Director, Community Partnerships
Alliance for a Healthier Generation