30 Screen-Free STEAM DIYs for Kids

In today’s day and age, it can be tough to tear our little humans away from the screens and devices we’ve all become so attached to. But there’s nothing quite as enriching and satisfying for kids as getting their hands dirty and making something themselves. And of course, it never hurts if they learn something new along the way! Keep those tiny hands and brains busy year round with this list of screen-free DIYs for kids of all ages.

  1. Ages 3-4

    • Visual aid of how to complete Milk Swirl Experiment

      My kids can't get enough of this super-simple science experiment. I love that it's easy and safe enough for kids of all ages, and uses only ingredients I already have in the kitchen. The end result is an explosion of colors, and it almost looks like magic! Watch our video to see us make the colorful experiment from start to swirling color.

    • Visual aid of how to complete Salt Dough Dinosaur Fossils

      Create your own fossils out of salt dough!

    • Visual aid of how to complete Giant Bubble Wand

      All you need are simple household items to make this giant bubble wand and a bubble solution for giant bubbles. Once they’ve got the hang of it, challenge your kids to take turns trying to see who could make the biggest bubbles!

    • Visual aid of how to complete Celery Experiment

      Has your child ever wondered how plants get water from their roots all the way to their leaves? This simple celery experiment shows how colored water travels up a celery stalk!

    • Visual aid of how to complete Fizzing Colors
      Fizzing Colors

      (Ages 3-12)

      Turn your kitchen into a chemistry lab with this simple science experiment! You only need three ingredients: baking soda, food coloring, and vinegar. When you combine the ingredients, a chemical reaction occurs and results in a bubbling eruption of fizzing color. Acids – like vinegar – and bases – like baking soda – are special kinds of chemicals that tend to react with each other to form something completely new: carbon dioxide gas. So the bubbles you see are filled with carbon dioxide gas which creates all the foamy fizz!

    • Visual aid of how to complete Rainbow Walking Water

      Discover the magic of color mixing and capillary action with this easy and exciting science project!

  2. Ages 5-8

    • Visual aid of how to complete Erupting Apples
      Erupting Apples

      (Ages 3-8)

      When you have three little curious boys running around your house and a free afternoon, why not get a little messy and do some kitchen science? We did ours in the backyard and let the whole thing become a super sensory experience. When they inevitably try and find the remains of their apple in the mound of foam, be sure to ask them what it feels like.

    • Visual aid of how to complete Make Your Own Garden

      Now that spring is finally here, we've been planting all sorts of seeds on our window sills. From tomatoes to cucumbers, our family has been watching our plants sprout and grow. When my kids wanted to get in on the action, we set up this easy CD garden using wheatgrass seeds. To their delight, the wheatgrass seeds have sprouted in a matter of days. They now take turns tracking and watering their growing garden every day.

    • Visual aid of how to complete Lava Lamp Science Project

      Have you ever seen a lava lamp? All of the colorful wax that rises and falls, bobbing around--it's mesmerizing! You've probably wondered how to make one. This is an easy science experiment that you can do at home to create your very own homemade lava lamp. And it only takes a few common household ingredients!

    • Visual aid of how to complete Fluffy Slime
      Fluffy Slime

      (Ages 5-16)

      Is your slime feeling mucky and dense? Could your slime use a little pep in its step? Try mixing together this special concoction and make fluffy slime! Slime is a popular activity for kids of all ages, and fluffy slime takes it to the next level. This soft and squishy slime is perfect for sensory play and is super easy to make.

      Our team has tested out countless slime recipes, and we've found the perfect combination of ingredients to make the fluffiest slime possible. Let's get started and dive into the recipe!

    • Visual aid of how to complete Electric Jellyfish

      Learn about creating static electricity with this simple project. Explore more by using this technique to create a living birthday cake with candles, campfire, or wetland scene!

    • Visual aid of how to complete Conveyor Belt Cinema

      Use a small-scale conveyor belt to create a cinematic experience! Download the printables here: background image & still image.

    • Visual aid of how to complete Underwater Fireworks

      With your kitchen as your lab and baking supplies as your ingredients, create your own underwater firework spectacular! These underwater fireworks go off because of density. Density means how much something weighs for a given volume of it. Denser things like iron and stone sink. Less dense things like wood and rubber float.

      In this experiment, you use four different liquids with four different densities: oil, water, food coloring, and saltwater. The oil sits on top of the water because it’s less dense than water. The water sits on top of the saltwater for the same reason. Food coloring is denser than oil and a little bit denser than water, but it isn’t as dense as saltwater. When the drops of food coloring hit the dense saltwater, they disperse like exploding fireworks!

    • Visual aid of how to complete Egg in Vinegar Experiment

      Want to see a chemical reaction in action? With this egg in vinegar experiment, we observed and followed a regular egg through a transformation to become a bouncy egg. You can too with just a few repurposed ingredients you may have around the house for Easter!

      This experiment allows you to see how two common household materials react — eggshell and vinegar. When these materials come in contact, a (safe) chemical reaction takes place and creates new compounds. This easy experiment is great for children to do on their own, and fun to observe how the egg changes over time.

  3. Ages 9-12

    • Visual aid of how to complete Desk Catapult
      Desk Catapult

      (Ages 9-16)

      Make sure Dad's never bored with this DIY catapult that doubles as a desk toy! It's easy to build from common office supplies and fun to use at work or at home.

      This is also the perfect gift to make to give to your Dad for Father's Day! Now when he takes a break to launch a few pom-poms from his DIY catapult, he can think of you. Or better yet, maybe you can launch some pom-poms, too, and turn it into a contest!

    • Visual aid of how to complete Baking Soda-Powered Boat

      Fizz, fizz, zoom! This baking soda experiment boat is easy to build and fun to race. If you’ve ever dropped a fizzy tablet into a cup of water or made a baking soda volcano, you’ve made the same chemical reaction used here. But this time, we’re using that reaction to power a soda bottle boat, for a short distance at least.This is one baking soda experiment that is more fun with more room, so try this one in the bathtub. You can also experiment with the amount of baking soda and vinegar you add.

    • Visual aid of how to complete Rainbow Paper Experiment

      Did you know that you can create a rainbow with clear nail polish? Try this quick experiment using clear nail polish and black paper to make a swirling mix of colors.

      Since it involves nail polish, younger kids shouldn't attempt this on their own. Although with supervision, it's simple enough for elementary age kids to enjoy as well. I tried this out with my 5-year-old, and he loved watching the rainbow colors appears. Just make sure to supervise and protect your table or work surface from spills.

    • Visual aid of how to complete Parachute Toy
      Parachute Toy

      (Ages 9-16)

      Have you ever ridden a bicycle down a hill and felt the wind on your face? Air is all around you. To move through it, you have to push it out of the way. That means it's pushing back on you, too. That push is called air resistance. Imagine a parachutist jumping out of an airplane and falling to the ground. The opened parachute would use air resistance to slow down its descent. In this experiment, we create a parachute toy using a Ziploc® brand sandwich bag to learn about air resistance and see it in action.

    • Visual aid of how to complete Balloon Hovercraft

      You don't need high-tech gadgets to make your own hovercraft! This balloon-powered toy is easy to make with household materials and is a ton of fun to send zooming around! We had so much fun passing the hovercraft across a long table. A light push sends it gliding along in a straight path. And, the balloon had enough air in it for a few pushes, which means you can involve a few friends. Keep blowing the balloon up for more and more fun!

    • Visual aid of how to complete Marbled Paperweight

      These pretty rainbow rocks are perfect for brightening up your desk! With just some nail polish and water, you can transform an ordinary rock into your own marbled paperweight.

    • Visual aid of how to complete Bottle Cap Bots
      Bottle Cap Bots

      (Ages 9-16)

      Cold, lazy days are a perfect time to turn simple household objects into motor-powered toys. Here's a fun project that recycles bottle caps into little robots that dance and scoot in all kinds of surprising ways!

    • Visual aid of how to complete Wave Machine
      Wave Machine

      (Ages 5-16)

      We’re surrounded by waves! Sound and light travel as waves to our ears and eyes. Ocean waves crash onto the beach. Radio waves broadcast music to our cars. We even use waves to cook our food - in microwaves! Try making this wave machine to see how all different kinds of waves move!

  4. Ages 12+

    • Visual aid of how to complete Pressure Bottle Rocket

      Water squirters work by pressurizing reservoirs of water with air. As you pump the squirter, it gradually adds air to the reservoir, increasing the pressure. When you pull the trigger, the pressure is allowed to release and a stream of water shoots out!

      In this DIY project, we'll learn how to use the exact sample principles found in water squirters to launch a water rocket sky-high! Follow along with these simple steps and you'll be blasting off in no time.

      Want to make a bottle rocket without the hassle of gathering materials? Blast off with a Bottle Rocket crate from the KiwiCo Store! It includes a step-by-step video tutorial link, illustrated blueprint instructions, all the materials, and a special-edition Tinker Zine magazine for more project fun!

    • Visual aid of how to complete Melted Crayon Art

      Melting. It's a natural process that we can see every day: the ice in a glass of water, the butter on bread right after it’s toasted, the candles on a birthday cake. Let’s try to melt crayons into a work of art!

    • Visual aid of how to complete Muscle Machine
      Muscle Machine

      (Ages 9-16)

      There are lots of muscles that help to move your arm in all the many ways it can move. The bicep and tricep muscles are two of the most noticeable, partly because of how big they get on some bodybuilders. These paired muscles flex and extend the elbow joint, allowing you to bring a fork to your mouth or throw a frisbee. When one flexes, the other relaxes.

      In this muscle machine, you’ll be mimicking the action of a muscle by pulling a string. This is actually pretty similar to how your muscles work. Muscles are made up of long fibers of cells, kind of like bundles of string. The cells in a relaxed muscle fiber are long and skinny. When a muscle flexes, the cells yank themselves together, going from long and skinny to short and round. This shortens the muscle fiber too, so anything the muscle fiber is attached to will move in the direction of its contraction. The string mirrors this by changing its length when you pull on it.

      Download the printable here.

    • Visual aid of how to complete Graphite Circuit
      Graphite Circuit

      (Ages 9-16)

      Can you complete an LED circuit using a graphite pencil? Learn about the conductive properties of graphite and draw your own design to see it light up! This is a super quick and easy science experiment that is entertaining for both kids and adults alike.

    • Visual aid of how to complete Rubber Band Helicopter

      Learn about helicopters by making a rubber band powered flying toy!

    • Visual aid of how to complete Lung Model
      Lung Model

      (Ages 7-16)

      Breathe in. Breathe out. Do you feel your chest expand and shrink when you breathe? That change in size is how you get air into your lungs! It all has to do with the physics of air pressure, which you’ll investigate in this project.

      Want to explore anatomy without the hassle of gathering materials? Dive into learning with a Vet Starter Kit from the KiwiCo Store

    • Visual aid of how to complete Paper Airplane Launcher

      Take your paper airplanes to new heights by making a motorized launcher for them.

Get inspired!