Mazes are Ah-MAZE-ING! You can easily use mazes in STEM to teach basic principles to kids. The concepts can be taught from a young age too and then adapted as your kids learn and grow. Here are 6 engaging ways to incorporate mazes into your activities.
Why are mazes in STEM useful for learning?
There are several reasons why mazes are useful for STEM learning and these include:
- Problem solving. You need to figure out how to get from one position to another.
- Sequencing. Moving through a maze is a sequence of steps. if I move here, where will be my next move?
- Memory. You need to remember what step was previously taken to learn and adapt if you need to find a new pathway.
- Trial and Error. You need to keep trying different options to get from one location to another. This generates perseverance in kids, a useful trait for the STEM disciplines.
Here are 6 examples of incorporating mazes into your kids activities
1. Bead Mazes
These are perhaps one of the earliest ways to incorporate the concept of mazes to your kids. There are many different types of bead mazes available. Kids need to slide the pieces around the different wires to get from one location to another. It incorporates the concept of start to finish and different pathways as most toys have more than one track to follow.
2. Hand Mazes
These are tactile 2D mazes where kids need to follow different pathways. They are perfect for toddlers and above as you do not need any writing skills in order to complete the maze. You just follow the path with your finger making it a useful sensory task as well as you can actually feel the edges and ‘dead-ends’ in the pathway.
3. Maze Books
Maze books are great puzzle books for those preschoolers who are able to start using and controlling their writing skills. There are options available to start with easier to follow puzzles to generate interest and confidence in being able to solve each one.
4. Board Games
The Amazing Labyrinth is a board game that is one giant maze. You can adapt the game to play with your kids and make it as hard or easy as you need too. The aim is to find each object in the maze by moving your piece to that object. You could also adapt it for younger kids to build a maze using just a few of the board game pieces on a table to show the concepts of how to move about in a maze.
5. Outdoor Mazes
A great way to subtlety learn STEM is by finding activities outdoors to do with your kids. Outdoor mazes are perfect for this. You are able to run around and experience all of the different pathways and options that you can take and the kids won’t really realise the different types of learning they are doing.
Here are some of the best outdoor mazes found around Australia:
- Bellingham Maze, QLD
- Bago Maze, NSW
- Ashcombe Maze, VIC
- Wandiligong Maze, VIC
- Tasmazia, TAS
- Mintaro Maze, SA
- Amaze’n Margaret River, WA
6. Build your Own Maze
Another great activity to get older preschoolers interested in mazes is to build your own. You can either create the maze for younger kids and get them to solve it or they can do it themselves. You could try drawing a 2D maze on paper using either graph paper or any blank paper. You can also build a maze with any material you have available. Think cardboard, straws, boxes, blocks, Lego etc. Whatever is easiest and at hand that interests your kids. Let your creativity with this emerge as you explore mazes with your kids.
Mazes are a great STEM tool to do with your kids and there are so many different ways you can spark their interest in this activity. What other ways do you like to incorporate mazes?