Screen-Free STEAM Challenges For 4-8 Year Olds

  • Child Development
Kelsey Sullivan

Over the past week, I've spoken to a number of parents who were feeling anxious about how they would entertain their kids over breaks without the online school routine. I was inspired to create this resource for young learners, to support with some screen-free creativity.

Below are some optional challenges you can give your kiddos to try over together. These activities are designed to spark creativity, problem-solving, laughter, and fun as we navigate this crazy time in the world!

Send any pictures of your completed projects to me

Challenge 1. Can you build a maze for an object to go through from start to finish?

Maze Materials: These are just suggestions. Use any materials you have around the house.

  • Straws
  • Playdough
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Legos
  • Tape
  • Marble




Challenge 2: Can you build a roller coaster for a marble? The marble must remain safely on the roller coaster.

Materials: These are suggestions but use whatever you have lying around the house.

For the younger kiddos (JK/K) you could simplify the challenge and have them make a slide for the marble instead of a roller coaster.

  • Paper Plates (the thin ones) 
  • Solo cups
  • Index cards -
  • Construction Paper
  • Straws
  • Cardboard
  • Tape
  • Marble


Challenge 3: What creative thing can you create with ordinary materials like Molly Lou Melon? No saying “I’m bored” this spring break! As Molly Lou melon says “The best thing to play with is a HUGE imagination”

(If you have the book read the hard copy. If not, watch this short video. It’s only 5 min. long and then the challenge is screen-free).

Click to watch the video "Have Fun Molly Lou Melon."


  • Anything around your house. You may not buy any new materials for this challenge.

Parent Tip: This is a challenge that could happen multiple times throughout the week. You could create an “Imagination box” and throw lots of recycled materials in it (ex: toilet paper rolls, egg carton, milk carton, newspaper, magazines etc). Then tell your child to go to the imagination box and create when you are needing to break up the day.


Challenge 4: What can you create out of an ordinary box?

(If you have the book read the hard copy. If not, watch this short video. It’s only 1 min 30 seconds long and then the challenge is screen-free).

Click here to watch the video, "What to do with a Box."


  • Cardboard Boxes


Challenge 5: Can you build the tallest tower out of dixie cups in 5 minutes?


  • This could be a family challenge and at the end of 5 minutes, you see who has the tallest tower.
  • Or it could be an individual challenge and they do it multiple times and compare their results from the 1st attempt, 2nd attempt, and 3rd attempt.


  • 50 dixie cups for each participant




Challenge 6: How many seconds can you make a (marble or ping pong ball) travel on a maze without stopping and then landing in a cup?

*You can test different designs to see which design keeps the marble moving for the longest amount of time.


  • Toilet paper/paper towel rolls
  • Index cards or construction paper can be used if you don’t have toilet paper/paper towel rolls.
  • Tape



Hope you enjoy these challenges! If you need any other ideas, please share them in the comments!


For STEAM projects for students in Grades 5-8, check out these recent blogs from Chris Lazartic, Middle School STEAM Coach:

For more about STEAM at Aspen Academy, click here.

About the Author:

Kelsey Sullivan is Lower School STEAM Coach at Aspen Academy.

Kelsey brings nine years of teaching and an incredible love of integrating STEAM into the classroom to Aspen Academy. She earned her Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Miami of Ohio and enjoys visiting her family, skiing, traveling, trying out new restaurants with her husband and anything "craftsy," when she's not supporting young learners in their love off all things STEAM.