STEM Activities for the 17-Month-Old

Mirror Play

STEM concepts: Math (symmetry, counting), Engineering (building), Science (observations, reflections)

Materials: A shatterproof mirror, small toys, small blocks.

What to do: Lay a mirror on the floor where your child plays. Encourage her to build and play on top of the mirror. As she does so, have her look into the mirror and see the reflection of herself and her toys. As she plays, count the toys or blocks that she uses. This will help learn about reflections and reinforce counting.

Language and Communication: As your child plays, use words to describe what he is doing. Using directional words such as behind, forward, above, and below are good ones to get started. You can also say color words as he plays. For example, if he is playing with a red car, say something like “That is a red car.”

Expand the Activity: To expand this activity, hold the mirror in your hands and angle the mirror so that light from a window or lamp bounces off it onto the ground. You can move the mirror around to allow the reflection of the light to move. Your child can follow the reflection or help you move the mirror around.


STEM concepts: Science (observing, experimenting, motion), Math (shapes)

Materials: Plastic ball, a soft ball, a cardboard toilet paper tube, toy cars, a flat surface (could be a book or a larger piece of cardboard)

What to do: Set up a ramp on the floor where your child likes to play. To do this, you can lean a flat surface such as a book, cereal box, or cardboard against a small pile of books. Allow your child to experiment with rolling various toys and balls down the ramp. Different materials will either go faster or slower down the ramp. Encourage him to look at the shapes of the things rolling down the ramp.

Language and Communication: As your child rolls things down the ramp, use words like near and far to show distance. Use words like round and square when describing the shapes that roll down the ramp. For example, you can say, “Wow, this car has round wheels. It rolled far away from our ramp,” or “This square block did not roll far.” You can also talk about things rolling slow or fast down the ramp.

Expand the Activity: The taller the pile of books, or whatever the ramp is resting on, steeper the ramp. To expand this activity, you could adjust the ramp to make it steeper and see if things roll down the ramp faster or slower. You could also encourage your child to compare how far something rolls compared to another thing. For example, if your child has a lot of toy cars, she could see which toy car rolls the farthest down the ramp.