Sparks! Activities Kits

Sparks! are fun and easy activity ideas for families to learn together at home. They      support preschool-age children’s development and “spark” family engagement with engineering design. Unlike the Head Start on Engineering activity kits [link], these don’t necessarily engage families with the entire engineering design process [link] but instead highlight aspects of engineering or specific engineering design thinking skills. There are three types of Sparks! activities:

  • Hands-on challenge—These ideas involve building or creating something to solve a design challenge.
  • Engineering chat—These ideas are meant to inspire family conversations that help children practice engineering design thinking skills. They can be used at the dinner table, traveling in the car, on a walk, or anytime you have a chance to talk together as a family.
  • Everyday engineering—These ideas show ways that we use engineering design in our everyday lives or inspire families to incorporate engineering design thinking into everyday activities.

Click on the images below to download a PDF of each activity. And let these ideas inspire your own engineering design challenges!

Hands-On Challenges

Can you build a two-foot tower?

Can you build a two-foot tower to hold a book?

Two Foot Tower Challenge Image

Can you build a chair for your favorite toy?

Two Foot Book Tower Challenge Image

Can you create a booster seat for your favorite toy?

Build a Chair Challenge Image
Booster Seat Challenge Image

Engineering Charts

What else could you use this for?

What would solve this problem?

What Else Engineering Chat Image

Problem Engineering Chats Image

What makes a great day for you?

Can you help a friend design a garden?

What Makes a Great Day Engineering Chat Image
Garden Engineering Chart Image

Everyday Engineering

Can you improve a family recipe?

Can you guide someone to a hidden treasure?

Family Recipe Everyday Engineering Activity Image
Hidden Treasure Everyday Engineering Activity Image

Can you create a play structure for a pet?

Play Structure Everyday Engineering Activity Image


These activities great for using your imagination. Engineering is great for anybody but especially for kids because it helps them problem solve.”

– Head Start parent