8 Ways to Encourage STEM Thinking into the Holidays

Celebrate the holidays with awesome holiday projects that encourage STEM thinking! Just because the kids are off from school doesn’t mean that learning has to stop.  Seasonal festivities provide ample opportunity for both curiosity and creativity. You can introduce your child to STEM topics by incorporating science, technology, engineering, and math into holiday activitites that are seriously fun!

Whether it’s the wonders of weather, the lifecyle of plants, or general problem-solving, all you need to do is encourage your kids to be observant and ask questions about the world around them.

Here are some fun and easy ways to encourage STEM thinking with your family during the holidays:

STEM Holiday Activities for Kids Ages 3-4

1. Be a Winter Nature Collector

Winter is an important time for the lifecyle of plants and animals. Though branches may be bare, what kinds of winter berries, pods and seeds can you find?

Parent Pro-tip: Help your child identify which plants have seeds and pods. A pod is a case that holds a plant’s seeds. In many plants, seeds grow in groups, nestled within a pod. Can you help identify what the plant looked like in full bloom?

Kid Challenge: Have your child gather a small collection of seeds and pods on your walk. Organize them by size and shape. Place the seeds in a safe place to plant in the spring. You can also make the ice sun catcher ornaments (above) to hang outside.

2. Snowflake Fun

What is snow? How does it form?

Parent Pro-tip: Snow starts in the clouds and falls from the sky in the form of ice crystals. When it gets so cold that temperatures fall below the freezing point (0 degrees Celsius, or 32 degrees Fahrenheit), the water vapor in the atmosphere condenses directly into ice crystals or snowflakes. Snowflakes typically have six points but they come many different shapes!

Kid Challenge: Encourage your child to catch a snowflake and observe its pattern and structure. If you don’t have snow, create colorful Salt Painting Ice Sculptures and observe how ice melts.

STEM Holiday Activities for Kids Ages 5-8

4. Have an Engineering Lesson (with pretzels)

Build a log cabin with food!

Parent Pro-tip: Building this cabin out of pretzels is an opportunity for kids to understand process of making a real cabin to scale! Cooking, in general, is a great way to teach kids about measuring, fractions, and other math concepts. Encourage your kids to read the recipe carefully to understand the sequence of steps. Then encourage them make an artful structure that stands on its own.

Kid Challenge: Once they make the pretzel log cabin, encourage your kids to make up their own pattern. What other edible building materials can you provide?

5.  Winter Moonwatch

Long winter nights long are ideal looking at the phases of the moon. What do you see?

Parent Pro-tip: The lunar phase of the Moon is the shape of the sunlit portion of the moon we see. The lunar phases change as the orbital positions of the moon, sun and earth shift.  The word “crescent” refers to the phases where the moon is less than half illuminated. The word “gibbous” refers to phases where the moon is more than half illuminated.

Kid Challenge: Record the moon phases over a week and track your findings in a journal. Can you tell if the moon is waxing (getting bigger) or waning (getting smaller)?

STEM Holiday Activities for Kids Ages 9+

7. Constellations in a Jar

Inspire your kids to learn about the constellations while crafting a holiday glow with this light up mason jar. They can literally map the stars using this printable.

8. Bright Light Holiday Cards

Light up the holidays with these holiday cards while experimenting with paper circuits , copper tape and LEDs. This STEM project is a fun challenge that combines electronics, design and tinkering at its best. You can start with Rudolph or this Menorah.

For even more Holiday fun, check out these screen-free holiday activities and these DIY decorations perfect for the busy parent

We at KiwiCo are so grateful for our community — who inspire us everyday with your creativity, determination, and inventiveness!

Wishing a wonderful holiday season to all of you!

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