During the holiday season, Christmas STEM activities help all of us ignite our passion for learning! With these 11 eye-catching and engaging activities, you can get your child (and yourself!) excited about experimenting. Get ready to put your left brain through a fun and festive workout!
Tasty Slime Time
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- ⅔ cup corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon butter
- A pinch of salt
- 1 cup water
- Food coloring
- Peppermint flavoring
This slimy project is a perfect, hands-on way to learn about molecule movement and non-Newtonian fluids.To begin, young (supervised) chefs can combine the ingredients in a saucepan, then bring them to a boil. Watch as the molecules all dance together! That’s known as the cross-linking process, and occurs when molecules slide against one another to form a polymer.
Once the mixture reaches 250 degrees it needs to be removed from the heat source. Let it cool 20 minutes. After making sure it’s cool, butter your hands and start pulling! Next stop–tasty slime!
Clinging to Christmas Bow
Have you ever rubbed a balloon on your head and watched as the balloon and your crazy hair discovered electricity together? Well, tinsel likes static electricity too! Have your child practice their bow tying skills on some tinsel, rub a balloon on their heads and then see how the tinsel and balloon instantly attract. (You’ll also have a great lead-in to the science behind static electricity!)
Crystallizing Candy Canes
- Mason jar
- Red & white pipe cleaners
Have your handy helper fill a mason jar with water. Then pour the water into a pot and bring it to a boil. Add a box of salt until the salt reacts to the heat and water, and salt molecules begin to cling to one another as crystallization begins. Make sure the pipe cleaners are ready and have your scientist twist red and white pipe cleaners into a candy cane shape. Once the salt has crystallized pour the water back into the jar and place the pipe cleaner candy cane in it. Let it sit for a few hours in a sunlit area. Pretty soon your candy creator will have a crystal cane to show all their friends!
Festive Fizzy Ornaments
- Clear globe ornament
- Acrylic paint
- Baking Soda
- Dish soap
- Glitter (optional)
Your painter will get all bubbly over this crazy way to paint the inside of a clear globe ornament! Have your artist use pipettes to drop in the acrylic paint of their choice and then add baking soda, dish soap and copious amounts of vinegar. It may start to fizz and bubble, which means that it’s working! The baking soda and vinegar are combining to form carbonic acid, which quickly turns into a bubbly gas. When the foaming stops and the reaction completes, just dump out the remaining liquid inside the ornament. The result is an abstract masterpiece!
If you want to really make your ornament sparkle, put a little glitter into the mixture before you add the vinegar.
Tinkering Bolt, Nut, and Washer Forest
- Metal Nuts
- Green paint (optional)
Bring out your metal odds and ends. You can help your young mechanics test their dexterity as they use bolts for tree trunks, nuts for boughs and washers to keep them in place! Together, you can make a whole metal forest!
If you really want your tree to blend in, you can paint the metal pieces green before assembly.
Don’t Ruin the Presents!
- Raw egg(s)
- Cushioning material (paper towels, tissues, packing material)
- Wrapping paper
This is the raw egg drop challenge with a Christmas twist! Have your experimenters take a raw egg, place it in various materials they think will cushion the fall, place it in a box, and finish it off with some pretty Christmas wrapping! Drop the gift wrapped egg from at least eye level and hope that the yolk won’t be all over your scientists!
Santa Solve It!
This simple math-inspired experiment will help your child build their deductive skills! Have them play Sherlock, and try to answer the ultimate Christmas question: How quick does Santa need to be to deliver presents to all the kids in the world? Some paper and pencils are all that’s needed to help your child theorize, test, and explore the possibilities!
- Red and green beads
- Pipe cleaners
Get your binary chart out! This simple project uses Christmas colored beads, pipe cleaners, and binary code to create ornaments that send a message in code. Form a fun shape with your pipe cleaners, then slide on the beads. Check your chart and use the colors of the beads to represent the binary message. It’s a simple craft that can literally read “Merry Christmas”!
Light-up Mini Christmas Tree
- Felt Christmas tree
- Multi-colored Christmas lights
This activity may require a little tinkering and careful scissor-work, but the result is sure to be stunning. Just cut holes in a felt Christmas tree, then push some lights through those holes, and you’ll have a colorful Christmas tree without the messy pine needles!
Sleigh Set-up for Santa
- One egg carton
- Popsicle sticks
- Lego Santa
Where would Santa be without his sleigh? Help your crafty kid keep the spirit of Christmas alive by building a super sleigh for Santa. Just use an egg carton for sleigh seats, popsicle sticks for sled runners, and Legos to impersonate Santa. The result is a fun Christmas project that Santa’s sure to enjoy!
- Green glitter
- 1 tablespoon Borax powder
Any Grinch would be green with envy at how simple this activity is! First, mix a bit of warm water and glue together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, stir the powder and half a cup of water together. Once the Borax is fully dissolved into the water, you and your helpful elf can pour it into the glue/water mixture. Wait sixty seconds–instant Grinch slime!
Celebrate with experimentation, and have a wonderful holiday season!
Looking for STEAM gifts to put under your tree this year? Stop by our gift guide to see our 100+ gifts for kids of all ages.