As the holiday season goes into high gear, you might be struggling with STEM activities that reflect that theme. After all, the best way to get kids engaged in STEM is to provide them with fun activities that inspire their curiosity and problem-solving skills. The good news is that you don’t have to leave holiday activities for your art or language arts unit. Here are some great holiday science activities for kids.
Dissolving candy canes
The goal of this experiment is to see which of four liquids makes candy canes dissolve the fastest. For this experiment, you’ll need mason jars, candy canes, oil, and vinegar. Fill one mason jar with cold water, one with hot water, one with oil, and one with vinegar.
Start by having the students make predictions about which liquid will dissolve the candy cane fastest. Once you’ve finished discussing, drop one candy cane in each liquid and have the kids observe what’s going on. This activity is suitable for elementary and young middle school students. Learn more about this experiment here.
For this experiment, you’ll need plastic globe ornaments, baking soda, vinegar, food coloring, and glitter and sequins (optional). You’ll also want a container to catch fizz, a turkey baster, a funnel for putting the dry ingredients in the ornaments, and plastic drop cloths or newspaper for controlling messes.
Mix up a container of vinegar and food coloring. Put about a tablespoon of baking soda, and glitter or sequins if you wish, into the ornaments. Use the turkey baster to put the vinegar mixture into the ornaments and watch the fizz explode! This activity is suitable for preschoolers and young elementary students. Learn more about this experiment here.
Frosted crystal wreaths
The goal of this experiment is to help students understand how crystals form. You’ll need green garland pieces, ribbon, Borax, hot water, a large bowl, a chopstick or dowel, and decorative pieces like ribbons and bells. Students should make their garlands into a circle and tie it securely with a ribbon. Tie the ribbon around the stick and make sure the container is big enough so that the garland doesn’t touch the sides.
Next, make the Borax and hot water mixture. Use 3 tablespoons of Borax for each cup of hot water—a great way to introduce math into the experiment (how many tablespoons of Borax will you need in order to get the right amount in multiple cups of water). Dunk the garlands into the Borax water and let them sit completely undisturbed for at least 12 hours, and voilà! Crystals. This activity is suitable for older elementary school and younger middle school students. Learn more about this experiment here.
Here’s a variant of this activity in which you make crystal snowflakes rather than wreaths.
These science activities for kids can help you get through the holiday season and incorporate STEM fun into your curriculum.
Bonus activity: kitchen chemistry
Use “kitchen chemistry” to make holiday candies like rock candy, toffee, nut brittle, and caramels. Obviously, this activity is suitable for older middle school or high school-age students and must be done under adult supervision in order to avoid burns from hot sugar.
What other science activities for kids can be customized for holiday projects? Please share your ideas in the comments.