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Four Fun December STEM Activities for Elementary Grades

December STEM challenges cover photo

December STEM activities are exciting for students of all ages!  Consequently, I created several.

December STEM for Kindergarten and First Grades

I like to incorporate the science of animal needs throughout the year.  In December, I focus on the needs of the reindeer.  I start by reviewing the needs of all living things with the class (air, space, shelter, food, and water).  Then, I give them sheets that I have made with reindeer on them and captions such as, “Reindeer need air.”   Next, I read them this text I wrote about reindeer and ask them to draw what they visualize on their papers.all about reindeer text

When they finish, they can color their reindeer!

December STEM Activities for Primary Grades

     Learn About Reindeer and Design a Sleigh Challenge

Similarly, this activity has to do with reindeer.  At this level, I ask students to read about reindeer.  Use a variety of books depending on the levels of your students.  Likewise, books can be read to students, or they can watch a video.  The video below is short and plays Christmas music in the background and mentions them helping out Santa.  This is a longer video: Reindeer for Kids.  It is better for third and fourth graders.  Many adaptations are mentioned in it.

When the children finish learning about reindeer, I challenge them to make a sled that will carry two small candy canes across a desktop without anyone touching it.  They use the following tools:  scissors, pencils, crayons, and a hole punch.  Additionally, I provide the following materials: candy canes, construction paper, clean milk cartons, pipe cleaners, craft sticks, yarn, glue, and tape.  Give students whatever you want!  Another option is to ask students to bring in materials from home that they think will work.  Working with a partner works well.  Designs should be planned before they begin to build.

     Learn About Candy Canes and Do an Experiment

To begin with, I give students the opportunity to learn about candy canes.  Again, they can read or watch a video to learn about candy cans.  This fun video shows how they are made.

Next, I ask students to make a hypothesis about what temperature water will melt a candy cane the fastest (cold water that has been refrigerated, hot tap water, or room temperature).   Then, I ask them to explain their reasoning.  After that, I fill three clear cups with an equal amount of water (enough to cover a candy cane).  Take the temperature of the water in each cup and record it.  After the first candy cane has dissolved, take the temperature of the water in all three cups.  Discuss what has happened.  FYI:  The hot water will dissolve the candy can first, and it will take about half an hour.

sample of december stem activities

December STEM Activities for Upper Elementary

A December STEM activity that I do with my upper elementary students is a WebQuest.  A WebQuest is simply a search for information on the internet.  I created a WebQuest about reindeer.  Students learn about reindeer habitats, adaptations, what they eat, who their predators are,  and a little bit about reproduction.  In addition, students find out how tall a reindeer is at shoulder height and how long they can be.  They use this information to build a life-sized reindeer!  I recommend placing students in groups of 3 to 5 to complete this challenge.  Students us bulletin board sized paper.  Besides that, I let them bring in objects from home to decorate their reindeer with (ribbon, bows, etc).

So, choose a December STEM Activity to do with your class.  If you need to save time, check out our premade resources.  If you are interested in a free resource, try one of these activities.  Email us one or two photos of the resource in action, and we will send you a free winter resource!

December STEM Activities: Animal Needs                     December STEM Activities: Candy canes

December STEM activities: Sleigh      December STEM Activities: Webquest         

You might also be interested in reading about Terrific Thanksgiving STEM Activities for Elementary Grades!

And remember, it’s all science!

Sarah

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