Today is the Winter Solstice! The shortest day of the year and officially the first day of winter. To celebrate I have pulled together some of my favourite Winter STEM Activities. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Of course we love to spice things up a bit and include the A for STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. I’ve chosen a wide variety of articles and activities that touch on various pillars of STEM, while maintaining one common theme: WINTER! Mix and match to create your perfect Winter STEM lesson plans!
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I know these lists can get a little long and hard to navigate. To make things easier I’ve organized the winter STEM activities into the following categories based on their dominate lesson: Science, Engineering, Technology, Math, plus true STEM that includes extensive use of at least two of the pillars.
Before we get started though, I have two activities that celebrate and explore the seasons. Happy winter learning!
Winter STEM Activities – SEASONS
Build a Wheel of the Year – This activity is a wonderful hands-on learning exercise that kids absolutely love! The final product can be used over and over again. It is a wonderful STEM activity that incorporates fractions (dividing into quarters), art (choosing imagery to reflect the seasons), plus engineering (ensuring that it spins).
Solstice Science – Explore how and why our day lengths change throughout the year as we move from summer solstice to winter solstice.
STEM & STEAM ACTIVITIES
Ice Lanterns – Engineering an Ice Lantern is a fantastic STEAM activity for winter, especially if you live in cold climates. It incorporates science (states of matter and expansion as water transitions to solid form), engineering, and art to make beautiful final results you can display with pride.
STEM Challenge – How Does Salt Affect Ice? – In this fascinating challenge, we go beyond just seeing that salt helps to melt ice and can be used to create frost, but we use a little technology to record and measure the effects while manipulating variables. A fantastic inquiry based learning experience with spectacular results.
Melting Snowman – Use a little tech to measure how quickly a snowman melts when brought indoors. We all know Frosty the Snowman’s story, test it out with this winter STEM activity and see how long Frosty has once he starts getting warm.
Build a Winter STEM Tinker Kit with this great guide! Always be ready to learn with all your materials at the ready.
Winter STEM Activities – SCIENCE
Simple Snow Science – If you fill jars with equal amounts of ice, snow and water, do they really have the same amount of H2O? Find out in this simple science project that often surprises kids with the results!
Fake Snow – Do you live in a warmer climate but want to play with some snow like science? Why not try out some fake snow recipes? You can compare a number of fake snow recipes here, or or give it a quick try with this technique that uses diaper fillings.
Polymer Science – We LOVE our polymers! So many awesome ideas and they are fascinating for hands-on learning. In this activity explore some polymer science with this winter slime.
Fire & Ice – Can you make ice burn? Yes, I mean flames on ice. You can with this cool experiment that is sure to WOW!
Crystal growing – The winter months bring wonderful icy crystal formations as frost and icicles cover the world around us. You can grow your own crystals to resemble frost in this evergreen crystals experiment, or take it up a notch and grow yourself some gigantic crystals using this secret.
Friction and Ice – Got a hockey lover? Explore the science of friction with this simple challenge to see what slides best across ice. Who will make the goal!
Frozen Bubbles – I admit, I’ve tried this many times and it has never worked for me. I live in Canada. It’s nasty cold here. Really cold. So I have no idea why it always fails for me. I know it can be done and I will try again. One day I will freeze a bubble and it will be magnificent!
Crush a Bottle with Science – Can you crush a pop bottle? Can you crush a pop bottle using nothing but your mind (and a little science)? Part science, part magic trick, this activity will have your kids out enjoying the cold weather.
Winter Lava Lamps – A fun twist on the traditional homemade lava lamp experiment, incorporating a wintery theme there are a few different variations you can try. Snow storms in a jar or Snowflake Lab.
Expanding Snowman – This one may get messy as your snowman gets bigger and bigger and bigger through a simple chemical reaction.
Winter STEM Activities – TECHNOLOGY
Google Maps Challenge – Using Google Maps, take a guess where in the world you think it might be snowy. Then zoom around the world through Google Maps and check out the satellite or street view. Were you right? Now check the photos from that area. Are there any snowy pictures? Try another place!
ABCya has lots of winter themed educational games and activities kids can play.
Photography or Videography Challenge – Do you have a young photographer or videographer? Why not take them outside on a snowy but sunny day and have them try to to capture some images. What happens? How can you adjust for the overexposure issues?
NatGeo for Kids has some great information and interactive content for learning about our wintery months.
Research all about the Winter Solstice with Earth Sky.
Winter STEM Activities – ENGINEERING
Ice Magnifying Glass – Engineer a magnifying glass from ice with this great tutorial.
Build an Igloo indoors with this activity that challenges you to build up without letting it collapse! You can build your igloo out of ice or marshmallows. For a fun outdoor twist, use milk cartons to freeze large blocks of ice that you can then stack into beautiful outdoor ice structures. Add a bit of food colouring for an even more beautiful result.
Engineer a snowman – This challenge gets kids working creatively as they figure out how to use round food items to build a snowman, without letting them topple over.
Catch Snowflakes – Engineer a super simple solution that will allow you to catch snowflakes and examine them without melting. Brilliant!
Winter STEM Activities – MATH
Place Value Snowmen – My oldest struggles with place value. For some reason this is a concept that simply doesn’t make sense to him and is requiring a lot of repetition and practice. These activity is perfect for a little winter practice on a snowy, wintery day.
Symmetrical Snowflakes – Are you teaching patterning and symmetry? This math activity explores these concepts while also teaching one of the most beautiful aspects of snowflakes, their natural symmetry.
Winter Books for Kids
STEAM Kids Christmas: Science / Technology / EngineeringCurious About Snow (Smithsonian)STEAM: STEM Activities for ChristmasThe Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter SolsticeThe Winter SolsticeThe Return of the Light: Twelve Tales fromThe Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’sWinter Magic: Beautiful Holiday Patterns Coloring Book forAll About Winter (All About Activity Books)A Kid’s Winter EcoJournal: With Nature Activities for
Happy Winter Solstice! And all the best with your Winter STEM Activities!
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