Children look forward to fun holiday crafts and activities all year. They’re festive and a great way to spend extra time families have at home around the holidays. Turn those enjoyable projects into educational experiences by adding fun holiday STEM activities for children! Here are a few of our favorites.

1. Making Holiday Crystal Wreaths

Wreaths are a go-to decoration for many families celebrating holidays. With this holiday crystal wreath activity, children will observe the chemical reaction that forms crystals while creating wreath decorations to display around your home or hang on a Christmas tree.

What you need:

  • Pieces of garland (6-8 in. each)
  • Ribbon of your choosing
  • Borax
  • Hot water
  • A big glass bowl
  • A stick (chopsticks are best)
  • Holiday decorative pieces like bits of ribbon and bells

Take each garland piece and form it into a circle, using your ribbon to tie the ends. Be sure the ribbon ends are long enough that you can use them to hang your wreath when it’s done.

Now, add your hot water and Borax to your bowl. Use three tablespoons of Borax for each cup of hot water, and mix the solution until the Borax dissolves. (It’s okay if some settles at the bottom of the bowl.)

Grab the chopstick and tie your small garland wreath to it using the ribbon you’ve secured. Position the chopstick with the wreath hanging over the bowl filled with your Borax solution. 

Don’t touch the bowl or the chopstick with the garland for 12 hours. Then, remove the garland from the bowl and gently set it on a towel to dry. Once dry, children can decorate them with the holiday decorative pieces you’ve gathered using glue or a hot glue gun. Then, you can hang them wherever you’d like a sparkly holiday wreath!

What children will learn: 

Mixing and dissolving Borax into water results in a solution — a chemistry term for a mixture where at least one substance (a solute) is dissolved into another substance (a solvent). The Borax and water solution is supersaturated, meaning there are more Borax molecules within the water than the water can contain. 

When the hot water in the solution cools, it can hold even fewer Borax molecules. The Borax molecules grab onto each other and form crystals!

Creating these crystal wreath decorations will become one of your children’s favorite holiday STEM activities!

2. Engineering a Winter Igloo

This activity gives children a fantastic opportunity to learn and practice engineering skills while having holiday fun! With a short materials list and even fewer instructions, engineering a winter igloo lets children get creative, use their imaginations, problem-solve, and put critical thinking to work. To top it off, they can enjoy a tasty treat when they’re done!

What you need:

  • 1 bag of mini marshmallows
  • 1 box of toothpicks

Using only marshmallows and toothpicks, encourage children to build a winter igloo! Whether children decide to create a base to build upon or start with the igloo’s walls, there is no right or wrong way for them to construct an igloo. 

Once children have constructed an igloo they’re happy with, they can display their work… Or, eat it. Doing something educational with a treat makes this an excellent option for the holidays and is a great STEM activity to have in your back pocket.

What children will learn: 

Children might start with one approach, find it’s not creating the look or effect they’d hoped for, and start over. This is part of the process with STEM-based learning and a great chance for them to see that starting over isn’t a failure: It’s a chance to learn and try something different.

There are also basic structural engineering concepts to observe and work on within this activity. Children will experiment with ideas such as how many toothpicks it takes to hold marshmallows in their desired formations or how much weight different toothpick/marshmallow combinations can bear. 

3. Holiday Dot Color by Numbers

Recognizing and learning numbers is an essential mathematical foundation that carries over to many other subject matter areas. Making number education fun, and giving it a creative twist, is a great way to get children excited about math! With this holiday dot color by numbers activity, children will enjoy making holiday art while practicing their numbers.

What you need:

  • Dot markers 
  • Pen
  • White paper
  • Several colored pieces of paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue (stick or liquid) or double-stick tape

To start, cut out a holiday shape from the white paper ( holiday light, snowman, snowflake, etc.). If your children can safely use scissors, they can do this part! Then, write some 1s, 2s, 3s, and 4s all over the cut-out shape. 

Talk with your children about dotting all the 1s with one color, all the 2s with another, etc. When they’re done, they will have a colorfully-decorated holiday shape!

Once your child dots all the numbers with their corresponding colors, you can adhere the cut-out to one of the colored pieces of paper with glue, and display it any way you’d like! Consider hanging it on the door to greet friends and family or on your mantle.

What children will learn: 

Coloring by numbers helps children build on several important STEM concepts with skills that will help them in math and other areas. 

Learning to identify numbers is a foundation for their mathematical abilities, and using a simple color/number legend supports their abilities, such as reading and learning to use maps in the future.

Focus and concentration are essential for this activity, since children will need to focus not just on matching numbers to colors but on the number/color at hand. 

They will also practice hand-eye coordination, coloring in a specific area, and holding their marker while controlling their movement. 

Explore Exciting STEM Activities at STEMful!

At STEMful, we offer various STEM learning activities for children ages 1.5-10. From toddler and preschool classes to after-school programs and summer camps, we welcome families to explore project-based learning opportunities with us year-round!