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Winter STEM Activities for Young Children

Dec 09, 2021    |   STEM LearningWinter

Days are shorter and the weather is colder, which means that winter is here! The icy weather and cool colors of the season can be incorporated into fun activities for young children that encourage exploration, discovery, and science and math skill development. In this article, you’ll find several winter-inspired ideas for exploring STEM concepts with the children in your care. 

What is STEM?

If you aren’t familiar with the term STEM, it stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math and refers to learning activities in these four topic areas.  Early learning STEM activities emphasize inquiry and discovery, engaging children by encouraging questions,  forming hypotheses, and using problem-solving skills. If you’re interested in learning more about STEM, you might enjoy What is STEM Learning?, an article from the Good2Know archives that describes STEM and suggests opportunities for making it part of an early childhood curriculum. 

STEM Activities for Winter

Constructing Dens for Winter Animals 

The winter weather provides a great opportunity for learning about animals and hibernation patterns. Around this time of year, children are often particularly curious about polar bears, penguins, and other animals that live in cold environments.

To get children thinking more about the places that animals live, encourage them to create dens, using marshmallows and toothpicks. This activity combines engineering, as children use marshmallows and toothpicks to design and build structures, with conversations about animals and their habitats. This activity is especially fun when paired with picture books about the animals, such as Animals in Winter or Arctic Animals

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Make Your Own Frost

As the weather gets colder, children might observe frost on windows at home, at school, or in the car. This quick and easy-to-set-up activity helps children discover how frost forms, and allows them to create their own frost using just a few materials: a recycled can, ice, salt, and water.

Older children might enjoy filling the can with ice and salt, while younger children can observe as you fill the can. Any leftover ice can also be used for sensory exploration!

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Melting Evergreen Trees

Science experiments are a favorite activity in many preschool classrooms, and they are also a great way to introduce foundational chemistry principles. Children love to observe the way different materials interact with each other to make oozing and melting chemical reactions. This melting evergreen activity is all about the reaction that occurs when baking soda and vinegar are combined. When the two are mixed together, they create carbon dioxide, with a reaction that can be observed by all five of our senses.

The trees can be made from baking soda either the morning of or the day before the experiment so that they have time to set into a cone shape. When you are ready to begin the experiment, encourage children to squirt drops of vinegar onto the trees to see them melt. You can ask children to make hypotheses about how long it will take the trees to melt, and how many drops of vinegar it will take to melt the trees!

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Counting Snowballs

Number games are a fun way to help children learn foundational math skills, such as number recognition, 1:1 correspondence, and counting. This winter math activity is quick to put together and provides a lot of opportunities for adding more advanced learning, such as adding or removing snowballs to learn about addition or subtraction. 

This activity can also be done with items gathered outside such as twigs and cones or with different colored pom-poms or blocks. There are so many different ways that this activity can be set up to invite learning about math with a winter theme. 

Click here to find more information about setting up this math activity.

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