Looking for a fun Christmas or winter activity that incorporates science, technology, engineering, and/or math? Christmas-Winter STEM / STEAM Challenges are the perfect activities because they engage your students in brain-busting work disguised as fun!
The basic premise:
Working against a criteria/constraints list, each student will design and build reindeer antlers. Students are then grouped for a reindeer relay race in which they use their antlers to transport and hand-off Christmas decorations.
– To save time, have each student build just one antler. During the relay race, they will share with their teammates so each person “running” will have two antlers to hold on their head.
Note: This is the printable version. If you are in a 1:1 / paperless classroom, you will want to check out the digital option for use with GOOGLE SLIDES (TM) instead.
If you have questions about which version is right for you, please feel free to leave me a question using the product Q&A below.
NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8
- Links to my 5-part video series on getting started with STEM challenges
- Materials and timing
- Criteria & Constraints (including modifications to increase difficulty for older students)
- Measuring results
- Universal STEM Challenge Notes & How to Use Student Handouts Post-design extension activities list
- Link to a video walk-through of the challenge
- Criteria & Constraints List (color and black & white; editable version provided)
- Design Analysis Handouts (2-page regular spacing and 4-page expanded spacing for primary students included) (editable in color and black & white)
- Discussion Questions (editable in color and B&W)
- Arctic/Antarctic Animal Riddle Template (editable)
- Process Flow Map
- Math Extension
This is one of five Winter / Christmas STEM Challenges. They can be purchased in a bundle at a 40% discount:
This resource is also available in the STEM CHALLENGE YEAR-ROUND MEGA-BUNDLE at an even greater discount!
Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:
(Materials you’ll need to do the activity are easily modified.)
– Pipe cleaners (10 – 15 or less if building only one antler)
– Popsicle/craft sticks (10 – 15 or less if building only one antler)
– Copies of data recording & analyzing handouts
• For each group
– Christmas decorations (10 – 15 mixed pieces per group)
• Ornaments (plastic), tinsel, bows, ribbon, garland, etc.
– Rubber bands
– Glue gun
– Timers/Stopwatches (for relay race)
– Cones or sidewalk chalk (for relay race markers)
Benefits of this STEM Design Challenge:
- Focus on critical thinking, problem solving, and application of learning
- Helps students develop growth mindset traits like persistence and resilience
- High levels of student engagement
- The potential to hit upon all NGSS ETS standards depending on the depth and number of iterations you choose to implement in your classroom (modifications included)
- Highly flexible and differentiated for materials, timing, grade levels, and rigor.
Each design iteration should be planned for ~60 min. if you are including data gathering and analysis rather than just building for fun. If you add extension activities, you will need to adjust timing accordingly.
What do teachers have to say about this resource?
“This was our second Stem Challenge of yours and we loved it! It was used in an SDC 3rd/4th classroom. They loved creating their antlers and the relay race. Thank you!”
“My students love when I pull STEM activities into the classroom, and I love the teambuilding aspect of it. Win win!”
“This is one of the best activities I've ever paid for here on TPT. My students LOVED LOVED LOVED this and we had great discussions about design thinking.”
"Fun, engaging, and thought-provoking! My students report this as one of their favorite activities of the year. It gave us great teamwork and critical thinking while being a lot of fun."
"My 8th graders loved doing this in class. We had extra time before break to do a few stem activities and this was their favorite one! Thanks!"
You might also like these resources:
STEM Challenges & Bundles (grades 2 – 8):
Please check out the video preview to see the challenge, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!
Video preview music credit:
"Carefree" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License