Everyone looks forward to the holiday season. Why not incorporate that into your science class time through winter and holiday-themed activities. Physical science and winter weather go hand-in-hand, so check out these activity ideas around the ideas of mixtures and states of matter.
Winter Holiday Themed Physical Science Activities
With the push for getting students excited about STEAM and STEM careers, there are tons of opportunities for hands-on science around the holidays. Educators and parents are getting creative, so here are some great ideas for getting elementary-aged students excited about science this time of year.
Science Holiday Sorting: Gas, Liquid, & Solid
This simple activity is a fun way to practice identifying the three states of matter. Create a three-column diagram on the whiteboard and cut out pictures of different winter/holiday-themed items that the students can sort into the three states of matter.
Examples of winter/holiday items to use:
- Sugar Cookies
- Winter Wind
- Steamy Breath
- Jingle Bells
- Hot Cocoa
- Candy Canes
Have the students work in groups to decide what state of matter each item belongs to and then come back together as a class to share answers and discuss. Award bonus points to teams who think of additional winter or holiday items that can be sorted into the categories.
Science Ice Excavation: Hidden Holiday Items
Prep by creating ice blocks (using small containers as molds) filled with a few small holiday items or treats (candy canes, jingle bells, etc). You’ll need larger plastic bins to use as the excavation site and to keep the mess to a minimum.
Set up stations around the room for students to work in pairs or small groups to excavate their holiday items. The goal is to get all of the items out of the ice block without damaging them, and the first groups to finish win.
Provide a variety of safe tools to work with to excavate. Some examples include:
- Spray bottles filled with warm water
- Spoons and forks
- Paint brushes
Have each group roll dice and write down their number. Starting with the group that rolled the highest number, have them send a team captain to choose an excavation tool. Continue going through the groups in order until there is one excavation tool per student. Set a timer and have them begin excavating their holiday items.
Once the activity is over, get together with your students to talk about which tools worked the best and why. Discuss how ice melts to become a liquid, making it possible to use unique excavation methods to get the items out. Explain that archaeologists who are excavating must be very careful because they are trying to get items out of stone. Then, discuss which of the tools you used to excavate with ice that might still work for archaeologists.
More Elementary Science Activity Ideas
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Check out the other great activity ideas from the Schoolyard: