Getting kids interested in science, technology, engineering, math and arts at any time of year is fun, but during the long winter months, these activities can be particularly engaging.

The new year is the perfect opportunity to try new things. This time of year is ideal for seasonal STEM and STEAM projects, which can help fight the winter blues and fill holiday breaks away from school. Adding arts elements to new year STEM activities brings it all together to satisfy kids’ curiosity and challenge their creativity as they head into a brand new year of learning and adventure.

Glitz and Glitter

As a time of celebration, the new year is one of the most festive periods of the year. Kids can celebrate with fun and seasonal STEAM activities. With a few ingredients, they can make celebration “slime”—that not-quite-liquid, not-quite-solid polymer that is so much fun to play with. Amp up the festive and fun factors by adding in colored glitter or confetti.

You can also help kids create a kaleidoscope from simple materials and use it as an opportunity to discuss symmetry. Then find pictures of faces in a magazine and cut straight down the middle from forehead to chin. After taping the half-picture to a blank piece of paper, provide crayons or markers. Instruct kids to fill in the missing side of the face, matching as best they can to create a drawing with bilateral symmetry.

New Beginnings

As the beginning of a new calendar year, it’s the perfect time to try something new, learn something new or read something new. Consider starting something together: a hobby, a sport or a game. Do a bit of research together to learn the basics, then bake bread, fly a kite or plan a kayaking trip.

Read a new book like Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and June Jo Lee. Perhaps kids will be inspired to employ their creative vision to create a remix recipe of their own.

Sprouting Seeds

Help kids think about new life and the requirements of living things as you look forward to spring. Consider planting indoors ahead of the spring planting season.

Sprouting seeds indoors is easily accomplished with simple materials. Sprouts and microgreens are colorful and fun to eat. They contain vitamins, protein and fiber, and are believed to aid digestion and blood sugar regulation. After soaking the seeds, they can be grown in a shallow tray covered with a growing medium made from compostable coconut coir or hemp fiber. These tiny plants are easy to start and can be harvested within a week or two.

Let kids experiment with adding the colorful little shoots to salads, sandwiches and more. Kids will enjoy being creative in the kitchen as they use sprouts and microgreens to enhance the flavor and garnish their food.

Make Feathered Friends

And for those outdoor living things, kids can provide a mid-winter treat in different and creative ways. Gather some pine cones and tie a string to the tip of each. Have kids spread trans-fat-free peanut butter on the cones, then roll them in birdseed. Hang these from a branch visible through a window, and kids can identify the birds as they arrive to enjoy their treats, using a free bird guide app. Different types of birds also enjoy grapes, berries and banana slices through the winter months, and kids will love tracking their patterns.

You can encourage them to log everything in a science journal to help them make connections and draw conclusions about their observations. Kids can also draw inspiration from their ornithological observations to create their very own flapping bird puppets.

Year of the Ox

The fifteen-day Chinese New Year festivities will begin on February 12, 2021. Based on the lunar cycle, this celebration provides a good opportunity to practice some of the annual traditions, like cleaning up the home and enjoying a special meal with family. It’s also a chance to study the phases of the moon and make a banner from wooden or cardboard disks while sharing delicious dumplings.

Research the Chinese Zodiac and help kids identify their zodiac animal. They can do the math to figure out when their year will come around again.

Camp Galileo camper works on art project.

Any time of year is the right time for STEM and STEAM activities, and the coming of the New Year is no exception. Getting kids involved with fun and educational projects can help the winter months pass quickly, bringing warmer weather ever closer with its picnics, trips to the beach and, of course, summer camp.

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