Each season supports a variety of interesting STEAM activities, and winter is no exception. That’s because the weather and season have elements ideal for a variety of science, technology, engineering, art and math activities, as well as cross-disciplinary projects involving more than one. Getting kids involved in fun and interesting winter STEAM activities that keep minds active and warm can make a long, chilly winter pass more quickly.
Start with a Book
Books provide excellent opportunities for kids to learn and expand their worldview, and there are some wonderful books about winter. Whether they live in an area that receives snowfall or not, reading about it can be enlightening.
A classic, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats follows a young boy named Peter as he experiences the wonders of a fresh snowfall. The beautiful collage illustrations make it a charming read-aloud or a story kids can enjoy as an animated version.
For older kids, Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin tells the true story of Wilson Bentley, who developed a lifelong passion for snowflakes. Both artist and scientist, Bentley engineered the equipment and process to preserve and photograph snowflakes; 500 of his amazing photos are on display at the Smithsonian.
STEAM-y Seasonal Fun
A variety of winter STEAM activities support seasonal exploration. Many of these activities are best conducted with adult supervision, thus they are ideal for family winter projects.
Whether kids experience it on a regular basis or not, snow provides a great deal of potential for seasonal fun, even beyond sledding, skiing, skating and making snowmen. With adult supervision, kids can use a plastic bin or basin to shape bricks with packed snow. These can then be stacked to create an igloo or snow fort.
Back indoors, looking at the science of snow crystals can be a fun and interesting investigation in geometry. After viewing the magnificent detail of individual snowflakes, kids can make their snowflake ornaments from popsicle sticks.
With less opportunity for active play outdoors, it is important to provide safe opportunities for movement indoors. Dancing to a favorite song is a quick and fun way to release energy.
For a longer, more sustained adventure, consider helping kids to engineer a Rube Goldberg machine. This elaborate contraption performs a simple task through a series of chain reaction steps.
Cookies feature prominently in the winter holidays, and following a recipe employs crucial measurement skills. Get kids involved with mixing up and rolling out sugar cookies, then practice new frosting techniques to create cookies that are both visionary and tasty. While tasting the finished product, talk about the chemical change that occurred when heat from the oven was applied to the mixture of ingredients.
Another interesting project that results in a delicious dessert is Baked Alaska. Kids will be intrigued by the mystery of baked ice cream.
Animals in Winter
Just as humans don hats and scarves, animals also make adjustments to thrive in winter weather. Talk about the needs of animals and how the challenge of finding food causes many birds to migrate south for the winter. Work together to construct a bird feeder from common household items, including LEGO® blocks, a clay pot, an empty plastic bottle, a ladle or something from kids’ own imaginations.
Late winter is an ideal time to start flower and vegetable plants for a garden. Research and plan your garden together, allowing each family member to request a couple of favorite fruits, vegetables or herbs. If you don’t have seedling flats, save up egg cartons to recycle as seed starters.
Do a bit of research before buying seeds to determine the optimal time to start them. Six weeks ahead works for most plants. This preparation will get kids out working with you in the garden when the time is right.
Prep for a Summer of STEAM
Kids who can’t get enough STEAM activities in the fall and winter will thrive in a summer camp that emphasizes science, the arts and seasonal fun outdoors. Winter is a great time to research camp options and start making some preliminary plans for the upcoming summer.
By engaging kids in active exploration of seasonal phenomena, we can keep them warm and content through the chilly winter months. To avoid having them go stir crazy, work with kids to engage in active play that keeps them thinking, solving problems and researching new things. Capture their interests in science, technology, engineering, art and math and direct them toward open-ended projects that provide opportunities for deeper exploration. A bit of ingenuity will ensure the whole family stays active and warm right through to spring.
Galileo’s camps offer the perfect mix of hands-on learning and serious summer fun. We have summer camps in Berkeley all the way to Chicago. Be sure to check our camp finder to find the location closest to you. Sign up for our mailing list to keep up-to-date on our camp happenings, year-round innovation resources and registration information for the upcoming camp season.