Christmas STEM Challenge

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This post is part of the 2019 Homeschooling Through the Holidays series and was written by Carla from Teaching without Chairs.

I LOVE Christmastime! I always find myself wanting to start the music and decorations in October, but my kids make me wait until November! 

When we start talking about school, I am perfectly happy to do holiday themed lessons for all of November and December! Last year we used my new Experiment to Remember curriculum to focus on Jesus while integrating Christmas into our science and writing time.  I think we will do it again this year because it was both meaningful and super fun…and I doubt the kids will remember everything! 

But, that will be in December.

During November, we using the Christmas season to focus on some geography! We are learning about different countries around the world and how they celebrate Christmas with my new Hands-On Christmas Around the World! It is super fun and we are all excited about it!

Our first Christmas journey is to Hawaii, a small island state that is part of the United States of America. 

Christmas STEM Challenge

We recently moved from Houston to Virginia, so my kids are very aware that some places are warm at Christmastime while others are not. It was easy to explain to them that Hawaii is even warmer than Houston! And then I told them about Hawaii’s tradition of having Santa ride into the island on an outrigger canoe pulled by dolphins!

They LOVED that idea!!  (Seriously, though, who wouldn’t!) 

This STEM Challenge is to build a canoe for Santa that both floats upright and holds one penny (because Santa weighs a penny)! You can print the instructions below for free. 🙂 

When we set about building our own canoes, the kids were actually surprised by how much coordination it takes. We used (and the instructions I’m including for free use) craft sticks and hot glue. I have the “cool” hot glue guns, but my kids have been practicing with them for years. If you think your kids might not be ready to use them, you can use Elmer’s glue, but it takes a whole day (or two, if they’re not careful) for it to dry.

Some of the canoes had a much easier time floating than others! The project gave us a nice chance to talk about buoyancy and surface area, and how flat craft sticks float more easily than sticks on their sides.  (Sidenote: I think in a few years – when they’re all a little bit older – I’m going to repeat this challenge using little logs and whittling knives! Wouldn’t that be a neat experiment for them?!) 

Anyway, you can see this little boat barely fit in the pan, but it floated just fine…until we put five pennies in. As I dropped the fifth penny on it, it promptly sank!

This little boat was so narrow that it struggled to stay upright, but when it was balanced just right, it held the pennies just fine!

We played with the boats until they fell apart!

I would LOVE to invite you to click over HERE and join me in traveling the world at Christmastime in the Hands-On Christmas Around the World study! I will be offering more STEM Challenges, Christmas mysteries to solve, and mini unit studies! You can choose to visit just some countries, all the countries I’m putting up, or even just one or two of the activities from one or two of the countries!  You can also print a FREE PASSPORT to stamp as you learn about each country!

 Click here to download your Christmas in Hawaii Stem Challenge Kit now. 

I really hope this will be a blessing to your family during this festive time of year! I hope the world will feel smaller to you, that you will learn about the customs of people around us, and find more meaning in your own. And I hope that you will feel the Savior’s love and strength in your life. 

Happy Educating, and Merry Christmas,

Carla & the kids who don’t sit still!

Carla is a former science teacher turned homeschooling mom of five who loves teaching, biking, traveling, hiking, learning new things, finding cool rocks, and eating chocolate! She writes a preschool blog at Preschool Powol Packets and a homeschooling blog (for kids older than preschool) at Teaching Without Chairs. 


Be sure to take a few minutes to visit the sponsors of the 2019 Homeschooling Through the Holidays series:

Homeschooling Through the Holidays- 25 Days of Fun Holiday Resources and Ideas for Your Homeschool

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Hi, there! I’m Heather Bowen, and I am so glad you’re here.

My passion lies in helping homeschool moms balance marriage, motherhood, homemaking, and homeschooling all while remaining sane!

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