Hands-on experiments and outdoors science shouldn’t be limited to just the warm-weather months. These colder months are a great time for winter science projects. From studying the weather to STEM activities, your students will love learning through these hands-on projects.
Learn the science behind snowflakes, and then make your own.
This activity perfectly pairs art and science. There are so many great science lessons you can have related to snowflakes. For instance, you can study the life cycle of a snowflake, you can study how no two snowflakes are alike (even though they all have six sides), and you can even get into math a bit to study symmetry. After your lesson in snowflakes, have students make their own, either through drawing, cutting, or even using stencils like the ones pictured here. Encourage students to make a snowflake that is as unique as they are! Then display them all together in the classroom or share them virtually.
Study animal life cycle.
Winter naturally sends a lot more of us indoors, and this is also the case with animals—or so it seems. This is a good time to talk about animal life cycle, and help your students learn about where animals go from one season to the next. Hibernation and migration are two winter options for animals—and it’s fun to learn about these—but they aren’t the only options. Consider assigning your students different animals to research (or have some pre-selected options to choose from) to learn about their winter habits. Try to include a variety of animals, including those that hibernate, migrate, and even those that stay where they are. Reading books on animal life cycle, like the ones here, can also be a good takeaway assignment for your students.
Predict the weather.
You can study the weather anytime of the year, but it’s particularly fun in winter because there’s a lot of variety all over the country. Encourage your students to become meteorologists as you learn about how these weather scientists do their jobs. You might even have a fun classroom challenge, inviting students to predict the weather for an upcoming week. The weather forecasting kit, pictured here, is a great tool to use with older kids (5th through 8th grade) as they learn the ins and outs of forecasting. You might also use a giant weather map and create your own video forecasts or weather reports for those students who don’t mind being on camera. There are so many great science lessons about the weather, and it’s really engaging for all because it’s something we experience every single day.
Make your own snow.
If you live an area with snow, this can be a good opportunity to bring the outdoors in and really play and experiment with snow. For instance, you can predict how much water a giant pile of snow will make or test out how quickly snow will melt. If your area doesn’t get much snow, then the next best thing is making your own! This Insta-Snow is a really good alternative to the real thing. You might not be able to do melting experiments with it like regular snow, but it’s a great way for your students to experience the fluffy white stuff. As you talk about snow and better understand it and how snowflakes are formed, this is a great opportunity for students to dig in with their hands to extend the lesson. By the way, if you’re OK with a little bit of mess in your classroom, be sure to check out these messy science experiments!
Head outside and be a scientist.
Sometimes just observing the world around us is the best way to be a scientist. If you’re in the classroom and are able, pick a day to go on a winter walk. Remind students to have their hats, mittens, and other cold-weather items to go outside for your exploration. Then on the day of the walk, have everyone observe what’s around them as you go outside. If you’re able to go for a little walk around the schoolyard or neighborhood, that’s even better. Or if your students are virtual, encourage them to do this on their own. Once complete, ask your young scientists what they observed. You might even allow them to gather one small object and view it through a classroom microscope. This idea is really adaptable to your specific needs or what you’re studying. Studying animal life? Challenge students to find an animal (or signs of one) while out on the walk. Or if you’re studying weather, you might encourage students to observe physical signs of the weather like frost, icicles, etc. Really encourage them to be scientists and explorers.
Winter is a great season for science experiments and getting kids outside and exploring. Here’s a winter STEM book to check out if you’re looking for additional ideas. Hopefully, you’ll be able to help your students get some winter science projects in and really make the most of the season.