Christmas STEM Activities
‘Tis the season, friends! Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Because of this, I often go a little crazy in my classroom at Christmastime. I’m a huge fan of seasonal and holiday-themed activities. Last year, I shared some Christmas STEM activities and science experiments, including one of my favorites – a jingle bell maze!
This particular activity is so elaborate that I felt it needed it’s own dedicated blog post! So, today I’m going to walk you step-by-step through the process of having your students create their very own jingle bell maze.
Jingle Bell Maze Teacher Prep
Before you start, you’ll need to have all your materials ready. First, decide whether students will work independently or in a small group. This will determine how much of each item you’ll need.
What you’ll need for each student or small group is:
- One shoebox lid or piece of cardboard
- One box of mini candy canes
- Tape (or glue – but I recommend tape!)
- 1 small jingle bell
I recommend collecting shoebox lids from your students a few weeks prior to completing this activity. The rest of the supplies can be purchased at Dollar Tree.
And, that’s all you have to do! Give each student or group their supplies, explain the task, and let them get to work! However, I’ve included some helpful steps below if you wish to help guide students through the process.
Step 1: Unwrap and break the candy canes.
Students may wish to start by unwrapping all their candy canes. I also highly recommend breaking each one right at the curve to make straighter pieces. They can split their broken pieces into two piles – longer and shorter.
Step 2: Design the start-to-finish path.
All mazes, of course, have one correct path that takes you from the start to finish. My suggestion when students are building their maze is to start by creating the correct path.
First, students should use the candy cane pieces to create their path by laying them out on the shoebox lid. Before taping them down, students should then remove a few pieces – or create spaces between some pieces – to allow for other paths to connect to them. Once students have done this, they can tape or glue down their pieces.
Before moving on, students should label the “start” and “finish” so they don’t forget!
Step 3: Fill in with decoy paths.
The next step is to use the remaining candy cane pieces to fill in the maze, creating decoy paths. Of course, these paths should all lead to dead ends. Students need to be sure as they complete the maze that they do not inadvertently create another path to the finish.
Again, I recommend laying out the pieces before taping them down so students can move things around as needed. Once they have it the way they like it, then they can secure it.
Step 4: Have maze races! (Optional)
Once students’ mazes are completed, they should use the jingle bell to test it’s effectiveness. Place the jingle bell at the start, and rotate and turn the maze to help the jingle bell navigate to the finish.
If desired, students or teams can have races against each other! Which group can get their jingle bell to the finish line first? Or, have students trade with each other and complete each others’ mazes.
More Christmas STEM Activities
This Christmas STEM challenge allows students to practice design skills, but it’s also fun! If you are interested in more STEM challenges like this, check out my December monthly STEM challenges by clicking the picture below.