Try these Christmas themed challenges that will help to develop children’s problem solving skills, creativity, and critical thinking.
1. Hanging Christmas Mobile
Everyone loves decorating their homes at Christmas. Set your class the challenge to design and create the latest, extra special Christmas hanging mobile. One that would be worthy of being sold, centre stage, at the local garden centre (they always have a great display).
- Research – Start by researching different mobiles. Spend time looking online and, if you can get some examples of mobiles (e.g. babies mobiles), let children explore how they work and the different designs. Give the children some key questions to explore, e.g. What materials are used? How do the items hang? How is it balanced?
- Design – Use a planning sheet to design their mobile. Provide a selection of materials to explore and choose from. You may want to give them the opportunity to build a prototype.
- Make – Like Santa’s elves, get busy making and creating!
- Evaluate – It is always good to plan dedicated time to reflect. What worked? What would you change next time?
You could turn this into an enterprise challenge and sell your decorations to family or friends to raise money for a class treat! Or, extend the activity by creating marketing posters or adverts for your decorations!
2. Santa’s New Sleigh
Santa has had a tough year too and he wants to treat himself to a sleigh upgrade. He has asked for some help to design and make a prototype sleigh (or other transport if you think he needs a change).
Adapt this activity with additional requirements that Santa has asked for. For example, he may need a waterproof compartment to protect the presents. Whilst planning their designs, children will need to consider this and experiment with different materials. He might also need some bright lights, so children will need to use their learning about electrical circuits too. And of course, don’t forget that there will need to be room for Mrs Claus!
This could be a whole class challenge, working together to build a HUGE sleigh in your classroom. Or children could work in pairs to design and make their own smaller sleighs.
3. Relight Rudolph’s Red Nose
Link your science learning into a Christmas theme!
Create and print out a Rudolph character with a hole for his nose, just the right size to fit over a small circuits bulb.
Set up some different circuits, but do not connect all of the components. Children must use their learning about electricity to try and light up the bulb to make Rudolph’s nose shine bright ready to pull Santa’s sleigh.
To make your circuits more complex, you could include switches so that Rudolph’s nose can easily be turned on/off, or buzzers to represent the sleigh bells!
For those children in upper Key Stage 2, they could explore circuits that will make Rudolph’s nose shine brighter. Children can then use the correct symbols to draw their circuit.
4. Build a Christmas Tree
Just like the classic spaghetti and marshmallows building challenge, straws, pipe cleaners and play dough also make perfect building materials. Give children a selection of green and red playdough, some festive straws, pipe cleaners or spaghetti and ask them to build the tallest Christmas tree they can!
There is so much learning you can talk about as the children build. Think about the angles you need, length of the sides, and the 3D shapes you find!
Freeze some small world characters or Christmassy items into some ice cubes.
Split your class into two groups. One group must try to melt the ice as quickly as possible and the other group must try to protect the ice and stop it from melting. Let children explore different methods and materials and then draw conclusions together. What worked best?
You could set up this activity as a scientific experiment, with different groups exploring different factors. Ask the children about their own hypotheses – what do they think will protect or melt the ice? Then set up your experiments to test these. For example, one group may explore if the thickness of a material has any impact, while another may explore whether adding different things to the ice such as salt or sugar makes a difference.
6. Christmas Showcase
Challenge your class to create their own Christmas puppet show.
You could either ask your class to retell the nativity story with puppets. Or they could write their own festive scripts, create their puppets, record and edit to create a Christmas TV show.
This is a great way to bring in so many different curriculum areas including Literacy (script writing and speaking and listening), ICT (to film), Art and D&T (creating puppets) and so many more!