Deck the halls in your early childhood education setting by introducing STEAM activities which are focused around Christmas trees while also promoting play-based learning related to science, technology, engineering, the arts and maths.
Christmas Tree Life Cycle Exploration - Science
Explore the science behind the lifecycle of the Christmas tree. Introduce the concept of planting and growing from seed. Discuss why trees are important for the environment as a place for birds to build their nests and as oxygen providers which help to clean the air. Talk to the children about what we could do with the Christmas trees after Christmas is over, for example perhaps we could buy and decorate a real tree and then plant it in our outside area for next year.
Glowing Christmas Tree Ornament - Technology
Integrate technology with battery operated LED lights. Children can use clear plastic baubles and fill them with some festive loose parts such as stars or red and white beads. Then place the battery operated lights inside the bauble. Place the baubles on the tree in your setting, encourage children to bring them home, or even place all the glowing baubles in a container inside a dimly lit den for children to explore the wonder of all the different glowing baubles.
Build a Miniature Christmas Tree and Stand - Engineering
Go to your local Christmas tree retailer or seller and ask them for some offcuts and small branches. Bring them back to your setting and provide various decorations for children to use to decorate their own mini tree. Using various tubs, containers or jars and other materials such as newspaper, cotton wool, sticky tape and glue, the children will be challenged to create a tree stand which will support and balance their mini Christmas tree.
Christmas Ornaments – The Arts
Provide lots of different materials and loose parts such as coloured paper, offcuts of festive wrapping paper, pieces of tinsel, beads, and glitter, allowing children to express themselves while enhancing their fine motor skills. Children can get crafty and creative by sticking the festive materials to a styrofoam bauble, a pine cone, a cardboard star or cicle which can then have some string added so it can hang from the tree.
Matching and Sorting Christmas Decorations - Maths
Introduce festive maths by setting out a table top or tuff tray activity with Christmas decorations of various shapes, sizes and colours including coloured tinsel, various sized and coloured baubles, holly leaves, pieces of ribbon, stars of various shapes, sizes and colours, different types of pom poms and even cotton wool balls. Children can sort using their fingers or using age appropriate tweezers. The items can be matched and sorted in various ways including by shape, size and colour.
Bringing STEAM activities into early childhood education during the festive Christmas season not only sparks excitement for the forthcoming celebrations but also lays the foundation for lifelong learning. By incorporating these Christmas tree-themed activities, educators can create a festive and educational environment where children can explore, create, and learn through the magic of Christmas and the wonder of STEAM. Don’t forget to play festive Christmas music in the background to enhance the festive atmosphere!
About the Author:
Paula Walshe is a published author, PhD student and Assistant Lecturer in ECE at Dundalk Institute of Technology. Her PhD research focusses on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and maths) in ECEC.
In 2023 Paula published her first book entitled "Síolta in Practice" which is a guide to implementing Síolta quality standards in ECEC. It is published by Boru Press and is available here.