MSSE Program, Montana State University Online Courses


Forums / Elementary Science / Incorporating holidays into science lessons

Elementary Science

Incorporating holidays into science lessons

Author Post
Lindsay Thompson Lindsay Thompson 780 Points

As holidays approach students get anxious and have a harder time focusing in class. I am a pre-service teacher at UMBC, and with Thanksgiving arriving in a couple of days, I certainly have been having a hard time focusing in class. It makes me think how elementary school students are doing at this time. Is there a way we can incorporate Thanksgiving into a science lesson? I know there are activities done during reading and social studies but what can be done during science? I was able to find an example of an activity from the learning center which discusses how engineering was used to create disposable pop-up cooking thermometers for cooking turkeys. The activity is for middle school. Can anyone else think of a fun activity that can be done to spice up a science lesson? It can also be an activity for a different holiday, not just thanksgiving.

Karina Hernandez Karina Hernandez 2405 Points

I think incorporating holidays to a science lesson is a great idea. Students seem to only understand that a holiday is coming and just focus on that. But as a future educator this is opportunity to incorporate science for a holiday that students are already excited for. For example for Christmas, you can have the students drop a peppermint in water and watch as the color slowly fade. The students to be able to use all 5 senses for this activity which is very fun and engaging for them. They will also be able to explain why the color fades from the peppermint once dropped in the water. I hope this helps!

Haley Wiebenga Haley Wiebenga 1353 Points

I think incorporating holidays to a science lesson is a wonderful idea. As a future educator, I often think about how I will incorporate current events into my lessons. I think the idea of using food is always a great way in getting students excited (because what kid doesn't love food) and will spark their minds to listen and engage, and in turn grasp the concept at hand.

London Eaves London Eaves 325 Points

[color=#333333]Hello, [/color] [color=#333333]I found one science experiment you can do using Cranberries ! [/color] [color=#333333]This ones called [u]Floating Cranberries:[/u][/color] [color=#333333]You're testing if cranberries will float. [/color] [color=#333333]For this activity, you need the following ingredients:[/color] [ol] [justify][li][color=#333333]Cranberries (not dried) – 1-3 per student[/color][/li] [li][color=#333333]Cups of water – one per student or group[/color][/li] [li][color=#333333]Optional Recording Mini Booklet[/color][/li] [/justify] [/ol] [color=#333333]Begin the activity by asking students if cranberries will float or sink in water. After your discussion, have the students create a hypothesis using an If… then… because… format in their booklet. Then generate a list of materials needed and create a clear sequence of procedures for the students to follow when conducting the experiment.[/color] [color=#333333]After all the up front work is completed, give each student 1-3 cranberries. I like to give them 3 cranberries to explain the importance of multiple trials.[/color] [color=#333333]After the students discover that the cranberries float in the water, have them discuss how this could be possible. Then cut a cranberry in half and show the students the four air pockets inside that allow the cranberries to float. The students will be able to use that new knowledge to create a clear conclusion about why cranberries float.[/color] [color=#333333][u]Dancing Cranberries:[/u][/color] [color=#333333]Things you need:[/color] [ol] [li][color=#333333]Dried Cranberries (a few per student or group)[/color][/li] [li][color=#333333]Sprite[/color][/li] [li][color=#333333]Container or cup[/color][/li] [li][color=#333333]Optional Recording Mini Booklet[/color][/li] [/ol] [color=#333333]Have the students place the cranberries in the Sprite and watch them “dance.” When the cranberries interact with the bubbles (carbon dioxide gas) in the soda, they will be carried up to the top. When the bubbles pop and release the carbon dioxide, the cranberries drop by down. This makes it seem like they are “dancing” in the Sprite.[/color] [color=#333333]Have the students record their data and have a discussion. [/color] [color=#333333]Hope this helps (: [/color]

Lindsay Thompson Lindsay Thompson 780 Points

Hi London, These activities are so fun and easy to do, thank you so much for sharing. Also, thank you for providing the detailed steps!

Genesis Amador Genesis Amador 380 Points

I thought this lesson was a great way to implement density into a hands on experiment. I think it is wonderful that you are explaining to students that multiple trials are needed to have reliable data. Thanks for sharing!

Rachael Rice Rachael Rice 3631 Points

Hi London! I did this not too long ago with raisins in a 2nd grade classroom and they loved it! I love the idea of finding a way to incorporate the holidays into all subjects in a day, especially science! Considering science and social studies already tend to get the shortest amount of time during the day and school year, I think would be awesome to find more ways to integrate all of the holidays.

Kia Shields Kia Shields 3432 Points

This sounds like a great experiments for students to do!

Madeline Downs Madeline Downs 190 Points

I love that you have taken the time to find activities that make learning authentic for students. Holidays are easily incorporated into nearly every other subject area, and now science!! I will definitely be using this in the future. Thanks for sharing!

Carili Rubiera Carili Rubiera 4145 Points

There are several ways to incorporate holidays into science lessons. For one thing, the weather during the holidays changes for some areas, but not all. You can teach a lesson on the major biomes and ask what this time of the year would be like for different parts of the world. Another idea is that it snows during the holidays, so a good lesson would be on the formation of snowflakes. There are many other ways to incorporate the holidays into science lessons such as having students learn about measurements by having students try to figure out the perfect recipe for gingerbread cookies. This would be fun because though students are participating in an inquiry and recording data, they are being hands-on and get a nice treat at the end.

Tayler Maiers Tayler Maiers 4510 Points

I really like the different ideas that you have shared here. As a student pursuing education, I have never even thought about incorporating the holidays into science, as it is more seen incorporated through literacy. In my science class I am currently in, we have been asked to write an unit plan and my group and I have decided to do something with making cookie dough, and it never even crossed my mind that that sort of idea could be used in correspondence with the holidays. I really like your idea over the weather changes and the different biomes, as the weather is different for all parts of the country - especially this year, as right now there is snow in Texas and none up in north Iowa! I always loved as a elementary student learning about the different parts of the world/country and seeing how things were different or even the same for us, especially with something like weather. Thank you for your post as you have given me many useful tools and information that I cannot wait to someday use in my future classroom!

Aracely Pla Aracely Pla 75 Points

Incorporating the holidays into science lessons, in my opinion, makes things much more interesting and fun! One activity that can be used for this time of the year that incorporates STEM is having kids get into groups and use ONLY toothpicks and marshmallows to create the tallest snowman. This requires them to use their thinking skills and communicate in order to ensure that their design is useful and will successfully create a model snowman that stands up on its own with only the given materials.

Morgan Bell Morgan Bell 390 Points

Hi Aracely, I want to work with young students. One activity you could do would be dissecting a pumpkin. You can go over the parts then show them how to use the pumpkin to bake it into a pie. With the seeds you can also bake them and make roasted pumpkin seeds. Also with some left over seeds you can plant them in order to show how to grow a seed/pumpkin as well as use them for an art project, paint them glue them, etc. With a pumpkin you can really turn it into a STEAM lesson! Hope that helps! Morgan

Vivian Del Cid Vivian Del Cid 3265 Points

I love the idea of keeping students engaged during the holidays. It's so difficult especially between October and through December! I live in Florida, so we don't get snow here, most of the time we don't even get cold weather! One experiment that is great for the winter season is growing crystals. It's pretty easy and fun to watch the crystals grow.
You just cut a sponge into the shape of a Christmas tree, or cut out cardboard in the shape of a tree. With the sponge you pour the crystal solution over it, and sometimes in less than an hour the crystals will appear. With the cardboard trees you can even cut out two and piece them together for a 3D look before applying the crystal solution.
The best part is if you want to decorate them with food coloring to look like Christmas trees you can, or you can leave them seasonal trees so there aren’t any religious undertones.

 Tracey Williams 407 Points

This is a really neat idea. Thank you for sharing it!

Liani Pierrot Liani Pierrot 2710 Points

I think incorporating holidays to a science lesson is a great idea. As a future educator myself I ask myself the same question. One of my teacher friends using known experiments or activities and just add some holiday cheer, for example you can use the "sink or swim" water activity and you can use holiday objects like toy cars, gifts ext. I believe the kids will enjoy it and they will have a lot of fun.

Briana Clausell Briana Clausell 280 Points

You are so right! This time of year can be a little more challenging for both students and teachers. Pinterest is a good place to go to for fun ideas for holiday science lessons.

Sadie Backoff Sadie Backoff 3025 Points

I love the idea of incorporating holidays into science lessons! However, with the amount of people that want to be more inclusive, it might be hard to incorporate all of the holidays that are celebrated. For example, doing a lesson around Thanksgiving is a good idea, however, not all students celebrate Thanksgiving, same as Christmas. Incorporating holidays into lessons, not only science lessons, is a good idea, as long as all holidays can be observed and all students can feel welcome in some way! Good idea, and I'm glad you had fun with your cranberry lesson, it looked like it would be fun!

Stephanie Blunk Stephanie Blunk 3725 Points

As some others have mentioned, I think that incorporating the holidays into science is such a creative idea. You never really hear about incorporating the holidays into science as much as you do other subjects like math or literature. I know science is often pushed aside for some of the other subjects in school, but I think it would be wonderful if you could incorporate the holidays into the time that you do have for science. I don't really have any specific lesson ideas,but I feel like even if you just were to change a few little things within some lessons you would be able to relate them to the holidays. As some others have also mentioned, it;s important to remember that every student is different and celebrates different holidays, as well as to not make assumptions about what holidays they do celebrate. I know that in a lot of schools they have to be careful with even the smallest things you may not think of like changing a Christmas party into a winter party. I think that if you were to incorporate the holidays into science, it would be a great opportunity to talk about some of the other holidays that are celebrated, like Hanukkah and Kwanzaa besides the ones that are usually more popularly celebrated, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Adrienne Laygan Adrienne Laygan 540 Points

I loved reading about the ideas that have been shared on this thread. Like some people said, it is very important to consider the students that do not celebrate certain holidays. This year, I have had a student's parents disclose that they wish for their student to not participate in class activities that center around holidays. In this case, we have to plan inclusive lessons or find alternate assignments for said student. Still, I think incorporating science with holiday events is very engaging for students and I am fond of the lessons that have been shared!

Post Reply

Forum content is subject to the same rules as NSTA List Serves. Rules and disclaimers