6 Ways to Make December Full of Learning

Is Christmas your favorite time of year? It certainly is mine and there are two really big reasons...

First of all, I was born on Christmas Day!

And, secondly, my name is Carol.

Do you get it? Sometimes I have to explain that to my students, but then they think it is amazing and it is - Christmas Carol!

Know what else is amazing - Christmas in the classroom. And I have some truly spectacular STEM events and resources to share with you to make this season magical in your classroom.

STEM projects for the busy holiday season. This blog post will share many different ways you can keep your elementary students engaged during the busy month of December. This include STEM challenges and an Escape Room.

Here You Are: 6 Fabulous Ideas and Some Tips

  • Four STEM Challenges
  • Escape Rooms - with and without locks
  • Math and Reading Resources
Okay, that's seven or eight things to share- Read on!

STEM Challenges

You know this is my favorite- STEM is the reason I moved from a regular classroom and became a specialist, so these projects are always just fascinating.

I have three main challenges that we complete every year- at different grade levels. I do follow a yearly plan and try not to repeat challenges between grades. 


For Christmas, we have Sleighs and Ramps, Cookie Packages, and Brown Bag Trees.

STEM projects for the busy holiday season. This blog post will share many different ways you can keep your elementary students engaged during the busy month of December. This include STEM challenges and an Escape Room.

Sleighs and Ramps

This one proved to be so much fun and the kids loved tackling those ramps.

STEM projects for the busy holiday season. This blog post will share many different ways you can keep your elementary students engaged during the busy month of December. This include STEM challenges and an Escape Room.

The story is that Santa's sleigh must ride down a ramp to deliver toys. The sleigh cannot tip over and dump out those toys. Kids were able to test their sleigh using three different ramps. The decorations for this sleigh event were amazing. Fifth graders knocked it out of the park. #lovedit

TIP: We used foam board for our ramps. I purchase foam board sheets at Dollar Tree! The same size sheet at other stores is 3 times as much. Cut the sheet in half or thirds and it's a perfect ramp.

Cookie Packages

This is one my third graders absolutely were intrigued by. Well, the word 'cookie' probably had a lot to do with that!

STEM projects for the busy holiday season. This blog post will share many different ways you can keep your elementary students engaged during the busy month of December. This include STEM challenges and an Escape Room.

In this challenge, students must design a container for cookies. The container will go through the mail (pretend) and the postman will drop the package. The container must protect those cookies! And, then of course, we eat some cookies. #winwin

TIP: The cookies I use for this challenge are butter cookies. I buy several bags of these at Dollar Tree (again, it's $1). These are the perfect cookie for this challenge because they do break easily, so the kids must be diligent in protecting their cookie boxes. They are also delicious!

Brown Bag Trees

I love this one and the materials are just too easy. One of the big items is just a brown paper lunch sack.

STEM projects for the busy holiday season. This blog post will share many different ways you can keep your elementary students engaged during the busy month of December. This include STEM challenges and an Escape Room.

Fourth graders had to use the brown bag in some way to design their tree and then decorate it. I really thought they would all use the bag as the tree trunk, but kids never do what I expect! They made some of the cutest little trees! #easypeasy

TIP: You will need craft items to use as decorations. I grab Christmas related items at the Dollar Tree. However, I have also found that students will create their own decorations using just construction paper.

Those three challenges are the ones we have been doing in December for a few years and the kids look forward to the one their grade level will be doing.

This year I added a new activity to the STEM Lab!

Christmas Escape Rooms (with locks)

Oh, how excited my big kids were when they saw this one on our agenda! I tried it with 4th and 5th graders and we loved every minute of it.

STEM projects for the busy holiday season. This blog post will share many different ways you can keep your elementary students engaged during the busy month of December. This include STEM challenges and an Escape Room.

Students have three tasks to complete. Each task leads to a clue that leads to another clue and then they use a Letter Wheel to decipher a coded message. (You can see the Letter Wheel in the photo above.)

The tasks include solving math problems, completing a maze, and completing a word search puzzle. Our favorite part of this one was, hands-down, the Letter Wheel!

TIP: This Escape Room does involve some advance preparation. The Letter Wheels have to be made for each group- but it's just copying, laminating, and cutting out. The tasks for students are all just pages that need to be copied. Just plan ahead!

And there is more! This Escape Room also has an extension which is a STEM Challenge.

Toy Sleigh Zip Lines

Have you ever tried a zip line in your class? I promise, kids will have so much fun. Mine love watching their own devices zip down the line and the sharing of all the devices is a big deal. We gather around and let groups share their structure and attach it to the line, and then we cheer when it makes it to the bottom.

I have several versions of zip lines and this new one is a Toy Sleigh.

STEM projects for the busy holiday season. This blog post will share many different ways you can keep your elementary students engaged during the busy month of December. This include STEM challenges and an Escape Room.

The students have to make a sleigh to hold toys and it has to look like a real sleigh with runners. They also have to design a way to attach it to the zip line- which is trickier than you think. My third graders tackled this one, but I also had older students try it (which breaks my rule of not repeating challenges between grade levels, but.. it was fun)! The older students built more elaborate sleighs and were able to attach them to the zip line easily. I did have to help the 3rd graders more.

TIP: I have zip lines attached to the bolts that hold my whiteboards to the wall. We use these a few times each school year and I do not take the lines down. The lines are rolled up and taped to the wall. Also, you want lines made of a cord that will allow for smooth gliding. My lines are either fishing line or plastic cord. The string does not work very well!

By the way, this Escape Room is not one I will try with third grade, but the challenge is great for that age. (The challenge is available separately from the Escape Room.)

No Locks Escape Room

Oh my, are you interested in a low-prep Escape Room? I have that, too!

This NO LOCKS Escape Room includes completing math problems, logic puzzles, reading, and using idioms. Students complete tasks to earn a method of ‘escaping’. The prep for the events is just making copies. No locks or boxes! This bundle includes the perfect STEM Challenge to culminate the Escape Room event! #teachersareterrific #STEM

This one features four tasks that are awarded a paper cookie instead of opening a lock. Students are trying to escape the north pole and it has something to do with cookies!

Why are we using cookies? Well, the scenario for students is that they are competing for a few days off from their jobs at the north pole and they just happen to work in the cookie factory. If they complete the four tasks they earn time off. To show that a task is completed correctly the teams earn a paper cookie.

The skills in the tasks include using a map grid, solving logic puzzles, writing standard form when given the expanded form of numbers, and matching idioms.

Here is the best news! This Escape Room is bundled with the perfect STEM Challenge. I included the Cookie Packages STEM Challenge with it!


Christmas Math and Reading Resources

Now, I know you hate to miss school days. I think teaching is the only profession for which being out sick is more work than being at your job. I can make your life a little easier with two levels of math resources made just for Christmas.

STEM projects for the busy holiday season. This blog post will share many different ways you can keep your elementary students engaged during the busy month of December. This include STEM challenges and an Escape Room.

These are perfect for days you might need to be absent and the only prep is to print the pages. Each resource has games that kids can play that require only a pencil and a set of number cubes (dice). The games will work perfectly for your early finishers or in Math Centers.

STEM projects for the busy holiday season. This blog post will share many different ways you can keep your elementary students engaged during the busy month of December. This include STEM challenges and an Escape Room.


And, let's not forget reading resources. What a great way to save time and money- I have these already created for you!

This set has four reading passages and a newspaper article page. All have comprehension questions and there are two graphic organizers for the newspaper page. Perfect for when you need something quick and easy- jus print and read!

STEM projects for the busy holiday season. This blog post will share many different ways you can keep your elementary students engaged during the busy month of December. This include STEM challenges and an Escape Room.


There you are, my friends, some fabulous ways to let me help you get through this busy holiday month. 

Which Christmas resource will you try?




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