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Festive Christmas STEM Challenges for Each Grade

Are you looking for Christmas STEM projects? Maybe festive STEM Challenges?

If you are looking for something crafty and STEM-related this post is for you! I have challenges you can try with kids from first grade to fifth grade!  

Festive STEM Challenges for every grade. Check this blog post for ideas to get you through December!

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Students use interlocking cubes to make a Christmas tree.

Grades 1-2

These trees were a hoot!
In my first and second grade classes, I gave each table different materials. I invented something each table could build with those materials (not Christmasy) and then we rotated from table to table for the whole class. One table had interlocking cubes and the task was to build a tree. The group in the photo made theirs a Christmas tree! Don’t you love those multi-colored cubes that are the presents under the tree? Quite a few presents, actually!

So, here’s your Christmas STEM challenge for firsties: Read them a Christmas picture book, give them a bin of cubes, and tell them to make a Christmas tree. They will love it and so will you! It’s easy-prep and easy cleanup!

Are you ready for some holiday STEM activities! This Christmas Tree STEM Challenge has so many ways you can try. One of the planning pages lists multiple versions so you can pick and choose what will work for your students. The one item that makes this a unique challenge is the use of a brown paper bag. How will your students use that bag while creating this seasonal tree?

Brown Bag Trees Grds. 2-5

Here’s a variation of a STEM Christmas tree. We used this challenge with third, fourth, and fifth graders. Second graders would love this, too! It’s called the Brown Bag Christmas tree.

When I handed out the materials bins for this one I heard a lot of funny comments about those lunch sacks. Then when I told them they were building a brown bag tree I got a lot of funny looks. But, they had the best time and made some very creative trees.  

My favorite part of this one was watching all the clever ways the tree was used. Some groups rolled the bag and made a trunk. One group made a tree skirt out of the bag! (And, they knew it was called a tree skirt!)  

It’s a super easy one that uses a variety of easy to gather materials and the brown lunch sacks.

Are you ready to grab your student's attention at this busy time of year? Then it’s time for some STEM activities that can fit with your holiday themes. This one is all about Christmas cookies! Just mention cookies and you will get your students to listen and then they will love designing this fun Cookie Package.

Cookie Packages – Grds. 3-4

Anything with food is always a popular challenge for us. Even when they know we are not going to eat the food!

My third and fourth graders tried this Christmas STEM challenge. They had to design a package to safely transport some cookies. The cookies would be “mailed” to someone for Christmas so they also had to decorate the packages.

They loved this challenge – especially dropping the packages to test their durability for being mailed. We broke a few cookies, but still ate them anyway! Yes, we ate them. I bought enough so that we could have a little snack after the challenge! Butter cookies are the best!

Christmas STEM projects have been so fun to develop! Kids are already excited and this challenge worked so well! They loved building and decorating these sleighs! This unique idea will really present great problem-solving opportunities as your students pre-test their sleighs. It's an amazingly fun challenge!

Sleighs and Ramps- Gr. 5

Wow! I got some really funny looks about this one. My idea was that the reindeer decided not to fly and Santa would need to ramp into your house.    

Oh my, did we have fun with this one! Fifth graders built a sleigh, decorated it, and experimented with ramps to find the best angle for sliding the sleigh. We know Santa doesn’t ride down ramps to deliver presents, but maybe he has to use a ramp to take off in that sleigh and get airborne! Right?   

Or maybe, the reindeer really did quit on him and he had to ramp into some houses. It could happen!  Some of them were quite creative in adding elves, Santas, presents, and reindeer to their sleigh!

Students must design a box that will perfectly hold a specific amount of candy! Great fun in December or Valentine's Day!

Candy Boxes – Grade 4-5

Kids loved this one and then we enjoyed some Christmas Candy when it was over!    

Christmas Candy Boxes is a challenge we tried a year ago, but I could not get it tested and finished before the Christmas season was over. So, when February rolled around we tried it again with some slightly different rules. Like the candy box had to be heart-shaped and we used Valentine’s Day candy instead.

One of the rules of this task was the candy must fit in the box. Teams would measure thecandy to make sure their base was large enough, but the trick to this one is volume. Boxeswere too tall for the most part!

The team that had the best box was awarded a small bag of candy, We really enjoyed sharing these and trying the candy in them to see how it would fit. I have this challenge listed in my store with Valentine’s Day challenges. The resource has a Christmas section!

Here’s a perfect STEM challenge to try during the busy Christmas holiday season. This will be exciting for your students and you will love the easy prep of this STEM Quick Challenge. Students will be designing a sleigh that will carry toys down a zip line- without dumping any of them out!

Toy Ziplines

This was a challenge invented for my third graders. They see ziplines listed on our agenda but never for their grade level. For some reason they really wanted to try a zipline.

So, the toy zipline was created!

Students build a sleigh filled with toys and it must travel down a zipline and land without dumping the toys! THEY LOVED THIS! Nevermind that it seems silly for Santa to zipline into our houses…

I hope you have grabbed an idea or two from these Christmas STEM challenges to use with grades 1-5. Many of these can be used at more than one level- just change the task rules to accommodate your age group. Click on any of the images to see the resources in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

More fun blog posts are listed below for you to try:

Festive STEM Challenges for every grade. Check this blog post for ideas for 6 challenges to get you through December!


  1. Quick question – on the interlocking cube tree activity – do you give each group the same amount of cubes? Thank you for all these great ideas!

  2. Thanks for sharing all your STEM act activities. The kids will love them.
    Once a Teacher, Always a Teacher

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