It's December! Fa la la la la! I love the holiday season and I love giving my students some fun Christmas themed lessons that tie into science. Below you will find a list of fun activities that you can do in the month of December. Note: even if you have students that don't celebrate Christmas, many of the options below are simply science oriented, not dependent on the actual holiday. Enjoy!
Before you throw out your Christmas tree, grab your saw, cut off a few tree cookies from the stump and sand them down. You can do a fun mini lesson on dendrochronology! Check out this free lesson on tree rings and climate change (aimed at AP environmental science students).
Check out this "Case of the Christmas Cookie" mystery lab from The Science Spot. This lab is fun for middle school students- they test mystery powders to help Mrs. Claus save Christmas. You can download the lab here.
Did you know poinsettia leaves can make great pH indicators similar to red cabbage? Check out these lab directions from Flinn on how to turn this Christmas plant into a pH lab. You can download the lab here.
If you live where it snows in December, this lab looks fun! (Disclaimer: I've never tried it since I live in AZ, so if you try it let me know how it goes in the comments, I'd love to hear!) Have your students preserve a snowflake and look at them under the microscope. You can find the lab directions here.
An oldie but goodie! Make borax crystal ornaments to hang on your tree. This set of directions also has you add glow in the dark paint so your ornaments glow at night. Check out the procedures here.
Want to throw in a little science literacy before Christmas break? Check out this free article on Christmas trees from my friend over at Biology Roots. You can download it here.
The past few years at my school we have done a door decorating contest. I wanted to do a science themed door so we made a "chemis-tree" with elements from the periodic table. It turned out great (yes we went a little overboard) and the students had fun putting it together. You can download free element squares here.
While you are decorating your door, check out these cool scientist snowflakes from the Franklin Institute! We tried the Einstein one and it was hard to make look good, but the flask one was pretty easy. You can download the templates here.
Raid the chemistry stock room and do a cool copper and silver nitrate Christmas tree demo. You can see the YouTube version here or do a small scale microscope version of this lab here.
Do you have a string of Christmas lights that don't work well? Chances are most of the bulbs are still good. Grab some wire cutters, cut apart the bulbs, and turn it into a series and parallel circuit lab. You can find lab directions here.
This last link isn't an activity, but if you like to send home a small gift with your students for the holidays, check out these cute hot chocolate molecule gift tags from my friend over at Nitty Gritty Science. Adorable! You can download them for free here.
I hope you have a great holiday season! Make sure to check out the holiday category on my blog and see what other science activities I have for other holidays throughout the year!