Christmas in Sweden STEM Challenge

The Christmas STEM Challenge is the first part of hands-on activities to learn about Christmas in Sweden! You can see the whole Hands-on Christmas Around the World series HERE!

This little packet gives you an introduction to the Yule Goat in Sweden, some traditions associated with him, and a creative STEM challenge

Here are a few of the traditions the student page mentions:

* Depending on your family's tradition, the Yule Goat might bring gifts or carry Father Christmas (called Tomten) to your home!

* People sometimes hide little yule goats in their friend's homes as a prank!

* The Swedish town of Gävle builds a 43-foot tall yule goat out of straw around a metal frame every year and then everyone bets on how long it will usually gets burnt down before Christmas!

* Many Swedish homes have straw Yule Goat ornaments hanging on their Christmas trees and around their home as decorations!

The STEM Challenge invites your children to make their own "straw" yule goat ornament!

We have done this two different ways, and they both work wonderfully, so I included a Parent/Teacher sheet explaining them.

The first way is to simply provide pipe-cleaners (we call them fuzzy sticks, lol!), and let your children make their goat ornaments with the pipe-cleaners.  This works great for all ages, including younger children, and if you're short on time or supplies.  Fuzzy sticks are easy to get and inexpensive--an ideal STEM challenge supply!

The second way is to provide pipe-cleaners, ribbons, and raffia (because it's easier to work with than straw). The same basic challenge applies--use the supplies to make your own little yule goat ornament! These goats can get a little fancier because there are more supplies. You may also want to have some sharp scissors available to cut the ribbons, raffia, and even the pipe-cleaners.  Just monitor your children closely with sharp scissors! I would not do this with anyone younger than about 10. The raffia is harder to work with than the pipe-cleaners, but it has a fun straw-like effect.

I also mention in the packet that I would like to someday try using real straw and ribbon to make these ornaments! The only problem here is that straw is a little finicky to work with--it must be kept wet so that it can bend, and it can be harder to work with than raffia or pipe-cleaners. Knowing this, I haven't tried it with a group of kids yet, but maybe someday...  ;)  If you try it, I'd love to hear how it works!

So, in the packet you will find the following:
1- Introduction/Challenge
2- Parent/Teacher Page
3- Student Journal Page

The journal page provides space to both plan and reflect on the project. I encourage you to either take the time to do this writing component or to discuss the same questions with your kids. Strong communication skills are super important in our quickly-changing world, and thinking about and articulating (whether on paper or verbally) a personal experience is a powerful opportunity for our kids to grow.

This packet is the first of three Christmas in Sweden packets: the other two will be a Christmas in Sweden Mystery and an activity idea packet! They are both "in the works" and will be out soon!

We have been learning about Christmas in different places around the world this year! You can find all the projects I've published so far (including Christmas in Hawaii) at my  Hands-on Christmas Around the World series HERE!

How is this project a STEM challenge? It presents an open-ended problem/challenge (meaning there is not one solution only) to your children to solve that integrates the STEM subjects:

SCIENCE: science reasoning skills require your child to problem-solve. You engage the scientific method when you make observations, see a problem, form a hypothesis, test the hypothesis, and analyze your results. How will you shape your goat? Will it hold its shape? The journal page provides a chance to evaluate your results.
TECHNOLOGY: not all technology is electronic. The most basic definition of technology is the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes. Using your knowledge of the nature of pipe-cleaners and the elasticity of ribbon is applied technology.
ENGINEERING: is the design, building, and use of structures. The ornament you build is a structure.
MATH: the challenge limits children to a dozen pipe-cleaners and other small quantities of supplies. Working with these limits is using math.

This project also uses art to create a visually appealing ornament, so it qualifies as a STEAM challenge too!

I always LOVE to hear from you!

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And if you're looking for more homeschool unit studies, be sure to check out our growing collection here!

Happy Educating,
Carla & the kids who don't sit still!