Christmas Tree STEM -- Christmas Around the World for Kids -- Germany

The tenth* activity in our Christmas Around the World for Kids series is a STEM project! We're jumping over to Germany for today's activity because I wanted to talk about where Christmas trees came from! 

Beautiful green boughs from evergreen trees have been used for symbolic decorations by the ancient Egyptians, early Romans, Druids, and Vikings, but (as far as I can tell) the first people to bring whole Christmas trees inside and put lights on them were Germans in the 16th century. Legend says that Martin Luther was first inspired by the twinkling stars behind a forest of evergreens, so he brought a tree home and added wires so he could hang candles on it! 

The first Christmas trees in America showed up in the 1700's as community trees in parts of Pennsylvania with many German immigrants. Some homes put them up in the early 1800's, but they were not very popular because they were considered pagan symbols by many Puritan communities. This changed in 1846 when a picture of Queen Victoria (England) and her family around a Christmas tree was published in the London News. She started a trend that quickly picked up across England and the United States.

For a fun STEM project, I decided to invite my kids to "make a Christmas tree" out of any materials they could find!  My plan was basically a "no rules" activity--they could do anything they could think of. I scheduled it by writing it on my calendar. I was super excited by the idea, but I was going to wait until after Thanksgiving for it.

Then one morning, about two weeks before Thanksgiving, I was helping my oldest with math. My two younger girls (7 and 5 years old) interrupted to see if we could set up our Christmas tree. I told them "No," and went back to math. About 20 minutes later I finished the math lesson and went to see what the girls had decided to do with their time.

I found this:

My 7-year old had decided to build her own Christmas tree. 

She she had begun by gluing computer paper onto a giant box that she had opened and flattened. 

At the same time, my 5-year old was making her tree:

As the morning progressed, the GIANT tree project attracted lots of helpers, and grew to become absolutely fantastic! 

It stretched about 8 feet, from floor to ceiling! Of course, we had to hang it up!

Eventually we set up our "normal" tree too, but we left up this epic project. It started exactly the way that I had first thought of (building a tree with any tools or supplies they could find), but it ended up being completely on their own terms...which I thought was pretty awesome too. ;) 

At the same time, my 5 year old designed this one:

Christmas Tree STEM Project:

Challenge your kids to design their own Christmas tree! It could be flat or 3-dimensional! You could provide paper and glue, add in pompoms, use craft sticks, or give your kids the giant no-rules approach and see what happens!

We've done a few other unique Christmas tree activities through the years...I've written about our Science Tree, Mini Magnetic Trees, and Sandpaper Trees before!

We are going learning about Christmas around the world this year with 12 different activities--this was the tenth* one!  I would LOVE if you joined us!! I will be linking all the activities to THIS PAGE, so you can pick and choose which to do. I'll be putting up a new one each week day when December starts--there are only two left in the series this year! 

* Update/Note: Technically, this was originally going to be the 10th activity in this series, but I got some exciting news this week that is extremely time-consuming, so I'm publishing this one on the 9th day and taking a 2-day break from our Christmas Around the Word to work on this other project. We'll pick up our last three activities next week!

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!