It’s officially December which in most parts of the Northern hemisphere means winter. I live in the southern part of the U.S. so winter really means sweating through our days in sweaters we probably don’t mean and having bonfires while still being eaten up by mosquitos. BUT, despite the lack of living in a winter wonderland, we still LOVE to do all of the stereotypical winter things here – including incorporating winter science activities with my students!!
This time of year I am often TIRED and just counting down the days until holiday break. I want to be home, snuggling my babies in front of a fire (even if the A.C. is also on), staring at my twinkle lights, and smelling my favorite candle. I don’t want to be staying late prepping for a lab or grading projects. And since I anticipate that you may feel similarly, today I am sharing four FREE winter science activities to use in your high school science classes that all are SO fun, and *most* require minimal prep!
You can grab these winter science activities here or keep reading to learn more about each one that is included!
A Winter Science Activity to engage your Biology students
So in my state, Biology 1 is a state EOC exam. This means at the end of our biology course students take a standardized test that counts for 20% of their entire grade in our course. Not only that, but their scores impact our evaluations as teachers. Because of this, it is hard to find time to do anything outside of our standards because we are forced to be so standards-focused in our instruction.
But for me, this “off-topic” winter science activity is WORTH IT. It only takes ONE day and NO prep plus it isn’t entirelyyyy irrelevant because you can easily refer back to it later in the year when you get to your Evolution unit and cover adaptations.
In this creative research activity, students work in small groups to research organisms that have adaptations to live in the arctic tundra. After, they share their findings by writing a holiday jingle to sing to the class, “pitching” the organism as the most festive “mascot” to represent the holiday season. I include a list of fun classic tunes they can write their jingles to, as well as epic organisms for them to research – but you can add your own to the list!
Why I especially love it: I don’t have the time to cover biomes in much detail so I love this opportunity to give students a deeper look into the arctic tundra. I also LOVE being able to introduce the concept of adaptations prior to our evolution unit. Evolution is often hard for them to wrap their minds around and this activity helps to anchor them EARLY that organisms have adaptations (emphasis on it as a noun) – NOT that organisms adapt (they default to it as a verb – and organisms, in fact, do NOT adapt, as you biology teachers know!) Start breaking down this misconception early and often!
A Winter Science Activity to engage your Physics students
Physics and physical science teachers, this next one is for YOU! I don’t know about you but I love any opportunity to incorporate a SIMPLE inquiry-based investigation with my students, and this free resource for your physics students does exactly that!
It’s a super fun seasonal spinoff of one of my favorite inquiry investigations in my Energy unit where students will create an effective insulator for a cup of ice. Not only must it be functional but also FESTIVE as I challenge them to make their insulators look like tacky holiday sweaters.
Best of all, as a teacher, you only have to provide small plastic cups, ice water, and thermometers. Students can bring in everything else if you desire!!
Why I especially love it: It’s seasonally fun, relevant, AND standards-aligned as it covers MS-PS3-3 from the NGSS. Plus it is DONE FOR YOU ALREADY and FREE. What more could you want from a resource?
A Winter Science Activity to engage your Anatomy students
This activity isn’t the flashiest of the winter science activities, but it is arguably going to be the most relevant for your students. In this research activity, students will research Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and make a series of informative Instagram posts (if doing this digitally) or an informational flyer (if doing this by hand) for their peers with their findings.
All you need is technology and wifi for research and this resource is virtually no prep and no fuss.
Why I especially love it: This resource can MAKE A DIFFERENCE in your students and your entire student body. Meet with your school counselor and see if you can work together to make an informative bulletin board with your students’ work about SAD for the student body. You can even have the school post some of the Instagram series to the school’s social media profiles. It is a way to get your students researching but also to help others with a very real disorder that affects more people than we often realize.
Grab it here to use with your students this December or January!
A Winter Science Activity to engage your Chemistry students
Last but not least, a little something for all of my chemistry and physical science teacher friends. Of all of the winter science activities, this one is for sure my favorite. It is a different version of one of my students’ favorite activities we do all year long – the fudge lab.
I use the fudge lab expansion pack to teach my students about scientific notation and dimensional analysis at the beginning of the year in a fun AND practical way. It is one of the most memorable activities we do and students talk about this for YEARS after.
But my students ALWAYS need a refresher on dimensional analysis midyear (especiallyyyyy prior to diving deep into stoichiometry in chemistry after winter break) so I wanted to create a follow-up to the original activity that could be used in December or January – and thus this Holiday Hot Chocolate freebie was born.
Students get incredibly practical reinforcement doing this activity for their dimensional analysis skills and it is SO MUCH FUN to do. All of the ingredients for their hot chocolate are given to them in unreasonable units (like gallons of vanilla extract and Frosty the Snowman-sized marshmallows). Students then use the provided conversion factors to convert the ingredients into reasonable units so that they can make their own personal cup of holiday hot chocolate.
Why I especially love it: This activity is SO INCREDIBLY PERFECT for the last day before winter break or the first day back to welcome your students back to learning with fun and excitement. Plus y’all know that I am OBSESSED with things being practical and useful (I prioritize this over fun to a fault) but this resource does both the FUN and the PURPOSEFUL.
Get this resource and ALL of the other 3 winter science activities for free by clicking here!
If you use any of these winter science activities with your students, PLEASE send me a DM on Instagram and tell me how they go!!! I especially love to see you using the resources with your students when y’all tag me in your posts. I can’t tell you how much it excites me!
Have a science teacher friend who could use some fun winter science activities that are totallyyyyy free? Share this blog post with them!!