Winter Adaptation STEM Challenge
Looking for a fun and simple Winter STEM Challenge? We've got a great educational activity your kiddo can try indoors to learn about the coming winter months and its effects on animals!
Prompt: Imagine that a wild animal from the savannah, desert, jungle, or other warm region suddenly gets dropped into the middle of the arctic. Your job is to help them survive the cold and snow until they can be rescued.
Using only items in the Winter Adaptation STEM Kit, how can you make your animal better adapted for a cold and snowy environment?
- *Large or medium Safari Ltd. animal figurines from warm climates (We used the Asian Elephant, Reticulated Giraffe, and Hampshire Pig)
- *Gallon Sized Ziploc Bag (to hold STEM supplies)
- *White felt or fake fur
- *Bubble Wrap (for “blubber”)
- *Cardboard pieces (to make snow shoes)
- *White Yarn
- *White pipe cleaners
- *Rubber bands
Bonus: Make a snowy sensory bin to play with your adapted animals.
- Place all needed STEM supplies (including animal figure) in the gallon Ziploc bag.
- Have your child examine animals that show examples of winter adaptations. Discuss with them what they notice (what color is the fur/feathers, how thick is the fur, what do their feet look like, etc.) Good examples include the Arctic Fox, Arctic Hare, Snowy Owl, Polar Bear, etc. The Arctic TOOB® is also a great resource for exploring these types of animals (also a fun addition for playful snowy sensory bins).
- Research, read, and learn all about the physical ways that animals adapt to winter (other adaptations include behavioral changes such as hibernation or migration). Learning resources can include books, video, and other internet resources.
- Give your child/student the Winter Adaptation STEM Kit to open and look through.
- Encourage your child/student to make a plan for adapting the figurine that is included.
Bonus questions for your kiddo
-How will the animal stay warm?
-How will the animal camouflage with the snow?
-How will the animal move in the snow?
-What will you use to attach the materials to your animal?
- Stand back and let your kids/students problem solve and use their creativity. Step in as needed to help answer questions or guide towards solutions.
- Let them play with their adapted animals in a fun winter sensory bin or small world arctic set up.
More recommended resources
Hidden in the Snow by Barbara Taylor
Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner
SciShow Kids Animals with Winter Coats
U.S. National Park Services Inside Yellowstone - Winter Animal Adaptations
About the Writer
Anji Audley is an early childhood educator with experience in grades Pre-K through First. She is also a mom of two active and creative boys ages 9 and 13. Anji is a strong advocate for play-based learning. She infuses learning with STEM activities, play, and art to inspire discovery and creativity.