Winter STEM Activity for Preschool: Evergreen Tree Building Challenge

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) activities compel preschoolers to use cross-disciplinary tools and critical thinking skills to solve a basic problem.  By integrating STEM activities into normal daily routines, preschoolers can gain new knowledge that they can take with them beyond the classroom or home environment and apply to problems found in their everyday world.  Come explore the FUN of Winter STEM with an Evergreen Tree Building Challenge designed just for preschoolers!

Winter STEM for Preschool Christmas Tree Building Challenge

WINTER STEM ACTIVITY FOR PRESCHOOL:  Evergreen Tree Building Challenge

Objective:  To encourage preschoolers to use critical thinking skills and cross-disciplinary tools to gain new problem solving knowledge that can be applied to the everyday world.

STEM Skills Presented:

Science:  Preschoolers will use skills within the scientific method to solve a basic challenge inquiry.

Technology:  Preschoolers will watch a video of the life cycle of an evergreen tree.

Engineering:  Preschoolers will engineer a basic Evergreen tree (Christmas tree) using simple supplies.

Math:  Preschoolers will use mathematical skills (estimation, same/different, lines, patterns) to build the Evergreen tree and gain knowledge of mathematical relationships in the challenge.

Background Information for Parents and Teachers:

Christmas trees are conifers.  A conifer is a needle-leaved tree that produces cones.  Conifers are called EVERGREENS because when the needled leaves fall off, they are always being replaced with new green needles.  The usual 6-8 foot Christmas tree can take 10 years or more to grow.

Winter STEM Evergreen Tree Building Challenge for Preschool

STEM INQUIRY: Preschoolers are asked to build a simple Evergreen tree using only the simple supplies below.

  • Green Playdough
  • Craft Sticks
  • Stars or other decorations (optional)

The kids will ask HOW to build a tree.  Try to answer their questions with open-ended feedback to allow them to use critical thinking tools to solve the problem independently.  It is truly amazing to watch young kids creating, thinking, and learning through play.

Some of our own preschool designs:

Evergreen Tree STEM Building Challenge for Preschoolers

STEM Christmas Tree Building Challenge for Preschool
Christmas Tree STEM Activity for Preschool

Building Challenge Wrap-Up:  Have the kids come together to share their creations.  Invite the kids to explain why they decided to construct the tree in the manner they chose. If any of the kids made improvements to their initial designs, ask them to share why the improvements were necessary.  In the photo above, one 4 year old decided to “stabilize” the tree with another outside craft stick.  The reinforcement was a necessary improvement to allow the tree to stand independently.   Show the kids the video below on the Life Cycle of an Evergreen tree and discuss the stages from seed to adult tree.

Winter Theme

For playful learning with preschoolers this winter, see all the activity suggestions in the Christmas or Winter Thematic Units here on the blog.  All units come with literacy, math, science, art and craft activities, foods/food crafts, pretend play, and large motor suggestions for FUN and learning all winter long!

For more STEM activities for WINTER with kids, please visit other great suggestions from the #TeachECE team below:

Snowball Catapult Alphabet Activity by Mom Inspired Life
Winter STEM Activity – Build a Snowflake by Fun-A-Day
Winter Inspired Tinker Tray by Still Playing School
Make a Peppermint Stick Straw (and Sip Fresh Orange Juice!)by Capri + 3
Gingerbread House Construction Ideas by The Educators’ Spin On IT

Posted in Christmas Theme, PreK, Science, Winter Theme Activities | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gingerbread Man Rhyme and Candy House Craft for Preschoolers!

If you are new to this blog, WELCOME!  Each Wednesday throughout the year, we partner with the #TeachECE team to offer activity suggestions centered around a weekly theme.  This week, come play to learn with us as we explore a NURSERY RHYMES theme!

There are few things as captivating for preschoolers as a COOKIE that leaps from a baking sheet and RUNS AWAY!  The Gingerbread Man Rhyme and Candy House Craft are FUN activities to extend the adventures of the bold little cookie with your own preschoolers at home or in the classroom!

Gingerbread Man Rhyme and Candy House Craft for Preschoolers (2)Gingerbread Man Rhyme and Candy House Craft for Preschoolers!

Disclaimer:  This post and others within this blog contain distributor and/or affiliate links.  Please see the ABOUT page for full disclosures.

51vc6s-vOrL._SX432_BO1,204,203,200_Preschoolers LOVE the story of The Gingerbread Man!  Read the book and invite kids to share the main events of the story.  The Gingerbread Man rhyming chant and candy house craft are great ways to extend the story and promote early literacy, name recognition, and fine motor skills.

Materials needed:

  • One printable Gingerbread Man Rhyme and Candy House per student/craft
  • Various collage materials – suggestions:  fabric scraps, ribbon, real candy, construction paper, candy stickers, marshmallows, pom-poms, buttons, or any other materials readily available at home or in the classroom.
  • Liquid Glue, Poster Putty, and/or Glue Dots.
  • Scissors
  • Crayons or Markers

Print one copy of the Gingerbread Man Rhyme for each student.  The kids can write or stamp their names on the line provided.   Read the rhyme several times to the kids (insert a different child’s name each time) and ask them to say the rhyme with you.

Gingerbread Rhyming Chant and Candy House for Preschool“I’m the GINGERBREAD MAN as DELICIOUS as can be!  I live in a CANDY HOUSE that __________(insert a child’s name) built for ME!”

The kids will love hearing their names and will even ask to put parents or teachers names into the rhyme!

Set out a variety of collage materials/candies/stickers and invite the kids to decorate their candy houses as they wish!  The gingerbread man houses make great bulletin board displays for the holidays.  They also make great class books when finished.  The children will love looking for their name and created house.  These are truly child-designed crafts that are so FUN!

Extension:  Teach the children the Gingerbread Man Song below. 

Gingerbread Man Song (Tune: Do you know the Muffin Man)
Oh, do you know the Gingerbread Man, the Gingerbread Man, the Gingerbread Man?
Oh, do you know the Gingerbread Man, who ran and ran and ran?
He said, “Catch me if you can. If you can, if you can.”
He said, “Catch me if you can,” then ran and ran and ran.

I can run like the Gingerbread Man, the Gingerbread Man, the Gingerbread Man.
I can run like the Gingerbread Man, now catch me if you can!
~Author Unknown

Gingerbread Theme Main PhotoFor an entire Gingerbread Theme, please see the Gingerbread Thematic Unit for Preschool and Kindergarten here on the blog.

 Gingerbread Man Activities your kids might also enjoy:

Gingerbread Cookie Cutter and "Splatter" PaintingsGingerbread Crafts, Math, and Pre-Writing Lines FREE Printable

Gingerbread Theme Pre-Writing Free Printable

Gingerbread Activities for Preschool

Free Printable Gingerbread Man Alphabet/Pictures for Literacy Games

For MORE ways to engage kids in playful learning with NURSERY RHYMES, please visit the links from the Early Childhood Educational Team below:

The Three Little Kittens Rhyming Mittens by Growing Book by Book

Printable Preschool Nursery Rhymes Journal by Fun-a-Day

Cow Jumped Over the Moon Craft by Still Playing School

I Wish I May I Wish I Might – Star Headband by Capri + 3

Old MacDonald’s Farm Sensory Bin by Tiny Tots Adventures

Nursery Rhyme Sorting Activity by Munchkins and Moms





Posted in Christmas Theme, Gingerbread Theme, PreK, Preschool Themes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

5 Senses Theme Activities for Preschool!

If you are new to this blog, WELCOME!  Each Wednesday throughout the year, the Early Childhood Education Team develops collaborative activities centered around themes for use in ECE.  This week, we’ll share our own activities to promote sensory knowledge using ALL 5 Senses.  Be sure to check out the other great activities from the #TeachECE Educators that are linked at the bottom of this post!

5 Senses Theme Activities for Preschool

5 Senses Theme Activities for Preschool!

Exploring The 5 Senses in Early Childhood will help preschoolers identify and discover the body parts that are used to gain sensory information:  Eyes, Ears, Nose, Mouth, and Hands.

The activities suggested below will offer opportunities for hands-on play with the senses of:  Sight, Hearing, Smell, Taste, and Touch.  Through play and experimentation, the children will develop an awareness of how The 5 Senses are used to gain knowledge about their world.

Introduction to The 5 Senses:

Sensory-Mirror-DiscoveriesIn order for children to explore The 5 Senses, preschoolers must be able to locate the 5 primary body parts that provide sensory information:  Eyes, Ears, Nose, Mouth, and Hands.   Allow for plenty of time for play with mirrors.  Ask the children to identify the different body parts they see in the mirror.  The children can also partner with peers and use magnifying glasses for discoveries (the children will think it’s funny to look at each other with magnifying glasses, but they are gaining important information).

Exploring the Sense of SIGHT in Preschool:

  • Nature Walk Recording Sheet – Take the kids outside so they can use their sense of sight to locate the various items on the recording sheet.  It’s free to print and FUN to do!
  • Christmas Lights – looking at Christmas Lights is a simple activity to promote visual information.  Print the recording sheet below and complete together when you get home or back in the classroom.


Exploring the Sense of SOUND in Preschool:


  • SOUND Discrimination: Invite children to use their sense of sound to ask critical thinking questions?  WHAT/WHO is making the sound, WHERE would I hear that sound, HOW is that sound created, and/or WHEN have I heard that sound before?  Free printable cards and games for playful learning!

Exploring the Sense of SMELL in Preschool:


  • Christmas Smelling Jars are a FUN way to invite kids to see which SMELLS they like or dislike.  Free recording sheet for preschool and kindergarten is here!
  • Lavender Pre-writing Practice – free printable with a lovely lavender paint to enhance sensory play with the SENSE of SMELL!


Exploring the Sense of TOUCH in Preschool:

Exploring the Sense of Touch with Braille Alphabet Names in Preschool

  • Explore the Sense of Touch by learning about the Braille Alphabet with a sensory name activity!

Exploring the Sense of TASTE in Preschool:


  • Make fun snacks with a variety of textures for kids to explore different taste sensations!  Set out apple slices, banana slices, chocolate chips, miniature marshmallows, and cheese sticks for the children. Set out a  picture of an umbrella and have the children try to use the snack materials to re-create the photo.  Have the children describe the TASTE of their umbrellas (are they crunchy, sweet, sour, bitter, etc.)  It is a fun activity for snack time and the children will amaze you with their creations!

The-5-Senses Theme for Preschool, Home Preschool, or ChildcareFor MORE ways to play to learn through ALL 5 Senses, see the 5 SENSES THEMATIC UNIT here on the blog!  The unit is a large theme with over 100 ways to gain sensory information through:  literacy, math, science, arts and crafts, large motor, dramatic play, and foods/food crafts!

Please also take a moment to visit the links to other 5 Senses activities from the dedicated #TeachECE Team below!

Number Sound Boxes by Munchkins and Moms
My Five Senses Book by Still Playing School
Writing Letters in a Sugar Cookie Sensory Tray by Mom Inspired Life
Winter Theme Alphabet Sensory Bin by The Educators’ Spin On It
My Christmas 5 Senses Book by Life Over C’s
Exploring the Senses Using Cardboard Tubes by Capri + 3


Posted in 5 Senses Theme Activities, PreK | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Candy Cane Counting Sticks in Preschool!

This week the #TeachECE Early Childhood Team is sharing activity suggestions for exploring the numbers 6-10.  If you are new to The Preschool Toolbox and missed the article on how to establish REAL relationships with the numbers 1-5, you can see it here!  We use many activities to explore numbers and integrate basic math concepts throughout our preschool days.  The Candy Cane Counting Sticks are just one way to combine playful learning and fine motor skills into a seasonal math activity that is also FUN!

Candy Cane Counting Sticks for PreschoolersCandy Cane Counting Sticks for Preschool! Candy CanesFree Printable Candy Cane Counting Sticks Toppers – Candy Cane Counting Stick Toppers

Materials needed: Wikki Stix (at least 10 per child), Candy Cane Counting Stick Toppers (linked above), pony beads (red/white), scissors, and markers/crayons (for labeling the candy cane template).  Note:  please supervise young children who still mouth objects closely as pony beads are a choking hazard. 

Prior to playing the math games: Print the Candy Cane toppers to heavy paper. Have the children cut out the candy canes (assist younger children with cutting) and laminate for durability. The Candy Cane toppers will adhere to the Wikki Stix (no glue will be necessary).

5 Math Game Suggestions for the Wikki Stix Candy Cane Counting Sticks:

1. One-to-One Correspondence: Label the Candy Cane toppers with any numbers the children have had introduced and put them on top of a Wikki Stix. Ask the children to place the corresponding number of pony beads on the Wikki Stix.

2. Number Order: Label 5 of the Candy Cane toppers with the numbers 6-10 and put them on top of the Wikki Stix. Have the children place the candy canes in the correct number order – 6-10.

Label the Candy Cane toppers with the numbers 1-10 and place the candy canes on top of a Wikki Stix. Have the children place the candy canes in the correct number order (starting at a number OTHER than 1).

3. Ten Sticks and Skip Counting: Label 10 Candy Cane toppers with the number 10 and put the printable toppers on Wikki Stix. Have the children place 10 pony beads on each of the Wikki Stix. These counting sticks make great “10 bars” for counting to 100 by 10’s. For younger children, label the Candy Cane toppers with various numbers for practice with skip counting by 2’s and 5’s.

4. Number Words: Write number words on the Candy Cane toppers and put on top of a Wikki Stix. Have the children place the corresponding number of beads on their Candy Canes.  It helps the children understand that the number name refers to a specific quantity of beads.

5. Patterning: Write any basic pattern on the Candy Cane toppers (for example: write AB on one of the Candy Canes. The children must then choose two colors of pony beads [the first chosen color is “A”; the second chosen color is “B”] and alternate the colors when placing them on the Wikki Stix.) The picture above shows a simple AB pattern (2 colors) on each of the Candy Cane counting sticks.

Hint: Print the Candy Cane toppers and laminate before cutting out. Dry erase markers can then be used to change the numbers/activities as the children gain confidence and activities are exchanged throughout the season.

Christmas and Gingerbread Themes for Preschool and KindergartenCome visit our CHRISTMAS or GINGERBREAD THEMATIC UNITS to learn through play this holiday season!

For MORE ways to play and encourage INTUITIVE MATH skills in preschool, please see:

5 and 10 Frame Activities for Preschool and Kindergarten

Intuitive Math – Greater Than, Less Than or Equal To

CANDY CANE and Playdough Math Ideas for Preschool and Kindergarten

For other creative ways to encourage math skills through playful learning, visit the wonderful suggestions by the Early Childhood Educational Team below:

How can I teach numbers 6-10 and Writing? by The Educators’ Spin On It

Fine Motor Number Building Challenge by  Fun-A-Day

Turkey Counting Rhyme by Growing Book by Book

Acorn and Squirrel Clip Cards by Rainy Day Mum

Numbers Prewriting Activity by Tiny Tots Adventures

Free Printable Counting Game by Life Over C’s 


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