The holiday season kicks off a time of family memories and wintery outdoor activities. With celebrations including Hanukkah, Mawlid, Christmas, Diwali, and more, holiday activities are in full-swing. From building snowmen and decorating the house to giving gifts and eating way too much, there are dozens of ways you can observe and celebrate with loved ones.
If you’re feeling creative, here is how you can get started creating homemade gifts for friends and family that incorporate STEAM concepts to create thoughtful crafts and items.
Why You Should Encourage Tech-Based Creative Expression
When children learn how to use STEAM concepts creatively, the whole family benefits. Some of these results are immediate—like parents seeing their child’s face light up when they figure out a task—while others might not be obvious for some time.
Kids Learn That They Don’t Need to Be Perfect
Making gifts is about the heart and the effort; it’s not about being perfect every time. Crafting gives kids a space to express themselves artistically without worrying about grades.
“If you hate doing art with your kids because you’re always stressing about how your kid’s paper plate farm animal looks nothing like the Pinterest tutorial you’re following, let it go,” teacher Sarah Bradley says. “The value of doing art isn’t what you can hang on the fridge—it’s the way your kid finally learned to draw a circle, or discovered that blue and yellow mixed together make green.”
Kids Gain Confidence in the Tools and Resources They Use
The more kids use different forms of tools to create, whether digital or physical, the more comfortable they will be using them.
For example, the Board & Brush Creative Studio specializes in creating activities for kids and families. Instructor Alexis Vandevelde says crafting is a great way to learn how to use a tool that would otherwise be too intimidating for kids. She says you can sense the relief that kids feel when they start to use the tools confidently. This concept isn’t limited to physical tools like drills or sanders—it’s the same for digital tools like Photoshop or programming languages.
Kids Are Introduced to Concepts They Might Have Otherwise Rejected
If your children are struggling with science and tech concepts at school, bring the lessons home. Kids may be more receptive to exploring scientific and technological concepts outside of the classroom and in a low-pressure environment with the family.
One study shared by Jessica Stillman at Hackbright Academy in San Francisco found that only 37 percent of kids like science class—but 81 percent of kids say they like science as a subject. Exploring STEAM concepts as a family is your opportunity to keep kids engaged and allows subject-based content to the tailored interests of the child.
Families aren’t the only ones trying to encourage kids to combine their love of tech and art into one. Diana Price, youth services manager at Alexandria Library in Virginia, created the STEAMtivity program for kids in the area. STEAMtivity uses creative, open-ended projects to explore concepts. Kids can express themselves without instructions or fear of failure, using whatever materials that are at hand. They have so much fun creating, the kids don’t realize they’re learning at the same time.
8 Resources to Find STEAM-Based Gift Ideas
There are plenty of places you can turn if you want to find tech crafts and digital gift ideas. Many of these processes can be completed as a family, turning a gift-giving process into a fun afternoon craft.
- Rosie Research has dozens of science projects, activities and craft ideas you can use to create gifts. One popular tutorial is a Father’s Day card that incorporates circuit LED lights. You can use the tutorial to create holiday cards for the rest of your family, too.
- The team at Left Brain Craft Brain curated more than 20 technology projects kids can try to make as gifts for the holiday season. These range from old computer part mandalas to coding a LEGO maze the family can solve together.
- If you’re looking for something with an art focus, check out Sean Arnold’s website Brave in the Attempt. Arnold, a special educator and STEM coach, developed a long list of resources for kids who want to explore art online. Start with early-artist apps and work up to advanced art depending on your child’s skills.
- There are also crafts that encourage uninterrupted family time. Wikki Stix’s “Tech Drop Station” is a simple paper plate craft that when completed becomes a place where family members can leave their phones. This sparks the discussion of when technology is valuable — and when it’s important to put it away.
- Scott Grunewald at 3D Print highlights 3D printable ornament and decoration ideas. Many of the templates are free to use and you can save the ornaments for future years.
- Instead of making multiple crafts this year, challenge your child to make a family video that they shoot, edit and share with the family. Kirstie Pelling at The Family Adventure Project shares her tips for creating them. Bonus points if you add special effects!
- If you’re looking for exceptionally holiday-themed science crafts, check out Little Bins for Little Hands. Have fun and learn with countdown cards and crystal candy cane science experiments.
- Science writer Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D., created a similar list. Kids can make their own scented gift wrap, a solid perfume or turn poinsettias into pH paper.
Of course, our favorite holiday tech craft would have to be cards and stories told through Ozobot. Kids can recreate holiday stories through the bots or create a card with an Ozobot that dances. There are dozens of STEAM crafts for any holiday when you have Evo helping you!
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