Easy Winter STEM Activity for Kids


One of my favorite things to do with my kids at home, and my students in the classroom, are STEM activities. STEM activities for kids are typically hands-on challenges, experiments or learning activities that include one or more Science, Technology, Engineering or Math skill (STEM). This STEM activity for kids is winter themed, and it also integrates an art project.

One of my favorite things about STEM activities is that there are lots of ways to work through and solve the activity. There is not just one solution. Children can get creative and explore the different elements of science, technology, engineering and math in their own way.

For this STEM activity for kids, children are first given the opportunity to create a snowman. They then use their snowman for a science experiment that results in a chemical reaction that makes the snowman look like it’s in a snow globe.

This is a great project to try during a winter unit in the classroom, or just for fun on the weekend at home. Engage children’s senses as they create their own snowman and then watch how mesmerized they are by the snowfall in the jar.

I have included links to the materials that you will need at the bottom of the post. If you enjoy this STEM activity for kids, make sure to check more Winter STEM Activities for Kids.

stem activity for kids image with the snowman in the jar with the snowflakes are dripping.

For another hands-on snowman activity, perfect for young children, check out a Winter Counting Activity, great for hands-on learning.

STEM Activity for Kids – Materials

For all STEM activities, I suggest using as many materials that you already have on hand. STEM activities are not meant to be expensive, and you can often simply use things from around the house, or classroom. For this activity you will need:

  • White, Red, Orange and black Polymer Clay
  • Twigs/Sticks
  • Clear Jar (Ideally with a lid)
  • White and / or Blue Paint
  • Sparkles (Optional)
  • Oil
  • Antacid Tab (Link to the ones I used at the bottom of the post)
  • Tweezers (Optional)
stem activity materials
stem snowman experiment paint

If you don’t have access to polymer clay, you can also simply use playdough. However, the playdough will not last as long in the oil and will break down over time. With polymer clay, however you can bake your snowman to make it last longer.

For the oil, I suggest using baby oil because it is clear; however, vegetable oil will work. The only problem with vegetable oil is that your snowman will be less visible through the yellow oil.

STEAM Art Project

There is a new focus on adding Art to STEM activities (to make it STEAM). I figure the more subject areas and skills integrated into a project, the better. Technically because of the art project included in this activity, this is a STEAM activity.

To start, challenge children to create a snowman out of polymer clay. If you have never worked with polymer clay before, it is one of my, and my kids, favorite art materials to use. It is easy to work with, it doesn’t dry out, and you bake it when you’re done to make it last.

Kids can make their snowman any way they want. They can add any details. The snowmen do not all need to look the same. It’s even more fun when they are all different and unique.

child making the materials needed for the stem science experiment
STEAM activity and a photo of a child adding details to a clay snowman

If you are using polymer clay, make sure to bake it and let it cool before moving onto the next step.

STEM Science Experiment

The next part of the STEM activity is the science experiment. This is my favorite part!

Start by placing the snowman on the bottom of a clear jar or container. Plastic containers are best since children are using it, however, I did use a glass one when I presented the experiment to a large group.

If your snowman will not sit, and stay, on the bottom of the jar, you can add a bit of hot glue or playdough to attach it to the jar.

stem challenge and a picture of a snowman beside a class jar
stem activity for kids and an image of a snowman inside a glass jar

Next, get your paint ready to add. Mix a bit of water into the paint so that it is not too thick. Then add a layer of this mixture to the bottom of the jar. You don’t need a lot of paint. As long as the bottom of the jar is covered with a thin layer, you’ve got enough.

I mixed some white and blue paint together to get the color that I was looking for. You can choose any color you want for the paint. I then added some sparkles to the paint.

After doing the experiment a few times, I found that adding a little bit less paint (then pictured below in my example) was better. Too much paint can start making a mess along the sides of the jar as it bubbles up.

stem activities for kids and a photo of a clay snowman inside a glass jar with paint layered on the bottom

Next, add the oil to the jar. Make sure to add enough to fully cover the head of your snowman.

stem activity for kids including a photo of a snowman in a jar and baby oil container beside it
A child pouring baby oil into a jar with a clay snowman in it for a stem project

STEM Activity Science

This is a great opportunity to take a minute and talk to children about what they are seeing in their jar. Are the paint and oil mixing? Why?

Children know that both the paint and the oil are liquids. This experiment shows them that liquids behave differently and have different properties. Basically the oil and the paint are made up of different materials that will never mix together.

stem challenges including a snowman in a container filled with oil for a stem activity for kids

The next part of the experiment is the most exciting!

STEM Activity for Kids

Before adding the antacid table to the oil, ask children what they think is going to happen. Challenge them to make a prediction for what they think they are going to see.

Depending on the size of the container your snowman is in, you may want to break the tablet into pieces before dropping it in.

When doing the experiment with children, I typically have them use science tweezers to pick up and move the tablets. It is a great way to show kids that there are different safety precautions to take when doing science experiments.

science experiments for kids showing a clay snowman in a jar filled with baby oil and a person dropping a tablet into the oil

As soon as you drop the tablet in, you will start to notice a chemical reaction. The tablet settles into the paint and starts creating bubbles. The bubbles cause the paint float to the top and then fall back down.

This reaction causes the snowman to look like he is in a winter wonderland, or snow globe. (A more detailed explanation of the science behind what is happening is included below).

stem activity for kids shows a picture of a clay snowman in a jar with oil and blue paint dripping from the top of the jar

Children, and even adults will love watching the snowflakes. It is an adorable experiment for winter and very simple to create. Best of all there is a lot of hands-on learning in this STEM activity for kids.

stem activity for kids showing a child holding a jar with their clay snowman and paint dripping like snow

STEM Activity Tips and Suggestions

Once you add the tablet, it will continue to bubble for several minutes. You can continue adding tablets to cause the paint to float and fall over and over again. We even left our container for a few days and then added a few more tablets and it worked beautifully again.

Since children are using oil, I suggest using a container that also has a lid. The oil can get very messy. If you want to keep the oil in the jar, I suggest adding a tablet and then securing the lid. This way the oil stays in the container and you don’t risk it spilling.

A child is pointing at their jar that holds their clay snowman filled with oil and paint falling like snow for this stem activity for kids

I find that children are always engaged and keen to understand what is happening as they watch their snowman and snow flakes. It is a great chance to explain some of the science behind it.

When you drop the antacid tablet into water/paint, it creates a chemical reaction. Basically the water causes the tablet to change. (It dissolves into the water.) As it dissolves it releases bubbles into the water.

A child holding a snow globe they created with a snowman and blue paint inside for a stem science experiment

As the bubbles from the antacid touch and attach to the paint, the paint bubble begins to rise to the top. The bubbles cover the paint.

When the bubbles reach the top, they pop and the paint (or snowflake) fall back down to the bottom. Once at the bottom, they are lifted to the top again by more bubbles. 

It is beautiful to watch the snowflakes rise and fall.  It is almost like the bubbles are hugging the paint and lifting it to the top. 

You can also discuss with children how when we blow bubbles in water, they rise to the top. 

The same idea happens with the paint when they are covered in air/bubbles.  This is a very simple science idea, but it encourages children to look closer at things around them. 

The whole project also encourages a love of STEAM activities for kids.

Snowman STEM Materials

Free STEAM Activities Choice Board

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More STEM Activities

If you like the snowman STEM activity for kids, you will love this huge collection of over 40 Winter STEM Activities. From burning ice and free printables to winter math and glowing snow, you will find lots of fun, engaging activities to bring to your home or classroom.

winter stem activity for kids.  This picture shows a collage filled with different images from 12 winter stem activities

More Hands-On Teaching Ideas

If you are looking for more activities to try with kids, at home or in the classroom, below is a collection of some of my favorite and most popular activities. From more STEM activities for kids and a huge collection of science experiments to escape room ideas and outdoor activities, there is lots to keep kids busy and learning!

outdoor education

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