It's December, and for my family, it means reading lots of Christmas-themed books and doing lots of fun-related activities. Bear Stays Up for Christmas is an adorable picture book about a bear that remains up way past his bedtime. Bear’s good friends are determined to help him stay awake so he doesn't miss Christmas as he did the previous year.
Bear Stays Up Late for Christmas
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We decided it would be fun to find a way to help bear stay awake by literally helping him stand on his feet by using some basic science and other things we already have in the house. After a lot of brainstorming and testing, the best idea proved to be the easiest one. A pulley!
Christmas STEAM Activity for Kids Inspired by Bear Stays Up for Christmas
Our idea in a nutshell: use the science of pulleys to make a paper bear pop up inside a shoe box.
Even though it might sound complicated, it only takes about 10-15 minutes to put together, and your kids are likely to spend hours playing with the construction. Optionally, you can paint the bear and decorate the inside of the shoebox with paper Christmas trees and presents.
What you need to Create this STEAM Bear Puppet with Kids
- Paper and a pencil to draw a bear with (We used brown cardstock. You can also cut a bear out of a magazine, print one from the internet, or photocopy one of the pages of Bear Stays Up For Christmas.)
- A shoe box
- Glow in the dark or regular paints (optional)
- Christmas trees and other decorations for the shoe box (optional)
How to Make your Pop Up Bear STEAM Activity Inspired by Bear Stays Up Late for Christmas
- Draw a bear shape on a piece of paper and add little rectangles to the bottom of his feet (we will use these as flaps to help the bear stand on his feet). If you never drawn a bear in your life, Google “bear shape” and use that as your guide. Use scissors to cut the bear out.
- Fold the little rectangles at a 90-degree angle and tape them to the bottom of a shoe box. Make sure you tape the bear at the very back by the lid so it can lay face down inside the shoebox.
- Tape one end of a string to the back of the bear.
- Make a hole through the lid of the shoebox directly behind the bear and push the string through it.
- Pull on that string, and the bear should pop up to standing position. You can manually pull the bear up and down OR experiment with attaching just the right weight to this end of the string to keep the bear up. You can also tape the string to the lid, so the bear will pop up and lay back down as you open and close the lid.
- (Optionally) You can add some paper presents and Christmas trees to the shoebox to make it festive. This year we are obsessed with glow-in-the-dark paints, so my son cut a Christmas tree shape and painted it with glow in the dark paints. My daughter made a cute little present with a ribbon around it.
The Science Behind the STEAM Christmas Activity for Bears Stays Up Late for Christmas
Even though this idea seems like child's play, there's a lot of science in it. Using a string to lift the bear up is a great hands-on introduction into the science of simple machines.
Kids are pulling one end of the string to make an object on the other end of the string pop up!
The main idea behind pulleys is that they redirect the force. In our case, the bear shape is pretty light, so it’s not that hard to make it stand up. But if the bear was very heavy and hard to lift, we could attach a bucket filled with stones to the other end of the string (or rope) and allow gravity, the force that is pulling the heavy rocks down, to lift the bear.
Extending the Activity Further with Kids
In this activity, you can ask your child to experiment by attaching different weight objects to do the work for him/her. We tried a fork (too heavy), a feather taken out of a pillow (too light), and a marshmallow (just right!). A paperclip got the job done as well!
You can also experiment with opening and closing the lid of the shoebox and observing how it affects the bear.
Be sure to talk about why pulling on a string makes the bear stand up and what causes the pulling action. How would the pulley be impacted by the weight of the bear?
Eva believes that the secret to parenting is creating situations in which you can have fun with your children. She writes about parenting and kids activities at Kid Minds.
More Christmas STEAM Activities for Kids
Create a 3D Gingerbread House Christmas Tree Ornament Inspired by Hansel and Gretel.
Make a Snowman Fly Inspired by The Snowman
Build a Sleigh to Carry Santa's Present Inspired by 'Twas the Night Before Christmas