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Bear Stays Up for Christmas STEAM Project for Kids

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.

Christmas STEAM activity inspired by Bear Stays Up Late for Christmas by Karma Wilson to create a standing bear using pulley.

Bear Stays Up Late for Christmas

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Any kid who has tried to stay up on Christmas Eve to catch Santa sneaking into the house knows all too well how hard it is to stay awake when sleep is dragging you under. That’s why when you read Bear Stays Up Late for Christmas by Karma Wilson, you will hear a lot of cheering for the poor bear. And excited voices will join in the repeated refrain “but the bear stays up.”

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

How to Make your Pop Up Bear STEAM Activity Inspired by Bear Stays Up Late for Christmas

  1. 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.Step 1 - draw an outline of a bear on cardstock or cardboard
  2. 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.Step 2 - creating flaps for the feet of the bear so that it will stand up in the box
  3. Tape one end of a string to the back of the bear.
  4. Make a hole through the lid of the shoebox directly behind the bear and push the string through it.Step 3 - attaching the string so it is possible to pull the bear up to standing in the shoe box
  5. 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.Technology project for kids inspired by Bears Stays up Late for Christmas to create a Pop-Up Bear
  6. (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.
Decorated pop-up bear STEAM project for kids
Decorated with glow in the dark paint . A fun Chrstmas STEAM Project for kids to do

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 from Kid Minds.

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.

You can find some more ideas Eva for our Storybook Summer Series -> Solar Print Dinosaur Footprints and Grow a Garden Salad

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

Don’t forget to Pin this Fun Christmas Science, Technology and Art Project for Kids to Do Later

Christmas STEAM activity inspired by Bear Stays Up Late for Christmas by Karma Wilson to create a standing bear using pulley.

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