Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Ribbon & Bell Chimes STEM / STEAM Challenge

Have you ever invited your kids to solve a creative problem, and watched them enjoy the process (and product) so much that they decided to do it again the next day? Making ribbon and bell chimes was just that kind of STEM challenge...and it was a delightful STEM activity to be part of!

A couple weeks ago we walked past a chimes display at a hardware store. My kids were captivated. It was such a multi-sensory experience! They loved touching the chimes, listening to them make different sounds, and looking at the creative designs they came in.

Fast forward to a few days ago when we were Christmas shopping. Ribbon and bells are everywhere!! And they're a wonderful price too! I grabbed some extra and presented this challenge to my little scientists:

STEM Challenge: Design and create your own chimes (that can ring when the wind blows on them) with the supplies provided.

Supplies: jingle bells, ribbon, craft sticks

Tools: cool-temp hot glue gun, scissors

They were so excited!! And I'll admit...I wanted to make one too! The kids practically jumped at the supplies. It occurred to me that this would be an awesome playdate or party STEM activity for older kids too! My youngest preschooler needed help with the glue gun, but she had a design plan and was ready to tell me how to help her!  The older kids (6-9 years old) are glue gun pros and did the entire thing completely by themselves.

This is the first project we've done with bells in months, so there was a bit of experimenting with how bells worked too. I love watching young kids figure out where to hold bells to make them make the loudest sounds!

I love STEM activities because my kids get so excited about them! STEM activities cross subject borders and integrate subjects that are often artifically separated so we can institute grading systems. Since STEM challenges integrate multiple subjects, they appeal to more kids--there is a higher chance that a STEM challenge will intrigue one (or more) subjects of interest for each child because each challenge includes so many subjects! This particular project also had an art aspect (sometimes called STEAM), which made it even more perfect for one of my girls.

What subjects does this Christmas STEM challenge integrate? Here are a few:

Science: problem solving, predicting, testing, sound science

(Testing how well his bells jingle:)

Technology: using hot glue guns and scissors

Engineering: designing and creating chimes (Two interesting engineering problems that I did not anticipate included making the hanger on the chimes long enough and balancing the chimes--I did not expect their chimes to be so elaborate that balance would be an issue! The kids worked through both of them pretty quickly!)

Math: measuring, counting

Art: making an aesthetically pleasing set of chimes (I loved hearing my daughter tell my son that his set of chimes looked like a space ship!)

Now we have our own chimes display, decorating our fence and tree. The kids sometimes walk up to it and ring the bells, touching the ribbons, listening to the chimes, and admiring their artwork. In the end, I was happy to let them each create a new set of chimes the second morning. They loved the process as much as their final products. (And they really loved our elderly neighbor telling them how neat their chimes all looked!)

This week I am joining up with Sarah at Little Bins for Little Hands to share STEM activities you can do with your kiddos and Christmas supplies like ribbons, wrapping paper, tape, etc.!

Today, she is sharing a Gift Bag Bridge STEM activity! Be sure to check it out and then come back tomorrow for more Christmas Supplies STEM fun!

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Happy Educating,

Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!

I may share at any of these parties!

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Leslie G. said...

Hi! We just did a story time about bells, and made egg cup bells. Supplies: egg carton cut into cups, aluminum foil to wrap the cup, pipe cleaners, ribbon and jingle bells. Thread the bell on 1/2 length of a pipe cleaner and stick it up through a pre-cut hole in the bottom of the cup (top of the bell.) Make a loop in the pipe cleaner, decorate with a bow of ribbon. Next year we'll make your marvelous wind-chime bells.

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Leslie, that sounds so fun! Thanks for sharing! I love how many ways there are to have fun with bells and chimes!!