This month for my guest contribution on Pre-K Pages, I shared a Peppermint Science activity, exploring the effect on temperature on sugar. With an abundance of peppermints and candy canes this time of year, we continued our holiday STEAM activities for kids with some simple, but instructive activities for measuring with peppermints.
Measurements with Peppermints
Math manipulatives can be super expensive. One way I like to reduce the cost of our project supplies, while also incorporating seasonal themes, is by swapping formal math manipulatives, for whatever the season has to offer. In the Fall, we used acorns outside. Often, I can find a bag of seasonally appropriate erasers in the Dollar Spot at Target… or the kids favorite – candy. And during the holidays, what better option than candy canes and peppermints!
After exploring temperature with the peppermints, we also used them to learn about different units of measurement.
Teaching Units of Measurement
Since birth, our children are measured and weighed at every doctor visit. From an early age, they quickly hop on the scale or ask me how tall they are. But what does that number mean? And how are different things measured?
Today, there are formally established units measurement. Here in the United States, weight is measured in pounds and ounces, while length is measured in inches and feet. These units can be a bit abstract for preschool mathematicians, but you can still introduce and explore the concept of measurement with them using more familiar, tangible units. For the holidays, we explored measurements with peppermints – using peppermints for weight and candy canes for length.
Weighing Objects with a Balance Scale
If you don’t have a balance scale, you can make a simple DIY balance scale with cups, string and a coat hanger. Place your scale on a level surface or hang your DIY version from the back of a hair or a hook, and let your preschooler weigh various objects. Instruct them to place an object in one cup, and add weights – in this case peppermints – to the other cup until the scale balances.
How many ‘peppermints’ did each of your objects weigh? Which object was the heaviest? Which one was the lightest? Did any objects weigh the same?
Measuring Lengths with Candy Canes
Once we had weighed everything the girls coul dpossibly fit in the balance scale cups, we moved on to measuring lengths. Using candy canes like rulers, preschoolers can measure countless objects around the room. Demonstrate how to lay the candy cane along the length of the object starting at one end. Lay candy canes end to end to measure the full length of each object.
We measured ornaments, stockings, shelves, and the girls favorite… our new 6 foot tall nutcracker!
What was the tallest object you measured? What was the smallest?
STEAM Activity Extensions for Older Students
Older students can still enjoy these basic measurement activities. You can make it more of a challenge for them by asking them to convert their weights and lengths from units of peppermints and candy canes to actual ounces and inches or feet! Each peppermint weights approximately 0.2 ounces. Each candy cane is 5.375 inches tall.
More Holiday STEAM Activities for Kids with Peppermints
You can set up a complete set of STEAM activities for kids using just peppermints and candy canes. Explore the effects of temperature on sugar with this simple Peppermint Science from Pre-K Pages. You can find more Candy Cane Science Experiments here from Inspiration Laboratories. We love this Christmas Engineering Challenge with candy canes from Preschool Powol Packets. And how cool is this Candy Cane Marble Maze from Playdough to Plato???
And for a little art activity – make Candy Cane mice! I still have these on my tree from when I was a child. Just add new candy canes each year. You can find ALL of these and more on our STEM for Kids and Christmas boards on Pinterest.
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