The preschool kiddos have been into arctic animals this month. In addition to sensory and literacy activities, I set up an invitation to build dens for winter animals. This little engineering project for kids led to so much fun and learning over the course of a week!
build and design animal dens in this engineering project for kids
This is part of Little Bins for Little Hands’ A-Z STEM series. Be sure to check out all of the other great ideas shared there!
Materials we used
Marshmallows – large and small
Safari Ltd. Arctic toob
I set the marshmallows and toothpicks in a few bowls on our science table. I placed a few of the arctic animals near the marshmallows, then called some of the kids over. We talked about the different places arctic animals live, discussing snow dens and the like. I explained that the kiddos could use the marshmallows and toothpicks to create their own arctic animal dens!
What the kids did
Before getting started, some of the children designed their winter dens with pen and paper first. Others decided to jump right in. Either way, I was so impressed with their creativity and out-of-the box thinking.
One of my girls turned this into a project that spanned 3 or 4 days! She planned out a circular base for a polar bear’s snow den, then decided to build up and in for the walls. Once it was done, it was proudly displayed in one of our classroom windowsills.
Another kiddo went for a more abstract winter den for an arctic wolf. He was totally enamored with the creation process, more so than functionality. In fact, he took one of his creations home but came back the next day insisting he needed to make a new one. This one, he said, “it’s going to stay in the classroom where my sister can NOT break it up!”
There were more polar bear dens, homes for caribous and arctic hares, as well as some entertaining “ice houses for all those animals that get cold at the North Pole.”
The winter animal dens are still showcased around the classroom, and the kids seem to enjoy checking them on a daily basis! All of the thought and care that went into their construction tells me this activity was a hit!
Do you have a favorite engineering project for kids to try this winter? Be sure to leave any fun ideas in the comments below! If your kiddos try this activity, I’d love to see pictures of them shared over at Fun-A-Day’s Facebook page!