Love Christmas and STEAM? Then you’ll love this surprisingly challenging 3D Christmas tree engineering challenge building a 3D paper tree!
At our house, Christmas is about more than just presents and Santa crafts. It’s also all about Christmas STEM activities.
Our Christmas science experiments have become a highlight of our season each year, and this year was no exception.
3D Christmas Tree Engineering Challenge
We always seem to find ourselves doing more Christmas engineering projects this time of year, and this time, I decided to make the challenge a bit more… challenging.
The goal of this challenge was to make a 3D Christmas tree engineering challenge, which turned out to be pretty challenging, but also simple, so it became the ultimate Christmas engineering activity for my kiddos this year.
In the end, we all had a blast with this project. The Christmas tree engineering challenge was a favorite with the kids and it is completely classroom friendly.
The Christmas tree engineering challenge would be a perfect maker project for STEAM class, STEM lessons, and after-school activities.
The included printable makes this a print-and-go activity that teachers and parents alike will love!
We had so much fun with this, we couldn’t stop doing Christmas engineering activities.
The play dough Christmas tree challenge was a particular hit with my preschooler.
What Do Kids Learn in the STEM Christmas Tree Building Challenge?
Engineering projects are all about getting children to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions to problems.
You can solve real-world problems, like how to make a bridge design stronger, or use it for more abstract activities, like how to build a Christmas tree from paper triangles.
In this project, the kids are challenged to create a 3D STEM Christmas tree building challenge to make a Christmas tree shape using 3D equilateral triangles.
3D Paper Christmas Tree Construction Tips
If you’re setting up an “official” Christmas engineering challenge, you’ll want your project to have four goals:
Goal 1: Design This goal is to create a design for the project.
This is a bit tricky with these 3D paper triangles, because they don’t form a square shape because they are equilateral triangles.
Goal 2: Prototype This is the first design for the project. In this case, you may have to try multiple variations of a tree shape before it looks right!
Goal 3: Testing Let the kids try multiple times to make their trees as tall as possible.
Goal 4: Revision Each design will need a revision before it is ready to go.
It took the kids in my group close to an hour to figure out how to make their final 3D paper Christmas tree engineering challenge.
Of course, you can always just make the triangles and let your kiddos go crazy, too!
This activity was pretty engrossing for my kids, so it would also make a great activity for when you’re cooking or doing something else and need kids out of your hair.
If you want even more Christmas STEM project ideas, had tons of fun making our programmable light-up Christmas tree, using an arduino board!
We had so much fun with our 3D Paper Christmas engineering challenge! You’ll need a few supplies if you want to make your own version of this project.
Christmas Tree Challenge Supplies3D tree templates
- Green cardstock paper
How to Make a 3D Paper Christmas Tree
Keep reading to learn how to make a 3D paper Christmas tree!
Because the triangles are all the same size and shape, putting this tree together is harder than it looks at first!
This is one of our favorite Christmas STEM challenges for kids.
3D Christmas Tree Template
The first thing you’ll need to do is download the template for this tree.
You can print them on white paper and color in the tree with markers, or print them on green paper and just cut them out.
Cardstock paper works better than thinner paper.
Each kid will need about 2-3 sheets worth, depending on how ambitious they are with their Christmas trees.
To learn how to make 3D Christmas trees out of paper, keep reading!
Paper Christmas Tree STEM Challenge Directions
You can make the trees using regular school glue, but if the kids are old enough, I recommend using hot glue, because it dries so much faster that way, eliminating some of the frustration when putting the triangles together.
Cut out the triangles, then fold along the lines.
Glue the tabs together to build each triangle. Make sure the triangles are glued together completely before trying to build.
Once everything is dry, challenge the kids to build a Christmas tree from the triangles.
In our tree, my kids used 9 triangles for the bottom, 7 for the middle, 4 for the top, and 1 red one for the very top.
Because the triangles are the same size on each side, it’s a bit tricky to get the tree to work!
It takes a lot of patience and design trial and error to get the tree to work properly.
I suggest if you’re working with classroom with this project, that you let 4-5 kids work together in a group to construct their tree.
You’ll save on paper, and time this way.
Christmas STEM Activities by Grade
Find age-appropriate Christmas STEM activities below! Each list contains at least 11 hands-on STEM activities that are suitable for each grade level.