Santa has a bag of gifts for a dozen scientists, and he needs YOUR students to help him figure out which gift goes to which scientist. But first, they’ll need to do a little research and work with their teams to learn about a dozen different types of scientists. Curious? Let me share a little bit about this activity with you.
Gifts for Santa’s Scientists is an engaging research lesson that I developed for my students a few years ago, and it worked like a charm for keeping them on task during the busy week right before the holidays. Before you read on to learn more, you might want to click this preview link and scroll through the document to see what's included in the lesson. I've created a complete packet of printables, directions, and an answer key to make it really easy to implement.
Gifts for Santa's Scientists
To begin the activity, tell your students that Santa has gifts for a dozen scientists in his sack, but the gifts aren't labeled with names. Santa needs their help to figure out which gift to give to each scientist. This activity does not involve an actual gift exchange; students will simply be discussing the gifts named in Santa's bag, like a telescope, a magnet, or a flower pot.
Working in teams of four, each student will research three scientists and complete an activity page like the one shown on the right. They write a sentence or two to describe each scientist's area of study and draw a simple illustration of something those scientists might study. After students finish with their research, they return to their teams to share and record what they've learned.
You can find Gifts for Santa's Scientists in my TpT store. One thing I love about TpT is reading the comments and feedback from teachers who've used my materials. This comment from Selina Smith about Gifts for Santa's Scientists made my day!
"I can't say enough wonderful things about this product. It is SO well thought out. It is perfect for students who need help with research. It is perfect for incorporating technology. The directions are so clear you could easily pick it up 3 minutes before class and be ready to teach the lesson. I love how she has written Day 1 number 1, 2, 3, etc. Thank you for making such a great product! I want MORE :)"
The week before Christmas vacation is often a crazy time, and the excitement of the upcoming holidays makes it tough to keep students on task. Textbook lessons won’t hold their attention, so cooperative learning lessons like Gifts for Santa’s Scientists offer a welcome change from regular daily instruction. If you prefer an lesson that involves a variety of winter holidays, you will find a similar cooperative research activity in my December Mini Pack called "Holidays Around the World."
By the way, the ornithologist received a bird feeder, the ichthyologist received scuba gear, and the paleontologist received fossils. I’m not sure about you, but I think Santa could have saved himself the trouble and just given them all iPads! What do you want for Christmas?