Halloween is a great time to share STEM activities with children. Measuring out the ingredients for witches potions, exploring the shapes of spider webs and jack-o-lanterns, and concocting slime are just some of the spooky activities that can help children learn science, technology, engineering and math concepts.
A fun STEM Halloween activity that we’ll be doing at CLP – Brookline this month is making skeletons out of pasta. This activity is easily reproducible at home and involves just a few supplies: construction paper, various types of dried pasta, glue, and images of skeletons for reference, available in the great books below. It’s a great way to learn about the skeletons of humans and other animals.
The first step in this craft is to decide what type of skeleton you want to make. Human? Something more Halloweeny like bat, cat, or snake? Once you have your creature decided on, think about whether you want to be ambitious and make the whole skeleton or just a part, like a hand, foot or skull. For younger children, a simple skeleton with fewer bones works best, while older children may want to get more detailed. Take a look at these books about skeletons to help you decide and to plan out your creation.
The head bone is connected to the neck bones. The neck bones are connected to the shoulder bones. And so on. This top to bottom exploration of the human skeleton is done mostly in illustrated drawings, but each bone section includes a close-up photo for those who want the challenge of making a really detailed joint.
Bones come in all shapes and sizes. Steve “Actual Size” Jenkins explores the differences between human and animal bones and illustrates some at actual size such as the tiny mouse lemur skull and some scaled down such as the velociraptor.
Prepare to be amazed by this collection of incredible bones from some of the world’s most fascinating beings. Each skeleton will show you what lies beneath the skin and teach you how these creatures live and survive.
Next it’s time to gather the pasta. If possible, provide a variety of four or five different types of dried pasta and noodles. Macaroni noodles make great ribs. Spaghetti and penne are good for longer bones in the arm and leg. Want to get really fancy? How about some capricci noodles for the spine or some bowties for the hip bones? Sort out the pasta and decide which type represents each bone the best.
Now for the glue. Get some construction paper (darker colors work best) and glue the pasta onto the paper in the skeleton shape. For younger children, use a white crayon to put marks where the “bones” are going to go and then they can do the actual gluing. For a further STEM extension, use the white crayon to label the name of each bone on the paper. Happy STEM-ing and Happy Halloween!
Image by Martha Stewart https://www.marthastewart.com/269167/pasta-skeleton
Erin S. is the Children’s Librarian at CLP – Brookline where she learns new things from the kids there every day.