Inspire Gratitude with a Fun Nature STEM Challenge

Free Olympics Activity Guide for Kids

As the leaves start changing colors and the cool breeze fills the air, we can sense that time of the year is coming when we pause to give thanks and inspire gratitude in our family. 

inspire gratitude

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s the perfect opportunity to teach kids gratitude and giving back to our loved ones. But what if we could blend this with STEM learning? 

Imagine a fall centerpiece on your Thanksgiving table that not only brightens up your home, but also serves as a STEM problem-solving challenge for your kids. 

Craft a season of thankfulness with our Thanksgiving Centerpiece STEM Challenge. Get ready to inspire your children’s creativity and bring out the engineer in them!

But First, What is STEM?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, but it is so much more than those individual subject areas. STEM education encourages students to explore, learn, and apply what they have learned in a hands-on and integrated way. 

The goal of STEM is to develop critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and the ability to apply scientific and mathematical concepts to real-world challenges, fostering creativity, innovation, and a deeper understanding of the world. 

When it comes to homeschooling, incorporating STEM activities and projects can provide children with valuable life skills and knowledge across these fields. 

The Engineering Design Process

The Engineering Design Process is a problem-solving framework that guides students to identify and solve problems creatively and efficiently. 

Ask: What is the problem? 

Identify the problem or challenge. 

Research & Imagine

Learn about the topic and start brainstorming different ideas to solve the problem.


Begin thinking about your final product. What will it look like? Design a blueprint and decide on your materials.


Time to have fun and start building! This is the hands-on creation part of the process.

Test & Improve

Does it work? Test your product and see if any improvements need to be made

Share & Reflect

Present the final product and reflect on the end result as well as the process of solving the problem.

In the next section, we’ll explore how the Engineering Design Process can be used to create a Thanksgiving centerpiece.

The Thanksgiving STEM Challenge

Are you ready for the challenge? This year, instead of simply decorating your table with store-bought decorations, why not challenge your children to create a Thanksgiving table centerpiece that is not only beautiful, but also meaningful? 

This STEM project will not only engage your children’s creativity and problem-solving skills, but also teach them the value of thankfulness & inspire gratitude.

This challenge is not a craft project; it’s a STEM problem-solving endeavor. 

The goal is not only to create a centerpiece that looks good, but also one that solves a problem. The problem, in this case, is how can you create a centerpiece that symbolizes gratitude and a thankful heart.

This challenge is open-ended, meaning that there’s no one solution to the problem. Encourage your children to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions. 

The final product can be anything from a simple arrangement of natural objects to a complex structure that incorporates technology.

So, are you up for the challenge? Gather your materials and let’s get started!

inspire gratitude

Suggested Materials

To get started on the Thanksgiving STEM Challenge, you’ll need some basic materials. The good news is that you probably already have most of these items lying around your house or in your backyard! 

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Recyclables: cardboard tubes, plastic bottles, egg cartons, etc.
  • Natural materials: sticks, pinecones, acorns, leaves, etc.
  • Craft supplies: tape, glue, scissors, construction paper, etc.
  • Decorative elements: ribbons, candles, small figurines, etc.

Feel free to use whatever materials you have on hand and get creative with your centerpiece design. You may even want to challenge your kids to come up with some unique materials they think would work well!

Remember, the goal is not to create a perfect looking centerpiece, but to engage in the process of problem-solving and create something that represents gratitude and thankfulness. 

Embrace the imperfections and have fun with it!

Step-by-Step Guide

Now that we have introduced the Challenge, let’s break it down into manageable sections using the Engineering Design Process. 

Follow these steps to create a Thanksgiving table centerpiece using items found in nature.

Ask: What is the problem?

The first step is to identify the problem or challenge at hand. In this case, the challenge is to create a Thanksgiving table centerpiece that reflects thankfulness & will inspire gratitude.

Research & Imagine

Once you have identified the challenge, it’s time to gather inspiration from nature and research some centerpiece ideas. 

Take a nature walk to collect items such as leaves, pinecones, twigs, and rocks. You can also search your house for recyclables or additional materials to use.

After gathering materials, it’s time to brainstorm ideas and foster creativity. Look for inspiration in books, magazines, catalogs, or Pinterest. 

Encourage your children to think outside the box and explore many different possibilities.

Make a Plan

Once you have some ideas, it’s time to make a plan. This involves creating a design blueprint, selecting materials, and deciding on the structure of your centerpiece. 

Create Your Centerpiece

With your plan in place, it’s time to start building your fall centerpiece. Emphasize hands-on experimentation and problem-solving as you work through any challenges that arise.

Test and Improve

Once you have a centerpiece created, place it on the Thanksgiving table and observe, evaluate, and make improvements as necessary.

Share and Reflect

Finally, present your final centerpiece to your family and reflect on the process and the significance of gratitude.

By following these steps, your family will be able to create a beautiful fall centerpiece while learning valuable STEM skills and fostering a spirit of thankfulness.

This Thanksgiving STEM Challenge is a fun and unique opportunity to create something beautiful and inspire gratitude. 

By working on this project, your children can foster creativity and teamwork while honing their problem-solving skills. It encourages family participation in holiday meal preparation and instills appreciation for the efforts put into the celebration. 

Share your Thanksgiving Centerpieces on Instagram and tag us so we can see your incredible creations!

Ready for more hands-on and engaging learning? Check out the AMPS Learning Library from The Hands-on Homeschool. With engaging, on-demand classes in Art, Music, Physical Education, and STEM, your kids will have fun while cultivating their curiosity and creativity. 

Nature STEM Challenge Guide

You can get the Nature STEM Challenge Guide by leaving your name & email. We’ll zip it on over to your inbox. Then, you can have fun with these Thanksgiving activities for kids.

Rachel Figg is a homeschooling mom of four and the creator of The Hands-on Homeschool. The Hands-on Homeschool helps homeschool families cultivate curiosity in their home through engaging, on-demand Art, Music, Physical Education and STEM Classes (AMPS!) classes taught by experts. Rachel is dedicated to partnering with parents to provide a fun, engaging, and well-rounded education. She lives with her husband Chris and their children in upstate South Carolina.

Try her Classes and follow her Instagram, join her private Facebook Community

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