STEM Activities With Recycled Newspapers

This post has fun STEM activities with recycled newspapers to help children with some concrete mathematical activities. The ideas are inexpensive, and children enjoy them. With old newspapers, tape, string, and scissors the children can be entertained. My father was a printer at the StarTribune and so he would show us many interesting things that can be done with extra newspapers. This is a story about what we learned from him (PDF opens here).

Fun Activities With Recycled NewspapersFirst, the Möbius strip is a continuous one-sided band.  If an ant starts walking on one, the ant will end up where it started.  What is fun is that when cut down the middle (like the median on a highway) it will open into two interlocked circles.  Children like to try different numbers of twists to see if this always happens or not. Here is a tray prepared with a Möbius strip and also one cut in the middle showing what happens. For the very young, draw a line down the middle of the “road” to support the cutting efforts.

STEM on a Budgetprepare-tray-so-ready-for-cutting-paper

When a different number of twists are made to the Möbius strip before taping closed, different results occur.  Usually, the circles are interlocked.  Children like the trial and error approach and trying this again and again. (I do realize this changes the intent of the math.)


By rolling up a few newspaper pages, tying with a string, and cutting thin strips at one end, a tree is prepared and ready to grow.  Next, reach in the end with the fringe, and pull carefully on the part of the newspaper not cut.  The tree will grow right before the children’s eyes.  If tape is used when the paper is first rolled up, the growth is more limited. Steve Spangler Science has more detailed information about this project. With his project, a cardboard tube is also used, which is good if this is being done with just a few children.

make newspaper trees that "grow"

Next, a single sheet of the newspaper may be folded into a square.  Fold one corner over keeping the edges straight, and crease.  Cut off the excess inch or so on one side.  Now you have a square.  Any origami folding may be used, such as a hat. This is a link to a page with origami instructions.

STEM newspaper-for-origamiNewspapers may be used for gift wrapping practice for children, also, and it won’t ruin any nice gift wrap.  When they have learned a little and practiced, this post at Living Montessori Now could be used to help them further their skills:

Montessori-Inspired Kids’ Gift Wrapping Activities

Here is a grocery bag is full of prepared Möbius strips for a classroom.  Children do think these activities are fun.  My students would remember doing these activities as a favorite at the end of the school year.


I have written this blog post as a story, also.  The story behind this post is here and tells this from my viewpoint in the 1950s as a child.  Yup, I’m old!  :-)

when newspapers-were-toysfree printable story from the 1950's Thank you for reading, Carolyn

how-newspapers-toys-in-the-1950s and are STEM activities today

You might also like to build your own solar oven and make smores.

build-a-solar-oven-and-bake-smoresMath Activities with Recycled Calendars(Opens in a new browser tab)


This page has links to free science printable blog posts.  The printables and resources are available at the blog post links. There are more, so please use the search bar in the top right of each page to search for other resources.


The bubbling snowman is simply a version of using baking soda and vinegar which children never seem to become tired of doing. When the bubbling begins, it looked like it is snowing.  Please see the blog post here for more information and a short video.

The Bubbling Snowman and Science Fun

The bubbling snowman is simply a version of using baking soda and vinegar which children never seem to become tired of doing. When the bubbling begins, it looked like it is snowing.  Please see the blog post here for more information and a short video.


Information about a free magnets printable is at this blog post. The printable will be found in our free eMembers area.


Have you see the dancing dime experiment to demonstrate that warm air takes up more space than cold air? See the post at this link for more information as well as a very short video.


Free student interactive notebook printable for studying plants on the prairie at this blog post. What plants and animals live on the prairie? Find out in this printable.


free printable with matching cards for teaching about bogs is at this blog post. The suggested text is not required for using the cards in the PDF, but some source of information would be nice to have on hand.


The nocturnal animals printable in French and English is available with both realistic animal photos and with clipart. Teachers may select which option they prefer. The French cards are in a separate section in the printable, so if only one language is wanted, just print those pages.


Observe and journal about a tree for an outdoors science activity. Visit the same tree a each season of the year to notice what is happening. More information and a free PDF is available at the blog post.


Social distancing animal paws and hooves sit and stand spots freebie in two printing sizes.


Science experiments at home using test tubes, nature print paper activities, and breaking open geodes. See the information at this blog post.


Build a solar oven and bake smores (free printable at the post)


Leaf-shaped 3-part cards printable — download at this blog post link.


Vertebrates/invertebrates sort, free PDF, instant download at the blog post.

Changing Seasons Graphing Activities

Northern and Southern Hemispheres Changing Seasons activities printable for the center or as a guided activity, free at this link.


62 page printable where children may sort singular and plural animals words, make an emergent reader by cutting and stapling pages, as well as use their Sudoku skills. Free download at the post.


Math and nature Fibonacci posters can be downloaded in the free eMember area. 


Solar Bead Necklaces are amazing for children but do not tell the secret while inside and working on the project. Let children discover for themselves how the sun causes these beads to reveal their colors.  They will be happy to share the information with you! For information please see the blog post at this link.


Watch Me Grow, Rabbit is a nonfiction book for children with facts, information, and photos that show how rabbits grow and live. The free printable at the blog post has a worksheet and answer key to accompany the text.


Cleaning pennies with kitchen staples such as ketchup.


Grow crystals over night using tissue paper instead of coal, and a few household ingredients.  See information and printable directions which open here.

Animal Group Names Coloring Pages Freebie

Another fun page is an animal groups coloring page freebie.


Here is another free lesson with an activity where the students act out the inner ear to help them understand how we hear.


Two freebies for Tracks in the Wild by Betsy Bowen — work page, answer key, and 3-part cards.

Glowing Ice Cubes Easy Home Science Experiment

Glowing ice cubes easy home science experiment might just be the thing for early dark evenings during winter!

plant growth observation journal

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