In 2005, our team predicted that Santa would be delivering children’s pressies to children around the solar system in 2025. Alas, that now seems premature. But that ‘science upd8’ activity was a rather popular way to end the Christmas term, so I’m making it available again until 2055 if I’m still Earthbound.
Santa is planning ahead for when humans colonise the rest of the Solar System – he may decide to move to another planet! Students analyse planetary data to find which planet best satisfies Santa’s future requirements. They then e-mail Santa to advise him of their decision, and – if you wish – design a card to show why this planet is such a great place to spend Christmas.
Download the activity
Reviews – why not add yours below?
“Great way to end a nine-weeks term during the Christmas Holidays…My students really enjoyed the activity”. K Moore
“It Is Very Good. Reviewer”: Kirujan Sriskandarajah
“Fun end of term activity that might just be work!” Marie Littlejohn
“Great resource enjoyed teaching it.” Adam Hallsworth
“Fantastic resource for Christmas. Fun as well as being grest revision!” Natalie Mansfield
“Have a VERY low ability Yr 7 group but was able to differentiate this and it worked well – they kids really got into it.” Susan Humphreys
“This lesson was great because I could adapt it for my SEN group and top set group. Both classes enjoyed the activity and it was easy to organise. For the top set, I followed the whole activity and the results were great, especially the email they devised!! As an extension activity, the students created what they thought the planet may look like. The SEN group only managed the Christmas card activity. Thank you.” Emma-Jane Bradbury
“Great activity to keep students working whilst having fun in the festive period.” Tracey Holmes
“Very good starter to low ability year 9 group as an introduction to unit 9J. Somewhat longer than a conventional starter.” Roger Deadman
“I did this exercise with a Year 8 class who had been left behind from a school trip. They did go it’s only October…but soon got into the idea of drawing the Xmas cards. I used the NASA link to sum up the lesson which was really useful. The kids were engaged and it encouraged them to think about how different the planets are when it comes to day and year length. “Helen Jones
“Mid May, hot sunny and just lovin this activity. After teachng Year 7 Space, this was a great activity that the whole class enjoyed. Spent 20 mins on it as a way of consolidating their understanding. Go for it.”Glen Gilchrist
“Went down a storm as a cover activity before Christmas. I left this for an upper and a lower year 7 class and they were raving about it when I got back.
They just wanted more time to make the cards! ” Corrinne Howell
“A great activity given the time of year. The students were very willing to get into the part of an advisor for Santa and some of the letters were very detailed. They also took the opportunity to list their requests from Santa in return for the advice. Another activity to be used next Christmas.” Paul McCrossan
“I loved the site its GR8 !! lol !! make some more similar !!!!!!” Indy Dhillon
“I recently did this with a year 9 group as part of the gravity and space topic. Most of the group thoroughly enjojoyed it and were able to balance ‘writing to santa’ with some scientific learning too. A minority felt too mature to write to santa but were able to appreciate that the activity helped them use data to back up a decision. I certainly intend to do this one again and again and again (the emails were hilarious)” Jillian Williams
“I ran this activity in the summer term, which captured interest straight away. The class were less than ethusiastic about making cards at first but when they realised Ruldolph could wear a space suit their imagination ran wild. It also made them think seriously about the issues creating lively class discussion.” Sue Cox
“This was fantastic – enough info for the middle and lower groups to discuss and interpret. It was a totally different activity that engaged all of the students. The less “artistic” among them stuck to the e-mails rather than cards. The groups worked productively and were proud to display their work. Some worked individually and a few groups sent researchers off to find real images of the planets to make the cards “realistic”. A huge range of work was produced and we tried inputting some of the planet design features on the ASE “build a planet” (planet 10) programme – on the smart board- which led to a lot more active discussion. ” Heather West
“This is a fantastic lesson. I used it in the week before christmas and the pupils definitly were more engaged than watching a xmas video!The pupils loved making the cards and it was brilliant that they were still developing scientific skills such as interpreting tables whilst still having the opportunity to do something related to christmas in the last week. A winner all round!” Joanne Brunyee
“Middle of May and the kids thought it was ace! They enjoyed thinking and describing atmospheres on other planets and explaining which ones would be best for reindeer! Brilliant e-mails and good postcards. The santa interview (from science@nasa) helped support the tasks. Good skills developed in reading data tables too!” Oli Handley
“An excellent lesson. The pupils really enjoyed the activity and it was a good excuse not to stick an end of term video on. The pupils made some excellent cards with some thoughtful ideas and wrote some very amusing e mails!” Averill Jewell
“Use of this activity definitely limited with regard to timing. this was a very useful lesson in run-up to xmas. the first sheet is a scene setter and is colourful and interesting. i used a data projector to start the activity. i printed the info sheet for use in groups and the students were happy to do emails and cards. the sheets encouraged the students to use info to make decisions after discussion.” Margaret Jordan