Homemade STEM toys of Christmas with Konnie Huq

 STEM toys with konnie huq
TINMAN COMMS have been working with ex Blue Peter presenter and craft queen Konnie Huq who has partnered with the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) to create the homemade STEM toys of Christmas, rivalling some of the must-have toys on the market. They include a balloon boat, magnetic slime and living gingerbread house!

Konnie Huq has created the homemade STEM toys of Christmas, crafting DIY cut price versions of some of the must-have toys on the market. This comes as new research shows parents are spending on average £182 on toys and tech presents per child this Christmas and a fifth are using a credit card or loan to pay for them. Konnie Huq has partnered with the Institution of Engineering and Technology to inspire more children to consider careers in engineering.

Konnie has put her Blue Peter powers to practice for a good cause, making Britain’s most popular Christmas toys at home for a fraction of the cost. She spent over ten years craft-making on Blue Peter, is supporting a campaign by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) to inspire more children to consider careers in engineering. The toys are designed to make learning about science, tech, engineering and mathematics (STEM) more accessible and affordable. The improvised toys – which include a dissolving egg, magnetic slime, a kaleidoscope and even a smartphone projector – are educational, as well as fun.

 STEM TOYS with Konnie Huq

Alongside this, new research from the IET – conducted amongst a sample of 2,000 parents of children aged 1 – 12, reveals that parents are spending an average of £182 on toys and tech presents alone per child this Christmas. Additionally, two thirds (68%) put the emphasis on education, thinking it’s important for their kids to learn about science, technology, engineering and maths from playing with their toys.

And parents have to plan ahead or get in debt to pay for them. A whopping one in five (19%) parents have taken almost a year (10-12 months) to save for the big day. A similar number (21%) pay for these toys using a credit card or loan and a further 10% use an overdraft to cover the costs. This figure rises to 18% amongst younger parents (aged 16-24).

One in five (19%) admit to cutting back in other areas of household spending to accommodate Christmas stocking costs.

Some, however, use the festive season to compete with their peers – 14% want their kids to have the same toys as their friends and one in 20 (5%) want to use the gifts as fodder for their social media feeds.

However, some parents are less than positive about the pull on the purse strings. Less than half (46%) think it is worth the money on these types of toys, one in ten (9%) would rather spend the money on a family holiday and 8% would rather spend the money on their household essentials, bills and food.

Mother-of-two and former Blue Peter presenter, Konnie Huq, says: “I’m thrilled to partner with the Institution of Engineering Technology to inspire parents and children to get crafty at home. Christmas can be a stressful and expensive time of year, but these nifty STEM toys can be made at home for next to nothing, from items lying around the house. What’s more, it’s fun, interactive and teaches children about engineering. I’m definitely going to be trying them out with my kids!”

David Lakin, IET Head of Education, says: “There is a significant shortage of engineers in the UK, which is posing a threat to the economy. With our STEM toys of Christmas, we want to inspire children’s natural curiosity about how things work and why – a key principle in engineering. Exciting children about STEM and its endless possibilities will set them on an exciting path that could lead to a fulfilling career in engineering and technology.”

I asked Jake what he would like to make out of this list he chose the Smartphone Projector & Living Gingerbread House.

Smartphone Projector

Tools and Materials Required to make this projector:-

A small cardboard box (approx 8in x 6in x 12in)
A magnifying glass
Scissors or a craft knife
A smart phone

STEM smartphone projector Family Clan

How to make the Smartphone Projector

Turn your box so that one of the narrow sides is facing up. Put the magnifying glass in the middle and draw around it.
Cut a hole in the box that is slightly smaller than the circle (the box should hold the magnifying glass, without it falling through).

Cut the circle of cardboard into a wide strip. Form it into a triangular tube and secure with tape. This will be the smartphone stand.
Tape the phone stand into the box so that the phone will be in line with the magnifying glass (the cut out hole). It
should be at least 5-6 inches from the glass.
Place the magnifying glass on the box so the glass aligns with the cut out hole.
Secure with tape.
Set up a video on your phone (lock the phone onto landscape orientation) and place it on the stand inside the box.
Darken the lights and point the projector at a blank white wall. Play with the best distance from the wall to get a sharp image.
You will notice that the image is upside down. Turn the phone upside down to project the image correctly.
Cutting should be done by an adult or under adult supervision.

There are so many more STEM homemade toys you can create:-

Marble run STEM toys with Konnie HuqMarble Run

To create this Marble Run all you need:-

Foam pipe insulation (20mm)
Silver duct tape
Masking tape
Marbles (15mm)

Cut the foam tubes in half and tape end to end, so you have a long run of tubing.
Masking tape one end of the tubing to something high like a table or door handle.
Have an experimental marble roll to see what happens.
Next, experiment with creating a hill by placing an object under the tubing. Try another roll. What happens if you move the hill or make it taller?
Now add a second hill. Again, explore what happens when you change heights and positions of the hills.
Finally, use wrapping paper or toilet rolls to create tunnels around the tubes.


Magnetic Slime

To create Magnetic Slime all you need is:-

magnetic slime STEM toys with Konnie Huq

Magnetic powder (iron filings)
Craft glue
Liquid laundry detergent (check it is Borax-free)
Neo magnets

Place glue in a bowl, stir in 3tsp of magnetic powder. Add a small amount of laundry detergent and stir in to form slime. Keep adding and stirring until you reach the desired texture (feel free to use your hands to mix).
Then, simply use as normal and for an extra fun twist put your magnet close by and see how the slime reacts!

Kaleidoscope STEM toys with Konnie Huq


To create this kaleidoscope all you will need is:-

Toilet paper roll
Mirror card
White card
Bendy straw
Wrapping paper
Glue stick

First, decorate the outside of your toilet paper roll. Leave to dry, if required.
Cut your mirror card: it should be the length of your toilet roll and 11.5 cm wide. Fold into three x 3.5cm strips with a 1cm excess (it may help to measure and score it first).
Roll into a triangular tube, tape in place and slide into the toilet roll.
Cut the top off the straw, including the bendy section. Tape the piece with the bendy section to one end of your toilet roll, with the bendy part hanging over the end of the roll.
Trace a 5cm diameter circle onto your cardstock.
Use a sharp pencil to poke a small hole in the middle of the circle. Decorate your circle (perhaps with wrapping paper?)
Push the bendy end of the straw through the hole in your circle (the decoration should face towards the roll). The ridges on the bendy part of the straw should hold the circle in place.
Look inside and spin for patterns!

Icosahedron Bauble

All you need to make Icosahedron Bauble:-Icosahedron Bauble STEM toys with Konnie Huq

Printer, compass or round object
Coloured paper (10 sheets)
Glue stick or double sided tape

If you have a printer, print out the template PDF. If you don’t have a printer, use a compass or round object to draw out 20 circles. Cut out our circles. They don’t have to be perfect, just try to make sure they all end up roughly the same size.
Fold the circles into equilateral triangles – if you’ve printed out the template just follow the lines.
Stick five of the triangles together in a circle using the flaps. Arrange them first so you can see how they fit together.
Repeat this process, creating another circle from five triangles.
Take the remaining 10 triangles and arrange them in an alternating pattern (one facing up, one facing down) so they form a long strip. Stick them together.
Once the strip is complete, attach the first flap to the last flap to create a ring.
Attach one of the circles to the bottom of your triangle ring by matching up the flaps and sticking them in place. You will now have a bowl shape.
Finally, attach your remaining circle to the top of your bowl (this bit is quite tricky), again matching up and attaching the flaps.
Now you have your finished Icosahedron bauble just add the ribbon!

dissolving egg STEM toys wwith Konnie Huq

Dissolving Egg

What you will need to make your dissolving egg:-

Small toy e.g. plastic dinosaur
180g baking soda
Citric acid

Add glitter to baking soda, mix thoroughly.
Add 2 tbsp of citric acid, then 1 tsp of oil and mix well. This should make a dry and crumbly dough that sticks together if you press it. If it won’t stick, then add more oil a tiny bit at a time.
Press the mixture around your small toy until you have formed a good sized egg. Set aside to dry overnight (at least 10 hours).
When you are ready to hatch the eggs, simply place in a tray or bathtub and add water!
When the baking soda and citric acid hit the water, they react and create Carbon Dioxide bubbles. This causes the fizzing and the disappearance of the egg.
None of the ingredients in this egg should be consumed.

Bouncy Ballsbouncy balls STEM toys with Konnie Huq

What you will need to make your Bouncy Balls:-

Access to a tap
A packet of party balloons (15-30 balloons per ball)
Two sets of hands!

Carefully fill the balloon with water until it fits neatly in the palm of your hand.
Standing over the sink, pinch the neck of the balloon, and then tie a knot. Make sure there isn’t any air in the balloon before you tie.
Trim the neck of the balloon. Be careful to leave a little room above the knot so it doesn’t come undone later.
Cut the neck off the rest of your balloons.
Stretch each balloon and put the water filled balloon inside, then stretch out what is left of the neck and cut it so that where it snaps back there is no neck left. You may need help with this, it can be tricky!
Repeat this process until you have made at least 15 layers. For a really bouncy ball use 30 layers.
To ensure an even shape, turn the ball each time you wrap a balloon around it, so that it doesn’t have any weak points.

Balloon boat STEM toys with Konnie HuqBalloon Boat

What you need to make your very own Balloon Boat:-

Extra thick kitchen sponge
Wide plastic tubing
Small rubber band
Felt tip pen
Tub or container to test

Draw two diagonal lines to create an equal sided point at one end of the sponge. This will be the front of your boat. Once you are happy that the shape is even, cut it out.
Cut a small slit at the centre of the boat. Blow your balloon up and let the air out to stretch it.
Poke the neck of the balloon through the slit in the sponge. Stretch the neck of the balloon around the plastic tubing. You may need to secure it with a rubber band if it’s a bit loose.
Get your water container ready.
Inflate the balloon by blowing through the tube. Put your thumb over the end of the tube to stop air escaping.
Put the boat into the water, making sure the tube is pointing to the end of the boat.
Take your thumb off the tube and watch your boat go!

As well as trying The Smartphone Projector we also tried the Living Gingerbread House!

Living Gingerbread Houseliving gingerbread house STEM toys with Konnie Huq

What you need to make your very own Living Gingerbread House!

Four plain sponges
Glue gun or craft glue (optional)
Small plate
Small dish
Spray bottle (clean)

Choose a sponge to be your base. Choose two more sponges to be the walls.
Cut one sponge in half across the longest side (i.e. make two regular rectangles, not two long strips) and set aside.
Cut your second sponge in the same way, and then cut the halves in half again (also across the longer side). You will only need two of these pieces, so set two aside.STEM Living Gingerbread Man House by Family Clan
Cut your last sponge in half in the same way as the others. These will be your roof.
Put your base sponge onto the plate. Work out how you will assemble your walls before you attach them: you should have two large rectangles and two smaller rectangles, all of the same height. Arrange them into a box shape.
Insert cocktail sticks into the sides and bottom of your sponge walls, so that about half an inch of the stick is still visible. Push the sponge walls down onto the sponge base and into each other so they are secured in place by the cocktail sticks.
Attach the roof in the same way. Place your finished house onto the plate.
If your house is a bit wobbly, you can secure it using a glue gun or some craft glue.
In both cases, allow time for the glue to dry and set before you move on to the next stage.
Next, you need to cover the house with seeds. You can use mustard or cress but there are many fast sprouting seeds, so have fun and experiment!
First, dab some water onto the roof of your house. Put a tablespoon of seeds into a small dish and mix with a little water.
Spread the seeds onto the roof.
STEM Living Gingerbread Man House by Family ClanPour a little water onto the plate so the sponge base can soak it up. Check the sponge is nice and moist. Then sprinkle the seeds onto the base.
Leave in a warm, bright spot for the seeds to germinate. Spray the house with water using a spray bottle each day, and pour a little water over the house if it feels dry. In a few days the seeds should start to sprout, in a week they should be well grown.

Instead of tooth picks, I let Jake loose with the ‘Super Sticky Glue’. Fair to say I think I think he did a great job. He followed the instructions but used the glue and he wanted the ‘front door’ to be sideways so it looks more like a garden gate. Jake then used Basil seeds as it is one of the herbs he likes to use when we cook our pasta sauce. We are just awaiting for the seeds to start sprouting.



Jakes Rain Catcher STEM Idea

After working hard on this I then let him choose to create anything he wanted out of recycle waste. He chose a bottle and yoghurt pots. He sellotaped the yoghurt pots onto the large bottle, and told me his invention is a ‘rain catcher’ and that he would like to see the rain he catches, turn to ice! Well that is surely possible as it has been in the minus degrees figures most of last week!

So his bottle is now in the garden currently in a plant pot to support as it kept falling.

What do you think of the STEM toys Jake made?

STEM Jakes Rain Catcher Bottle Family Clan

Mummy H & Jake

Have you seen our giveaways?  Just head to our giveaway page to see the list of prizes. There is something for everyone!


4 Thoughts to “Homemade STEM toys of Christmas with Konnie Huq”

  1. Margaret Gallagher

    Looking for cheap effective ways to keep the boys entertained during the summer – this is perfect – thanks

  2. John Tunnicliffe

    Miss programmes like “HOW” The culture of making and experimenting seems to have vanished. Glad that Konnie Huq is reviving that interest.

  3. Ashleigh Allan

    Love these. The magnetic slime would go down well with my kids

  4. Margaret Gallagher

    Ooh what fun gives a whole new meaning to creative fun – magnetic slime is my FAVOURITE

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