Christmas Theme for Preschool
Christmas is such an exciting time of year and an exciting theme! Your preschoolers will learn about each other's family traditions which brings about so many opportunities for cooking, art, decorating and learning about giving to others!
This can also be a time of year and theme that over stimulates the senses in your preschool classroom due to all of the lights, colors aromas and general excitement that the children bring to the season!
I recommend "easing" into this theme over a period of weeks. Take your time decorating and "theming" your room over this time period rather than having it all available all at once.
Preschoolers are bombarded with lights, hustle and bustle, aromas and more as they shop, wrap presents, visit with family and attend holiday parties throughout the month.
Taking the time to explore the different aspects of this time of year can help give your preschoolers some perspective and understanding to it all!
This Christmas Preschool Theme page is filled with secular (or non-religious) activities and ideas for all areas of your classroom. Let's ease into our Christmas Theme planning!
You can either scroll down through this page to see all of the preschool activities for your Christmas theme or click the link below to go to specific preschool activity types you are looking for.
Make Wrapping Paper for Gifts!
Materials Needed: Plain paper (not construction paper); Christmas theme stamps, stamp pads, watered down white glue and brushes (or glue sticks), glitter
Encourage children to print their own names on their paper. Children stamp their paper with the stamps. They can then randomly brush watered down glue (or randomly "color" in spots on the paper with glue sticks) and sprinkle the paper with different colors of glitter.
Let dry. Use to wrap the present they make for their parents). Click here for Christmas Gift Ideas
TIP: We have used white wrapping/tissue paper for this each year. Another TIP: When done sprinkling with glitter, "empty" the excess glitter onto a tray. Put all the excess glitter into an empty glitter bottle so that you have multi-colored glitter for the future!
Candy Cane Marble Painting
Materials Needed: Shallow cardboard box; candy cane shapes (pre-cut out of white paper); red paint (slightly watered down--you can use tempera paint or liquid watercolor paint); marbles; plastic spoon.
Encourage children to print their name on the candy cane. Place candy cane shape in box. Spoon some paint on different areas in the box. Place marbles in the paint. Children shake box back and forth to roll the marbles over their shape until it looks the way that they want.
TIP: Allow children to do as many of the steps as they can (spooning the paint, placing the marbles).
Extension: Prior to painting, have the children cut their own candy canes out. You can provide the paper with the candy cane pre-drawn on it for the children to practice their cutting skills.
Pine Branch Painting
Materials Needed: Small branches from pine trees; choices of colors of paint in separate, shallow bowls; white paper.
Put paint in shallow trays. Put out paper. Give each child their own pine branch. They dip the pine needles into the paint and brush on their paper.
Cookie Cutter Painting
Materials Needed: Several colors of paint in shallow trays or bowls; seasonal theme cookie cutters (stars, trees, gifts,snowpeople etc.); paper
Children dip a cookie cutter into the paint and then stamp onto their papers. Encourage them to use different colors!
Extension: Suggest to the children that they can make a seasonal scene on their papers! Stamp a star on the top of the paper. A tree on the bottom. A gift stamp next to the tree, etc.
Gingerbread BAG House
Materials Needed: Brown paper bags (large or lunch bag size); brown construction paper cut to the size of the top of the brown bags you are using (this will become the roof); ribbon, scissors, glue, newspaper; white paint; scrap construction paper of different colors
Fold the top of the bag (the opening) down so it is closed. Place bag flat on the table.
Encourage the children to cut paper to different sizes and shapes for windows, door, "candy" decorations for the house. Glue those items on the front of the bag.
Encourage them to use the white paint to paint "snow" on parts of the house.
Encourage children to print their name on the precut brown construction paper roof and then paint some snow with the white paint on the roof.
Open the bags. Have the children crumple up newspaper and stuff their bag houses. When full, fold top down again. Help the children to staple the rectangle roof over the top.
Glue on a ribbon on the roof.
Materials Needed: Assortment of colored construction paper and seasonal theme paper; glue, large white piece of paper.
Show children how to "tear" paper with their fingers. This is a skill we sometimes take for granted! It is a GREAT fine motor activity to help build those finger muscles! Teach them to "pinch and pull" to tear. This skill will also help them to take their turn tearing off a chain from your Christmas Countdown Chain at Circle Time. Click here for instructions on the Christmas Countdown Chain
Materials needed: 1 piece of construction paper for each child--their choice of color; an assortment of miscellaneous art/craft supplies that are Christmas themed (such as precut assorted lengths of ribbon, mini bows, mini pom-poms, precut pictures of toys and Christmas items--trees, wreaths, families together, etc.--from magazines and catalogs,); sequins; glue.
Just let the children glue what they wish for a Christmas collage!
Materials Needed: precut Christmas trees (from green paper); miscellaneous items to decorate--sequins, glitter, yarn and fabric scraps, glue, scissors
Hole punch the top of the tree so that you can hang the trees in your classroom when complete.
The children decorate the trees--BOTH SIDES!--with the materials you have provided!
Gingerbread Stick Puppets
Materials Needed: Gingerbread people shapes; small pieces of fabric and ribbon, buttons, sequins, pasta--any items you want to use for decorating!; large craft sticks, glue
Encourage children to print their name on the large craft stick with a marker. Allow them to decorate their gingerbread person any way they want! Glue stick onto back. Let dry.
EXTENSION: Children can use these when you read the story Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett. They can repeat the refrain phrase of "You can't catch me!".
Materials Needed: Long, brown, wide (about 3" wide) paper for headbands; 1 piece of brown construction paper per child; glue sticks.
Encourage children to print their name on their headband strip. Help children to fold their paper in half and trace their own hand. Encourage them to cut out their hand print as best they can! They should glue their handprint antlers to their headband. Play the song Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer while they work on their antlers.
EXTENSION: Use their antlers to act out the song at circle time! (See Circle Time activity below).
Materials Needed: White construction paper; crayons; paint brushes; watered down tempera paint or liquid watercolor paint; white school glue; newspaper to cover the table!
1. The children make a crayon drawing on the white paper. 2. They then crumple the paper. 3. Then have them uncrumple the paper and lay it out flat on their work surface. 4. Using a watered down paint and a paintbrush, children cover the crumpled up crayon drawing with paint. 5. After papers dry, you'll see that all the little cracks that formed when the paper was crumpled are now filled with paint. 6. Using an old paintbrush, cover the picture with white glue. 7. The glue will dry clear and give the crackle picture a nice shiny finish. 8. If they like, your children can glue the crackle picture onto a piece of construction paper and make a Christmas card for friends or family.
Wish List Collage
Provide Christmas catalogs and sales papers from newspapers for the children to cut out and glue onto their wish list collage to bring home!
Stack the Presents
Wrap some of your blocks with Christmas wrapping paper and place them in the block area. Stack the presents! Be sure to encourage counting, sorting by color, type, size, etc.
TIP: I recommend wrapping one of the blocks with the children so that they KNOW that they are not actual presents! We have tried just placing them in the block area and telling them that they are just the blocks wrapped up, but- preschoolers are curious! Be sure to have additional paper and tape available for the times when the blocks do get unwrapped anyways!
Extension: Provide tape and paper and let the children try wrapping blocks!
Extension: When you are ready to change out your block area with different blocks, have an "unwrap the block party" by letting the children unwrap all the blocks!
Home Made Christmas Theme Blocks
Ask families (or provide your own) to donate empty boxes--cereal boxes, other food boxes, etc.) and wrap them up for the block area.
Ribbons and Bows
Provide ribbons and bows to the block area. Encourage children to tie up blocks with the ribbon, put bows on the blocks, etc.
Christmas Block Village
Materials needed: Assortment of table blocks of different colors; small toy cars and people; a table to build on!
Block play can be on a smaller scale! Provide the materials on a table and encourage children to make the street they live on! They can build house, trees, even cars out of blocks.
Cozy Christmas Fireplace
The children can use blocks to build a fireplace! Provide Christmas books, bean bag chairs and pillows for them to snuggle by the cozy fire they build while reading some books!
EXTENSION: Encourage the children to cut or tear yellow, red and orange paper into flames to tape to the front of their fireplace!
Circle Time is such a great time for children to learn the social skills of being together as a large group AND to learn more about your Christmas Theme!
What is Christmas?
Materials Needed: Large chart paper, marker
Expect a lot of excitement over this discussion! Once you ask them "What special holiday happens this month, in December?"! Because of the excitement this will produce, you may want to restate your circle time rules about listening. We use the following:
"Eyes are on the teacher."
"Ears are listening."
"Voices are quiet."
"Your hand is up like this when you want a turn to talk."
Remind them that we all need to be patient--wait quietly--for our turn to talk so that EVERYONE has a chance to say what they want to say!
Ask the children what they think Christmas is?
List ALL of their answers. The typical ones that you can expect are "Santa comes." "We get presents." "I want a _________."
After their list, make your own suggestions to go past the present stage! Some suggestions are:
Giving gifts to others; making and mailing cards; cooking special foods (such as cookies, cakes, breads, etc.).
We also, after all the excitement, tell the children that Christmas is the time of year that we think more about helping others and doing things for others. Perhaps you can talk about service projects you will be working on. Click Here for Holiday Theme Service Project Ideas
Materials Needed: Strips of green and red construction paper numbered 1-25. Draw a solid, black line 1" in from one end of each strip; scissors for each child.
Show the children a calendar and count from December 1 through December 25. Tell them that there are 25 days until Christmas and that they are going to help you to make a chain of papers to count down "how many more days" until Christmas.
Give each child one of the strips of paper and a pair of scissors.
Have them cut the solid line. Tell each child to tell what number is on their paper.
Ask for the numbers, one at a time, from one to whatever number children you have.
"Who has number 1? It looks like this? Great. May I have it please?". Tape the strip in a circle with the number "1" on the outside.
"Who has number 2? It looks like this? Great! Please put your strip of paper inside the whole of this chain!" Help that child to place their strip into the whole of the chain piece you just made. Be sure the number 2 will be facing out. Have that child sit back down. Tape the number 2 into a link of the chain.
Continue with all the numbers until you are done. We have 16 children in our class. So, we have numbers 17-25 already precut and ready to go on the chain.
After all of your children's numbers are on the chain, encourage them to help you count to finish the chain.
"OK. So we have 1, 2, 3, .....16. Here is number 17 (tape into chain), what's next? Right 18, etc.
Tell the children they are going to take turns tearing one number off each day. When all the numbers are ripped off, it will be Christmas. Choose one child to tear off the number 25 now (and more if it is later than December 1st!).
TIP: Have a Christmas Chain Helper job list. Write each child's name on the list so that you don't forget to give each child a turn each day to rip off a chain. We taped the list of names on the wall next to the Christmas Countdown Chain.
Another TIP: We found that the children were not sure how to "tear" the chain off! They tried pulling and shaking, but weren't sure how to tear! This is a GREAT fine motor skill to work on! You can, at your next circle time, provide scraps of paper to "teach" them how to tear, or provide a tearing art activityClick Here for TEARING ART ACTIVITY IDEA
Pass The Present Put a special gift into a box for the classroom (It may be bubbles, a new book, chalk etc.)
Wrap it in may different layers of wrapping paper. Have the children sit in a circle and pass the package around to the music. When the music stops have the child unwrap one layer of paper. Continue on playing music until all layers have been unwrapped. Have the last person share with the group.
Trim the Tree
Bring a small artificial or real tree to your group area. Provide an assortment of ornaments (unbreakable).
Let children know you are going to decorate your preschool Christmas tree! Have each child choose one ornament from your collection. Invite them, one at a time, to hang their ornament on the tree as they describe it (shape, color, texture, etc.).
Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer-LIVE!
Materials needed: Reindeer Antlers (either purchased from a dollar store or their hand made antlers from the art activity above); red and white Santa hat and a red clown nose; your favorite version of the Rudolph song; bell instruments (optional).
Play the song as the children come to circle time wearing their antlers. Choose one child to wear the Santa hat and several children (4 or 5) to be the "other reindeer". Tell them they are going to "act out" the song. Assure the children that you will all sing it another time so that ALL the children have a turn to be in the play! The children not chosen to be reindeer each time could be given bell instruments to shake while they sing along.
Have fun with it!
Which Elf Am I
Materials needed: Chair for one child to sit in; blindfold
This is an activity that you can adapt to any theme. It not only helps children to listen to the sound of someone's voice, but learn each other's names!
One child sits in the chair facing away from all the children and wears a blindfold* (see note below).
Tap one child on the head (or point to one person) to stand behind the child sitting in the chair and say "Which Elf Am I?". The child sitting tries to guess the voice. If he can not guess the child's voice, they can ask for help from their friends!
*NOTE ABOUT BLINDFOLDS: Some children are very hesitant to wear one. It is a basic fear of the unknown for some children. Don't not require a blindfold be worn. They may try wearing one the next time you play a similar game after they have seen other children do this.
As a variation to the above activity, Have one child hide where they can't be seen by the child who is in the chair. The child sitting looks around and guesses which "elf" is missing!
This is a difficult one because the children who are still at circle tend to call out the name of the child who is hiding! It's all part of this stage of development--they think it is always "their" turn! This is a good time to practice patience and waiting for your turn. It may help to say "Everyone do this" (put pointer finger in front of lips). Remember it is ONLY _______'s(name of child in the chair) turn to say who is missing. You will get a turn too, but right now it is _____'s turn. Shhhhh!"
Little Jack Horner
Recite the rhyme of Little Jack Horner. Repeat and make up hand movements to go with it.
Little Jack Horner sat in the corner Eating his Christmas pie, He put in his thumb and pulled out a plum And said "What a good boy am I!"
EXTENSION: Provide purple playdough made into little balls and pie tins. Have children put a specific number of "plums" into the pie!
Materials needed: large, yellow star made in advance. Pass the star around as you sing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Christmas Star". Just replace the word "little" in the traditional song with the word Christmas.
EXTENSION: The children may want to make their own Christmas star! You can provide yellow paper at the writing table that have predrawn stars for them to cut out and place stickers on! Another place would be to have yellow paint at the easel for them to paint and you can cut them into stars when they are dry.
Fingerplays for Christmas
I took a lick of my peppermint stick (Hold candy cane and pretend to lick).
I thought it tasted yummy (Rub belly)
It used to hang on my Christmas Tree (Pretend to hang on tree)
But I like it better in my tummy! (Rub belly again).
Five Little Bells
Five little bells all hanging in a row (Wave one hand with fingers extended) The first one said "Ring me slow" (Wiggle thumb) The second one said "Ring me fast" (Move pointer finger fast) The third one said "Ring me last" (Move Middle finger). The fourth one said "Ring me like a chime" (Move ring finger) The fifth one said "It's Christmas Time" (Move pinky finger)
This is Christmas (sung to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star)
What is Christmas? We'll tell you. It's putting love in all you do. In our work and in our play. In everything we do each day. It is showing love for others, Mother, Father, Sisters, Brothers.
Old MacDonald (sung to Old MacDonald)
Old MacDonald had a Christmas tree-- Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho. And on that tree he had some horns (blow horns) Ho ho ho ho ho! With a toot toot here and a toot toot there here a toot there a toot Everywhere a toot toot............
Other verses: lights---flash flash bells---ring ring birds---tweet tweet drums--boom boom stars---twinkle twinkle candy canes----yum yum
Extension: It was suggested to make this into a flannel board story! What fun that would be in the Library area!
Stir a bowl of gingerbread (Pretend to stir a bowl of batter) Smooth and spicy brown. Roll it with a rolling pin (Pretend to roll) Up and up, then down.
With a cookie cutter (Pretend to stamp) Make some little men. Put them in the oven (Pretend to open and place in oven) Until half past 10!
Extension: This would be a great fingerplay to say while making gingerbread, or before reading the story The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett.
Cooking with children helps develop their math skills and helps them to learn how to follow directions. It also allows for some great conversation! Ask many questions while cooking with your children to encourage conversation! Be sure to ask specific Christmas theme questions while making these fun snacks!
Ingredients and Items needed: 4 eggs, 2 tsp vanilla, 4 tbsp honey, 4 c. milk, nutmeg, wire whisk, large bowl, measuring cups.
Divide up ingredients so that each student puts something into the bowl. Have one child shake a few shakes of nutmeg in*. Have each child take turns stirring. Teacher finishes by whisking so that everything is mixed. Serve cold.
CAUTION: Be sure to check for allergies. Nutmeg is considered a "tree nut" so do not use this if you have any tree nut allergies. Also, check for egg allergies or lactose intolerances prior to making with the children.
Ingredients and Items needed: Instant hot chocolate mix, milk or water (depending on package you use), mini-marshmallows.
This is always a great treat on a cold winter day! Combine this with a Pajama Day--Invite the children and teachers to wear their pajamas to school this day!
Gingerbread People AND Gingerbread Bowl
Ingredients & Items needed: Your favorite gingerbread recipe, cookie cutter(s), small stainless steel mixing bowl.
Make the gingerbread cookie dough with the children. As always with cooking, divide the ingredients so that each child can add something from the ingredient list.
Children make a cookie with the cookie cutter.
When all the children have made a cookie, knead together and roll out the excess dough.. Shape it over the stainless steel mixing bowl, shaping it as needed to create the bowl shape.
Place bowl, inverted with dough on it, into a preheated 325 degree Fahrenheit oven. cook for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Remove the bowl carefully and you will have a gingerbread bowl! Place the gingerbread cookies in it to serve them!
RECIPE FOR GINGERBREAD: Here is one that I have used: 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup shortening 1/2 cup dark molasses 1/4 cup water 3/4 tsp slat 3/4 tsp ground ginger 1/2 tsp baking soda 1/4 tsp ground allspice 2 1/2 cups flour Raisins
1. Beat sugar, shortening, molasses and water in large bowl on low speed until blended. Then beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Stir in, by hand, remaining ingredients, except raisins. 2. Cover and refrigerate until chilled (1-2 hours). 3. Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 4. Sprinkle a cloth covered table lightly with flour. Turn dough onto surface. Use a rolling pin to roll until 1/4 inch thick. 5. Cut with 5-8 inch gingerbread children cutter. Lift cookies carefully onto an ungreased cookie sheet. 6. Decorate with raisins. 7. Bake until set, about 8-10 minutes. Let cool for about 3-4 minutes and then carefully remove from cookie sheet. 8. Cool cookies. 9. Decorate with frosting if desired. This recipe makes about eleven 5 inch or six 8-inch cookies. This recipe has been enough for my class of 16 to each make a smaller size gingerbread cookie.
Sugar Cone Christmas Trees
Ingredients & Items needed: Sugar cones (ice cream cones), chocolate chips (white and regular chocolate), assorted candies for decorations (M&M's, gumdrops, marshmallows, sprinkles, etc.); wax paper, microwavable bowl, spoon.
Melt chocolate chips in microwave bowl just slightly, mix to completely melt.
Roll sugar cone in chocolate.
Place gumdrop firmly on point of cone. Place cone on wax paper to work with.
Children decorate by adding other candies to sides. Let dry and enjoy!
NOTE: White chocolate hardens MUCH faster than the regular chocolate, so it needs to be decorated immediately after rolled in chocolate.
Ingredients and Items needed: Mini graham cracker crusts for each child, chocolate pudding mix and milk (it takes approximately 1 cup of pudding for each mini pie); cheerios cereal, pretzel twists; maraschino cherries (1 for each child); bowl, plastic measuring cup, 1 plastic spoon per child.
Prepare instant pudding with the children. Scoop 1/2 to 1 cup of pudding into mini pie shell. Add 2 pretzel twists (for antlers); add 2 cheerios for eyes and 1 cherry for nose!
Candy Cane Cookies
Ingredients: Sugar cookie dough; red food coloring; wax paper
Mix half the cookie dough with red food coloring.
Show children how to roll dough into snakes on the wax paper (we tape wax paper on the entire table so it does not slip off). Give each child a small amount of white and of red cookie dough to roll into a snake shape.
Help them to twist them (somewhat like a braid) to make a Christmas Candy Cane.
Bake in a 350 degree fahrenheit oven for approximately 7 minutes.
Materials needed: Large bowl, fruit punch juice, ginger ale, frozen fruit, such as strawberries.
Mix 2 parts juice to 1 part ginger ale. Add fruit. Stir and serve!
Christmas Sugar Cookies
Of course, cookies are a tradition at this time of year! Bake in advance some sugar cookies from refrigerated cookie dough, or make your favorite cookies with the children!
Provide frosting and decorations!
Gift Wrap Station
Materials Needed: Table; tape; wrapping paper; bows and ribbon; boxes (cereal boxes, empty boxes of different sizes--you can even use blocks from your block area!).
Help children to wrap "present" boxes!
Materials needed: Play tools (hammer, saw, etc.); workbench or table; classroom toys.
Children "make" toys to be sold in a store!
Turn your dramatic play area into a mini-mall! Set up classroom toys on tables or shelves. Provide a couple of toy cash registers and play money (or make your own paper money!), gift bags or paper bags and toy carriages and baskets. Let the children shop away!
All three of the above ideas can be going on at the same time! A Workshop and mall; A mall or store and gift wrap center, etc.!
Reindeer Farm and Barn
Materials needed: A recycled box to section off your drama area (some teachers have used a rope or ribbon to section off--be cautious with this as the children can get hurt if they are "running" as reindeers back and forth under the ropes--they can get hurt); a sign that reads "Reindeer"; hay; blankets for the reindeer; antlers (purchased at a craft or dollar store or made out of construction paper--see art activity above); play food such as carrots and other vegetables; bowls for pretend water; hay.
Paint and Bows
Mix the paint at your easel with a little bit of watered down white glue. Provide different lengths of cut ribbon. Let the children paint and decorate!
Make Brown Paint
Provide different colors of tempera paint at the easel and encourage the children to make their own shades of brown! Provide orange, green, white, purple and other colors! They can use their newly invented colors to paint cookies, gingerbread people or whatever they want! They are color scientists today!
Materials Needed: Tempera Paint and brushes. Instructions: NONE!
That's right, none! Remember that just because we have a set Christmas theme for a week or more, does not mean that ALL activities have to revolve around it! Children at this age are beginning to experiment with representational pictures, but are not quite there yet! Be sure to allow activities where they can just explore and use materials such as painting just to paint and cutting paper just to cut paper!
Put the Present in the Box Relay
Materials needed: Different size boxes, toys from the classroom.
Keep this activity as a supportive activity, not competitive. Do this by having the children encourage the person whose turn it is.
The children start at one side of the room. They choose a toy and run to the other side of the room where you have the different size boxes. They find a box that best fits their toy, places the toy in and brings the box back to the beginning. Then the next child does the same.
Materials needed: Parachute or large blanket; soft blocks
Children hold parachute or blanket. Work with them to show them how to move the chute up and down together. Place soft blocks in the middle of the chute. Encourage the children to Bounce the Presents off!
Parachute play is a great time to make up stories while you move and shake it! Example: "We are all walking in the store and shopping for Christmas presents. (moving chute slowly). But, the store is closing soon so we have to hurry! (move chute fast up and down). Phew, we are done shopping. (move chute slowly) Now we have to wrap the presents quickly so we can deliver them! Hurry, wrap, wrap, wrap! (move chute fast). Wow, we got a lot done! (Move chute slowly). Let's see how many we have! (stop moving chute and hold still). Let's count (count with children as you toss the blocks onto the chute). Now, it's time to deliver them all! Let's bounce the Christmas presents off until they are all gone and delivered! Ready....GO!
NOTE: We find that when we bounce anything off the parachute, children stop using the chute and chase after the items. To avoid them all running after them, tell them that 3 of them will be the Elves to collect the presents AFTER they are all off the chute! When they are all off the chute, tell them to freeze! Say "Elf Jimmy, Elf Sarah, Elf Owen--please find our presents!" They collect them and put them back on the chute.
"Deliver" them again and assign new elves!
Reindeer Leaping Lessons
Tape a line on the floor or carpet. Encourage your Christmas Reindeer to jump from that line as far as they can! They may want to get a running start!
EXTENSION: Tape a second line about an inch away and encourage them to try to jump past it! They may want to wear their home made antlers for this activity (see art activity for Antlers!).
Hang a large Christmas Tree cut out of green construction paper. Provide stars to each child. Blindfold and encourage them to place their star on the tree. This is a great game for the children to help each other. Encourage them to give directions to their friend...should she move her hand up more? down more? Help each other with your words!
Christmas Gift Delivery Obstacle Course
Set up an obstacle course for the children to follow to deliver a present! Under the chair, through the tunnel, balance across the beam, hop on the circles and toss the present into the large box! (Have small colored blocks at the end of the obstacle course and instruct them to pick one and toss it into a box or basket you have at the end of the course.
EXTENSION: Instruct them to find a SPECIFIC color block at the end, or a piece of paper with a specific number or letter or other concept you may be working on!
Book Suggestions for the Library
Arthur's Christmas by Marc Brown
Christmas Mice by Bethany Roberts
Curious George Christmas Countdown by H. A. Rey
December by Eve Bunting
Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett
How The Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss
If You Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff
Merry Christmas, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt
Maisy's Snowy Christmas Eve by Lucy Cousins
Merry Christmas, Big Hungry Bear! by Audrey wood and Don Wood
Merry Christmas, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff
Merry Christmas Spot! by Eric Hill
The Mitten by Jan Brett
The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy by Jane Thayer
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Your favorite version!
Where is Christmas, Jesse Bear by Nancy White Carlstrom
Library Wall Christmas Theme Decor
Hang fronts of Christmas cards on the wall. Also include pictures of Christmas trees, printed pictures of actual Christmas lights that you have taken pictures of and pictures of families together.
Obtain toy catalogs for the children to look at (such as Toys 'r Us and other toy store brochures). Also, this is a great time to place those catalogs that you receive multiples of each year!
Christmas Card Sorting
Provide different Christmas cards for the children to sort. You will be amazed at how they sort them--by pictures (trees, snow, toys, etc.) and by size and color!
Christmas Card Match Game
Provide the children with a matching set of Christmas cards to match up. Cards can usually be purchased for $1.00 per box at a local dollar type store. Purchase 2 boxes.
Materials Needed: Home-made scented playdough; Christmas cookie cutters, plastic knives
Mix your favorite home-made playdough with peppermint flavoring for a great smell! You could instead add vanilla, cinamon and other Christmas smells!
Our favorite playdough recipe:
2 cups hot water 1 tbsp vegetable oil 1 cup salt Add paint to color (or food coloring) 3 cups + of white flour.
Mix water, oil and paint. Add salt and stir. Add flour until it is the best consistency for playdough.
ANOTHER RECIPE! Glitter Dough
Combine 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt, 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons cream of tartar. Cook for 3 mins. or until mixture pulls away from the pan. Sprinkle glitter on top of a table top. Let the children work the glitter into the dough. Children can made cookies and candies out of the dough.
Christmas Bird Feeder Garland
Here's a Christmas gift your little ones can make for our fine-feathered winter friends!
Materials Needed: Ribbon; 1 jingle bell per child; cheerios
To make a bird feeder, tie a jingle bell onto one end of a length of ribbon. The children then string Cheerios® on the ribbon. Tie the bird feeder to a nearby tree and listen for the bell!
Provide a large assortment of Christmas bows. Include different sizes and colors. Provide bowls or trays for the children to sort into.
Once they have had time to explore the bows, add one of the following depending upon the number skills you are working on with the children:
Provide cups with numerals and corresponding dots on the cups. Instruct the children to place the correct number of bows into each cup.
Make pattern cards with the bows and have children match the bows and extend the pattern. For example: gold bow, silver bow, gold bow.......; Large bow, large bow, small bow, large bow, large bow....
EXTENSION: Use any Christmas items for this--teddy bear sorters, ribbon pieces, mini pom-poms, etc.
Ornament Match Game
In advance, draw or copy one ornament shape multiple times. Make matching ornaments based on the skill you are working on. You might have matches of colors, patterns (striped, polka dotted, etc.); letters (upper case A and lower case a or 2 upper case); numerals to match or one ornament with a number and the other with the corresponding number of dots.
EXTENSION: Make a large Christmas Tree on a piece of Green poster board. Use this activity to give number instructions that work on many preschool skills such as counting, positional words, one-to-one correspondence, number recognition and more!:
"Put 2 blue ornaments on the tree". "Put one ornament on the tree that has the letter A". "Put any 2 ornaments on the top of the tree".
Name Sorting Cards
Provide the children's name tags that you use during the day OR have the children print their name on a strip of paper.
Encourage children to sort the cards by different attributes such as:
by gender by number of letters in a name by names with a specific letter in the name by names that BEGIN with a specific letters by names that END with specific letters by names of children with blue eyes
Linking Cube Christmas "Boxes"
Using different colored, plastic linking cubes, make several "boxes" using different patterns such as AB (blue, green, blue green); ABB (blue, green, green, blue, green, green). Place each pattern set you make on a piece of paper. Provide the children with a box or bin of the linking blocks and encourage them to copy the patterns they see.
Jingle Bell Freeze Dancing
Materials Needed: Christmas songs on CD, wrist bells (one for each child); large, open space!
Play a game of "Freeze Dancing" with them using Christmas Jingle Bell instruments! Provide the children with a bell instrument (wrist bells work best). Tell the children that they can dance, sing and play their instruments along with the song and when the music stops, they should FREEZE and stop shaking their bells!
Materials needed: THICK, glass jars; metal spoons; water
Fill the jars with different amounts of water. Set jars in a row and put a little more water in each jar as you go down the row. Show the children how each jar makes a different sound when they GENTLY tap it with a spoon.
Let children explore the sounds and sing and play away!
DO discuss safety and gently tapping so as not to break the glass. I'd suggest limiting this Music Area to 2 children at a time and supervise it well!
Which Toy Can We Be?
Materials Needed: Toys to imitate; CD Player and Christmas music!
Have different types of toys on display that the children can imitate such as:
Train, Jack-in-A-Box; Stuffed Animal (such as a frog or snake) and others that lend themselves to some fun movement!
Let the children know you are going to put the music on and they should try to dance or move like the item you are holding!
Play the music and then hold up a toy. After about 30 seconds hold up another toy.
Be sure to join in the fun with the children! Also, they may be so excited about dancing and moving with their friends, that they don't see you have changed the toy! Dance around the area with the new toy so they can see it!
EXTENSION: After they have played for a while, try a game of charades. Give each child a turn to "move like a toy" while the other children guess. After 2 or 3 guesses, have the child tell their friends what they are pretending to be! You may have to demonstrate this for them first!
Guess Which Christmas Bell
Materials needed: 3 or 4 bell instruments that make different sounds. (such as a wrist bell, jingle bell, etc.). Play each for them to hear what they sound like. Place them behind your back. Ring one of them. Put all 3 or 4 back in front of you. Ask them to guess which one you played.
VARIATION: If you have 2 of each of the bell instruments you're going to use, leave one set in front of you and one set behind you so they can use both their sense of sight and sound to guess.
Sharing a Christmas Toy
Introduce a new toy for the classroom by singing this song to the tune of London Bridges:
Here's our Christmas toy, let's all play; let's all play; let's all play. Here's our Christmas toy, let's all play; let's share the toy together.
VARIATION: Instead of presenting a new toy, choose several toys from your classroom and change the verses. Use items such as block, paintbrush, etc.
Christmas Song Sing-Along
Don't forget to just have an old-fashioned sing along throughout the day with traditional Christmas songs. It's fun to hear how some of the words are sung by the children. We recently asked "What IS a one horse open sleigh anyway???!" and then we started investigating what that meant! This turned into a new stable--for reindeer, horses, sleighs, blankets, a wagon and children taking friends for rides in their Preschool one (or two or three!) horse open sleigh!
Materials needed: Ivory Soap, shaved into pieces; warm water; toilet paper!
This has also been called clean mud! Have the children squish these items together to make some great snow!
Materials Needed: Water table, water, Christmas scent (vanilla, peppermint, etc.) Add Christmas sink or float items such as ribbons, small jingle bells, teddy bear sorters, etc.
VARIATION: Instead of Christmas sink or float items, simply add measuring cups and spoons and let some counting or pretend cooking happen!
EXTENSION: Add some dobs of shaving cream for them to mix in! Add some metal whisks and egg beaters and let your chefs go to town cooking!
Ribbons and Bows This table is a great place to add ribbons, bows, Christmas colored paper and scissors to practice cutting at! Save their cuttings for collage projects at the easel or art table.
A Snowy Christmas
Materials needed: Shaving cream*(see note below); small, plastic houses, cars, people, sleigh, reindeer, trees, etc.
Children can pretend it is Christmas or Christmas Eve and have all the cars drive to their homes in the "snow", the reindeer and sleigh fly over the houses, etc.
NOTE: *Use NON-menthol shaving cream. The menthol scented shaving cream is extremely strong for the senses.
Provide wet sand in sensory table. To the sand add Christmas themed cookie cutters, Jell-O molds, and other items.
In advance, make playdough. Combine 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt, 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons cream of tartar. Cook for 3 mins. or until mixture pulls away from the pan.
Place dough in your sand table and sprinkle glitter on top of it. Let the children work the glitter into the dough. Children can made cookies and candies out of the dough.
Explore the Season
Materials Needed: Pine branches, pine needles, pinecones, magnifying glasses
This is a classically fun experiment! And with raisins being used in so many cooking activities this time of year, why not check them out!
Materials needed: glass jar, 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup vinegar; 1/2 tsp baking soda
Mix the water and vinegar in the jar. Slowly add the baking soda, a little at a time Drop the raisins in and watch what happens!
Other items to use instead of raisins: dry pasta noodles (broken into small pieces), small pieces of cooked spaghetti; drinking straw cut into small pieces; dried peas
EXPLANATION: The vinegar and baking soda form gas bubbles which attach to the item in the water. These bubbles make the items lighter and cause it to rise or float until the gas bubbles burst and it falls. The bubbles will then attach again to the time and rise it again!
EXTENSION: Provide the children with plastic safety goggles and a plastic spoon and their own jar and items! They can work alone or in teams to try the different items while an adult writes down what they see. Take LOTS of pictures for a great display of your scientists in action!
Christmas Bird Feeders
Materials Needed: Pinecones, instant oatmeal; birdseed; ribbon; wax paper
Children roll pinecones in a tray of instant oatmeal and then in birdseed. Tie a ribbon to the tip of the pinecone to hang it from. Let dry on wax paper. Children can take them home and hang them in a tree outside as a Christmas gift for their winter birds!
CAUTION: Please, do NOT use peanut butter for this activity. Not only are many children allergic to peanuts, but the birds can choke from peanut butter!
Guess the Egg Sound!
Materials needed: 5 plastic eggs (that are used at Easter time); materials to fill the eggs with such as rice, beans, sequins, sand and water; permanent marker; a chart with a picture of an egg with the number of the egg on it in the left column. An empty column next to each egg drawing for the children's guesses.
Before the activity, label the eggs with the numbers 1-5 and fill each egg with a different item. Close eggs.
With the children, show the children the number on the egg, shake it. Ask if they can tell what is in it (allow them to take a turn shaking it as well). List their guesses next to the egg with the same number on the chart you made.
Continue with all eggs and then open each to see what it was.
EXTENSION: You could proved 5 bowls that have each egg filler item in it and have the children guess which one of those items is in the egg you or they are shaking.
EXTENSION: Instead of numbers 1-5 on the eggs, write the numbers or letters you are working on with your class.
EXTENSION: Make a duplicate set of eggs as the ones you have done the above guessing game with, except, do NOT put numbers on the second set of eggs.
Tape all the eggs closed so they cannot be opened.
Encourage children to match the eggs that have the same fillings!
Mystery Gift Wrap
Materials Needed: assortment of textured items such as cotton (polyfill), sandpaper, fur, shiny paper, etc; poster board; glue
Prepare in advance equal sized squared from the poster board.
Cover 2 squares with each textured material you have a set of each texture.
Attach one set of the squares on a large poster board for the children to see.
Place the second set into a Mystery Box or drawstring bag.
1. Allow each child to feel each square on the poster board and describe what they feel. Tell them what the material is. 2. Give each child a turn to reach into the box or bag and feel the first square their hand touches. 3. Based on the touch and looking at the poster board, they should try to guess which texture they are feeling.
While children are feeling one in the box or bag, ask questions about what they are feeling: Is it soft? Hard? Bumpy? Etc.
EXTENSION: Leave this activity out in your Science or Discovery area for the children to use during the day.
This is a favorite activity!
Materials Needed: Mini scented candles of the scents of the season: peppermint, sugar cookie, coffee, lemon, pine or bayberry, gingerbread or pumpkin; index cards with a picture of each scent and the name. For example: Draw or glue a pine branch on an index card and write "pine" on the bottom of the card.
Just put out the candles and the cards and let the children sniff and guess!
EXTENSION: This activity can be introduced at Circle Time or used as a transition activity while some children are washing their hands for snack, for example, those waiting can do this activity with you!
After reading aloud several versions of The Gingerbread Man to your children, compare and contrast the likenesses and differences in the stories. Ask students if there are events and characters contained in some books that are not in others. Then ask students to vote for their favorite version. After the discussion, have your little ones make their own gingerbread scent.
Use sheets of sandpaper (we used 10" X 10") to cut out gingerbread people. Provide the children with a cinnamon stick for them to rub on the sandpaper cutout. Attach a bow to complete the cutout.
They smell great and will be a nice addition to your classroom Christmas tree, bulletin board or for them to take home!
Seasonal Class Book
Provide markers and white construction paper. Encourage the children to draw a picture of anything that reminds them of season. Write down exactly what they say. If possible, add their photo to their page.
Staple all the students' pages together and cover with the title "Our Christmas Book".
Reluctant writers may choose to make a page after this book has been read to the children as a group!
Materials Needed: Card stock paper in red and green, markers, Christmas stickers; papers with seasonal sayings on them (Merry Christmas! Love one another!); hole punchers; ribbon
Children should decorate how they want. Show them how to hole punch the top and tie a ribbon (not in a bow...just let them practice making knots!).
Extension: These cards could be used to send to a Nursing Home. For ideas on this and other Christmas Service Projects, Click Here
Candy Cane Patterns
Materials Needed: Candy Cane shape drawn on construction paper with one bold marker line; red and white construction paper squares; glue sticks; marker
Encourage children to print their name on the paper. Encourage them to make an AB pattern with the white and red squares by gluing them, in an AB pattern, onto the bold line to make a candy cane.
Materials Needed: green paper, scissors, Christmas theme stickers, markers.
Have children cut the green paper into the shape that THEY want their Christmas trees to be (accept ANY shapes they make. Do not insist on triangle shapes! Some trees are full, narrow, short, tall! And, the goal of this activity is using scissors...with art, it is always the process NOT the product or outcome!).
Encourage the children to print their name on their tree and then allow them to decorate how they want with the stickers and markers.
Pine Cone Tree
Materials needed: Scented pine cones (available at craft stores with a cinnamon scent); glitter glue; mini colored pom-poms; plastic stars for top of trees; plaster of paris; waxed paper cups for base.
Hot Cider Sachet
Materials Needed: cheese cloth(cut into 8 inch squares); whole cloves; whole allspice berries; cinnamon sticks (1 whole and 2 cut into 4 inch lengths); ribbon; plain (unlined) index cards or square stock paper, markers; preprinted instructions for cider; glue sticks
Children count out and place 10 Allspice berries and 2 teaspoons of cloves and 4 broken pieces of cinnamon sticks onto cheese cloth. Place one packet of instant cider on top of spices. Help them to tie this into a sachet using the ribbon. Tie the large cinnamon stick onto ribbon.
Children decorate the card with the markers and print their name on the card. They should glue the Cider Instructions on the back of the card.
Instructions to preprint: 1. Heat up some apple cider and pour into a mug. 2. Put sachet into your cider. 3. Put cinnamon stick into your cider. 4. Enjoy!
Materials Needed: Picture of each child, picture frame to decorate.
Picture frame ideas:
Glue craft sticks in the shape of a Christmas Tree or a Gift Box. Have children decorate with glue and glitter. Glue their picture to a piece of heavy colored paper (card stock). Glue picture on with a glue stick--white glue (like school glue) will make the ink from the picture run! Glue card stock on back of picture frame so that it can be seen from the front. Hot glue or use tacky glue to attach a ribbon to the top so that it can be hung from a Christmas tree.
Help children to make a Christmas wreath shape out of their handprints. Glue their picture, in a heart shape, into the middle.
Materials Needed: applesauce and cinnamon, equal amounts (this takes a LOT of cinnamon!); ribbon, straw or pencil; wax paper. Mix equal parts of both. It will make a great smelling dough. Roll out to about 1/2 inch thick for children to use cookie cutters for shapes.
Use a straw or pencil to make a hole in the top. Let dry on wax paper. You will need to flip them each day. They take a few days to completely dry. Tie a ribbon for hanging through the hole.
Put the child's name and year on the back.
NOTE: We have added a small amount of white school glue to the mix to keep it all together!
Home made Cocoa Mix
Items needed: Small jars with covers (1 for each student); powdered nondairy coffee creamer (1/2 cup for each student); sifted powdered sugar (1/2 cup per student); unsweetened cocoa powder (1/8 cup per student); candy canes (1 1/2 per student--already crushed with rolling pin); 1/2 cup measuring cups, 1/8 cup measuring cups.
Set up a "cooking station" on a table with each of the ingredients in a row. From left to right have: Jars, bowl of powdered coffee creamer with measuring cup in it, bowl of sifted powdered sugar with measuring cup in it; bowl of unsweetened cocoa powder with measuring cup in it; baggies with crushed candy canes; covers to jars.
Instruct the children to put one cup of each into their jar. Instruct them to empty the crushed candy cane into the jar. Cover the jar and shake, shake, shake!
Make HOW TO MAKE cards to tie around jar. Combine 1/4 cup of mix with 3/4 cup boiling water; stir well, drink!
Materials needed: Netting; rubber bands; potpourri (purchase at craft store--preferably holiday scents like cinnamon, vanilla, etc.); ribbon strips.
Cut netting into circles approximately 12-14 inches. Scoop a bunch of potpourri into center. Help children gather the netting and attach a rubber band at top for them. Encourage them to tie knows in the ribbon (you can add a bow when they are done). Add basic Gift Tags that the children have written their names on.
EXTENSION: Many craft stores sell clear, round, plastic ornaments very inexpensively. Place potpourri into ornaments, close ornament and add a ribbon to the end. Write "Merry Christmas! Love, __________(child's name)" on the ornament--It is preferable to encourage the children to write their name on the ornament.
Materials Needed: White snowflake doilies (or round, white coffee filters); silver cupcake liners, small, round picture of each child, sequins and/or seasonal stickers, glue, glue sticks, ribbon
Instruct children to glue their picture on the cupcake liner using a glue stick (glue will make the ink from their picture run if you printed them on your printer). They then glue liner onto the doily or coffee filter. They then glue sequins/stickers onto the silver liner. Tie a ribbon on the top (so that it can be hung from the tree of the recipient). Write the year on the back of the ornament.
Materials needed: White construction paper; brown finger paint-mixed with a small amount of white school glue (only add a small amount. Too much will cause the finger paint to become amazingly thick); large wiggle eyes; precut round black circles for noses; fingerpaint paper.
Help children to place their hand (fingers- but NOT their thumbs- and palms) into the paint and press their hand on the white construction paper. Set handprint aside. Provide finger paint paper so they can just have fun with the finger paint!
When they are finished finger painting and washed up, give each child 2 wiggle eyes and a round black paper to add onto their handprint for a reindeer. The fingers are the antlers and the nose should be somewhere on the bottom of the palm print for the nose.
TIP: If possible, encourage the children to separate their index and middle finger a little bit away from their ring & pinky fingers help define the antlers.
When dry, hole punch the top and add a ribbon to hang the ornament. Print the child's name, age and the date on the back.
Local Tree Farm
Visiting the tree farm to see the different types and shapes of trees. Ask if they will donate any branches that have fallen for your art projects and science area! Also, take a picture, if possible, of each child standing next to a tree he or she likes! Ask them why they like that particular tree! Write down what they say.
Print the pictures and glue onto an 8 1/2 X 11 paper and write each child's name and what they said at the farm on the bottom to make a class book "Our visit to the Tree Farm". Read it at circle time and then place in your library area. This will be a book they will "read" over and over again!
Take a walk around your school and look for signs of Christmas--lights, decorations, etc.!
Visit The Bakery
In advance, contact your local supermarket that has a bakery section or a local bakery. Arrange a time for your children to come in and perhaps sample a Christmas food or two!* Be sure to purchase something from the local bakery for snack!
If you have any allergies in your classroom, I would not suggest this field trip. Even though a food you sample may have not peanuts, for example, in it, the mix may have been made in the same bowl that peanuts were in. This is called cross-contamination and is a huge culprit of many allergic reactions.
December by Eve Bunting
This story helps introduce the concept of helping and giving during this season. You will need to paraphrase it for this age group. It is about a boy and his Mom who live in a cardboard box but see that there are others that are in a worse position than they are. They invite someone to move into their box on Christmas.
In our state, a dry cleaners collects coats for those in need. It began as a Coats for Kids program and grew into coats for all ages. The coats need to be in wearable condition (no buttons missing, zippers working, no rips). The cleaners will clean and distribute the coats. Call your local Dry Cleaners to see if they will sponsor this type of event. If they won't, do it on your own! Collect coats from families--request that they be in wearable condition and already cleaned. Donate them to the local homeless shelter.
Homeless Shelter Helps
Contact the local homeless shelter (preferably in November so that you have time to plan this!). Find out what they are most in need of and collect those items all month long...or all year long! This could be a food drive, a diaper drive, find out what they need!
Another idea is to have the children each bring in a vegetable or item to make a home made soup. Cook it during the day in a crockpot and deliver it to a soup kitchen that evening. Parents could also make or purchase bread to deliver as well to go with the soup.
Greetings to the Troops
Have the children make Christmas cards at your writing center. Speak with a local recruiter's office to have them mailed out.
Greetings to Nursing Home Residents
Donate homemade cards to a local nursing home or assisted living program.
Plan a day where your children can sing their favorite Christmas Songs together. We plan this in advance so that families are invited to their "Christmas concert"! It is literally a 5 minute "program"! The children sing their favorite songs in front of their families and then we all enjoy refreshments and snacks together. We have a sign up sheet for refreshments ahead of time for parents to provide snacks and drinks.
Extension: Have an assortment of the children's art work from the month prominently on display during the event!
Send notices home in advance to the families to send their children into school in their pajamas! They can bring in their favorite stuffed animals if they want as well! Provide hot chocolate, popcorn or fruit salad and just have a laid back day reading seasonal stories, listening to Christmas music.
EXTENSION: One of our very talented teachers made a "fireplace" which she painted on large paper. It is hung on the wall with some stockings (preferably child made with construction paper) hung on the "mantel". She tapes "flames" in the opening of the fireplace.
Each year, we take a few class group photos with all the children in front of the fireplace. The parents LOVE these pictures. Also, you could use the pictures in a Picture Frame Giftclick Here for Christmas Gift Ideas