5 engaging and easy-to-implement Christmas activities for children

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… and the most chaotic for us in early childhood education! The children are super animated and the days just fly by. Planning fun activities during this season can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be thanks to the Christmas elves at HiMama who have done all the work for us! 😉 

Here are five activities that we have loved doing at our center in our preschool rooms. The children can’t get enough of them!

1. Snowflake candy counting

snowflake candy counting daycare activity

How it works:

Print out the snowflake counting template in color onto cardstock if possible. Take the extra measure to laminate it as well for durability and cleanliness. You can make one set for a math learning center or you can make one set for each child. 

Then, have red and green candies ready. For this activity, decide if you are going to allow children to eat these. If so, give each child their own individual bag so that their fingers are the only ones who have touched them!

Once they place the number of candies on the corresponding snowflake with the matching numeral, they can either put the candies back in the bag or eat them! 

How it’s educational:

There are two big skills working together for this activity. Picking up each individual pieces of candy requires using the pincer grasp, which is a fine motor skill needed for writing. Matching the number with the number of candies is a great cognitive skill needed for math. Children will have so much fun doing this activity while gaining new math skills without knowing it! 

Why I love it:

This is a fun activity to do year-round, but having it with snowflakes and red and green candies makes it extra special for the holidays. I love using this activity because it allows my learners who are just getting the hang of number recognition to feel successful, and then I can expand on it for my older learners to do basic addition using the candies.

Tip: Use child-size tweezers to grab each candy to place on the corresponding snowflakes to “amp” up the fine motor experience!

2. Salt dough wreath ornament

salt dough christmas wreath

How it works:

This activity will take a few days to do, but children will LOVE it! You can explore so many senses in this one craft experience. Using the recipe provided, mix the ingredients and bake the dough. Once cooled, the children can decorate their wreaths with various paints and outdoor components such as pine cone needles and berries. Having cinnamon sticks and star anise is also a way to bring some aromatic elements. 

How it’s educational:

This activity allows children to be exposed to new smells and work with dough and different mediums to create something beautiful! Allowing room for creativity will allow children to explore the options for making this ornament and gain confidence in their aesthetic giftings.

Why I love it:

I love that this is an activity that allows for creativity with no result that it has to be. Having the elements from outside as well as the spices that remind us of Christmas will really expose children to new experiences with their sense of smell. You can talk with them about what smells are their favorite or even have them close their eyes when they smell them to see if they can guess! This turns into such a special keepsake for years to come!

Tip: Add extracts like peppermint, anise, etc. if you wanted to make the dough even more aromatic for children to experience.

3. Marshmallow snowman craft

marshmallow snowman kids christmas craft

How it works:

Have children create three circles with glue on blue cardstock or construction paper (or make it in dots to make it a little easier for them to do themselves. I always say, “Just a dot; not a lot.”) For little ones, you may need to create the circles in the shape of a snowman. Have mini marshmallows available for each child and encourage them to create a snowman. Use markers to draw the face, arms, and buttons if you would like.  

How it’s educational:

This activity involves fine motor training. From the glue to the marshmallows, children will be strengthening the muscles in their hands! They are also accessing the aesthetic domain by choosing how to make the craft beautiful to them.

Why I love it:

It’s SO easy! There is zero prep. Not only that, but it’s super inexpensive to do. Once children are complete with their snowmen, we like to use the rest of the marshmallows to have some hot cocoa and watch a short Christmas movie.

Tip: Allow children to make any winter scene and not just be stuck to the snowman. Allow their creativity to flow instead, especially for older children. 

4. Christmas crayon sun catcher

christmas crayon sun catcher daycare activity

How it works:

This is a fun science experiment that turns into a beautiful craft. If the idea of using an iron with little ones is too much, you can always use tissue paper to glue it down and it would still make a cute sun catcher. But if you can do this with an iron, it is a really fun way to see what happens to wax when hot temperatures are applied.

Simply place the cutout of a Christmas bulb on a piece of wax paper. Using recycled bits of crayon, create a pattern on the bulb. Once the bulb is filled with crayon pieces, place another wax paper on top of the crayon pattern. Using a tea towel and an iron (adult only), apply light pressure to the project, moving slowly and slightly. Remove heat and wait a minute or so before peeling the wax paper to show a beautifully melted crayon sun catcher! The wax will dry pretty quickly but can still be hot to the touch, so just be careful!

How it’s educational:

This is a great way to show what happens to matter when high temperatures are applied. Wax melts very easily, so this is a fast way to show how matter can go from solid to liquid and then back to solid due to temperature changes. This is also a way to talk about patterns and color identification when the children are placing the crayon pieces.

Why I love it:

Who doesn’t love melting things? I love doing things like this that integrate science with aesthetics. Showing children how you can reuse “worthless” items to make them into beautiful creations is why I particularly love doing this one.

Tip: Have children sit a good amount of feet away so they aren’t tempted to reach over and touch the hot items. Calling them over one at a time to do this is a great way to regulate safety concerns.

5. Christmas sensory bin

christmas sensory bin daycare activity

How it works:

Just use a deep, clear bin and choose a medium that works best for your children. You can also make individual bins to keep germs separate. Have children wash their hands prior and then have a deep bin full of whatever medium works best for you (sand, water beads, kinetic sand, water, rice, beans, etc.) using various “Christmas” items such as fake trees, fake presents, snowmen, snow (cotton balls), etc.

How it’s educational:

This is such a fun way to have open-ended play where you can keep adding things to it each week to create a fun Christmas experience. Adding cinnamon or other aromatic items will kick this up a notch to feel like it’s the season to be jolly! This helps with the senses and allows children to use their imagination in many ways. Fine motor skills are at work as well as dramatic play since children are most often pretending when they play in these bins. 

Why I love it:

It allows children to create a magical Christmas scene right there in the bin! Many children are able to de-stress when having sensory play, so I am all for allotting plenty of time for this kind of outlet. Now more than ever, having calming strategies is key for our children in early childhood education.

Tip: Use cotton balls as the medium so it looks like snow! 

It is always so fun to get ready for the holidays, but it doesn’t have to be a chore for you as an educator or parent.  Using these activity plans will help you feel so much more prepared, and the activities are actually meaningful to their development. You can even have some of these double as a Christmas gift for family members. 

For even more educational activity ideas, see HiMama’s daycare activities database!

Missy Knechel

Missy is a professor in the early childhood department at Eastern University and director of Victory Early Learning Academy, a childcare center that she started ten years ago. Prior to that, she taught Kindergarten and second grade for a total of 10 years. She has been married to her best friend, Jason, for 18 years, and together they have four beautiful children ages 8, 9, 12 and 13 in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. In her spare time, Missy loves to bake, read historical fiction, sing karaoke and travel to Central America on short term missions.


  • Jenjo Games says:

    These are some really interesting ideas and would allow kids to explore their creativity. We will definitely try them out with our kids on our next time. Thanks for sharing and explaining it so well!

  • So glad you like them! It’s always good to be ahead for next year (or Christmas in July! ha!) 🙂