I just love the holiday season with kids.  Our schedule is packed this time of year, but we managed to squeeze in all sorts of Christmas fun during this 2 week unit.
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Here were our plans for our special 2 week Christmas theme:

And here are the details of each activity:

Our favorite Christmas books were:

How to Catch a Santa By Jean Reagan
Click Clack Ho! Ho! Ho! By Doreen Cronin
Dream Snow By Eric Carle
Snowmen at Christmas By Caralyn Buehner
Merry Christmas, Splat By Rob Scotton
Llama Llama Holiday Drama By Anna Dewdney
It’s Christmas David By David Shannon

  Play Dough Christmas Trees:
We love play dough trays over here, so this week I pulled out green play dough, a tree cookie cutter, foam shapes, buttons and sequins. It made for a nice enticing invitation to create for Madelynn to explore.
 Jingle Bell Painting:
With a little baby around, sometimes I need a little mess (and stress!) free painting activity to keep Madelynn busy so that I don't have to keep a super close eye on her.  This jingle bell painting was really easy and fun for her. First, I put a piece of cardstock in a plastic bag. Then I added a few drops of red and green tempera paint, and dropped in a few jingle bells.  Madelynn rolled, pressed, and shook the bag to move the paint around on the paper.
Candy Cane Salt Tray:
Salt trays are great for writing and fine motor practice so this week I made a salt tray with salt and red glitter. Then we used candy canes to make lines and shapes. Madelynn even enjoyed just playing with the salt in her hands.

Gumdrop Building:
Madelynn loved stacking, poking (and eating) these little Christmas gumdrops. I encouraged her to make 2D shapes and 3D structures as well as to see how tall of a tower she could build.
Christmas Tree Dot Stamps:
Dot stamps are always a crowd pleaser around here. So this week we used these Do A Dot Art! Markers to dot the ornaments on our Christmas tree. Madelynn is still working on placing them in each circle, but this is really helping her build one to one correspondence for counting as well.
 Christmas Sticker Letter Match:
First, I made a Christmas tree letter matching page with the letters in Madelynn's name. Then, I wrote the same letters on round labels. Madelynn used the sticker "ornaments" to  match and decorate her tree.
Christmas Light Colors:
For a little fine motor color matching combo, I made this christmas light page for matching. Then I gave Madelynn a bin of rainbow colored pom poms and she used tweezers to grab and match them to the page.
Reindeer Antler Colors:
I've been wanting to introduce Wikki Stix to Madelynn for a while, so I created this little activity to get her exploring. First she chose colored Wikki Stix to match each reindeer then she molded them into antler shapes.
Number Present Match:
I created this matching game for some number practice. We have been working really hard on counting slowly with one to one correspondence and Madelynn really did a great job up to about 5! I also used rhinestone stickers on the present for added tactile interest.  I found they really helped her slow down to count each one.
Christmas Bow Painting:
For this super simple art activity I poured red, yellow, white, and green tempera paint into a tray and added present bows.  Madelynn explored stamping and swishing them around the page to make a really fun textured look.
Christmas Scarf Dance:
Dancing is a daily gross motor activity in our house anyways, so to add some Christmas flair I pulled out some red and green scarves.  Then I cranked up some Christmas music and we had a festive dance party
Wreath Ring Toss:
To make this ring toss game I hot glued an empty paper towel tube to a paper plate then painted it red.  Then I cut the center out of 3 more paper plates and had Madelynn paint them green for "wreaths."
Candy Cane Hunt:
We have way too many candy canes laying around at Christmas time, so I decided to make them into a game. I hid 10 candy canes around the house and Madelynn had to search high and low and count them to be sure she found them all.
Christmas Tree Balance:
Our spider web balance game was a hit for Halloween so we made a Christmas Tree version with green washi tape.  First Madelynn practiced walking across the center. Then I had her try different forms of movement: jumping, hopping on one foot, leaping, tiptoeing, crawling, etc.
Don't Ring the Bell:
This game was essentially a limbo game with jingle bells. I strung several bells and stretched the string across the room.  Madelynn had to try to make her way under the string without ringing a bell as I moved the string progressively lower and lower.
  Christmas Snacks:
Strawberry Banana Candy Cane  - Slice a banana and strawberries into circles.  Alternate fruits and lay in a cane shape on a plate.

Veggie Christmas Trees - Use a cookie cutter to cut tortillas into tree shapes.  Spread with a thin layer of cream cheese. Slice cucumbers and lay on top of the cream cheese. Cut a star shape from sliced cheese and add to the top.  Sprinkle diced peppers on top.

Rice Crispy Trees - Heat 3 Tbsp butter and 4 cups mini marshmallows in microwave on high for 3 minutes. Stir after 2 minutes. Remove a scoop of the mixture and add 1 cup Cocoa Krispies cereal. Add green food coloring and 5 cups rice cereal to the remaining marshmallow mixture. Stir until well coated. Using cooking spray or wax paper, press green cereal mixture into triangle cookie cutters. Add small squares of Cocoa Krispies mixture to the bottom of each triangle. Cool on wax paper. Decorate with icing and candy pieces.

Reindeer Peanut Butter Crackers - Spread circle crackers with peanut butter. Add two pretzels near the top for antlers. Add candy eyes and jelly beans for the eyes and nose.

M&M Christmas Tree Count - Use printable christmas tree mats to count out the correct number of M&M candy ornaments to fill each tree.

Christmas Crunch Popcorn - Pop 2 bags microwave popcorn. Remove any unpopped popcorn kernels. Toss in broken pretzels and M&Ms. Melt vanilla candy melts according to package. Pour half of melted candy over popcorn mixture. Stir and repeat with the second half. Pour mixture onto wax paper and add sprinkles.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Trees - Wash, dry, and cut off the top of each strawberry. Melt green candy melts according to the package. Dip strawberries in green candy melt. Sprinkle with white nonpareils and candy cane sprinkles.  Add a star sprinkle at the top. Place on wax paper and allow candy to set.

Santa Strawberries - Wash, dry, and cut off the top of each strawberry. Slice strawberries again near the top. Fill a bag with cool whip. Place bigger part of strawberry on plate. Pipe cool whip on top. Squish the smaller pointy strawberry piece on top and add another small dollop of cool whip. Add nonpareils or sprinkles for eyes and nose.

Reindeer Brownies - Bake your favorite brownie recipe or use a boxed mix.  Cut brownies into rectangles. Use a bit of icing to attach pretzels to the top for antlers. Use more icing to attach candy eyes and a jelly bean nose for the reindeer face.

Candy Cane Cookies - Make your favorite sugar cookie cutout recipe or use a bag mix. Split cookie dough in half and dye one half red.  Roll a tablespoon of each color out into a "hot dog" like you would with playdough.  Twist the colors together, shape into a cane, and bake according to recipe directions.
Magnetic Christmas Tree Bin:
In this sensory bin: cotton ball "snow," red and green Magnatilesjingle bells, and magnetic bingo chips
In this bin we used Magnatiles to build Christmas trees. Then decorated our trees with jingle bells and magnetic bingo chips. Good clean holiday themed fun!

Ornament Water Bead Bin:
In this sensory bin: green water beads, plastic fillable ornaments, colored gems and sequins, and scoops
Ornament Snow Filling Bin:
Beware poly fil beads can hold a lot of static!! For a static free version you could also use poly pellets which are clear and less like snow, but also less of a mess!

Present Wrapping Bin:
In this sensory bin: squares of wrapping paper, tape, scissors, and small boxes
Christmas Tree Sensory Bag:
To make this bag, tape the 2 long edges of a triangle shaped treat bag with green duct tape.  Fill bag with green food coloring, shaving cream and foam circles. Push air out of the bag. Fold the edge over a few times and use green duct tape to seal the edge.  Tape a foam star and trunk to the outside of the bag.
Red and Green Peppermint Rice:
In this sensory bin: rice (dyed red, green and white, then scented with mint extract), plastic candy canes, and Christmas mini erasers
Ornament Water Filling Bin:
In this sensory bin: water, plastic fillable ornaments, red and green beads, eye droppers, and food coloring
 Candy Cane Slime:
To make this slime: Pour 6 oz. of red glitter glue into a bowl. Add ½ Tbsp baking soda and mix. Add 1 ¼ Tbsp. contact lens solution. Mix until slime forms.  If mixture is too sticky add more contact solution. Repeat with white glue and add glitter. Twist and squish the colors together to make candy canes.
Christmas Color Sorting Bin:
In this sensory bin: white beans, red and green items (jingle bells, pipe cleaners, mini lights, mini presents, etc.)
Christmas Light Box Trees:
In this sensory bin: green tissue paper triangles, brown tissue paper rectangles, magnetic bingo chips, sequins, gems, clear tray and light pad

Want all of this week's printables and plans?  You can grab them here:

 Or you can grab our entire year of themes and plans here:
Then check out all of our Tot School themes here:









Do you participate in Secret Santa with your coworkers? I always love exchanging little surprises with my teacher friends to help get through the crazy month of December.  Whether you exchange gifts at work or not, I am excited to share with you that my Elementary Entourage friends and I have some special Secret Santa gifts for all of you and you don't even need to leave your couch to grab them!

I wanted to share some really great FREE resources I have to help with your plans for next week or when you come back in January.

First I have this Christmas Graphing Sampler that has 3 engaging activities to make math fun and festive for your students.

Next, if you need winter themed printables, this Snowy Snapshot Sample has 4 printables that are perfect to use if you have a few days left before break, or anytime after you get back as well.

And last, I LOVE picture books. I seriously have a problem with buying WAY too many. Scholastic and Amazon Prime just make it way to easy, right? So here are 2 fun winter themed freebies for comprehension with Dream Snow by Eric Carle and Nat Geo Kids: Penguins.

I hope you find something you can use and don't forget to hop along and check out all of the other Secret Santa surprises from the Elementary Entourage, Happy Holidays!

I know it's not even Christmas yet and many of you are probably just trying to hold on to your sanity until break, but when you have the time my blogging friends and I are here to help you check some January planning off your list. These 12 books are perfect for January so come check out all the awesome lesson ideas, activities and more!

I try to incorporate nonfiction all year, but we really up our nonfiction reading in January when my little kindergartners comprehension skills are starting to take off. So this month my favorite book is a nonfiction reader about Penguins.

National Geographic Kids readers are so perfect for the primary classroom because they always include fantastic photos alongside easy to understand information. I love that they usually include tons of text features to help my students learn about the topic a well. 
In January I really dive into student led inquiry learning with my students and one of my favorite projects is our Antarctica research.  While students are looking for information, one of the things I really try to emphasize is just how much we can learn from pictures in non fiction books. 

Here are a few examples of how students can use the pictures in non fiction books to gain information even if they cannot yet read the words.

I created these 3 leveled response sheets to go with this book for kindergarten-2nd grade.

You can grab them for FREE here:
And if you are looking for more response sheets sign up for FREEBIES here:

FREE Reading Response Pages!

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Don't forget, each month, the Books Teachers Love Crew is giving away 4 of the books that we blogged about, and YOU get to choose the books you want! So scope out all 12 blog posts below, pick your favorites, and enter to win.

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