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Preschool Syllabus: Christmas

This month is, of course, all about Christmas. As a family we are doing an advent calendar which walks us through the Old Testament and sets the stage for why Christ was born. In our morning rug time we sing traditional Christmas carols and are reading several nativity stories. I won't list all of the stories we have on our list to read but I did want to tell you about about a book I discovered last year: We Were There: A Nativity Story by Eve Bunting. 

The story is told from the view point of some less-than-loved creatures (spiders, rats, etc) that journeyed to Bethlehem to see Jesus's birth. At first glance it is a bit of an unusual concept but it's become one of my favorites for several reasons.  First, I have boys and they think "gross" things are cool so this book grabs their attention. The book is also poetic prose and has beautiful illustrations. The main reason I love it though, is because of its subtle message that Christ did not come just for the beautiful and lovable but even for those that are found in the "dark".  


name stamping (pdf from 1+1+1=1), christmas alphabet
coloring book (pdf from bry-back manor), glitter glue pens
skills practiced: fine motor, printing name/letters, letter recognition,
creativity, phonics
LEARNING "TRAYS" - I rotate these, setting out about four a day from which the boy's can choose.
sand paper letters and gingerbread flour tray
skills practiced: fine motor, letter recognition, printing
letter beads on pipe cleaners (we'll do a couple version of this:
sorting letters and then spelling names and other well
known words

skills practiced: fine motor, letter recognition, spelling
charles dickens christmas puzzles (puzzles are cut up
christmas cards)
skills practiced: spatial reasoning, problem solving
craft stick christmas tree
skills practiced: spatial reasoning, problem solving, size/length
christmas pattern puzzles (pdf via prekinders)
skills practiced: spatial reasoning, problem solving, shapes, fine motor,
stacking boxes
skills practices: spatial reasoning, problem solving, size 
tweezing pom-poms into star tray
skills practiced: sorting, fine motor 
pattern making with pom-pomsskills practiced: patterning sorting
tonging jingle bells
skills practiced: classifying, colors, fine motor, sorting
scooping cranberries into numbered cups
skills practiced: fine motor, number recognition, counting 
measuring ribbon (there are 12 cards which the boys will first
lay out in order, they will then measure the ribbons and place
them on the correct cards)
skills practiced: counting, number recognition, using ruler, measurement,
recording findings, fine motor
christmas tree light game: roll the dice to see how many lights
you can add, 1st one to empty their bowl wins (the "lights"
are from a light bright, the "tree" is a painted craft cone)
skills practiced: counting, social, fine motor
 christmas items and observation notebook
skills practiced: measuring, observing, comparing, recording date,
expressing thought through print 
painting with pine needles & glitter
skills practiced: fine motor, creativity
peppermint play-dough (basic play-dough recipe with red
food coloring, peppermint extract, and fake glitter snow added)
skills practiced: fine motor, creativity 
gift wrapping
skills practiced: fine motor, cutting, taping, problem solving, practical life
I didn't take pictures of them for this post but we also have a couple nativity sets the boys can use to reenact the Christmas story and a mini tree for them to decorate.

P.S. Check out our homeschool page for more theme units and educational ideas. 


  1. This is an AMAZING post, Rachel. You truly have creativity as a gift :) Thanks for these great ideas!

  2. These are some great ideas! Thanks :)

  3. This is awesome! I wish Adam could do it all with you guys, too!

    Do your boys do the activities as you had hoped? I've tried some different things with Adam and he likes to make up his own way to use the manipulatives I give him, and choose WHEN to do it, too. Is there a trick to getting them to "work" for you?

  4. I cannot help but feel a little spoiled getting to see and use your ideas without having to think them up myself. Thank you! :)

  5. Wow! You are doing a LOT this season. I felt overwhelmed just reading about it. We start homeschooling early so that we can take the month off.

  6. Wow! Lots of fun activities! I really want to find that book now!

  7. What a great set of resources you've shared here! Make me want a little one again!

  8. I LOVE your creativity in preparing Montessori-inspired activity trays! The letter beads on pipe cleaners, scooping cranberries, measuring ribbon ... all great activities! Thanks so much for linking up with Montessori Monday! I added your post to my Montessori-Inspired Christmas Activities at

  9. Just stopping by from Montessori Monday. Your trays are FANTASTIC! I especially love your measurement trays and Christmas tree game. Very clever! I'm your newest follower on GFC!


  10. So awesomy! Id LOVE for you to come link this up or any of your other holiday ideas in my new link up! Thanks!

    I also have a Homeschooling on the Cheap link up on my blog. This would be awesome for that, too.


  11. I love all of these!! I am pinning the tray with the boxes because my Boogie will especially love that. We have the snowman box but not the others. Where did you find so many that fit into one another like that?


  12. I love all your Montessori inspired work trays. I especially like the "light bright" tree. Such a cute idea!

  13. Fabulous trays! I'm going to borrow a lot of these.

    Popping in from Preschool Corner

  14. What wonderful ideas! I like the Christmas card puzzles! Stopping by from the Preschool Corner. I'm your newest follower!


  15. Sierra-
    I found all the cube boxes at the dollar tree the others were picked up after Christmas last year I think at Michael's

  16. Katie-

    It really depends on the boy. Big Buddy (4 years) does but some activities do take more direction than others. We call it his work and I stress that in our family we work hard and do our best. He really enjoys math oriented trays and will do them as I have set our with out much probing. Letters and beading are not his favorite so they sometimes require lots of supervision and cheerleading. Once he's done the activity my way I do allow him to play with the materials how he wants to as long as it isn't too destructive. For example this week he wanted to stack the ribbons and when finished with the nesting boxes he REALLY wanted to knock them down - I let him do both.

    Mini Man (2 years) honestly spends about 70% of our activity time playing with the play dough. When Big Buddy finishes with an activity Mini Man will sometimes then try to mimic Big Buddy's work. Some activities (sorting and simple patterns) he does with great success. Other activities (measuring ribbons) he isn't able to do so I just let him handle the materials.

    The only trick/tip I have to offer is that I always set out four to five activities and then let them choose. This little amount of choice seems to keep them excited about the activities. If I know an activity is really going to be a struggle sometimes I will require that Big Buddy does it first and then I try to make all the other trays things he will enjoy so that he has incentive to focus and finish.

  17. Fabulous array of activities and ideas! Would love for you to share on the Sunday Showcase - (open thru Thurs)


  18. I Love your Learning Trays! Writing in the sand/ sugar, flour... was a memorable tool for helping my kids learn to spell their words... I'm looking forward to trying out more of your Learning Tray ideas!

  19. Love these ideas. I played the light game with my boys and they think it's a hit! Thanks.

  20. Hi Rachel! I linked back to this post because I used one of your ideas for one of our trays this week :)

    Merry Christmas!

  21. Some GREAT ideas, Rachel! Thanks so much for sharing. I'll be using one of your ideas this week with my preschool class. :)

  22. All very, very beautiful--makes me want to play!!! I love your advisory comment as well--I also have a 4 year old (girl) and a 2 year old (boy), so the juggling is one of the things that makes it exciting, ha!


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