Updated: Nov 2, 2021
It's the lead up to Christmas and your students are TIRED. You're TIRED. It's been a long term and everybody is over 'learning' so how do you keep everybody engaged and on-task in their literacy and math rotations?
Simple. Don't fight the holiday season.
Children are READY for Christmas and it's all they can think of, so why fight it. Build on what they are engaged in by making your rotations themed for the holidays.
Here are my favourite top 11 Christmas-themed literacy and math center ideas that are super easy to do (plus keep an eye out for the freebies you can download too!).
1. Blend sorts to feed to Santa, Mrs Claus and an Elf.
Place faces over bowls and cut the mouths out. You can get a downloadable printable here for this activity. Write sound blends on cards and let students place them into the correct mouth. Extension activity: pull the words out and write a sentence with them. Great to pair with another student, one to do the activity and one to check the answers.
2. Add some Christmas lights.
Draw a Christmas tree on some paper and place a bowl of pom poms with tweezers next to them. Give students some written instructions on cards and let them see how many lights they can add. The tweezers also make fine-motor skills practice easy too.
3. Stamp it up!
Get some colourful stamps (I got these from Kmart for $2) and give students some strips of paper. Write a number on the end of each piece of paper and get students to just stamp away. Counting. Stamping. Having fun! If you'd like these free number strips you can download them in my Freebie Library for subscribers (not a subscriber yet? You can join here and download lots of free teaching resources in my library with more added all the time!).
4. Feed the reindeer
This is such a fun activity that all the kids will want to have a go at feeding the reindeer! As with the Santa and Elf heads above, place any picture of a reindeer over a bowl and cut the mouth out. Cut some pictures of carrots up and place them on the table with some instructions. Get students to read, count and check their answers then feed them to the reindeer. You can use any picture of reindeer or you can download an easy printable of this activity here.
5. Counting Christmas Bubbles
Download the free printable Christmas number baubles from my Freebie Library for subscribers (not a subscriber yet? You can join here). Place the bauble on a tray (I used a small painting tray I had handy) and place pom poms nearby in a bowl multi-coloured and multi-sized. Get students to sort the coloured pom-poms into the container with the correct number in each space. You can mix this activity up by getting students to sort big and small, coloured or other combinations to match the number in the middle. Use tweezers for more fine-motor skills.
6. Sight Word Christmas Cookie sort
Find pictures of Christmas cookies or objects. Cut them in half and write sight words on each half. Then let students pair them up. This is such a fun busy activity for little fingers and will get students working on those sight words. Extend this activity by getting students to make sentences from the sight words. If you'd like to download a printable copy of this activity click here.
7. Counting with Christmas tens frames
Place number mats on the table along with either playdough or pom-poms and let students practice making up those tens frames. Another great busy activity closely aligned to the curriculum but also fun. You can find printable copies of this activity here.
8. Pegging it on!
Using the little Christmas baubles from the freebie library (you can join here), attach them to the card and place some pretty pegs nearby. Get students to count the pegs as they attach them to the card. Great for one-to-one correspondence work. I got these cute gold glitter pegs from the Christmas section at Kmart but you can find some really sweet ones out at Christmas time.
You can find some pretty Christmas themed ones in the Christmas Math Centers pack here.
9. Number matching puzzle
If you have the time, you can make these easily at home. Just cut some card up and place stickers on one side to correspond with the number on the other side. Mix them up and let students place them together. A good extension activity is to get your higher-level students to make some for the rest of the class. If you don't have the time to make these you can download them here.
10. Make some Christmas words
A great way to practice letter formation, give students some playdough and write some Christmas words on paper. Get students to make the words up with play dough and as an extension, they could try and make a sentence to go with the word out of the leftover playdough. You can also use pom poms or for a more permanent idea use cut up pieces of tissue paper to make a nice decorative piece. You can download these word mats here.
11. Christmas bingo!
Everybody loves bingo! Use Christmas as another way to explore vocabulary and build on existing knowledge of word use with some tier one and two words. You can download this free Christmas bingo set from the freebie library (you can join here), print and laminate to make the cards last longer. I found some Christmas erasers at Kmart for $3 and used those as counters. Get one person to be the caller and read the card (using the picture as a guide). Students then look for that word and place counter over it. The one with the first row completed is the winner (up or down). A good extension activity to do with higher kids is to get the caller to describe the object without saying it such as 'it makes a ringing sound' and get the students to see which one they think it is.