Five ways to explore Christmas in the early years

Children completing some Christmas activities

Christmas is undoubtedly one of the most exciting times in the calendar for young children (and older children and *ahem* adults) and an experience we can bring into our EYFS settings.

I’ve seen lots of posts on social media talking about so-called craptivities. This refers to adult led activities which have a set outcome for children. I don’t think we should be advocating an approach where children turn out a production line of identical crafts, where adults direct correct hand placement to ensure thirty duplicate Christmas cards. However, I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with a little bit of adult guidance and direction sometimes. I believe in balance in what we offer to children and some level of adult guidance and modelling helps to develop skills of listening, following instructions and working together. It’s also lovely for children and their families to have a finished product to purchase at the Winter fair or a card to send to grandma. But, this doesn’t mean we need a production line of identical crafts- we can still have originality and creativity.

In my opinion, it’s also important to think of the ratios of time spent. If your setting usually operates with 80% of the time being child initiated and 20% of the day being adult guided, the same should apply to Christmas.

So how can we bring in opportunities for children to explore Christmas in a play-based child-initiated way?

  • Role Play

Bringing in role play opportunities allows children to explore new experiences such as using a post office or develop their understanding of familiar experiences such as Christmas in their own homes.

  • Christmas Decoration Creation Station

Providing a range of materials for children to explore creatively to create their own Christmas cards and decorations, encourages the use of fine motor skills, develops creative thinking and also supports problem solving skills.

  • Christmas Playdough

Malleable materials are an early years staple, but why not reflect the Christmas season by scenting your dough with cinnamon, orange and mixed spice, or mix up the colours (more red and green anyone?). Check out this great playdough recipe for Christmas at rainydaymum.co.uk

  • Christmas music

Play Christmas music in your setting and encourage children to sing, dance and explore musical instruments. What do children come up with? Do you have any budding somgwriters? Or maybe some children plan their own Christmas performance? This is a great opportunity for you to observe children’s creativity, vocabulary development and physical skills.

  • Present wrapping

Always the most popular activity in my classroom in the run up to Christmas was the “present wrapping station”. A really simple enhancement that included wrapping paper, tape and boxes, for children to wrap, explore and take home! I initially started using this enhancement as way for children to rehearse their motor skills, such as cutting and dexterity. However, an unexpected additional benefit, was the impact it had on children’s mark making! Many children chose to create little messages or notes to share with their family and friends.

December is the best (and the most exhausting!) time in the EYFS, so embrace the chaos and soak up the magic of Christmas!

Looking for extra inspiration?

If you’re wanting some extra inspiration to keep you going in December then I’ve got something to help. Check out these awesome Christmas Planning Packs!