That last day before the holiday break can be a doozy if you’re not careful. For me, I like to make it manageable for me and fun for my kids. Stress-Free Holiday Activities are just the ticket. I’ve compiled my favorite games and activities to share with you so you can enjoy a Stress-Free day, too.
(Please note, even though these are very Christmas-y activities, I actually teach my students about many other holidays celebrated in our country during this time of year, and I also survey my parents to see which, if any, holidays they celebrate. The activities shown here are just a snippet of what happens on one morning of the holiday season and they do not represent my entire curriculum.)
STATIONS MAKE IT EASY PEASY
Just like when I’m planning for a Stress-Free Halloween or a Stress-Free Thanksgiving, I find that when I can keep students engaged in fun and meaningful activities, the day is more pleasant and peaceful and joyful for everyone. You can decide based on how much time you have in your schedule just how long students are at each station, but I generally like to keep it between 10-12 minutes with no more than four students at any one station at the same time. So for instance, in my classroom of 20 students, I will have 6 stations with 3-4 students at each station. It will take me about an hour and a half for students to get to all 6 stations. If you would work better with a schedule that only includes 4 or 5 stations, that’s perfectly fine. Or, just in case you need a few extra stations, I will add a couple of additional ideas here that you can try. To find out more about any of these stress-free holiday activities, just click on the pictures or highlighted text.
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Geoboards are a basic staple in my class. Along with Legos, q-tip, daubers, and dough, these are items that I just always have available for my students in one way or another. Because of this, my students are familiar with the materials and that makes these activities so independent and easy. And most importantly . . . it makes them STRESS-FREE!
I use a couple of different levels of difficulty so I’m never worried that it might be too hard or too easy for any one student.
TIS THE SEASON TO BE A NUT STACKER
This is always such great fun for my students and it’s simple enough for them to manage on their own.
As soon as one student flips the sand timer, the rest of the group gets to work placing a nut on the end of their candy cane and then using only one hand they stack as many nuts as they can before the sand runs out.
- one plastic candy cane for each player
- a sand timer
- several nuts of the same size that will fit through the plastic candy cane
DOUGH, DOUGH, DOUGH
There’s not much my students love more than getting their hands on some dough. Today is a perfect day to give them some fun dough mats and let them get their hands moving. These stress-free holiday activities allow students to decorate a tree or an ornament using extruders, rolling pins and other dough tools.
They are both included in my December Morning Work Stations packet. (There are like 35 different activities in this packet. I am only using 12 this month so I have a ton of extra activities that I can use in my Math Stations, Daily 6 Stations or . . . Stress-Free Holiday Stations.)
- Various colors of playdoh
- Playdoh cards
Stress-free holiday activities wouldn’nt be complete without at least one station has to involve a race of some kind. This one is all about snowballs. Where students raced spiders for Halloween and then feathers for Thanksgiving, this time we race extra-large pompoms. Each student is given their own festive holiday straw. Two students stand at the starting line and by blowing through their straw, they race to get their ‘snow balls’ across the finish line. If the thought of blowing straws gives you the germy heebie jeebies, then you can use baby nasal aspirators (I have brand new, never been used ones, of course.) and have students squeeze them to blow air on the ‘snowballs.’
I promise this is going to be a favorite activity, but it won’t be a quiet one.
- 1 holiday straw per students
- tape for start and finish line
- 2 extra large white pompoms
This is another super easy station because my students use Legos nearly every day in one way or another. This time we are working on all the things that have to do with the holiday season. You’ll find them included in my Winter Building Block Challenge set.
All you need are some small bases like the ones I use and legos in a bunch of different colors.
DOT THE HALLS WITH Q-TIP PICTURES
All you need are cotton swabs and some paint and you’ll have your station.
- Q-tip Dot A Design Holiday pages
There are quite a few pictures and versions that you can choose from or just offer a bunch and let your students choose.
Either way, this is a familiar activity that we use nearly every day for morning work and literacy stations and math, so my students know how to manage the tools and clean it up easily.
This is another super independent station that my students LOVE. There are several different images and levels from which you can choose to print.
TIS THE SEASON FOR A LITTLE JINGLE BELL TOSS
You know those little red shot glasses you can grab up at the Dollar Store or local grocery? Well they make really cute little Santa cups and when you hot glue those little cups to a pan or board, they make a fun little game for students.
Simply set the cups up anyway you wish. I then give my students 3 little jingle bells to see how many they can get into the cups. We keep score just for fun.
- little red plastic shot glasses (use black and gold sharpies draw a belt and buckle on a total of 12 glasses)
- 3 jingle bells
- a cookie sheet or board to hot glue cups onto
Stand back and watch them toss to their hearts delight and get ready for the ting-a-linga-ling of the jingling bells in air.
SWEET BEADED CANDY CANES
My students love making beaded bracelets, and I like that I can just put some beads out in a tray and they produce their own creations without much direction from me.
You can just throw some pony beads in with the lot or even give your students paper straws to cut up to use for beads. It’s sure to be a hit. Don’t worry if you don’t have the foam beads, you can also use paper straws and have your students cut them into beads. It’s also a great, fine motor activity.
- various pony beads
- jingle bells
- pipe cleaners
- paper straws
But if you want to have them produce something a bit ‘more,’ these super simple beaded candy canes are so easy. Students just create a pattern and you form it into a candy cane shape. Super easy peasy.
Because stacking ghosts is such a hit on Halloween, I thought I would give my students the opportunity to stack some snowmen for Christmas.
Just grab yourself some more of those all-white little cups from Walmart and paint little snowman faces on them with a couple of Sharpies and there you go. I gave my students 100 and that was a good number for them to work with during the time we had.
- plastic white cups
- Sharpie pens in black and orange
Finally, here’s an oldie but an easy one! I just get some foam gingerbread men and some ‘stuff’ for them to decorate them.
It’s easy. And it’s open-ended, so there’s no wrong or right way to do it.
- foam gingerbread boys
- various buttons
- yarn or rick-rack
- google eyes
- clear-drying glue
- ribbon to hang it
MORE HOLIDAY GOODNESS
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