Christmas is a magical time of year for young children as they experience the many wonders it brings. From counting down the days for Santa Claus’s arrival to decorating christmas trees and practicing scenes and songs for the annual Christmas nativity. By providing children with many educational opportunities they will learn to understand the real meaning of Christmas; being together and appreciating the love of their family and friends and ultimately celebrating ‘belonging’ (Aistear Theme Identity and Belonging).
Providing the children with information about Christmas through books, stories, songs, movies and various objects gives the children a chance to understand the basic meaning of Christmas. Depending on their age they may be able to recall their own memories from previous Christmases after these learning opportunities. Once the children have the basic concept of Christmas the early years setting can become a creative hub. This can be done by providing many materials for the children to explore and experiment with. It is a great time for children to get creative and use their imagination. Below are some ideas that you could use in your service to help the children to explore and learn about Christmas.
Christmas and Winter Themed Sensory Bins
Sensory bins are a great way for children to explore different textures and shapes that will stimulate their senses whilst learning about Christmas at the same time. You can use sensory bins for many different Christmas themes from a Winter Wonderland to an Elf’s Workshop. There isn’t a need to spend much as you can include many things you already have on hand to create sensory bins. As long as you add items that are of different texture along with small tools and containers for the children to scoop, lift and pour, it will be very easy to do. Below are some videos to help you find inspiration!
Our sense of smell can often evoke lovely Christmas memories…maybe the smell of cloves from a Christmas ham cooking or the smell of cinnamon or star anise from a local Christmas fair you attended as a child. A great way for children to explore and learn about Christmas is by using their own senses. Many familiar Christmas items are from natural materials that you can source very easily. On a large tray, place some pinecones, cranberries, evergreen branches, tree bark, cinnamon sticks, star anise, slices of dried citrus fruits and whatever other natural materials you or the children find outside or in their own home environment. Allow the children to smell and touch the various items and discuss what they smell and feel like. You could extend this activity by using the materials to create Christmas decorations. See the below video for some ideas.
Free Winter Curriculum Plans with our Jumbo Christmas Plans Pack.
To support your children’s emerging interests around the theme of Christmas, The Early Years Shop has a great Christmas Special Offer available until Christmas Day. You will receive the Winter Curriculum Plan FREE with every purchase of the Christmas Curriculum Plan Pack! Our largest pack of curriculum plans, the Christmas pack has dozens of activities and lots of printables to add to your library of curriculum plans to respond to the children’s emerging interests this year and years to come.