Gee is it Christmas time already?

A Holiday Preschool Curriculum

With Online Resources & Activities

by Diane Flynn Keith & Fran Wisniewski

Happy Holidays! We've put together a holiday curriculum for young children and their families. We hope these ideas will encourage you to take time to read and play together this holiday season and to celebrate old traditions while making new ones. Enjoy these fun filled holiday activities!

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Card Making for the Holidays
(Language Arts: Reading, Writing)

Greeting Cards & Thank You Notes are fun and easy to make and even in their simplest form they will help your child develop a foundation for reading and writing skills. You can make cards for any occasion and they are always a welcome gift!

You will need: Construction paper, markers, crayons, stickers, graphics or old holiday cards, scissors and glue. Of course these are only basic items and you can use other materials such as, glitter glue, sequins, stickers, die cuts and anything else your child suggests!

If time is short this holiday season, let DLTK help you out! You can choose from an array of cards, personalize them with your child's message, then print the cards in black and white and let your child color them or print the cards in color.

Thank You Notes

It's polite to say "thank you" when you receive a gift. Teach your child good manners by taking some time to make and send thank you notes.

Here's an idea for a winter thank you card your child can make with a little help.

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My Wish List

Make A Holiday Wish List or Wish Book
(Language Arts: Reading, Writing)

Making a "wish list" is a simple way to help your child begin to understand organization, not to mention the fact that it reinforces language arts development. Here are a few ideas you may want to try:

Make a holiday wish book with your child. Here's how:

You'll need: Construction paper, holiday toy catalogs/shopping ads, scissors, markers, glue, hole punch, and yarn

Directions: Make a book out of colored construction paper by cutting each page into 4 equal parts, ask your child to put the pages together and then punch 2 or 3 holes on one side and tie each hole with yarn. Give your child the catalogs and ads and ask him/her to cut out the things they like the most, ask them to glue one picture to each side of the page and an adult can write the name of that picture underneath. Make short books for family members or just make a bunch of pages, divide them up, and tie them off as needed.

Get our popular eBooks designed to instill
a life-long love of learning! They include:

Learning with Little Lulu Lemon — This exciting eBook includes over 25 fun, hands-on activities and recipes themed around the versatile lemon that the whole family will enjoy.


Universal Preschool's Learning Calendar! — Enjoy over 190 fun, historic, and event-themed activities for learning with little ones all year long.

These eBooks will save you time and money and give your children a head start on early learning in a fun, playful, and developmentally appropriate way.

Click HERE to Order or Learn More!

Holiday Books & Stories
(Language Arts: Reading)

Over and over again educators say the single most important thing you can do to help your child develop a love of learning along with readiness skills and a more powerful vocabulary is to read to them. Here are some kid-approved holiday books:




Hanukkah Menorah

Free Online Stories

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Baking with Children
(Math, Science, and Social Studies)

The holidays are a wonderful time for traditions! Whether you are making new ones or handing them down to the next generation, traditions make families closer. Every culture has something to share and food ties it all together.

Cook with your children through the holiday season, not only will they learn wonderful math (measurement) and science skills (cooking experiments), but they will also learn who they are and where their family is from (social studies).

If you do not have any family traditions but would like to begin one or two, start with something you like to do or have always wanted to do and just have fun doing it!

Here is a baking tradition we've started in our family:

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Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

Milk Chocolate Covered Pretzel Rods

Directions: Ask your child to put chocolate morsels in a microwavable cup and melt chocolate in a microwave on half power for 30 seconds, remove cup and mix chocolate (if it's soft enough) then microwave for 20 second intervals (remove and mix each time) until completely melted. Dip pretzels into melted chocolate, shake off excess chocolate and set pretzel on waxed paper. Working quickly, sprinkle with nuts or sprinkles while the chocolate is still soft - before it hardens. When the chocolate hardens, remove and put in plastic bags or an airtight container.

Tip: A double boiler can also be used to melt chocolate or a small crockpot set on warm.

Bake Cookies together!

If you would like to bake a batch of cookies from scratch with your child, here are some wonderful cookie recipes.

No time to bake from scratch? The cut-and-bake cookie dough (i.e., Pillsbury) will work just as well -- the whole point of holiday baking is taking time to do things together!

Tip: Pick up a ready-made package of sugar cookie dough, roll them out and cut them with holiday cookie cutters, then decorate them on the way into the oven or when they come out! Make a simple frosting together or buy pre-made icings to decorate the cookies.

Make a Healthier Holiday Treat --Apple Crisps!

If you would like to make something sweet, delicious, and healthy this holiday season, try this yummy treat:

You'll need: Corn tortillas, cinnamon/nutmeg, honey or brown sugar, apples and nuts and raisins (optional)

Directions: In a 350-degree oven, toast a few corn tortillas on a cookie sheet until lightly golden brown and crispy. While the tortillas are baking, core and peel an apple then cut or use a vegetable peeler to make thin slices. When the tortillas come out and cool a bit, ask your child to drizzle honey or sprinkle some brown sugar on them, add a few apple slices, a little cinnamon or nutmeg, and top with nuts and/or raisins. Put the tortilla back in the oven for about 2-3 minutes, remove, let cool and enjoy.

Variation: Applesauce can be used as a dip for the crispy tortillas. Nuts, raisins honey/brown sugar, and cinnamon/nutmeg can be added to applesauce. Serve warm or cold.

Note: Honey should not be given to children under 1 year of age.

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Build a Gingerbread House Together!

Indulge in a gentle geometry lesson as you cut out squares, rectangles, triangles, circles and other parts needed to build a gingerbread house. This can be as simple as showing your child the shape, and telling them its name.

At Gingerbread Lane you can look through a photo archive of incredible gingerbread houses that have won prizes in various gingerbread house contests. You can even see an Eiffel Tower made out or Gingerbread! The site has recipes for gingerbread and the all-important mortar-icing! There are also construction tips, and plans for making simple gingerbread houses too. You'll discover the best decorative candy to use - and you will find tips for how to preserve your gingerbread masterpiece.

Build your own gingerbread house

Easy Graham Cracker "Gingerbread" House!

Get simple plans to make mini faux gingerbread houses out of graham crackers. This is an especially good choice if you are pressed for time - or if you have young children who would get frustrated with building more complex or real gingerbread structures. (Parents, you can always make the basic house structure for little ones, and then just let them decorate it.)

Have A Gingerbread House Building Party!

Diane's family hosted a gingerbread house-building party one year. Guests brought single-serving milk cartons that we used for bases for the houses. Then we used royal icing to "glue" the graham crackers to the milk cartons. Construction is simple using this method. Once you cover the milk carton in graham crackers - you can fill in spaces with icing. Then decorate the whole thing as usual with candy. We supplied icing and graham crackers for building. Guests brought their own milk cartons and candy to decorate (we shared the candy). It was great fun and the results were spectacular. (Take lots of pictures!)

Tip: If you do this, be sure that every adult has their own materials - as parents like this project as much as their kids do! This also prevents the kids from saying to mom and dad in total exasperation, "I'd rather do it myself!"

Important! Make sure the kids have had a good meal (lunch) before they start this project. It will cut down on the amount of "decorations" they eat. Also, be prepared to offer them pizza or some other substantial food with protein after they are through building gingerbread houses -- it brings that blood sugar down to a manageable level.

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(Language Arts & Crafts)

Gingingerbread Man

Gather the family around the computer for a treat! Watch a film of beloved children's author and illustrator Jan Brett reading her story, "The Gingerbread Baby." Not only that, she offers lots of arts and crafts activity pages all themed around "The Gingerbread Baby" including:

Bonus! Read an interactive, online version of the classic, traditional tale of The Gingerbread Man!

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Buying Gifts With Young Children
(Money Math)

Young children love to pick out gifts for loved ones. Show them how to use money to purchase gifts for others. Here are some ideas for shopping with young children during the holiday season.

Teach Gift Giving

Young children can and should learn how money works and allowing your child to use money will help him/her to become more proficient with money math later on.

Tip: Try to shop during the slow times this way sales clerks will be able take time with your child!

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Advent Calendars

A store-bought or hand-made Advent calendar offers a simple way to practice counting skills as you countdown to Christmas with young ones. Get instructions to make a simple felt Advent Calendar.

Starting December 1st you can see a delightful, animated that reveals a part of a story about Tate the Cat each day from December 1-24th. You can see the previous years' Tate the Cat advent calendars too.

Make a Holiday Countdown Calendar!

Make your own calendar with your favorite holiday icon such as a wreath, candle, dreidel, star, bell, or tree.

You'll need: Poster board, construction paper, scissors, non-toxic glue, markers, pencils, ribbon, glue, candy kisses or some other wrapped treat.

Directions: Cut out the shape you would like for your calendar from the poster board and use it as a template for making the design on construction paper. Then, trace the design onto the construction paper and cut it out. Glue it to the poster board (trim if necessary). Figure out how many days until the holiday with your child, count out the kisses/treats, and glue them to the construction paper. Hang it up in an easy to reach place. Your child can pick one treat every day; the last treat will mean it's time to celebrate!

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Holiday Activity Chain

Count the days until the holiday begins and plan an activity for each day!

You will need: Construction paper, scissors or cutting board, pen, and a stapler.

Directions: Cut 1x9 inch strips of construction paper (one for each day). Write a fun activity that you can do with your child on each strip (make sure you let your child in on the planning!). Make a chain link out of the strips. To make the chain make a circle with a strip of paper and staple the ends together, then take another strip, put it inside the circle and then staple the ends to form a chain, continue with the other strips until finished. Hang it someplace easily accessible, ask your child to pull one link off each day and do that activity together.

Need some ideas? Try these: make cookies, watch a holiday movie, sing a holiday song, learn a new holiday song, make holiday cards, look at holiday decorations, listen to holiday music, wrap gifts, color/draw a holiday picture, make a holiday craft, read a holiday story.

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The 12 Days of Christmas Song & Coloring Pages!

At this website you'll find coloring pages that you can print out, and the music and lyrics to the "12 days of Christmas" along with other holiday songs.

Note: For those of you who are homeschooling preschoolers or any age child, read the lyrics to a humorous homeschool version of this song.

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Track Santa's Sleigh on Christmas Eve!

Track Santa's Sleigh on Christmas Eve.

Those wacky scientists at NORAD use four high-tech systems to track Santa - radar, satellites, Santa Cams and jet fighter aircraft. Your child can track Santa's progress on Christmas Eve to see where in the world Santa is - and find out how close he is to making a visit at your house.

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Colorful Holiday Lights

Christmas Tree!

This is the time of year when we use bright, colorful lights to decorate our homes for holidays and that makes it a great time to talk to children about color and light.

Playing with Shadows: Turn off the lights, and turn on your flashlight. Have your child stand in front of a wall and hold up their hands. Shine the flashlight on their hands and point out their hands' shadows on the wall. Show your child how to position their hands to make shadow animals and other designs.

Make a Colorful "Lava" Lamp: This is a cool experiment to do with young children. Ask your child to measure and add the ingredients.

Make Colored Lights: You will need a flashlight, red, blue, and yellow cellophane, scissors, tape, white paper or a wall.

Directions: Cut the cellophane so it will overlap the top of the flashlight a little and ask your child to tape it into place. Turn the flashlight on and shine it on white paper or a wall. The light should be the same color as the cellophane. What happens when you put two colors together? Ask your child to find out!

When red and blue are mixed the light will be purple, yellow and blue make green, and yellow and red make orange.

Note: The cellophane may need to be doubled to really see the color.

Tips: A white light works best for this experiment and it's fun to do this in a dark room. No cellophane? No problem! You can print out red, blue, and yellow transparencies from your computer.

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Did you know that no two snowflakes are alike? This safe and simple experiment will start your child on the road to learning about crystals and you'll have a unique snowflake to display in your window when you are finished!

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Grow Amaryllis

Grow Amaryllis - It's a popular bulb plant that grows to a height of about 3 feet and blooms into a lily-looking flower in just 4 weeks at this time of year. Purchase a bulb and plant it in a pot. It will begin to grow almost as soon as you start to water it.

Note From Fran: My mom used to plant amaryllis with my daughter every year around Thanksgiving, and by Christmas it would be in full bloom. The most fun part for my daughter was that my mom put the bulb in a clear container with water, and started it hydroponically! They would leave the bulb in a dark area and water it when needed. It was great fun to watch all the roots grow out of the bulb! Then they planted it in soil. They also grew another flower, "Paper Whites," the same way.

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Homemade Ornaments

Here are some great homemade ornaments that young children can make with a little help from a parent.

Beaded Candy Cane:

You'll need: Pipe cleaners, red, green, and white beads, ribbon or yarn.

Directions: Cut a pipe cleaner into 6 inches lengths and alternate red and white or green and white beads along the pipe cleaner, leave about a half an inch on both ends and wrap the pipe cleaner into place so the beads will stay on. Bend into a cane shape. Tie a ribbon around the top part of the bend and hang it on the tree. These candy cane ornaments make great gifts too!

Note: Due to small pieces, please don't leave your child unattended while making this craft.

Tree Ornament:

You'll need: constructions paper, stick glue, hole punch, ribbon or yarn, markers, and sequins (optional).

Directions: Cut construction paper into triangles (to make trees), circles (to make balls), and small squares (for tree base and ball top). Ask your child to glue a square to the bottom of the triangle to create a tree or to glue a square to the circle to form a top. Punch a hole in the top and make a loop out of yarn or ribbon. Let your child decorate the tree or ball any way they want to, and hang them on the tree or around the house.


Popcorn and cranberries make great garland for a tree. Pop some popcorn and buy some cranberries then string them along a strong string with a needle. When you take down the tree put the garland out for the birds to eat! (Constant adult supervision required.)

Other Ornament Ideas:

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Christmas Trees
(Geography, Social Sciences)

Take a Carschooling field trip to a Christmas Tree Farm near you and let your child help pick your own tree, or take a virtual field trip to a Christmas tree farm.

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Wrap It Up!
(Environmental Science)

Wrapping Paper -- Think of all of the gifts that get wrapped in paper at this time of year. Most of it gets thrown away! Here are some alternatives to buying wrapping paper:

Tip: When painting, give your child one color choice at a time and when it dries give him/her another. This way brown and black won't be the only colors made!

Note: When recycling, make sure the items are clean, and never reuse items that contained poisons or toxic materials!

Visit this site for some alternative suggestions for gift-wrap that are environment-friendly.

Don't forget to compost the tree!

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Don't forget that the annual Geminids Meteor Shower occurs in mid-December. After nightfall, bundle up, head outdoors, and watch the sky for shooting stars. (Note: If you are considering purchasing a telescope, here's a good starter scope from Meade.

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Family Traditions and Festivals
(Social Sciences)

Make a Snowman!

Discuss your family history with your children. Tell them about their ethnic origin and cultural heritage. Discuss family traditions and how they got started. Point out on a globe where their great-grandmother is from. All of these discussions help kids understand their place in the family, the extended family, the neighborhood, the community, their country, and the world. At the holiday dinner table ask the following questions of older relatives that will lead to a discussion of history:

Their answers can lead to a wealth of knowledge and deeper appreciation for historical events. Use the video camera to record these memories and preserve them for generations to come. They also make wonderful gifts for other family members.

Make A Family Tree with these simple instructions.

Do you celebrate any of these holidays?

It might be fun to discuss or celebrate any of these festivals with your child. Reading stories about other places and traditions is a wonderful way to introduce your child to new cultures! Many museums highlight cultural events at this time of year -- a great way to take a break from the holiday rush or spend a rainy afternoon. Take a Virtual Christmas Tour to see how people celebrate throughout the world. Visit this website to find out more about various holidays as well as activities for enjoying them.

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Nativity Scenes and Chanukah Candles
(Social Sciences)

Bundle up, get in the car, and take a drive through your neighborhood at night to see the wondrous holiday light displays. Talk to your child and narrate what you see. Pronounce the name of each item in the display. Don't assume your child knows what these things are - they may be seeing or hearing about them for the very first time. Play some holiday music CDs. Pack a snack - and between oohs and aahs - enjoy some Christmas cookies and a thermos of warm cocoa or cider.

Many communities now offer Drive-Thru Living Nativity Scenes such as this one. Check your local newspaper, library, church, or parenting magazine for a schedule of events.

This Virtual Chanukah Guide has a worldwide public lighting schedule as well.

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Arts, Crafts, Games & Physical Education!


Read the story of the Nutcracker, listen to some of the music from the Nutcracker Ballet, and if your child is mature enough, go to see the Nutcracker ballet. (Get a directory of ballet companies throughout the world that are performing the Nutcracker Ballet. Can't make it to the ballet? Watch a DVD of The Nutcracker Ballet. Very young children may enjoy watching just portions of the ballet on DVD.

Holiday Craft Making

Get simple craft ideas that young children can do for:

Or get a greater variety of craft recipes for all ages.

Make a Pomander Ball!

Assemble the parts to make a spicy-smelling Pomander Ball by following these directions

Learn Holiday Games!

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Holiday Songs

Whew! See how fun learning can be through simple holiday activities?

There's one more thought I would like to leave you with at this wonderful time of year. The most precious present that passes between child and parent is the simplest. It is the gift of time and attention freely given to one another. In that regard, learning with your little ones at home is a gift that will keep on giving long after the holiday toys and games have lost their appeal.

Holiday Resources for the Entire Family