Gingerbread Man Rhyme and Candy House Craft for Preschoolers!

If you are new to this blog, WELCOME!  Each Wednesday throughout the year, we partner with the #TeachECE team to offer activity suggestions centered around a weekly theme.  This week, come play to learn with us as we explore a NURSERY RHYMES theme!

There are few things as captivating for preschoolers as a COOKIE that leaps from a baking sheet and RUNS AWAY!  The Gingerbread Man Rhyme and Candy House Craft is a FUN way to extend the adventures of the bold little cookie with your own preschoolers at home or in the classroom!

Gingerbread Man Rhyme and Candy House Craft for Preschoolers (2)Gingerbread Man Rhyme and Candy House Craft for Preschoolers!

Disclaimer:  This post and others within this blog contain distributor and/or affiliate links.  Please see the ABOUT page for full disclosures.

51vc6s-vOrL._SX432_BO1,204,203,200_Preschoolers LOVE the story of The Gingerbread Man!  Read the book and invite kids to share the main events of the story.  The Gingerbread Man rhyming chant and candy house craft are great ways to extend the story and promote early literacy, name recognition, and fine motor skills.

Materials needed:

  • One printable Gingerbread Man Rhyme and Candy House per student/craft
  • Various collage materials – suggestions:  fabric scraps, ribbon, real candy, construction paper, candy stickers, marshmallows, pom-poms, buttons, or any other materials readily available at home or in the classroom.
  • Liquid Glue, Poster Putty, and/or Glue Dots.
  • Scissors
  • Crayons or Markers

Print one copy of the Gingerbread Man Rhyme for each student.  The kids can write or stamp their names on the line provided.   Read the rhyme several times to the kids (insert a different child’s name each time) and ask them to say the rhyme with you.

Gingerbread Rhyming Chant and Candy House for Preschool“I’m the GINGERBREAD MAN as DELICIOUS as can be!  I live in a CANDY HOUSE that __________(insert a child’s name) built for ME!”

The kids will love hearing their names and will even ask to put parents or teachers names into the rhyme!

Set out a variety of collage materials/candies/stickers and invite the kids to decorate their candy houses as they wish!  The gingerbread man houses make great bulletin board displays for the holidays.  They also make great class books when finished.  The children will love looking for their name and created house.  These are truly child-designed crafts that are so FUN!

Extension:  Teach the children the Gingerbread Man Song below. 

Gingerbread Man Song (Tune: Do you know the Muffin Man)
Oh, do you know the Gingerbread Man, the Gingerbread Man, the Gingerbread Man?
Oh, do you know the Gingerbread Man, who ran and ran and ran?
He said, “Catch me if you can. If you can, if you can.”
He said, “Catch me if you can,” then ran and ran and ran.

I can run like the Gingerbread Man, the Gingerbread Man, the Gingerbread Man.
I can run like the Gingerbread Man, now catch me if you can!
~Author Unknown

Gingerbread Theme Main PhotoFor an entire Gingerbread Theme, please see the Gingerbread Thematic Unit for Preschool and Kindergarten here on the blog.

 Gingerbread Man Activities your kids might also enjoy:

Gingerbread Cookie Cutter and "Splatter" PaintingsGingerbread Crafts, Math, and Pre-Writing Lines FREE Printable

Gingerbread Theme Pre-Writing Free Printable

Gingerbread Activities for Preschool

Free Printable Gingerbread Man Alphabet/Pictures for Literacy Games

For MORE ways to engage kids in playful learning with NURSERY RHYMES, please visit the links from the Early Childhood Educational Team below:

The Three Little Kittens Rhyming Mittens by Growing Book by Book

Printable Preschool Nursery Rhymes Journal by Fun-a-Day

Cow Jumped Over the Moon Craft by Still Playing School

I Wish I May I Wish I Might – Star Headband by Capri + 3

Old MacDonald’s Farm Sensory Bin by Tiny Tots Adventures

Nursery Rhyme Sorting Activity by Munchkins and Moms





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5 Senses Theme Activities for Preschool!

If you are new to this blog, WELCOME!  Each Wednesday throughout the year, the Early Childhood Education Team develops collaborative activities centered around themes for use in ECE.  This week, we’ll share our own activities to promote sensory knowledge using ALL 5 Senses.  Be sure to check out the other great activities from the #TeachECE Educators that are linked at the bottom of this post!

5 Senses Theme Activities for Preschool

5 Senses Theme Activities for Preschool!

Exploring The 5 Senses in Early Childhood will help preschoolers identify and discover the body parts that are used to gain sensory information:  Eyes, Ears, Nose, Mouth, and Hands.

The activities suggested below will offer opportunities for hands-on play with the senses of:  Sight, Hearing, Smell, Taste, and Touch.  Through play and experimentation, the children will develop an awareness of how The 5 Senses are used to gain knowledge about their world.

Introduction to The 5 Senses:

Sensory-Mirror-DiscoveriesIn order for children to explore The 5 Senses, preschoolers must be able to locate the 5 primary body parts that provide sensory information:  Eyes, Ears, Nose, Mouth, and Hands.   Allow for plenty of time for play with mirrors.  Ask the children to identify the different body parts they see in the mirror.  The children can also partner with peers and use magnifying glasses for discoveries (the children will think it’s funny to look at each other with magnifying glasses, but they are gaining important information).

Exploring the Sense of SIGHT in Preschool:

  • Nature Walk Recording Sheet – Take the kids outside so they can use their sense of sight to locate the various items on the recording sheet.  It’s free to print and FUN to do!
  • Christmas Lights – looking at Christmas Lights is a simple activity to promote visual information.  Print the recording sheet below and complete together when you get home or back in the classroom.


Exploring the Sense of SOUND in Preschool:


  • SOUND Discrimination: Invite children to use their sense of sound to ask critical thinking questions?  WHAT/WHO is making the sound, WHERE would I hear that sound, HOW is that sound created, and/or WHEN have I heard that sound before?  Free printable cards and games for playful learning!

Exploring the Sense of SMELL in Preschool:


  • Christmas Smelling Jars are a FUN way to invite kids to see which SMELLS they like or dislike.  Free recording sheet for preschool and kindergarten is here!
  • Lavender Pre-writing Practice – free printable with a lovely lavender paint to enhance sensory play with the SENSE of SMELL!


Exploring the Sense of TOUCH in Preschool:

Exploring the Sense of Touch with Braille Alphabet Names in Preschool

  • Explore the Sense of Touch by learning about the Braille Alphabet with a sensory name activity!

Exploring the Sense of TASTE in Preschool:


  • Make fun snacks with a variety of textures for kids to explore different taste sensations!  Set out apple slices, banana slices, chocolate chips, miniature marshmallows, and cheese sticks for the children. Set out a  picture of an umbrella and have the children try to use the snack materials to re-create the photo.  Have the children describe the TASTE of their umbrellas (are they crunchy, sweet, sour, bitter, etc.)  It is a fun activity for snack time and the children will amaze you with their creations!

The-5-Senses Theme for Preschool, Home Preschool, or ChildcareFor MORE ways to play to learn through ALL 5 Senses, see the 5 SENSES THEMATIC UNIT here on the blog!  The unit is a large theme with over 100 ways to gain sensory information through:  literacy, math, science, arts and crafts, large motor, dramatic play, and foods/food crafts!

Please also take a moment to visit the links to other 5 Senses activities from the dedicated #TeachECE Team below!

Number Sound Boxes by Munchkins and Moms
My Five Senses Book by Still Playing School
Writing Letters in a Sugar Cookie Sensory Tray by Mom Inspired Life
Winter Theme Alphabet Sensory Bin by The Educators’ Spin On It
My Christmas 5 Senses Book by Life Over C’s
Exploring the Senses Using Cardboard Tubes by Capri + 3


Posted in 5 Senses Theme Activities, PreK | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Candy Cane Counting Sticks in Preschool!

This week the #TeachECE Early Childhood Team is sharing activity suggestions for exploring the numbers 6-10.  If you are new to The Preschool Toolbox and missed the article on how to establish REAL relationships with the numbers 1-5, you can see it here!  We use many activities to explore numbers and integrate basic math concepts throughout our preschool days.  The Candy Cane Counting Sticks are just one way to combine playful learning and fine motor skills into a seasonal math activity that is also FUN!

Candy Cane Counting Sticks for PreschoolersCandy Cane Counting Sticks for Preschool! Candy CanesFree Printable Candy Cane Counting Sticks Toppers – Candy Cane Counting Stick Toppers

Materials needed: Wikki Stix (at least 10 per child), Candy Cane Counting Stick Toppers (linked above), pony beads (red/white), scissors, and markers/crayons (for labeling the candy cane template).  Note:  please supervise young children who still mouth objects closely as pony beads are a choking hazard. 

Prior to playing the math games: Print the Candy Cane toppers to heavy paper. Have the children cut out the candy canes (assist younger children with cutting) and laminate for durability. The Candy Cane toppers will adhere to the Wikki Stix (no glue will be necessary).

5 Math Game Suggestions for the Wikki Stix Candy Cane Counting Sticks:

1. One-to-One Correspondence: Label the Candy Cane toppers with any numbers the children have had introduced and put them on top of a Wikki Stix. Ask the children to place the corresponding number of pony beads on the Wikki Stix.

2. Number Order: Label 5 of the Candy Cane toppers with the numbers 6-10 and put them on top of the Wikki Stix. Have the children place the candy canes in the correct number order – 6-10.

Label the Candy Cane toppers with the numbers 1-10 and place the candy canes on top of a Wikki Stix. Have the children place the candy canes in the correct number order (starting at a number OTHER than 1).

3. Ten Sticks and Skip Counting: Label 10 Candy Cane toppers with the number 10 and put the printable toppers on Wikki Stix. Have the children place 10 pony beads on each of the Wikki Stix. These counting sticks make great “10 bars” for counting to 100 by 10’s. For younger children, label the Candy Cane toppers with various numbers for practice with skip counting by 2’s and 5’s.

4. Number Words: Write number words on the Candy Cane toppers and put on top of a Wikki Stix. Have the children place the corresponding number of beads on their Candy Canes.  It helps the children understand that the number name refers to a specific quantity of beads.

5. Patterning: Write any basic pattern on the Candy Cane toppers (for example: write AB on one of the Candy Canes. The children must then choose two colors of pony beads [the first chosen color is “A”; the second chosen color is “B”] and alternate the colors when placing them on the Wikki Stix.) The picture above shows a simple AB pattern (2 colors) on each of the Candy Cane counting sticks.

Hint: Print the Candy Cane toppers and laminate before cutting out. Dry erase markers can then be used to change the numbers/activities as the children gain confidence and activities are exchanged throughout the season.

Christmas and Gingerbread Themes for Preschool and KindergartenCome visit our CHRISTMAS or GINGERBREAD THEMATIC UNITS to learn through play this holiday season!

For MORE ways to play and encourage INTUITIVE MATH skills in preschool, please see:

5 and 10 Frame Activities for Preschool and Kindergarten

Intuitive Math – Greater Than, Less Than or Equal To

CANDY CANE and Playdough Math Ideas for Preschool and Kindergarten

For other creative ways to encourage math skills through playful learning, visit the wonderful suggestions by the Early Childhood Educational Team below:

How can I teach numbers 6-10 and Writing? by The Educators’ Spin On It

Fine Motor Number Building Challenge by  Fun-A-Day

Turkey Counting Rhyme by Growing Book by Book

Acorn and Squirrel Clip Cards by Rainy Day Mum

Numbers Prewriting Activity by Tiny Tots Adventures

Free Printable Counting Game by Life Over C’s 


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Reindeer Noses Playdough Math Mats for Preschool: 1-to-1 Correspondence

Reindeer Noses Playdough Math Mats for Preschool REINDEER THEME for PRESCHOOL!

Each Wednesday throughout the school year, we will share activities centered around various topics of interest to preschoolers.  This week, the #playfulpreschool blogging team has developed learning ideas with a REINDEER THEME!  Please take a moment to browse all the wonderful activity suggestions that are linked below for your convenience!


 Reindeer Nose Playdough Counting Mats

Objective:  To offer opportunities to playfully practice 1-to-1 Correspondence in order to learn how a certain number relates to a specific quantity of objects.

The goal of 1-to-1 Correspondence is to help young children gain confidence not only with number recognition, but to help them move beyond basic recognition and toward the question: How many items make up any specific number?

Materials needed:  Red Playdough (to incorporate a sensory experience try the Peppermint or Apple Spice Playdough) and the printable files linked above.

Prior to the activity – laminate the counting mats (or cover with clear contact paper) for durability.

Place the playdough out on a table or a tray as an invitation to play.  Demonstrate for the children how to tear off a piece of playdough and roll it around in the palm of their hands to form a ball (a reindeer “nose”).  Younger kids may wish to only tear small pieces of  playdough to use on their mats.  Tearing and rolling playdough balls, while FUN, builds important fine motor strength and control for preschoolers!

Playdough Math for Preschool 002Set out the lower numbered playdough mats to begin.  Invite the children to count the number of circles in one of the boxes and then place the corresponding number of playdough balls (reindeer nose) in each of the boxes.  Remind the children to count out loud as they place the playdough balls on the mat. Preschoolers will often count ahead of physically placing the balls in the circles OR count slower than the number of balls placed on the mat.   Observe the children to find counting successes or where errors are made. Young children need a great deal of practice with the numbers 1-5.  Please don’t feel the need to move on too quickly.  The number 5 is an important math anchor; having substantial practice with the numbers 1-5 will help with all future math concepts.  As the children gain confidence in counting accurately, larger numbers can be introduced.

Reindeer Theme Math Mats for Preschool

 COLOR, COUNT, and CLIP – Reindeer Nose Math for Preschool!

Print the Reindeer Math Mats (linked above) to heavy paper and cut apart the reindeer number cards and the boxes with circles (see photo above).

Materials needed:  12 clothespins labeled with one number (1-12), crayons, and the reindeer cards/circle boxes from the printable.

To begin:  choose any 3 numbers that the children are familiar with and lay those reindeer cards/circle boxes out in random order on a tray or a table.  Invite the children to color the circles in boxes to resemble reindeer noses.   Encourage the children to count the number of circles as they color each one on the individual cards.

Count, Color, and Clip Reindeer Math Activity for PreschoolWhen the children are finished coloring the reindeer noses (circles), invite them to match the number of circles to the numbered reindeer card.  The children can then choose the corresponding numbered clothespin and clip the two cards together (see photo above). Again, begin with lower numbers until the children are very familiar with the numbers 1-5.

The REINDEER NOSES PLAYDOUGH MATS are a great way to encourage 1-to-1 Correspondence skills!  The children will play and not quite realize all the important skills under construction!

For MORE ways to encourage MATH through PLAY, see our MATH SERIES for Preschool and Kindergarten!

Intuitive Math:  1-to-1 Correspondence and Subitizing

Intuitive Math:  Subitizing and 5/10 Frames

Intuitive Math:  Part-Part=Whole

Intuitive Math:  Greater Than, Less Than, Equal To


Swat the Letter: Reindeer Preschool Literacy Activity from Learning 2 Walk

Alphabet Activities: Reindeer Roll from Growing Book by Book

Reindeer Preschool Activities with Play Dough and Songs from Life Over C’s

Palm Print Reindeer Craft and Poem from Capri +3

Racing Reindeer Number Line Activity from Mom Inspired Life

Reindeer Christmas Snacks for Kids from Fun-A-Day

Reindeer Math Games for Preschool Learning from The Educators’ Spin On It


Posted in Christmas Theme, Math, PreK | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

The Giving Tree – An Attitude of Gratitude in Preschool!

Gratitude Activities for Preschool

‘Tis the season of gift giving, thankfulness, extra kindnesses, and appreciation for others.  Helping preschoolers develop an “attitude of gratitude” begins early and at home.  When adults MODEL (MODEL, MODEL) expressions of thankfulness and gratitude, children will naturally absorb and try to imitate all that they see and hear.  Gratitude, when incorporated early, then becomes a natural DAILY expression.


This week’s #playfulpreschool theme offers activities for preschool children centered around the theme of:  GRATITUDE!  We hope you will take a moment to visit all the activities to help your children not only THINK about gratitude, but to find ways to actively participate in expressions of thankfulness.  Gratitude must be an ACTIVE term for young children.  In the words of William Arthur Ward, “Feeling Gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

Disclosure:  This post and others within this blog contain affiliate links.  For full disclosures, see the ABOUT page.

The Giving TreeThe Giving Tree:  An “Attitude of Gratitude”

We read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein with our preschoolers during the holidays and again in the spring as we near the end of our school year.  We discuss, model, and ACTIVELY PRACTICE gratitude in our classroom each and every day of the year.  Read the book to your children, but leave the book’s interpretations open for the children to discuss.  You’ll find amazing insights from children as they give their own views on the tree who loved the little boy!

Invite your children to discussions about the book:

  • How did the boy treat the tree?
  • How did the tree show LOVE for the boy?
  • How do you think the tree felt as she gave almost ALL that she had?
  • Do you think the boy was grateful to the tree?
  • How do you think the boy felt at the end of the story when he was a old man?
  • Why do you think the tree GAVE almost all that she had to the boy/man?
  • Do you think the boy/old man changed his heart at the end of the story?

By asking questions, the children will begin to formulate their own ideas about thankfulness, giving, gratitude and how we should treat others.  It’s a powerful book to read and discuss with young kids.  I’ve shared the book with our own kids for over 26 years and am still inspired by the pure love, kindness, and wisdom of preschoolers.

The Giving Tree:  Gratitude Evergreen Tree Craft for Preschool!

The Giving Tree Gratitude Craft for Preschool One of my favorite quotes from a student many years ago:  “I don’t have any money or gifts to give because I’m just a KID; my Mom and Dad do that!” :)  Gratitude, Giving, and Thankfulness require our hearts!  Brainstorm with the children things they already have that they can GIVE to another to express gratitude (friendship, hugs, a smile, cooperation, support, good manners, helpfulness, etc.).  Make a gratitude evergreen tree this holiday season to encourage daily acts of gratitude from the whole family!

Materials needed:  mounting paper (any kind of heavy weight paper), cotton ball, a clothespin, green paint, paint tray or paper plate, yellow sticker stars, small red pompoms, and a marker or the labels linked here – Gratitude is Evergreen Labels

Have the children clip the cotton ball with the clothespin to use as a painting tool.  Set out paint trays and paper.  Invite the children to paint the paper with the cotton ball clip.

The Giving Tree Evergreen Craft for Preschool

Allow the painted trees to dry thoroughly before cutting the paintings into Christmas Tree shapes.  The children can then add the sticker stars and the gratitude labels (linked above).  Set out a jar of red pompoms – each time you see a child showing gratitude, being thankful, or giving to another, have them place a red pompom on the tree (tip – poster putty works great for sticking the pompoms on the tree).  Soon the gratitude tree will be filled with red pompom “ornaments” as a visual for the children of things they can (and DO) give daily!

Gratitude Tree Craft for The Giving Tree Book in Preschool

Activities for Gratitude and Thankfulness for Young Kids


You might also like:   28 Ways to Encourage ACTIVE PARTICIPATION in Gratitude and Thanksgiving!


Life Cycle of a Christmas Tree 001To incorporate science into your activities, see LIFE CYCLE of a CHRISTMAS TREE – just as gratitude goes on and on, so does the circle of life.



For MORE great resources to help your children learn about GRATITUDE, see:

Literacy Activities:  Giving and Being Thankful Ideas from Growing Book by Book

Teaching Kids Thank You in Different Languages from Still Playing School

Thankful Rocks:  A Visual Reminder to Be Thankful from Mom Inspired Life

Gratitude Sensory Bin from Learning 2 Walk

Gratitude- Put Your Best Foot Forward Footprint Activity from Capri +3

Gratitude Sensory Jar from Tiny Tots Adventures

Non-Verbal Ways to Show Gratitude from Live Over C’s



Posted in Christmas Theme, Literacy, Parenting and Values, PreK, Preschool and Kindergarten Skills | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Story Book Advent: North Pole Santa SPY Scope Craft for Kids!

Santa Scope for Story Book Advent


We are honored to join Rainy Day Mum’s Story Book Advent collection for some of the best in kids’ activities to accompany special holiday books!  We hope you’ll find new inspiration for books to read and fun activities to do with your kids this December!

Disclosure:  This post and others within this blog contain affiliate links.  Please see the ABOUT page for full disclosures.

Can You See What I See?:  Night Before ChristmasCan You See What I See?:  Night Before Christmas by Walter Wick is a picture puzzle search and solve book that will keep kids entertained and THINKING this December!  In true “I-SPY” spirit, this book captures the attention of young readers and compels them to interact.  The pictures are beautiful and kids (of ALL ages) will love searching for items hidden within.  Some of the items are located easily and some are a bit more challenging!  Our kids LOVED this book so much, we bought more of the Walter Wick titles.  It’s a wonderful book to encourage reluctant readers and a great gift for Christmas!


Walter Wick has some great hidden items within his book, but the greatest FIND of the season would be SANTA himself!  Come create an easy SANTA TELESCOPE disguised as the North Pole to spy on the jolly ‘ole fellow this Christmas Eve!

Materials needed:  one cardboard tube, one clear plastic ornament (per child), red/white wrapping paper or construction paper, tape, red ribbon (one foot per craft), cotton balls, and a hole punch.

Give each child an empty cardboard tube and invite them to wrap the tube in white/red construction paper or wrapping paper.   Take the hanger off of the clear plastic ornament and have the children stuff the ornament with cotton balls.  Before replacing the ornament’s hanger, lay the red ribbon across the ornament and insert the hanger (the hanger will keep the ribbon in place.   Have the children hole punch each side of the cardboard tube near the top.   Turn the cotton filled ornament upside down and thread each end of the red ribbon through the holes (from inside to outside) of the cardboard tube.  Tie the ribbon loosely in a knot or a bow in back of the cardboard tube.

Santa Scope Craft for Preschool and KindergartenTo spy for Santa, simply slide the ornament off the top a little and peer through the open end of the scope!  We hope your kids get a glimpse of Santa this year!

For more Christmas Activities centered around books, see:

The Polar Express – Extension Activities for the Book

The Snowman Storybook by Raymond Briggs

The Mitten by Jan Brett – Activities to Accompany the Book

This post is just part of a collection of great books with activities for Advent from Rainy Day Mum!

Story Book Advent on Rainy Day Mum

Posted in Christmas Theme, PreK, Storytelling with Young Children | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Candy Cane Learning Activities for Preschool and Kindergarten!


There are few treats that symbolize Christmas in the way that candy canes do!  If you have not read “The Legend of the Candy Cane” you can print it here.  We’ve gathered a collection of candy cane suggestions for activities across all learning areas in Preschool and Kindergarten.  We hope you enjoy creating, exploring, and playing with us this Christmas!

Candy Cane Fine Motor Craft

Candy Cane Fine Motor Craft – encourage fine motor skills by creating this adorable candy cane craft from School Time Snippets!

Candy Cane Peppermint Playdough

Candy Cane Peppermint Scented Playdough – this is a great playdough for sensory play at Christmas from Love, Play, and Learn!

Candy Canes Marbled Scented Craft

Peppermint Scented Marbled Candy Cane Craft – a wonderful sensory experience for young kids (they make great displays at home or in the classroom, too) – from Simple Fun for Kids!

Candy Cane Circle Time Game

Candy Cane Circle Time Game (plus additional activities for playful learning) – “Who Stole the Candy from the Candy Cane Jar” by Teach Preschool!

Candy Cane Sensory Math for Preschool

Candy Cane Math – encourage kids to count by 5’s with our own sensory candy cane counting game!

Candy Cane Patterning

Candy Cane Patterning – a great way to reinforce basic patterning concepts from School Time Snippets!

Candy Cane Science for Preschool

Dissolving Candy Canes Science Activity – a wonderful experiment to try with young kids!  Note:  if your kids love science, see all the preschool science experiments from Science Sparks!

Candy Cane Christmas Ornaments

Candy Cane Christmas Ornaments – I love the use of letter beads to encourage literacy in this craft from Artsy Momma!

Candy Cane Beginning Words

Candy Cane Beginning Words and Letters – invite your children to play with candy cane beginning sounds and sight words – free to print here on the blog.

Legend of the Candy Cane Cookies

Legend of the Candy Cane Cookies that Kids Can Help Make – a melt-in-your-mouth cookie that is perfect for Christmas!

Disclosure:  this post and others within this blog contain affiliate links.  For full disclosures, see the ABOUT page.


Candy Cane Books for Preschool


The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg

Candy Cane Christmas by Helen and David Haidle

Santa And How The Candy Cane Came To Be

J is for Jesus by Crystal Bowman

The Candy Cane Story (a Christian Version) by Amy Floyd Gillette 

For more Christmas Activities for Preschool and Kindergarten, see the Christmas Thematic Unit here on the blog!

Posted in Christmas Theme, Literacy, Math, PreK, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Life Cycle of a Christmas Tree Craft for Preschool!

Whether you have an artificial or real Christmas tree at home or in the classroom, learning about evergreens is fun science for kids!  The simple Christmas Tree Life Cycle craft below will help preschoolers learn how conifers grow from a seed to an adult Christmas tree!

Life Cycle of a Christmas Tree 001

Christmas trees are conifers.  A conifer tree is a needle-leaved tree that produces cones.  Conifers are often called evergreens because as the needled leaves fall off, they are always being replaced by new green needles.

  •  The PINECONES shelter the seeds and protect them.  Christmas tree farmers remove the seeds from the cones and plant them.
  • As the seeds grow, a SEEDLING is produced that grows into a YOUNG TREE.
  • Christmas tree farmers tend to the young trees for 3-5 years before they are replanted into the fields.  Most ADULT TREES require an average of 10 years to develop into the 6-8 foot trees used for Christmas (that is a lot longer than other crops the children are familiar with)!
  • When the Christmas tree farmers sell a tree, they will plant 1-3 more to make sure the fields are always full of Christmas trees.

Remind the children that as the conifer’s seeds are dispersed by humans or animals, the LIFE CYCLE then repeats itself.

Materials needed for the paper plate craft:  1 paper plate per student/craft, 1 printable for labels/pictures/- LIFE CYCLE OF A CHRISTMAS TREE, scissors, crayons or markers, and glue sticks.

Invite the children divide their paper plate into four sections by drawing a line down the middle of the paper plate (vertically) and across the paper plate (horizontally).  The lines do not have to be perfect, but should divide the paper plate into four sections.  Our kids used Wikki Stix to make the sections on the paper plates.

The children can cut out the 4 boxes from the life cycle printable (linked above).  Starting in the upper left-hand corner, have the children glue the pinecone/seeds picture in that section.  The upper right-hand corner should contain the seedling picture.  The lower right-hand corner contains the young tree.  The mature (adult) tree is then glued in the lower left-hand section of the paper plate to complete the life cycle craft.

The paper plate craft is a simple science craft to do during December!  As an extension activity, we collected pinecones to see if the children could find any seeds on the scales.  We counted our seeds, looked at them through magnifying glasses, made a seed collage, and did a sink/float experiment with the seeds and cones.  We’d love to hear what YOUR children do with this activity!  Please leave us a comment or send us a picture:  [email protected]!

 Books to accompany the Christmas Tree Life Cycle:

Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry

Merry Christmas, Geraldine by Holly Keller

Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect by Richard H. Schneider

For more Christmas Science Activities, our Christmas Theme is now available via this blog!

Posted in Christmas Theme, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

My Name in Christmas Lights – free printable name recognition activity for #preschool & #kindergarten!

Name in Lights


The Name in Christmas Lights Activity is a fun craft/literacy activity to reinforce letter and name recognition in preschool and kindergarten.  The name activity is just one of 17 suggested literacy activities that are a part of the Christmas Theme now available here on this blog. You can download the entire Christmas theme here, if desired.

Materials needed: Name in Lights.pdf (download here – Name in Lights), scissors, crayons or markers, and glue. There are two ways you can complete this activity:

 1. Print off page two of the Name in Lights.pdf (one for each student). Cut out the desired colored lights from the pdf file (pages 3-10). Children will need to count out the number of letters in their name and then choose that many lights of their desired colors. For example, in the name “Kylie” there are 5 letters, so the child would choose 5 different colored lights. Next, glue the letters on to the paper labeled “My name has ___ letters.” When dry, the child can use a crayon or marker to write one letter of their name on each of the lights. Finally, use a black crayon or marker to draw a “string,” connecting all of the lights together.

 2. You can also use the pictures of the lights as a template to cut out the “lights” from colored construction paper. Students would continue the activity as described above by gluing the construction paper “lights” onto their paper and then writing the letters of their name on each of the bulbs. Finally, students can use a black (or any desired color) string to glue onto their paper connecting the lights to form a “string of lights.”

Here are more ideas for Christmas literacy or see our other themes here!  We hope your children enjoy playing and learning with us this December!

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Candy Cane Math and Sight Words for Preschool and Kindergarten!

Kids love to play with (and eat!) candy canes.  The activities below can be done with real candy canes (leave the wrappers on for games) or the children can twist red and white pipe cleaners together to make candy canes for use at home or in the classroom.

Candy Cane Counting by 5’s – Candy Cane Number Flags  Blank Candy Cane Flags 

Materials needed:  Red or White Play Dough (or peppermint homemade dough – see recipe below), 15 Candy Canes or ones made from red and white pipe cleaners, Candy Cane Flags Printable (linked above), and tape.

Have the children make 3 large balls (per student) from the play dough and pat down into circles (see photo above.)  The play dough circles will serve as a “base” for each group of 5 candy cane flags when counting.  Print the candy cane flags (linked above) and laminate for durability.  Have the children cut out the individual flags (assist younger children).  Help the children tape one flag to each of 15 candy canes (print the blank flags file to use larger numbers for older children.)  *you can also have the children tear off small pieces of poster putty to adhere the flags – it is easier for younger children to use the poster putty than to tape each individual flag.

Have the children first make a number line of the flags on the floor or a table.  Begin with the number 1 and continue through number 15 (for younger children print an extra copy to lay out on the table and have the children “match” their numbers to the one already completed.)  When the children have counted all 15 flags and placed in numerical order, have the children count out five flags (in order, beginning with 1-5) to stick into each of the play dough bases.  When finished there should be 3 groups of 5 flags in the play dough bases:  1-5, 5-10, and 10-15.  Have the children count by 5’s verbally to 15: 5, 10, 15. Using a separate sheet of paper, have the children make tally marks for each group of 5.   There are blank flags for use with larger numbers, if desired.

Peppermint Play Dough Recipe

5 cups flour
2 1/2 cups salt
3 Tablespoons cream of tartar
10 Tablespoons vegetable oil
Red Food coloring
Peppermint Extract (2 tsps.)
Glitter, if desired

Combine the water, salt, cream of tartar, and the peppermint extract.   Next, add the oil and the flour. Stir well. If desired, add the glitter. The mixture will be stiff and a bit crumbly. Turn the dough out onto a table lined with waxed paper and knead until the dough is smooth (if still crumbly, add a few drops of water while kneading). Separate the dough in half.  Add 15 drops of red food coloring to one half of the dough (if they dough still looks pink, add more food coloring until the desired color appears.  We have also use red Koolaid with good results.)  Keep the play dough separated in two gallon size plastic bags.


Candy Cane Sight Words – Candy Cane Sight Words

Print the Candy Cane Sight Words (linked above) for your students and use them often to aid in recognizing high frequency words. Sight word recognition is useful to enhance reading fluency and reading comprehension. Try incorporating the words into daily activities such as word walls, word sorting, and word games.

Activity example:  Print two copies of the Candy Cane sight words.  Laminate the cards for durability and cut out the individual cards.  Have the children attach the cards (with tape or poster putty) to real candy canes or candy canes made from pipe cleaners.  Distribute the candy cane sight words to the children.  Place one copy of the sight words face up on the floor or a table. On a signal, the children must go find the matching sight word on the floor, hold it up, and read the word out loud. Younger children can say the beginning letter of their cards only. Continue the game until all cards have been found or until the children lose interest.  There are extra cards in this file for additional sight words that the children may be working on or that you would like to introduce.

The file also includes a sight words checklist (last page of the file) that the children can fill out.

For more Christmas  Activities, you can download the Christmas and Gingerbread Theme via this blog!

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Christmas Math and Sensory Ideas for Kids!

Christmas Math Activity for Preschool

Christmas “Roll a Block” Tree – Christmas Roll a Block Tree Template

Materials needed: Small square green/yellow foam blocks (or cut the squares from the Christmas Roll a Block Tree Template.pdf linked above), one foam block labeled with just the numbers 1 and 2 on all sides (if you do not have foam blocks, you can label several index cards with the numbers 1 and 2 and put face down in a “draw” pile.)

The children take turns rolling the foam die (or picking a card) and place that number of blocks in position to form the Christmas Tree. The tree building continues until all blocks are in place and the last yellow “star” block is added. This activity works well for partners or as an individual building exercise.   Younger children can follow the template pattern.

Invite the children glue separate cut out squares onto the template as they draw a card or roll the die. Older children can create larger trees using similar patterns. Label the die (or index cards) with larger numbers if more blocks/template squares are used.

Gingerbread Number Order – Gingerbread Number Order

Materials needed: Gingerbread Number Order.pdf, scissors.

Print off the Gingerbread Number Order.pdf (linked above) and cut apart each of the gingerbread men.  Laminate for durability if desired.  Invite your students to place all the gingerbread men in order from 1-10.

Extension idea for younger children: Print off two copies of the Gingerbread Number Order.pdf and play a memory game where the children have to try to find the matching numbers on the gingerbread man’s bodies.

Extension idea #2: Students can use the numbered gingerbread men to go along with the song/fingerplay:  10 Little Ginger Kids (see below).

10 Little Ginger Kids (Tune: Ten Little Indians)
One little, two little, three little ginger kids,
Four little, five little, six little ginger kids,
Seven little, eight little, nine little ginger kids,
Ten little gingerbread kids.

~Author Unknown

Christmas Sensory Gel Bags

Christmas Colored Gel Sensory Bags

Materials:  Colored Hair Gel or Clear gel/food coloring, gallon size plastic bags, assorted shapes and objects for the children to make “imprints”, and duct tape for sealing the bags if using with many children.

Place the gel &/or food coloring inside a gallon sized plastic bag.  Mix the food coloring (if using) by gently squeezing the bag to distribute the color.  Seal the bags with duct tape for durability if using with larger numbers of children.

Set out a tray with assorted shapes and Christmas items (or other themed objects). Demonstrate for the children how to press firmly into the gel bags to make an imprint. Remind the children not to scrape metal objects (like cookie cutters) over the bag, but to press into the gel.  Set out plastic rolling pins for the children to “clear” the imprints to make new ones.  Some children just like to “squish and squash” the bags to watch the gel bubbles move about.  We make individual bags for the children’s tables during the holidays and use them for “Christmas Calming Moments” when needed.  When our children use small finger muscles to squeeze the bags and visually explore the bubbles moving around, it can help relieve some anxiety that comes with “Christmas anticipation.”

For more MATH, science, and sensory ideas, download the Christmas and Gingerbread Themes via this blog!

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Christmas Literacy Activities for Preschool!

Christmas Literacy Ideas for PreschoolChristmas Letters and Position Words – Christmas Positional Words

LETTERS:  Print all the pages of the file linked above for your children.  The children can color Santa and the present pictures on page 3, if desired.  Ask your students what letter/sound the word S A N T A begins with.  Say the letters with your children and practice the sounds each of the letters make.  Invite the children practice stamping (have very young children stamp the letter on the line below each letter in the boxes) or writing the letters in the boxes below the word S A N T A on page 1 (repeat for the word P R E S E N T.)  The children can cut apart the individual letter boxes and try to spell the words SANTA and PRESENT (for very young children, spell the words for them using letters from the boxes and see if the children can find the letters and place on top of the words.) The children can also play a matching game by shuffling all the individual letter cards and matching the letters from the individual boxes to spell each of the words.

POSITIONAL WORDS:  Have the children cut out all the positional words on page 2 of the file linked above.  Say the position words for your children and demonstrate the position using the Santa/present pictures on page 3 of the file.  Read the sentence (pg. 2) to all of your children and let them decide, as a group, which position word card would best complete the sentence.  After playing as a group, invite the children to partner with a peer and use the Santa and present to play position word games.   Lay the sentence strip out on a table or a floor along with the individual position word cards.  One child must place the Santa/present in a particular “position” (i.e. next to, beside, etc.).  The second child must then try to choose the card that completes the sentence and read the sentence out loud.

For mixed-age groups, invite the younger children to position the Santa/present.  The older children must then look at the position and find the appropriate position word card to complete the sentence.

Christmas Positional Words in Preschool and Kindergarten

Christmas Color Words and Item Match – Christmas Color Word Match

Christmas Color Words and Matching

Materials needed: One Christmas Color Word Match.pdf for each child and scissors.

Print the Color Sentence Strips/Pictures on heavy paper and laminate for durability if desired. Read the sentence strips to all of the children and discuss the colors that are used. Have the children cut the word strips and pictures apart (pre-cut or assist younger children).  Encourage the children to lay the sentence strips out on a table and place the picture cards face down. The children must then pick up a picture card, one at a time, and place next to the corresponding sentence strip. For example, “The star is blue” sentence strip would be matched up with the pictures of the blue star.

Extension idea: Reverse the directions and have the children look first at the picture card and try to determine which sentence strip it goes with.

Children follow color text to recognize letters and color a Christmas Tree

Christmas ABC Tree – Christmas ABC Tree

Materials needed: One Christmas ABC Tree.pdf and crayons or markers (blue, red, yellow and green).

Print the Christmas ABC Tree.pdf for each of the children. Read the instructions to the children and have the children color the tree according to the color/letter indicated in the text. Older children might use other colors of their choice and add separate shapes/letters to their tree. Finish coloring the tree green. The trees make nice displays for the classroom when mounted on red construction paper.

   For more ideas for literacy, math, or science, see the Christmas or Gingerbread theme downloads via this blog!



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Halloween Counting, Sensory Sorting, and Flavored Pumpkin Seeds!


Halloween Eraser SortingHalloween Math Ideas for Preschool and Kindergarten

Materials needed:  Miniature Halloween erasers and an ice cube tray (it doesn’t have to be a Halloween one, but it makes the games more “festive.”)  Local craft and dollar stores usually carry similar items.

Number the bottom of the ice cube tray with the numbers 1-10.  The erasers are very small and can be transferred from the container to the tray with fingers, tweezers, spoons, etc.  Change the transfer utensil to keep the children interested in the game.  For younger children, ask them to count out loud as they transfer the erasers.  For older children, write the numbers 10-20 on index cards.  Have the children shuffle the cards and place, number side down, on the floor or table.  The children will take turns turning over a card and counting out that number of miniature erasers.  The game is over when all ten cards have been used or the children lose interest.

Additional use for erasers:  Have the children create patterns with the erasers.  You can print the blank pattern strips here or have the children lay them out on a table.  For very young children, start a simple AB pattern for them and see if they can extend the pattern. You might also complete one entire line of the blank pattern strips and see if the children can copy the pattern to their own blank strips.  Blank Pattern Strips

Halloween TPTB 002Halloween Sensory Sorting Bins 

Materials needed:  Beans (we used kidney beans, but any variety will work; other suggestions might be: rice, pulled cotton for a “web” effect, moon sand, or moon dough), and miniature erasers

Put the beans (or other desired material) in the bottom of a plastic bin or sand table.  Stir the miniature erasers around and bury some of them.  Set out 3 containers so that the children might sort the erasers as they find them:  1) bats 2) spiders and 3) pumpkins (or other characters in the eraser set).  The children can use tweezers to pick up the erasers, small tongs, spoons, plastic forks, measuring spoons, etc.  After the children have sorted the erasers into the 3 bowls, let the kids count each bowl to see how many of each kind of eraser was found.


Orange Flavored Pumpkin SeedsKoolaid Flavored Pumpkin Seeds

Our kids didn’t care for regular pumpkin seeds last year so we tried something different last week. We put 1/2 a package of orange Koolaid into a zippered qt. size bag and added just enough water to make a liquid – approx. 3 tablespoons.  We then let the kids gently squeeze the bags to distribute the color among the seeds.  The Koolaid worked much better and faster than regular food coloring/alcohol (plus they are EDIBLE.)  After coloring the seeds, we strained them to get rid of excess Koolaid and put the seeds on a foil lined baking sheet.  Blot the seeds dry with a paper towel and bake in a 375 oven for 15 minutes – turning once.  The seeds can be left overnight to dry also, but the oven gave the seeds a crunchy/slightly sweet taste and the kids loved them.  Next time, we are going to try GRAPE Koolaid for our pumpkin seeds.

For more ideas for Halloween, see the Fall Thematic Unit or for other fun activities see Preschool and Kindergarten Themes for Active Learning and Play!

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Community Helpers Theme for Preschool: Bubbly Fires Science Activity!

Who are the people in your neighborhood?  Exploring the jobs that helpers have in the community is FUN learning for curious kids!  Come learn and play with the #TeachECE Early Childhood Team this week as we explore all the various helpers in our own neighborhoods with a COMMUNITY HELPERS THEME.  Our own “bubbly fires” science experiment will encourage kids to use critical thinking skills while playing to learn!

Community Helpers Theme Preschool Science ExplorationCommunity Helpers Bubbly Fire Science Experiment for Preschool!

To become good scientists, kids must begin with an inquiry into a subject they wish to know more about.

Our inquiry began with one student’s question:  How do fires start?

To find out, we asked a local firefighter:

“Usually fires are a chemical reaction between oxygen in the air and some kind of fuel.  Fire is what we see when matter changes form.  All fires require fuel, heat, and oxygen. The fuel is anything that can burn. The heat can come from many things, such as a lighted match, electrical appliances, or a heating system/fireplace.  Oxygen in the air allows the fire to grow.  Fires can start under a variety of circumstances.  Many home fires start in kitchens when people are cooking.  Home fires can also be caused by unattended candles, electrical appliances, and carelessness with fireplaces or wood burning stoves…”.

Disclosure:  This post and others within this blog contain affiliate and/or distributor links.  Please see the ABOUT page for further details.

Bubbly Fire Experiment for PreschoolTo explore a simple chemical reaction that is safe for kids, we made bubbly fires with vinegar and baking soda.

Materials needed:

  • Two plastic or paper cups – clear is best so the kids can see what is happening
  • Baking Soda – fill the cups 1/3 full
  • White Vinegar
  • Optional:  Food Coloring (we added yellow and a little orange to the vinegar in order to create our “bubbly fires”)
  • Optional:  Flames and Smoke (cut the flames and smoke from the free printable Smoke and Fire to attach to the plastic cups).

Invite the kids to pour vinegar slowly from one cup into the cup that contains the baking soda.  Invite the kids to observe what happens to the baking soda.   As the vinegar and baking soda are combined, a chemical reaction occurs to create a BUBBLY FIRE!

Community Helper Science Experiment for Preschool 006Our kids LOVE this experiment and ask to do it many times a year!  To further investigate and test the reactions, we have also tried:

  • Heating the vinegar slightly to see what results we get
  • Pouring the vinegar FAST
  • Using varying amounts of baking soda and vinegar

Experiment Wrap-Up:  Come together and invite the kids to share thoughts and observations.  What created the biggest “bubbly fire?”  What happened to the bubbly fire in the cup after a few minutes?  Why do you think the bubbles settled in the cup?  Discussions will open the door for enhanced language and listening skills while encouraging kids to use independent thinking skills as they share.

NOTE:  Ask a local fire department if they will donate fire hats for the kids to wear!  The experiment is special, but the hats make it officially…AWESOME!

For 100+ creative ways to encourage your own little scientists at home or in the classroom (including an extensive section on experiments with baking soda and vinegar), please see:

The Curious Kids Science Book by Asia CitroThe Curious Kid’s Science Book by Asia Citro is a wonderful collection of easy to set-up science experiments that allow kids to have fun while developing the natural curiosity they have about the world . Each exploration comes with detailed instructions, personal insights, and delightful photographs that will make science come alive for kids. As kids explore, they are compelled to use critical thinking skills within inquiry and solution-based challenges.   Kids will be able to take away new knowledge that they can then apply to problems they encounter at home, in the classroom, or in the larger community!  It is a wonderful book to add to your home or classroom resource library!

For more ways to learn through play with Community Helpers, please see the activity suggestions from the dedicated Early Childhood Educational Team below:

7 Ways to Grow a Reader on a Neighborhood Walk from Growing Book by Book

My Neighborhood Community Helpers Guess Who? Activity from Tiny Tots Adventures

Community Helpers Bingo Alphabet Activity by Mom Inspired Life

Word Family Houses from Rainy Day Mum

The Big Orange Splot Art Activity by Capri +3

Kid Made Neighborhood Building Blocks by Still Playing School

My Neighbourhood Preschool Math Color Sorting by Learning 2 Walk

Shapes in Our Neighborhood Book from Munchkins and Moms

Fireman Playdough Printable by Life Over C’s


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