Polar Bear Activities and Books for Preschool!

This week the #PlayfulPreschool Team is back with a POLAR ANIMALS THEME designed just for preschoolers!  We hope your own kids enjoy playing to learn with us as we continue offering free resources for use at home or in the classroom!

Polar Bear Math Game for PreschoolPolar Bear Math for Preschool!

Disclosure:  the post below contains affiliate links.  For FULL disclosures, please see the ABOUT page near the top of this blog.

Materials needed:

Bear Tracks Math Game for PreschoolPaw Print Bear Tracks.pdf – download and print here: Bears Math Activity for Preschool

Small plastic polar bears or colored bear counters

One die (we use large foam dice for many math activities with our preschoolers).


Glue or Tape

Construction paper

Cut apart one (or more) strips of the Paw Print Bear Tracks (linked above).  Glue or tape the paw print strip onto construction paper and laminate for durability if desired.

Invite the children to place a bear on the paw print farthest from the bear cave photo. Roll the die.  Move the bear one paw print for each number rolled on the dice. For example, if your child rolls a “3,” they would move their bear 3 paw prints forward.  Keep rolling and moving the bear until it gets to the bear cave.

For older children, have the child continue rolling the die until they get their bear to the bear cave with an exact roll.

Extension:  set out number or number word cards.  Have the children draw a number or read the number word to move the bear instead of rolling a die.

Polar Bear Books for PreschoolPolar Bear Books for Preschool!

The books below are some of our own favorite titles:

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Eric Carle

Polar Opposites by Erik Brooks

Polar Bear Night by Lauren Thompson

Little Polar Bear by Hans de Beer

The Snow Bear by Miriam Moss

The Polar Bear’s Gift by Jeanne Bushley

Polar Animals Large Motor Game for PreschoolPolar Bear Large Motor Game for Toddlers and Preschoolers! – Large Bear Paw Print

The polar bear large motor game is a great way to get kids MOVING inside this winter!  Print several copies of the LARGE BEAR PAW PRINT.pdf (linked above), laminate for durability if desired, and then set out materials to make a bear cave (for our game we used a small table and brown wrapping paper for just the front of the cave).   The ends of the cave were open and allowed for free movement in and out!

Randomly tape the large paw prints in a circle leading to and away from the created bear cave. We discussed different movements that the kids might do to get from one paw print to another:  bear crawling, baby crawling, hopping, jumping, frog jumping, giant steps, etc.  As the kids come to the cave, they have to duck and crawl through then continue on their journey!  It’s a simple and FUN way for kids to play and practice various large motor movements!

Please take a moment to visit other resources and suggestions for a POLAR ANIMAL THEME from the #PlayfulPreschool Team!

Polar Animal Literacy Activities:

Walrus Dive for Letters from Capri + 3
Polar Bear Paw Walk Preschool Alphabet Game by Growing Book by Book

Polar Animal Science and Sensory Activities:

How do Animals Stay Warm by Rainy Day Mum
Penguin Sorting Sensory Bin by Powerful Mothering
Arctic World by Learning 2 Walk

Polar Animal Movement Activities
Polar Animals Gross Motor Games by Still Playing School

Polar Animal Math Games and Activities:

Polar Bear Math Game by The Educators’ Spin On It
Counting to 5 with Penguins by Life Over C’s
Polar Animals Mega Blocks Puzzle by Tiny Tots Adventures




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Christmas Lights Activities for Preschool: Pony Bead Counting Sticks

Christmas Lights Activities for PreschoolChristmas Lights Activities for Preschool

Christmas lights are awe inspiring for children and adults!  For most families, taking walks or driving around the city to look at light displays has become a cherished Christmas tradition.  This week the #playfulpreschool team is offering activities centered around LIGHTS for playful learning at home or in the classroom!

Background information:  In 1882, Edward H. Johnson (vice president of Thomas Edison’s electric company) decorated his evergreen with 80 red, white, and blue light bulbs.  The tree then rotated on an electric crank.  In 1901, pre-lit trees were advertised, but they were too expensive for the average household to afford.  From those humble beginnings to present day, strings of Christmas lights are now readily available, affordable, and have become symbolic of the holiday season!

Christmas Lights Math Activity for PreschoolChristmas Lights Pony Bead Counting Sticks for Preschool – Christmas Lights Math and Colors Activity for Preschool

Objective:  To encourage practice with 1-to-1 Correspondence through the use of seasonal activities for playful participation.

Materials needed:  Various colors of pony beads that correspond to the colors on the free printable (linked above), scissors, and 10 Wikki Stix.   PLEASE NOTE:  pony beads are a choking hazard and should not be used with children who still mouth objects or children under 3.  As an alternative, larger pompoms can be used with younger children. Please supervise all children closely.

Prior to the activity:  Print the Christmas Lights file (linked above) and label each colored bulb with one number that the children are working on or have had introduced.  For durability, laminate the bulbs before cutting each colored light out.  Each of the bulbs will adhere to the top of Wikki Stix strands without the need for glue or tape.

Pony Bead Counting Sticks for PreschoolSet out the colors of pony beads and invite the children to count out the quantity of pony beads that correspond to the number on each of the colored bulbs from the printable. Pony beads fit perfectly on Wikki Stix and it is great fine motor work for growing fingers, too!

Additional Activities to Extend Learning:

1) Label 10 Christmas lights with the numbers 1-10.  Invite the children work as a group to place their bulbs in the correct order – 1-10. Variation: Label the bulbs with the numbers 5-15 and have the children work to place the lights in the correct number order (starting at a number OTHER than 1).

2) Label 10 bulbs with the number 10. Have the children place 10 pony beads on each of the Wikki Stix strands. The strands make great “10 bars” for counting to 100 by 10’s. For younger children, label the individual bulbs with various numbers for practice with skip counting by 2’s and 5’s.

3) Write number WORDS on the bulbs. Have the children place the corresponding number of beads on the Wikki Stix.  This activity will help the children understand that the number name refers to a specific quantity of beads.

4) Write any basic pattern on the bulbs (ex:  AB, ABC, AABB, AABBCC).  Invite the children create those patterns with various colors of pony beads. For older children: use a wider assortment of colors for more complex patterning.

Christmas Lights Matching Activity for Preschool

Christmas Lights Memory Style Color Matching Game

5)  Print two copies of the Christmas lights file and cut the individual colored bulbs out. Lay the bulbs face down in rows on a table or the floor.  Invite the children to turn over two cards at a time to locate the color matches.  If no match is found, both cards are turned face down again and play continues until all color matches have been located.

Christmas Lights Name Activity fro Preschool

Creating NAMES with Christmas Bulbs

6)  Print the colored bulbs or invite the children to color the blank bulbs (page 2 of the file).  The children can then cut out the number of bulbs that correspond to the number of letters in their names.  Have the children stamp or write each letter on the individual bulbs and then string their NAME IN LIGHTS from Wikki Stix strands.

For Additional Pony Bead and Wikki Stix Math Activities, see the DIY Rekenreks!

For MORE Hands-on Light Theme Play and Learn Activities:

Matching ABCs Lights Activity by Mom Inspired Life
abc Christmas Lights by Powerful Mothering
Making Books: Colored Lights by Growing Book by Book
5+ Christmas Lights Math Activities for Preschoolers by LIfe Over C’s
Lights on the Tree Sensory Play by Fun-A-Day!
Scented Fingerprint Christmas Lights by Learning 2 Walk
Make a Light Bulb Model by Capri + 3
How to Make Shadow Puppets: Play and Learn with Lights by The Educators’ Spin On It


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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


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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