Thanksgiving is over, so it’s OFFICIALLY CHRISTMAS TIME!!! As L asks quite frequently, “Wait. Is it Christmas TIME or Christmas DAY?” It’s not quite Christmas “Day,” but for our family, Christmas “Time” lasts from the day after Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day. Changing holidays or seasons provide an amazing opportunity to give your Montessori shelves a face lift with some easy switches to make your activities more cohesive and seasonally-themed. In case you haven’t guessed it yet, Christmas is my absolute favorite.
The easiest way to make your shelves seasonally-themed is to switch out the colors of your materials and add a few seasonal shapes. For Christmas, that could be red, green, white, Santa Claus, reindeer, snowmen, Christmas lights, Christmas greenery, etc. I found the absolute cutest materials at Oriental Trading for my Christmas shelves, and I can’t wait to set them up tonight! The best part — most of these materials can be used for several different activities, so you can switch up your trays if one activity has already been mastered.
Here are over 30 Montessori-inspired activities for Christmas, arranged by section:
Typical Practical Life Transfer Works
Up first, we have a simple posting work using these adorable Holiday Twisted Candy Cane Erasers. Posting is always a fun and relaxing work that helps build hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills such as the pincer grip. I put a bunch of these erasers into a Holiday Handicraft Candy Dish beside an empty coffee creamer bottle. The bottle is clear, so the child can watch the erasers fall as she drops them one by one into the top. These erasers are quite large, so they would also be great for a grasping transfer work from one bowl to another.
If you know what these Red Diamond-Shaped Acrylic Gems are actually supposed to be used for, please let me know. I use them for transfer works! These work great with a child-sized pasta spoon for a spooning transfer.
For more a more advanced spooning transfer work, try these beautiful Christmas Striped Crystal Faceted Beads with a smaller spoon.
Jingle Bells are one of my favorite materials to use, and if you find them in different colors they can be used all year long! I put them in a bucket with a child-sized ladle for a spooning transfer that will require a bit more wrist motion.
You can bring those red gems back again for a tong transfer work! This requires a further refinement of the pincer grip to pick up each gem with the tongs and then release it into the second bowl.
These fun Lightbulb Erasers would also be great for a tong transfer work — as well as several others in different sections of the classroom.
These gorgeous Christmas Wreath Premium Glass Charms are another versatile material that we can use in several Christmas-themed works. The child will have to use great care when pinching them with the tongs, as they are a bit fragile.
Or you could use these sweet Gingerbread Lampwork Beads if you have other plans for those wreaths.
To sneak some beginning math skills into your Practical Life section, try pairing these 3D Christmas Character Erasers with tongs and an empty ice cube tray to help promote one-to-one correspondence.
If you want to encourage more care and precision, try these Traditional Christmas Tree Lampwork Charms, which are quite fragile.
Those tiny Christmas striped beads can also be used in a simple dry pouring work to refine hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
Don’t forget about those jingle bells we used earlier — they’re great for a dry pouring work, with an added sensorial element as the bells jingle from one pitcher to the other.
Manipulative/Fine Motor Practical Life Works
It’s always great to get the whole body moving even when the focus is on fine-motor skills. My girls are going to love this Mini Holiday Stocking hanging work! I put all of the stockings into a small container, and the aim is to take one stocking, stand, hang it on one of the hooks, and repeat until they are all hanging.
You can even add something to stuff the stockings with for an extra-fun extension! The candy cane erasers we used earlier are the perfect size to nestle inside each stocking.
Pencil toppers are another fun way to freshen up a work according to a theme, so I had to get these Christmas Pencils with Eraser Toppers! I put the toppers in a small bowl along with the unsharpened pencils. Putting them onto and taking them off the pencils requires great fine motor control and hand-eye coordination.
Did you think we were finished with that first set of Christmas striped beads? No way! They are the perfect size for a hand sweeping work. Show your child how to dump out the bowl of beads on a tray, sweep them up, and then pour them back into the bowl.
We have more uses for those wreath glass charms, too! Pair them with a pipe cleaner for a bead stringing work.
Or if you’re already using those wreath charms for something else, try it with the Christmas tree charms instead!
Are BOTH of those types of charms already in use? Not to worry — the Christmas jingle bells come with enough to use in multiple works at the same time, and they fit just right onto a pipecleaner. Your older preschooler could also string them up with a needle and thread to make a decorative garland.
Christmas decorations are pretty colorful, so they make great color sorting works! Those lightbulb erasers we used earlier come in four different colors, so they were a natural choice. I provided a control of error by putting a circle of construction paper in each of four different bowls to show where each color lightbulb should go.
To stick with more traditional Christmas colors for your sorting work, try using those adorable Christmas character erasers! For an older child who is bored with color matching, add a set of tongs to raise the difficulty level, or just remove the construction paper control of error.
You could also do this color sorting work with those Christmas jingle bells we’ve been using in our transfer works.
The beautiful variety of colors that can be found in Christmas decorations can also be used in a section of the classroom that you might not expect — MATH! I made this free printable pattern template for a fall color set, but it also works with the colors of those lightbulb erasers. You can keep yours whole like I did or cut out each template individually.
Again, if you want to stick to more traditional Christmas colors, you can use this free printable pattern template with those Christmas character erasers instead.
You could also do pattern work with those Christmas jingle bells we’ve been using in our transfer works.
So many of these Christmas materials can also be used as math counters in a number to quantity work! Just print the free Number to Quantity Cards 1-5 and use the jingle bells to fill each square. This helps make the connection between the written number and what quantity that number represents.
You could also use those wreath glass charms…
…or the Gingerbread men…
…or the lightbulb erasers or red gems or Christmas character erasers or any number of items!
Object to Object matching is one of the very first language works presented to toddlers, and those adorable mini stocking just so happen to come in pairs!
I also made some simple picture to picture matching cards using the Ornament Roll of Stickers. I laminated mine because I know my kids would try to peel the stickers off otherwise!
Of course, you could also use those ornament stickers as a good old sticker work for refining fine motor skills. For younger children, just put some in a small bowl with a piece of paper for free play. I always add a second, empty bowl for the girls to put the backs of the stickers in before throwing them away when they have finished the work.
For older children, you could turn this regular sticker work into a sticker sorting work in the sensorial section, as there are six different ornament stickers that then repeat.
I can tell that I am going to have a hard time choosing which of these great ideas to put on our shelves this Christmas — I might have to rotate my works a bit more often just so I can get everything out there! Which ones do you think your children will enjoy the most???
You can find these products and other Christmas materials right HERE.