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Thursday, November 30, 2023

December Play Activity Ideas for Toddlers & Preschoolers + Free Play Calendar PDF

I'm putting together monthly play calendars to make it easy for you to create a month of fun for your kids at home or in the classroom, every month of the year. December includes Christmas and New Years Eve, so to celebrate the festive season the December play calendar focuses on Christmas trees, DIY ornaments, Santa and the reindeer and fireworks themed ideas for toddlers, preschoolers and school kids. The activities include a mix of art and craft, sensory, science and play ideas as well as books to read aloud during the month.

Each activity is explained in detail below, including how you can extend or adjust the activity based on your child's age. You can also download our free interactive December activity calendar pdf with links to instructions for every activity to save for future reference.

December play calendar for toddlers and preschoolers.


This play activity calendar includes activities that can easily be done using items from around your home {or classroom} and you can substitute items to make it suit what you have on hand. If you want to be fully prepared I've set up an Amazon supply list that includes all of the main items needed for every activity during December.

There are no activities listed for weekends as they can be used for free play/family time or to catch up on activities you may have missed during the week. I've also not included an activity for Christmas Day as everybody will no doubt be busy celebrating.

Below you will find detailed explanations of each activity as well as how to modify them for children of different ages and some extension activities you can do if you're looking for additional ideas. At the bottom of this post you'll also be able to download a copy of the interactive December play calendar PDF which includes direct clickable links to all of the activities featured in this months calendar. Feel free to pick and choose which activities appeal to your child.

Paper Plate Christmas Wreath

Kick off the festive season by creating these super cute paper plate Christmas wreaths. They're really easy to make and are a great way for children to build their fine motor skills and express themselves creatively. Plus they're a super cute Christmas decoration.

Follow our easy paper plate Christmas wreath instructions here. We used all self adhesive craft items to make it easier without glue, however you can use whatever items you have on hand.

easy paper plate Christmas wreath craft for toddlers.

Playdough Christmas Trees

Set up a playdough invitation to decorate a Christmas tree. You can make a blank Christmas tree shape from green playdough and give the kids a selection of loose parts to decorate it, or let them make the Christmas tree from scratch. This is another great activity for building fine motor skills and the kids can destroy and recreate different Christmas trees as much as they want.

playdough Christmas tree activity.

Alternative Idea: 

Christmas Playdough Mats. If your kids love playing with playdough I also have a set of free Christmas playdough mats you can download and print out that include a Christmas tree, Christmas sweater, empty plate for Santa and a gingerbread man to decorate. Use them with playdough and loose parts. If they want even more playdough mats, you can get my full set of 16 Christmas playdough mats here.


The Christmas Pine {Read Aloud}

Deep in a snow wood stands a little pine tree with a special destiny: when it grows up, it's going to be the famous Christmas tree in London's Trafalgar Square! Follow the pine's journey from the forest all the way to London where it becomes the biggest and most glorious Christmas tree.

Read the story aloud in a group, read the book to your child, have your child read the book to you, or watch the story being read aloud here on YouTube. You can borrow the book from a friend or the library, or get your own copy from Amazon or Amazon AU.

the Christmas pine book cover.


Fizzing Christmas Tree

Explore chemical reactions in a safe and fun way with this fizzing Christmas tree science experiment. This simple science experiment is a baking soda and vinegar reaction with a festive twist. Use a tree shaped cookie cutter to make the Christmas tree shape then children can pipette green vinegar on to watch the Christmas tree bubble and fizz.

fizzing Christmas tree science experiment.

Extension Idea:

Colourful tree lights. Instead of using beads as the baubles and green vinegar, use a plain vinegar solution but drops of different coloured food colouring as individual lights on the baking soda tree, so when the vinegar hits them they they get brighter and come to life like twinkling Christmas lights.


Christmas Tree Threading

I know young kids tree decorating skills can be a bit questionable as they like to clump baubles together and don't even know what colour co-ordination is, however this Christmas tree threading activity is a great way for them to decorate their own Christmas tree exactly how they want.

You'll need some green pipe cleaners and some pretty beads. You can use up any beads you already have, or get Christmas themed beads to make them look like proper mini ornaments.

Christmas tree threading activity.


Handprint Christmas Tree Craft

Trace the kids handprints to make this adorable handprint Christmas tree they can then decorate. These make a great keepsake to remember how small the kids hands were and can also be used as presents for family.

handprint Christmas tree craft.


Popsicle Stick Christmas Tree Ornament

Make some popsicle stick Christmas tree ornaments with the kids to use as sentimental Christmas decorations. If you're doing this with toddlers you can pre-glue the popsicle sticks together in the tree shape and they can decorate it with gems or other craft items.

popsicle stick Christmas tree ornament.


DIY Christmas Sweater Ornaments

Another fun and easy Christmas ornament to make with the kids are our Christmas sweater ornaments. Download the free Christmas sweater template and then the kids can choose their own favourite sweater and decorate it how they like before adding it to the tree.

ugly sweater Christmas ornaments.


Christmas Ornament Sensory Bin

Set up a fun Christmas ornament sensory bin where children can use sensory rice and craft items like pom poms and bells to scoop and fill fillable plastic ornaments. They'll love scooping and pouring the rice and emptying the full ornaments back into the bin.

Christmas ornament sensory bin.


Decorate the Christmas Tree {Read Aloud}

Blink your eyes and twinkle your fingers to help decorate the tree. Hooray! It’s time to decorate the tree! Can you help? Clap to turn on the lights. Twinkle your fingers to add some ornaments. Shake to add some more. (But not too hard; you don’t want to break one!). This interactive picture book allows little helpers to trim the tree again and again, all season long.

Read the story aloud in a group, read the book to your child, have your child read the book to you. You can borrow the book from a friend or the library, or get your own copy from Amazon or Amazon AU.

decorate the Christmas tree interactive book.


Cardboard Tube Reindeer Craft

With his shining red nose that saves Christmas, Rudolph the red nosed reindeer is the most famous reindeer of all. Children can make their very own Rudolph with this simple toilet paper roll reindeer craft. Upcycle a humble toilet paper roll, with a few other basic craft items, by following our step by step instructions to bring Rudolph to life.

If you have more toilet paper rolls stashed for craft you may also like to make Buddy the elf or any of these other cardboard tube Christmas craft ideas.
cardboard tube reindeer craft.


Santa Articulated Cup Puppet

With just a few basic craft supplies your kids can make a Santa puppet that waves his arms up and down. Follow our instructions to learn how to make an articulated Santa puppet using paper cups and our free printable Santa template.

waving santa puppet.


Rocking Santa Craft

This rocking Santa craft is also interactive, once it's finished it can be gently rocked back and forth. It's easy to make with the free printable rockin Santa template.

rocking santa craft.


Santa Post {Read Aloud}

Santa receives a letter from Amy but it's been damaged in the post, so he has to figure out what she really wants for Christmas. With the help of the elves, reindeer and others at the North Pole he tries to work it out. The book is full of fun lift the flap letters children can open and read.

Read the story aloud in a group, read the book to your child, have your child read the book to you, or watch the story being read aloud on YouTube here. You can borrow the book from a friend or the library, or get your own copy from Amazon or Amazon AU.

santa post book cover.

Alternative Books:

If you can't find Santa Post, these books are also about children writing letters to Santa.


Letter to Santa

After reading about other children writing to Santa, your own child can write a letter to Santa with my free printable letter to Santa template. It also has colouring in images at the bottom that children can decorate before sending off their letter.

If your children are too young to write themselves, ask them what they would like and fill in the letter for them.

letter to santa template.


Santa Movement Game

Children of all ages will love playing this fun Santa says game. A twist on the traditional Simon says game, it's a great way to get kids active and moving with some fun festive movements like making a snow angel and posing like a Christmas tree.

santa movement game.


What Do You Do To Celebrate? {Read Aloud}

This book explores how children and families from different cultures around the world celebrate the end and start of the year through different festivals and holidays. Learn more about Diwali, Christmas, New Years, St Basil's Day, Hannukah, Junkanoo, Chinese New Year and more.

Read the story aloud in a group, read the book to your child, have your child read the book to you, or watch the story being read aloud on YouTube here. You can borrow the book from a friend or the library, or get your own copy from Amazon AU.

what do you do to celebrate book cover.


Fireworks In A Glass 

Kids can experience the bright bursts of colour of fireworks without the noise with this fun and super easy fireworks in a glass science experiment. You only need food colouring and oil to create your own fireworks show at home and it's a great way to introduce the concept of density. Follow our instructions to do your own fireworks experiment.

If you have younger children you can do this science experiment in a plastic jar or plastic cup, as long as it's clear so they can see the reaction.

fireworks in a glass jar experiment.


Toilet Paper Roll Fireworks

Recycle some old toilet paper rolls, or empty wrapping paper rolls and create some fireworks stamps. The kids can use them to paint a fireworks picture. It's a fun way for children to paint without using a paintbrush. Follow our instructions to turn a cardboard tube into fireworks.

toilet paper roll fireworks painting.


Pom Pom Poppers

Making these pom pom poppers is a fun way for the kids to celebrate New Years without the loud bang or pop of party poppers or fireworks. Follow the instructions here to learn how to make pom pom poppers from toilet paper rolls, paper cups or pool noodles.

pom pom popper ideas.



Click the download template button below to download the interactive PDF file. Each image on the PDF calendar can be clicked to go directly to the instructions for the individual activity.

Please note that this activity calendar PDF is for personal or classroom use only and may not be shared, electronically uploaded or sold on any platform. If you would like to share or feature the calendar in a blog post please link back to this post directly.

Finding Myself Young December Play Calendar.

download December pdf calendar here.

December play ideas for kids.

Disclosure - This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience, which means I may earn a small commission at no cost to you, should you make a purchase.

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