It’s the most wonderful time of the year! However, if the idea of tipping glitter out of your socks puts you off your mince pies, you’ve come to the right place. Avoid endlessly scrolling for festive inspiration and access 14 exciting Christmas activities EYFS children will love in one place. And who can forget tuff trays? We share 4 Christmas tuff tray ideas to try this festive season.
To ensure your Christmas celebrations run smoothly, we’ll also share the top challenges children may face during the holiday period, helping you and your practitioners to support children and their families effectively.
14 Christmas activities EYFS children will love!
It can be easy to fall into choosing EYFS Christmas activities for the sake of it without a real plan for how the activities can continue to challenge children’s learning and development. Ideally, seasonal activities like Christmas, Easter and special days should slot into the EYFS curriculum objectives. Festive fun shouldn’t be place-holding activities- we can do better than that!
EYFS Christmas activities for physical development
Gross and fine motor skills are often the areas that can be flagged as physical development amber flags in EYFS. Possibly due to a delay in development or often because finer-detail activities aren’t as fun as climbing frames. EYFS Christmas activities can offer that spark of motivation for children to get dexterous.
EYFS Christmas cards
A child’s first Christmas card is precious and often a keepsake. Use finger painting to create fairy lights or turn a whole handprint into Rudolph. Consider personalising EYFS Christmas cards by printing a picture of the child’s face and sticking cotton wool balls and a hat to make the cutest mini Santa Claus.
Christmas paper chains
Using a paper cutter to save time, roughly cut some A4 paper into strips (the wider the strip, the easier it will be for the child to link together). Decorate each paper strip using various art materials and then link them together.
Pom-pom Christmas tree
For this pom-pom Christmas tree, you will need a simple triangle shape, some plastic tweezers and pom poms (or any small item like crepe paper rolled into balls, buttons, or sequins). Using double-sided sticky tape or glue, encourage the children to pick and place the decoration onto the tree. Extend the activity by involving maths and ruling out 12 sections. The children can place 12 shapes onto the bottom line, moving to 11 on the next, and so on.
Build the shape
Masking tape and some shapes are all you need for this next physical development Christmas craft. Mark out the festive shape onto the carpet using masking tape (a Christmas tree is the easiest, a snowman is expert-level!) The children will fill the shape using 2D shapes or Lego blocks.
Making small snips with scissors is easier than cutting in straight lines or following a shape. Develop hand strength by making paper snowflakes (it can be helpful to draw a coloured semi-circle in the middle of the folded paper to avoid any snowflake disasters).
Sensory Christmas activities for EYFS
EYFS sensory activities allow children to experience different textures, smells, and sounds. Here are some festive sensory activities you may not have considered this Christmas.
Explore different sounds related to the festive period- like jingle bells. Add bells, tambourines and other percussion to make your Christmas carols even better.
Cinnamon, nutmeg and gingerbread are all common Christmas scents. The children can experiment with new smells by adding these scents to playdough or other sensory activities.
Try using a simple slime recipe and add festive small objects like mini snowflakes, sequins and polystyrene balls into the mixture. You may want to play around with freezing some slime to compare the textures when cold.
Candy cane salt dough
Making salted dough is straightforward, then just add some red food colouring to create ‘candy canes’ (the dye will transfer to little hands, so gloves are advised). You can create a plain salt dough candy cane and press the child’s name or initials into the dough as it is drying. Then, loop some ribbon through a hole left at the top, and you have a Christmas tree decoration.
Fill up a washing-up glove with water and small objects like sequins or small toys, place the glove in the freezer and leave it for a few days. Place the frozen hand in your tuff tray and observe what happens when it melts. The children can experience how ice feels and spot some winter-themed objects whilst it melts.
Let it snow
Artificial snow can be a great sensory experience for toddlers. You can purchase some self-expanding snow and add it to your tuff trays (take care to supervise as it is not to be consumed). Encourage the children to close their eyes and feel the soft texture of the artificial snow.
Early years Christmas activities for communication and language
Communication and language skills help children develop friendships, express their thoughts and emotions, and engage with new experiences confidently. Christmas time is the perfect time to tap into communication and language activities.
Guess the gift
Wrap some objects in wrapping paper and place them into a feely sack. The children can feel the shape to guess what object it may be. Here are some ideas of objects you can wrap:
Christmas songs can celebrate the Nativity story or be linked to the winter weather at Christmas time. Here are a few religious and non-religious Christmas carols for you to try with toddlers. Try the Makaton versions, Singing Hands UK have some great videos!
4 Christmas tuff tray ideas
When sharing Christmas activities EYFS children will love, we can’t forget the staple in every early years room: the tuff tray.
A winter castle Christmas tuff tray
This Christmas tuff tray activity can involve recycled toilet roll middles and snow-themed small objects like sequin, cotton wool balls and artificial snow. Recreate Elsa’s winter castle or make an ice castle using paper cups or toilet roll tubes.
Chilly Christmas tuff tray ideas
Have you ever heard of ice painting? For this tuff tray idea, you will need ice cubes, paint or food colouring and paint brushes. Place the ice cubes in the tuff tray and encourage the children to dab different colours onto the ice cubes as they melt.
Snowflake soup tuff tray
Combining winter-themed tuff trays and water play, create snowflake soup for this next activity. The children will have access to water containers, sequins, food colouring, and small objects, helping them make snowflake soup.
Craft Christmas tuff tray
Dare to use glitter this Christmas, but don’t want to be pouring it from your socks for the whole of December? Tuff trays are the perfect place to make Christmas crafts. Contain glitter when making Christmas trees or glitter candy canes for some easy-to-make EYFS Christmas decorations.
Christmas time challenges for EYFS children
Although Christmas is the time for fun, it can be challenging for toddlers to navigate. Remembering the areas that may unsettle children around the festive period is essential. Share these challenges with your practitioners for a consistent approach.
Managing change with toddlers
We all benefit from routine and knowing what to expect, it is a core aspect of adopting trauma-informed practices in your nursery. By looking at the nursery calendar as a team to identify upcoming changes to routine (even if performances or treats), practitioners can work closely with their key families to prepare. Regular communication with parents throughout the festive period can reduce anxiety for the children and their parents.
Planning inclusive Christmas celebrations
Not all of your nursery children may celebrate Christmas, especially if you are in a diverse area. It is important to plan inclusive Christmas activities to encourage all to join in with suitable celebrations regardless of religion, language, economic background or Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
Supporting SEND needs at Christmas
Children with SEND may find the changes to usual routines challenging. If your early years setting prides itself on being autism-friendly, you will be aware of the sensory demands that come with EYFS Christmas activities.
Managing separated parents at Christmas
Regular communication about upcoming events and changes to routine can help keep separated parents in the loop around Christmas time. Blossom’s online learning diaries can be shared with multiple family members, allowing those separated through deployment, illness or travel the opportunity to experience the joy.
Safeguarding is the highest priority, and only family members with express permission can access and comment on the media shared throughout the nursery day via the Parent App.
Dietary requirements for toddlers
Although baking and food tasting are exciting activities children will enjoy, all team members must be aware of dietary requirements, intolerances and allergies. Share children’s profiles with staff before planning food-related activities.