Christmas/Winter Books and Activities for Kids
Updated: Apr 29, 2020
The Christmas season can be so magical for kids. As adults, it can be a wonderful and a stressful season. We want to help our children be excited and recreate the wonderful traditions from growing up, as well as creating new traditions that fit our family situations. Hopefully the joy of the season can be found amidst the hustle and bustle. Here is a list of children’s Christmas stories and activities that can help you and your students or children feel the enchantment of Christmas this time of year. These children's books and art activities can be used all winter long to help bring literacy to life for your children!
1. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas- There are many different children's books of this famous poem, or you can even just find a print out of the poem online.
Santa Spotters: Glue two toilet paper rolls together to make Santa binoculars. Have your students or children decorate the toilet paper rolls with paper, markers, sequences, glitter and any other craft item you want to get out. Let the students use the binoculars when they read the story to spot words they do not know and help them understand the meaning of the poem. Then let them use the binoculars Christmas eve to look for Santa.
2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas-By: Dr. Seuss
Egg Carton Characters: Cut up an egg carton so you have just the round parts that hold the eggs all separated. Turn them upside down so they are a little round dome. Then let the students or child decorate the dome to look like characters from the story. They can make little Whos or the Grinch. Maybe they want to make the Grinch's dog, Max.
3. Polar Express- Chris Van Allsburg
Candy Trains: You will need a roll of lifesavers as well as individually wrapped lifesavers. You will also need small packages of sticks of gum, treasure chocolates and Hershey Kisses. Help the students to glue the candy together to match the picture using a hot glue gun.
4. The Mitten- Jan Brett
Hole Punch Plate Picture: Have students trace a cut out of a mitten onto a paper plate (the mitten must be big enough to take up most of the middle of the plate). Then have them hole punch around the traced picture with about the space of a pinky finger between each hole. Next, take red yarn and tie a knot at the end of the yarn. Have the kids weave the yarn through the holes going from one side to the other filling in the empty space shape like a mitten. Maybe even add pom pom animals or animal cut outs into the yarn once the weaving is completed.
5. The Gingerbread Man Story
The Stinky Cheese Man- Jon Sciezka
Senorita Gordita- Helen Ketteman
Gingerbread Baby- Jan Brett
The Gingerbread Man- Jim Aylesworth
Compare and Contrast: Read several versions of “The Gingerbread Man” Story (I’ve listed some of my favorites above). Have the students fill out a compare and contrast chart about what is the same and what is different in each story. Is the setting the same? The characters? The antagonist? What about the endings? Students can fill in a chart with each book and how aspects of the story are different.
Make Gingerbread Men: Another fun activity to go with these stories is making gingerbread men. You can make them out of real gingerbread or just use a sugar cookie recipe and a gingerbread man cookie cutter. Let the students or children decorate their gingerbread men with candy and frosting.
6.It's Christmas David- David Shannon
Christmas Tradition Comic Strips: Have students draw a comic of their favorite Christmas memory and use the opportunity to talk about dialogue and voice in stories. If students cannot think of a memory have them use the comic strip to teach about their favorite holiday tradition.
7. The Very Special Christmas- Christine Leeson
Pom-pom Christmas Lights Painting: Draw a string of loops with a black marker or sharpie. Then have the students add small squares every few inches along the line. Let the students use pom-poms and a clothespin as a paintbrush. The students can dip the pom-pom into paint and then pick it up with a clothespin and tap it gently below the squares they drew. The paint will turn the line into a beautiful strand of Christmas lights. If you want to get a little messy, have the students do the same activity, but finger paint the lights by making the lights with a fingerprint.
8. Merry Christmas Splat- Rob Scotton
Letters to Santa: Look up papers with pretty borders online or buy Christmas stationary and have the children/students write their own Christmas letters to Santa. Have the kids talk about nice things they have done for others this year and how they can help their families during the holiday season.
9. Snowmen at Night- Caralyn Buehner
Melting Snowmen/Snowmen Birds Eye View: Have students trace three circles of different sizes on a piece of white construction paper. Give the student a blue oil pastel and have them draw around the border of each circle. Then have them smudge the line with their finger. Cut out circles and stack them on top of each other from biggest to smallest. Glue the stack together (it should look like a bird's eye view of a snowman). Next, get a brown and orange piece of paper. Cut out an orange triangle and glue it to the smallest circle to make a nose. Then cut two twig arms from the brown paper and glue it between the biggest and middle circle. You may cut out two small thin rectangles of colored paper and stick them between the smallest circle and the middle circle to look like a scarf on the snowman.
10. Mrs. Claus Takes a Vacation- Linas Alsenas
Hand-print Reindeer: Cut out a reindeer head and let the children draw nostrils and eyes (or use googly eyes) and glue the face onto a colored piece of paper. Have students help each other trace their hands. They can cut out their hand-prints and glue them on the paper to make reindeer antlers. You can also have them make hand-prints with paint and stamp the antlers onto the paper.
Candy Cane Sleighs: Hot Glue four candy canes together in a row to form a sleigh. Then have the students make origami boxes out of paper or paper cut outs of people or reindeer to decorate the sleigh. They can also make decorations out of candy to decorate the sleigh.
11. A Charlie Brown Christmas- Charles M. Schulz
Christmas Tree Ice Cream Cone Decorating: Give the students an ice cream cone on a paper plate. Let the student frost the cone with green frosting so it looks like a tree and then decorate it with candy (licorice lights, skittles or M&Ms for the ornaments, etc.).
Yarn Wrapping Christmas Ornaments: Pour Elmer's glue into a bowl. Draw a simple design on a foam tray (star, tree, circle, heart, gingerbread man, etc.) and then push small pins around the outline. Run a long piece of yarn through the glue to cover it. Then decorate wrap the yarn around the pins until the entire space is covered. Let the yarn sit and dry overnight. Then take the pushpins out of the foam tray and your ornament should keep its form. Put a string or ribbon around the top of the ornament and hang it on the tree!
12. Footprints in the Snow- Mei Matsuoka
Pipe Cleaner and Beads Snowflakes: Have students choose three blue or white pipe cleaners. Have them hold them in an even bundle and then twist them together in the middle. Then spread out the 6 halves to from a circle. Let the students bend the pipe cleaners to make designs and add beads to decorate. They will need to fold the ends of each of the six branches in order to keep the beads from falling off. Once students have created their own snowflake designs, tie a string from one of the ends or the middle of the snowflake and hang it up as a winter decoration.
Pipe Cleaner and Beads Icicles: Students make Icicles by spiraling one pipe cleaner using a pencil. They can bend the bottom end and add beads as decoration. Tie a string to the top and hang to form an icicle, or put it on a tree for decoration.
Q-Tip Paint Footprints: Get out a plain blue piece of colored paper. Then have students choose an animal cut out (or multiple animals) and cut out a silhouette of the animal from black paper(you may want to have animal cut outs from the book available for them to use). Let the students glue the silhouette to the far right of the blue paper. Then using a Q-Tip and white paint have the students create footprints of the animal as if it walked across the page.
13. The Legend of the Candy Cane- Lori Walburg
Pipe Cleaner Candy Cane Ornaments: Give students a red or white pipe cleaner. Then give the students red and white beads. Have the students put red and white beads on the pipe cleaners. Tie the last bead on either end of the pipe cleaner. Then have the students bend the pipe cleaner to form a hook or candy cane shape and hang your candy cane on the tree.
14. The Missing Mitten Mystery- Steven Kellogg
Snow Globes: Get plain white paper plates. Use a hole-puncher on white, blue or grey paper and save all the small holes to put in as “snow” in the snow globe. Have the students draw a background on the plate for their snow-globe. Then give them a small cutout of the red mittens to put into the snow-globe with the snow. Once the students have drawn out the background of their bowl, have them pull a piece of plastic wrap across the plate and tape it down with duct tape to the back of the plate. Leave a small opening and pour the mitten and circle white and blue paper. Then tape the last part of plastic wrap down.
15. Mooseltoe- Margie Palatini
Christmas Tree Mosaics: Have students decorate their own trees with Christmas tree mosaics (the students can either use strips of paper that have already been cut out of different lengths or they can tear their own paper to shape a Christmas tree. You can let them use glitter glue, pompoms or paper cut outs to add decorations to their colorful tree!
16. Fly Guy’s Ninja Christmas- Tedd Arnold
Christmas Present Coloring Sheet: On a big strip of butcher paper draw different shape rectangles along the paper. Then have the kids stand around the table and pick a present to decorate with markers or crayons (have the kids draw to decorate the “wrapping paper” for the present.
17. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey- Susan Wojciechowski
Stained Glass Nativity Ornaments: Have a silhouette of a nativity cut out for students in black paper. Give each student 5 Popsicle sticks. I think hot glue guns work best, but you can use regular Elmer's glue. Glue the Popsicle sticks into a pentagon and glue a ribbon to the top part of the pentagon. Then let students cut or rip small pieces of tissue paper and glue them to a piece of tracing paper with a glue stick. Cut the tracing paper to the size and shape of the pentagon. Then glue the black silhouette of the nativity onto the tissue paper. Glue the tracing paper (that now has a layer of tissue paper mosaic background and the cutout of the nativity) onto the back of the Popsicle stick pentagon (use Elmer's glue or the glue gun...but be very careful patting it down because the paper is thin and it will burn you if you don’t use something like a Popsicle stick. Then hang the nativity on your Christmas tree in front of a light...the light should show through the tissue paper and glow.
18. Who’s That Knocking on Christmas Eve?- Jan Brett
Poke the Christmas Tree: This is a fun game for children of all ages. You can use this as an advent calendar or as a fun activity. Tape plastic cups to the wall in the shape of a Christmas tree, with the open part of the cup facing out (be careful to use a tape that will not damage the wall). Then put treats, toys or Christmas messages in each of the open cups. Cover the opening of the cup with green paper, tissue paper or wrapping paper and hold it over the cup with a rubber band. Then let the students or your children poke through the paper and discover the surprise inside the cup (either one cup a day if being used as and advent calendar or all together if doing the activity all in one sitting). This can be a great way to make lessons more engaging for students around Christmas time (you could have math problems in each cup, for example). It can also be a great way to keep kids engaged for a family Christmas program (with songs or scriptures or nativity pieces in each cup).
Watercolor Northern Lights: Have students paint different colors onto a piece of watercolor paper (encourage them to paint abstract shapes and vertical lines). Then sprinkle salt on the paper before it dries (this will create small disturbances in the water and look like snow after it dries). Then give students a piece of black paper and have them draw out a ground/horizon line and characters from the story (animals, people, trolls). Once the watercolor paper is dry, dust off the salt and have the students glue their silhouette to the paper to create an image of the characters walking across the snow with the Northern lights in the background.
19. The Penguin Who Wanted to be Different- Maria O’Neill
Popsicle Stick Penguins: This activity can be used to make any picture. Simply have students tape a line of Popsicle sticks together. Turn the Popsicle sticks over so the tape is on the back (you can also glue them together with one Popsicle stick going perpendicular across the back of the line of Popsicle sticks. Then let students draw a penguin out on the front side of the Popsicle sticks using paint or markers.
20. The Little Drummer Boy- Katherine Kennicott Davis
Homemade Drum: Have students make their own drum from an oatmeal bucket or another tin with a plastic lid. If you want to encourage even more creativity, you can have the students design their own instrument to use to play Christmas music. Try using things around your house like paper plates, rice, rubber bands, plastic wrap or any other recyclables.
21. What Santa Can’t Do- Douglas Wood
Make Christmas Countdown Chain: Cut out strips of paper to create an advent calendar. Let students write fun holiday activities, kind acts of service or you can write down activities before hand that you want the students to do each day looking forward to Christmas. Students tape, glue or staple the ends of the strips of paper together to make a loop. Then they place the next strip inside the loop and loop it together in order to form a chain. Have the students continue this pattern making a link for each day until Christmas. The student will break one link in the chain each day, counting down the days until Christmas.
Santa Face Paper Plate: Have students make paper plate Santa masks. Cut out two holes for the eyes and one hole for the mouth. Hole punch the two sides of the plate and tie a string around it to hold the mask to their heads. Let the students decorate paper Santa hats to glue to the top of the plate. Let the students color rosy cheeks onto their masks and glue cotton balls around the mouth of the plate to make a white beard. At the end, have the students try on their masks and practice their best “Ho-ho-ho, Merry Christmas” in a Santa voice.
22. The Berenstain Bears and the Nutcracker- Stan and Jan Berenstain
Toilet Paper Nutcrackers: Show the students pictures of different nutcrackers online. Then give the students an empty roll of toilet paper, scissors, glue and colored paper. Have the students decorate their toilet paper rolls to create their own nutcracker to take home.
Draw How the Music Makes You Feel: After reading the story talk about how ballets tell a story through music and dance. Then give students a piece of paper and crayons. Let the students listen to a song from the nutcracker and draw an abstract image of how the music makes them feel. Then explain what was happening in the story during that song.
Minute To Win It Nutcracker Costumes: set out different household items. Put the students into groups of three. Give the students 5 or 10 minutes to dress one of the kids in the group up as the nutcracker and see which group is able to make the best costume in the amount of time given.
23. Snowflake Bently- Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Paper Snowflakes: Give the students a piece of white paper cut in a square. Have the students fold the paper in half, then in half again (so it makes a small square) and then fold it from the middle in half so it makes a diamond. Then give the students scissors and have them cut holes around the edges (They must leave parts of each edge uncut so the snowflake stays together). Then unfold the paper and see the beautiful crystal designs. Tie or glue string onto the flakes and hang them up.
Tortilla Snowflakes: Have the students create a snowflake from a tortilla. First take a tortilla and spread a thin layer of butter over it. Then sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on the surface. Have the child fold the tortilla in half and then in half again so only a forth of the tortilla is showing. Let the student take bites out of the tortilla around the edges and even in the middle if they can. Then let them unfold the tortilla and see the beautiful snow crystal they created. Take a picture and then let the child eat the rest of the tortilla as a snack.
Q-Tip Snowflakes: Give each child a blue piece of paper and a small stack of Q-tips. Have the child use Elmer's glue to glue the Q-tips onto the construction paper to form a snowflake. The snowflake should have 6 branches with any design the child wishes to create. To avoid mistakes, have the students use a pencil to draw out the crystal before they begin gluing the Q-tips to the page.