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4 Fun and Engaging Activities for December

December is an interesting time to be a teacher! You’ve come back from Thanksgiving break, and you have 3 weeks before Christmas. Though it sounds short, those 3 weeks seem to drag on and keeping those first and second graders engaged is almost a herculean task! Don’t worry though! You can make it through December with a little bit of planning and some fun activities. Over my 28 years of teaching, I’ve found and put together plenty of fun and engaging activities for December, and now I’m passing them on to you!

These fun and engaging activities for December will ensure your students keep learning through the holiday season.

With your students buzzing with excitement for the holidays, it can be hard to continue teaching in the same way as the last few months. However, there are ways to engage your students so you don’t derail your scope and sequence. With some creative thinking you can lean into your student’s excitement for this time of year by providing them lots of fun and engaging winter and Christmas themed activities during those never ending December weeks!

Kinds of Activities that Work Best for December

The days and weeks leading up to the winter holidays are definitely the time to pull out our teacher tool box of tricks. With each and every day needed to teach the vast array of skills during the year, you can continue to keep your students learning right up to the winter break.

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Use curiosity

Focus on creating activities that use first and second graders natural curiosity to draw them in and keep them engaged. For example, introduce a December topic they might not know a lot about.

This might include how many Christmas traditions came to be or how Christmas is celebrated differently around the world. Your students probably have a good idea of what Christmas looks like for them, but I bet they haven’t considered why they do it or what it might look like for someone else!

something new

You can also choose a type of activity that you haven’t done in your classroom up until this point, or one that you don’t do very often. Young learners love novelty. December is the perfect month to use it to your advantage!

Some activities that are perfect for this are hands-on learning with some seldom used tools or manipulatives, STEM or STEAM activities or a larger project that students work on in groups.

the power of review

These fun and engaging activities for December will ensure your students keep learning through the holiday season.

Don’t forget about the power of review. Review activities provide students with the needed opportunities to practice previously taught skills and keep them fresh in their mind. They also allow students opportunities to work independently which can come in really handy as you tackle tasks like creating parent gifts or one-on-one end of the semester assessments.

Finally, I like to incorporate learning games into our day. What first or second grader doesn’t love a game!? I know they certainly make my day more fun while teaching! Use them in centers, small groups, or with the whole group.

My top 4 favorite activities for December

Here are four of my favorite activities that I used in my classroom in the days and weeks leading up to the Christmas break. Each of these activities uses the power of curiosity, review, or something new. And sometimes, the activity meets more than one of these.

Christmas Math Task Cards

Christmas themed task cards are a great way to review the math concepts you have covered so far in the school year. Use these task cards as a whole class review, a center, or even for a game of Scoot! However you use them you can be confident knowing that your students are practicing important math skills.

These Christmas math task cards include fun Christmas word problems as well as visual problems for students to solve. Students love reading and solving the problems about elves, Santa, and so much more!

My favorite part: they are low prep! Simply, print and laminate the cards and set them up with the recording sheet at your math station or hand them out to a small group. You can also use these scavenger hunt style by posting them around the room or in the hallway. This is a great way to add a little movement into the day.

Holiday Color By Numbers

Color by number activities are perfect for when you need your class to settle in and focus on a task so that you can work with small groups, conference with other kids, or do individual assessments

Activities for December can Include fun coloring pages focusing on first grade math.

Coloring is proven to help relax, reduce stress, and is great for fine motor skill practice. So, these are definitely my go-to to bring a sense of calm over my room while also getting them to work on content!

My favorite content to review using color by number is math facts. I’ve found that through a color by code activity my students end up getting more practice than they would on a traditional practice page or through the textbook. And, they never seemed to mind.

In my Christmas Color By Code and Holidays Around the World Color by Code, students practice addition and subtraction up to 10. Each of the spots on the sheet has a math problem. The answer to the problem tells the student what color to use for that section.

I find that the solve the problem, find the color, color the section repetition helps keep them focused and engaged longer than a simple color by number sheet would!

Holiday Bingo

Use a Bingo style December activities are fun for your whole class.

Games in December are a great idea, but BINGO in December is the perfect right before break activity!

Since you have probably used BINGO in your class before, you don’t have to introduce a whole new set of rules for students to play, and you won’t need a lot of prep time to get it going!

In my Holidays Around the World BINGO, students are exposed to different items that are part of celebrations such as Ramadan, Diwali, Kwaanza, Chinese New Year, and more! It’s a fun addition to your December lesson plans and a great way to start or end the discussion of how different cultures celebrate.

Use this Christmas bingo as part of your class party, your December classroom management or a fun break.

I also love throwing in a game of Christmas bingo too! This game features all of the Christmas images and traditions that many students know and love. I used this bingo game in my class as part of our class Christmas party of the last day before break.

You can also use it as part of a fun classroom management twist during the last weeks. Post a bingo card at the front of the room and let the class earn the opportunity to cross off a square for great work, excellent behavior or super focus. When the class gets a bingo they can earn a reward. You can also play bingo as part of Fun Friday after a week of great work in the classroom.

However you use it, I know that your students will love playing Christmas bingo as much as mine did!

December themed ELA and Math Review

I’m a big fan of using the 3 weeks before Christmas to concepts we have already learned. This really helps us hit the ground running in January when the students come back from break.

The easiest way I do this is by providing students with a No Prep December language arts and math packet. As students reviewed the skills we’ve worked on since the beginning of the year, I could quickly see how students were doing on these skills. This helped me as I planned for small groups, reteaching and intervention.

I liked to differentiate the worksheets that students received. This allowed students to get the extra practice they needed on the skills they were struggling with. It was a great way to end the semester with valuable review time.

My December No Prep Pack includes 74 pages of math and ELA activities that can simply be printed and passed out to your students!

Looking for More Activities for December?

Don’t tackle December alone! Help your students stay engaged during this holiday season by using these ready-made resources from my TPT store. I even added a great No Prep activity for January that is perfect for those first days back to school after the break.

December activities are fun to do with these no prep printables.
Holidays Around the World Color by code for Addition and Subtraction Facts
Review information from your Holidays Around the World unit with this bingo game
Printable Math Task Cards for Christmas
Use these December activities morning work printables to get your students in the holiday mood.
Christmas Addition and Subtraction Color by Code
Christmas Bingo is a great way to engage students

Save these ideas for activities to use in December

Be sure to save these activities for December to your favorite teacher Pinterest board. You’ll be so thankful when you don’t have to spend hours prepping!


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