Welcome preschool friends!
Whether you are a preschool teacher, parent, or grandparent, the Candy Cane Challenge is for you and your favorite preschoolers to help you get through the exciting month of December!
Check back here each weekday beginning on December 1st for a new preschool activity.
The Candy Cane Challenge is Christmas themed and the real challenge will be to get through each activity before Christmas! And the best part is that the activities can be played again and again.
So get ready to add some organization and routine to what will surely end up being a crazy, fun few weeks!
Candy Cane Challenge
Before you begin the challenge, print the Candy Cane Challenge recording page. Each day that you complete an activity, go ahead and color in one space. In a way it will be a fun way to countdown to Christmas!
Challenge #1 – Minty Match Puzzles
Print the Minty Match Puzzles. Print the pages on cardstock to create more durable puzzle pieces. If laminating the set, go ahead and laminate the pages before cutting the puzzles (or at least before cutting down the zigzag line).
To play: The goal of the Minty Match Puzzles it to mix up the pieces and then put the puzzles back together correctly while matching the colors. There are different ways to play. For beginners, consider printing 2 copies of the puzzles, but only cut one apart. Have your preschoolers match the puzzles pieces on the puzzle mat. Sometimes with puzzle games, we will place half of the pieces on the table (maybe all of the left side of the puzzles), and then will work to find the matching colored candy canes. Store the pieces in a plastic reusable zipper bag. This activity is perfect to bring to a restaurant to use while waiting too!
Challenge #2 – Christmas Tree Sizes
Print the Christmas tree pages on green paper or color them green. Cut the tree out or leave the page as is. Place the Christmas tree pages on a table. Each Christmas tree is a different size – small, medium, large.
To play: Gather a basket full of different sized toys or other items. Sort the toys or items by size. Place the small toys on the small tree, the medium sized toys on the medium tree, and the large toys on the large tree. If this is too much of a challenge, only use the small and large trees to play at first. Or consider tracing the trees and cutting out different colored Christmas tress in all sizes. This may make it easier to sort by size at first. Find the best size to sort the toys and then clear the trees. Use other items to play again!
Challenge #3 – Ornament Flip & Color
Print the ornament flip & color page on white paper. Print the number or letter version depending on the skills being practiced. Make copies as needed.
To play: Separate the number and letter cards (ace, king, queen, jack) from a deck of playing cards. Use the set of number cards with the number page and the letter cards with the letter page. Put the cards in a pile and place them face down on the table. Pick a card and identify the number or letter. Find the matching letter on the ornament flip & color page. Color it in with crayon, marker, colored pencil, or BINGO dotter. Flip another card and play again!
Challenge #4 – Decorate the Gingerbread
Print the decorate the gingerbread pages. Print on white paper or cardstock and then laminate the pages. Instead of laminating, the pages can also be placed into a plastic page protector.
To play: Place the prepped gingerbread pages on the table or on a tray. Use different colored play dough to roll small pieces into gingerbread cookie frosting decorations. Add color to the buttons, bow, frosting lines, and then add even more decorations! Adding a tray of loose parts would be a fun addition to this activity. Use small buttons, beads, pipe cleaner cut into smaller pieces, etc. to decorate the gingerbread cookies! Store the pieces and play dough in a plastic reusable zipper bag.
Challenge #5 – Find Christmas
Print the Find Christmas page and make copies as needed. Attach the page to a clipboard.
To play: Use a clipboard or something similar to hold the Find Christmas page to make it easier to carry around. Find a red or green crayon to use. Walk around the room, look through the pantry, search in a store while shopping, etc. to look for each letter in the word Christmas that is printed on the page. Each time a letter is found, color it in with the crayon. This could also be an quiet activity and your preschoolers could flip through the pages in a book to look for the letters!
Challenge #6 – Ornament Stickers
Print the ornament sticker page. Print the page on white or colored paper, depending on the stickers being used during this challenge.
To play: Place the ornament sticker page on the table. Use small stickers (little dots, themed stickers, etc.) to trace around the outside of the ornament picture on the page. Add stickers to all the black lines. Another way to complete this challenge would be to fill the ornament with stickers. This would be fun to do with dot stickers. If there are no stickers that will work, use a cotton swab to dip in paint and dot the paint around the ornament!
Challenge #7 – Santa Hat Magnet Match
Print the Santa hat magnet match pages on white or Christmas colored paper. Use cardstock for added durability and consider laminating the pages or using plastic page protectors for the pages.
To play: After the Santa hat magnet match pages are printed, add all of the letter magnets to a bowl or tray. Choose a magnet, identify the letter, and then find its match on the page. Place the magnet on the matching Santa hat. If there are any magnetic surfaces available to use, place the pages on the surface. Tape down the pages with washi tape or masking tape if necessary. This way the magnets won’t move at all once placed. Letter beads, letter cards, and lacing letters can also be used. Cookie baking sheets work as a magnetic surface too. Keep choosing magnets and finding matches until all Santa hats are covered!
Challenge #8 – Christmas Tree Cover
Print the Christmas tree cover page and make copies as needed. Gather paper bathroom cups to use as Christmas trees.
To play: Decide what skills to work on when playing the Christmas tree cover challenge. If working on number skills, write different numbers on each of the presents on the page. If working on shapes, draw different shapes on the presents. This activity will work with many preschool skills. Write one number on each present on the page (if using numbers!). Write the same numbers on the outside of the bottom of the paper bathroom cup. Spread the paper cups out on the table. Match the number on the paper cup Christmas tree to the number on the present. Cover the correct present with the paper Cup Christmas tree. Play again until all presents are covered!
Challenge #9 – Stocking Stack
Print the stocking stack page on fun Christmas colored paper. Laminate or use a plastic page protector for added durability and protection of the paper.
To play: Identify the number on the stocking. Using mini erasers, flat buttons, or anything small and stackable, stack that number of items on top of the stocking. Place a mini eraser on the stocking and count up to the number. Each stocking will have a different number of mini erasers stacked in a tower on it. Practice placing and counting each mini eraser one by one to make sure that the correct number is in the stack. This activity works on number skills and fine motor skills. For beginners, consider only using a few numbers at first to complete the activity. When all stockings are covered, older preschoolers may be able to take one mini eraser off at a time and count backwards!
Challenge #10 – Decorate Christmas
Print the decorate Christmas pages on colored paper. Use cardstock or consider laminating or using a plastic page protector to avoid bends in the pages.
To play: Place the decorate Christmas pages on the table. Gather beads, buttons, pom poms, Christmas M&Ms, or something similar in a bowl or on a tray. These will be decorations for the pages. One by one, place a decoration on the ornament, tree, or stocking. Place each decoration in a circle on that page. Fill each circle with a decoration. Use kid-friendly squeezers to add additional fine motor skills to the activity. The decorations can be taken off one by one, or can just be dumped off the paper back into the bowl. Play again until all 3 pages have been decorated!
Challenge #11 – Fill Santa’s Sleigh
Print the Fill Santa’s Sleigh page and decide what kind of “presents” to fill the sleigh with!
To play: Prep the sleigh page and place it on the table or on a tray. Small building blocks, snap cubes, pom poms, mini decorative presents or ornaments (dollar store!), or even just squares of red and green paper can easily be used as present presents for this activity. Use a die, number cards, or number magnets to decide how many presents to add to Santa’s sleigh. Roll a die or pick a number, identify the number shown. Add that number of presents to the sleigh. Roll or pick again to keep adding presents to the sleigh until the sleigh is full!
Challenge #12 – Gift Coloring
Print the gift coloring page on white paper. Print as many as needed or print one and make copies.
To play: Place the gift coloring page on the table. Identify the color words at the top of the page next to each letter. That is the coloring code to use to complete the challenge. To make it easier, color each crayon at the top (or the letter next to it) the color that it says. Find each letter on the page and color it the correct color according to the code. Keep coloring until all letters have been found and colored!
Challenge #13 – Gingerbread Shapes
Print the gingerbread shapes page on white paper or cardstock. Print the shapes on colored paper if using the black & white shapes. Or print the colored shapes page on white paper or cardstock.
To play: Place the gingerbread shape mat on the table or tray. Cut the shape cards apart on the gray dotted lines. Add the shape cards to a cup or pile. Choose a shape card, identify the shape on the card, and find its match on the gingerbread mat. Place the shape card on the matching shape on the gingerbread mat. Pick another card and find the matching shape on the gingerbread mat. Build a pile on each shape on the gingerbread mat until all shape cards are sorted!
Challenge #14 – Christmas Trace
Print the Christmas trace pages. Cut the cards apart on the gray dotted lines. Laminate the set to keep the cards from bending and to create a reusable activity.
To play: Print and prep the Christmas trace cards. Place the cards on the table or in a pile on a tray. Choose one card at a time and identify the the letter on it. Using red and green M&Ms, buttons, pony beads, mini erasers, or even red and green snap cubes, build each letter. Place each M&M along the inside of the letter. If the cards are laminated, using dry erase markers to trace each letter is an option too. Build and trace the letters on each card to practice fine motor and pre-writing skills.
Challenge #15 – Torn At Christmas Tree
Print the Christmas tree page on white paper or cardstock. Make copies as needed.
To play: Place the Christmas tree page on the table. Cut green cardstock or construction paper into strips. Your preschoolers can tear the strips of green paper into small pieces or cut and snip the strips into small pieces. Pile the pieces of green paper. Add a dot of glue to the Christmas tree and then a piece of green paper. Continue to glue and add green paper pieces to the Christmas tree until it is all filled in. Do the same with brown paper for the trunk and yellow paper for the star. Let the glue dry and then hang the Christmas tree to display!
Challenge #16 – Reindeer Roll
Print the reindeer roll page and make copies for your all preschoolers.
To play: Gather all supplies needed for this challenge. This includes dice, crayons, and the reindeer roll page. Roll a die and identify the number of dots rolled. Find the matching number of dots or the number and color the reindeer in with a crayon. Continue rolling and coloring until all reindeer are colored in! Then write the number of the last number rolled on the line.
Candy Cane Challenge #17 – Candy Cane Count
Print the candy cane count page. Print as many copies as you need for the number of preschoolers you are playing with.
To play: Cut the candy cane count pages apart down the gray dotted line. Use painter’s tape to tape the candy cane count cards to the floor or the wall, depending on how you are playing. Have each preschooler stand next to a card. Roll a die, choose a number card, or have a preschool pick a number. Jump over the card that number of times. Have your preschoolers move to another card (if it will work with your group!) in a fun way. This could be tip-toeing, marching, sliding, etc. And then choose the next number and jump again! Keep moving and counting and jumping to complete this challenge!
That’s a wrap! Hopefully your preschoolers have enjoyed the Candy Cane Challenge!
Good luck and have fun!