13 festive Montessori Practical Life activities for December

Themed fine motor skill activities are always a hit!

 

Shake up your home school or classroom shelves and add some of these December themed activities to them!

 

The Practical Life Area

Changing out the activities frequently; but not too frequently, keeps the children engaged, interested, and excited about working in the Practical Life area.  For those unfamiliar with the Practical Life area in a Montessori classroom or home school, it is the area that has many components to it that make it the most important area of a Montessori classroom.  They learn many practical, self help & care skills; hence where the name Practical Life comes from.  Since children learn basic working, concentration, and eye-hand coordination skills, it is the prerequisite to all of the other areas in a Montessori classroom.  Activities could include spooning, using a ladle, pouring, scooping, and cutting.  These activities provide fine motor skill development and mastery, which is necessary for writing. This is by far the busiest area of a Montessori classroom.

 

 

As Maria Montessori stated,

“Activities here build on the child’s natural interest and help him develop good work habits, concentration, eye-hand coordination, a lengthened attention span and control of his body.”

-Maria Montessori The Sense of Childhood, pg. 1.

 

 

If you would like more information about the Montessori Primary (preschool) classroom and all the areas of the environment, please read my post where I describe the Montessori environment in detail.

 

When I was a classroom teacher, I liked to keep the work on the shelves fun and if possible, theme related.  For December, my themes were normally always snow, Antarctica, Winter, Hanukkah, and Christmas.  The 13 December themed activities are actual activities that I have used in my classroom.  I had changed, added to, and taken away various activities over the years, but many of these activities were used repeatedly in the month of December.  I hope you enjoy them!

 

 

13 December Themed Practical Life Activities

 

 

 

1. Using tongs to transfer large jingle bells

Children love transferring objects.  This work is great for that!

Materials needed:

  • tongs
  • large jingle bells
  • 3 section tray

 

2. Stringing large bells onto pipe cleaners

This is a more complicated work.  It takes patience to string the bells on the pipe cleaners.  Some challenges are good for them!

Materials needed:

  • pipe cleaners
  • large jingle bells
  • basket
  • tray

 

 

3. Spooning “snow”

This spoon is wide and flat.  It is good to have a variety of different sized and shaped spoons for transferring works.

Materials needed:

  • spoon
  • fake snow
  • tray
  • two small bowls

 

 

4. Using a ladle to scoop Christmas peppermint erasers

Using a ladle is another way to add variety to your activities.  The children always LOVED the themed erasers!

Materials needed:

  • themed erasers
  • two small bowls
  • ladle
  • tray

 

 

 

5. Using a small teaspoon to transfer snowflake erasers

It may seem repetitious, but having the varying sized spoons adds a different element.

Materials needed:

  • small spoon
  • themed erasers
  • two small bowls
  • tray

 

 

6. Using a standard spoon to transfer from one to many with snowman erasers

Transferring from one to many adds another element to a an activity.  It adds an option that wasn’t previously used in the other works.

Materials needed:

  • themed erasers
  • standard spoon
  • one larger bowl
  • two smaller bowls
  • tray

 

 

7. Using tweezers to transfer small jingle bells

Tweezers are great for transferring objects.  They are a little more challenging than using tongs.

Materials needed:

  • small jingle bells
  • tweezers
  • two small containers
  • tray

 

 

8. Using a tea infuser to transfer snowman erasers

A tea infuser is a very unique tool to use for transferring.  It allows the child to use their “squeezing” capabilities.  It was always a favorite!

Materials needed:

  • tea infuser (IKEA sells these)
  • themed erasers
  • two small bowls
  • tray

 

 

9. Building a snowman

Make and put out the pieces to build a snowman.  Children have everything they need to build a snowman!  This was also another favorite in my classroom!

Materials needed:

  • a pre made top hat
  • one large circle
  • one medium circle
  • one small circle with googly eyes and a nose attached
  • two to three buttons
  • a basket

 

 

10. Sponge painted polar bears

Children can make their own sponge painted polar bears! I had them “dab” the sponge in an up and down motion to give the bear a textured look of fur. These were always SO fun to make! I even made one, as you can see by my example!

Materials needed:

  • pre made and cut out polar bear stencil
  • white paint
  • sponge
  • blue construction paper
  • tray

 

 

11. Making a snowman

Make a snowman with a snowman and hat template.  On a tray, place a pencil and crayons, so after the children trace the snowman and the hat, they can decorate their snowman as they like!

Materials needed:

  • one pre made snowman stencil
  • one premade top hap stencil
  • a pencil
  • crayons
  • paper
  • basket
  • bowl for crayons

 

 

12. Hanging felt snowflakes with clothespins

Using clothespins, children will pin the felt snowflakes around the outside of a rectangular basket.  This was another favorite, and had been proven to be difficult at first, but they ended up getting the hang of it!

Materials needed:

  • basket
  • clothespins
  • felt snowflakes

 

 

13. Pin poking a snowman

Using giant sized push pins, (after receiving a lesson on the safety of the push pins), children can poke around the outside lining of the snowman.  If they take their time, following along the black line, and place their poking close together, it is easy for the snowman design to be punched out.   Pin-poking was a favorite by EVERYONE in my class!

Materials needed:

  • papers with snowman pre traced
  • piece of cork board or thick felt
  • bowl
  • giant pin poler
  • tray

 

Here’s a BONUS!!!!! I decided to throw in a couple of Math December Themed activities for you as well!!

 

Bonus #1: Snowman counting with buttons

Children can practice their counting skills with these snowman labeled zero to ten.  The children can count and place the corresponding number of buttons under each snowman.  Fan favorite here people!

Materials needed:

  • pre printed and colored snowman with numbers written on them from one to 10
  • forty five buttons
  • bowl
  • tray

 

Bonus #2: Mitten counting with felt snowflakes

Similar to the snowman counting, children practice their counting skills with the mittens labeled one to ten.  The children count and place the correct number of snowflakes under each mitten.

Materials needed:

  • pre printed and colored mittens with numbers written on them from one to ten
  • forty five felt snowflakes or forty five white pom poms
  • two baskets
  • tray

 

 

Keep it simple and inexpensive

If you noticed, I used very simple, easy to find materials that I get from either the Dollar Tree or the 99 cent store to put together these activities.  There are two main reasons for that: One, they are cheap, and if something gets broken; no big deal, I just replaced it since it only cost a dollar!  The second reason is that you can put together a shelf full of activities for around $20.00!!  Is that not amazing?!

 

I hope that I was able to inspire you and encourage your creative juices to go out and get some materials and put together some of your own amazing activities for December!  Now get out to those dollar stores and get to finding some great stuff!! Happy Hunting!

Anitra J.

25 Comments

  1. Great ideas! Sharing for my teacher friends!

    1. Anitra says:

      Thanks Lisa! I appreciate you sharing it!

    2. Great tips
      We homeschool and I’m always looking for new ideas

  2. What neat ideas! I love how you incorporated holiday themes into the therapy activities. The kids will love it.

  3. These all look like fun! There’s a couple on my list I’m going to try with my 18 month old. He’s a little bit too little for a few of the activities, but I think there’s some on the list he would enjoy!

  4. What great (and educational!) activity ideas!

  5. These are such fun activities for young children! And they learn so easily while they create and play.

  6. Great ideas. Very simple but clever as well. Thanks for sharing – will be doing some of these with my grandchildren and passing on to their parents!

  7. I love the idea of swapping out generic materials for festive objects for scooping and transfer work! This is such a great way to bring the holidays into the Montessori environment.

  8. Such clever ideas to encourage practicing fine motor skills, while getting in the holiday spirit! Kiddos will love doing these activities!

  9. My 2 year old has started singing Jingle Bells already! I think we are going to have to try some of these activities with the Jingle Bells this year for sure!

  10. The holiday kid activities would be ideal for winter break. I love the idea of festive activities for kids.

  11. I LOVE THIS!!! I have been looking for more fun activities for my son to do especially since the colder weather is coming and this is perfect! Thank you so much!

  12. Very creative and fun ideas! You explained the items in detail and the pictures helped complete the post!

  13. Great ideas for winter and Christmas fun! My 3 and 4 year olds would love these activities!

  14. What a great collection of ideas! My 2 year old will enjoy a lot of these!

  15. I love these ideas – so creative! They’re just so cute and look like so much fun! Love them!

  16. I love these activities. Especially the one with the polar bear sponge painting. Can’t wait to try that one out.

  17. What a great list of ideas! I love how many of these items can be found at our local Dollar store this time of year… good preschool activities for December fun when the weather doesn’t cooperate.

    1. Jamesetta Diggs says:

      The mittens are my absolute favorite. My kids are not that little anymore, I miss those days but I am so in love with the cute mittens and snow flakes.

  18. this is applicable for my toddler. thanks for sharing ideaa

  19. These are wonderful ideas! My daughter would love the build your own snowman.

  20. Love these festive Montessori activities. Kids learn fine motor skill development without even realize they are learning…love this! I recently did a coin cleaning project with tweezers with my grandson. He was so determined to get each coin out with the tweezers. Using tweezers, ladles, tongs, tea infusers are great ways to help with the fine motor skill development!

  21. I love all these ideas. I want to do these with my daughter this year.

  22. These are great ideas. Need to try them with my littles.

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