Lesson Ideas and Activities
12 Days of Christmas Outdoor Play Activities
‘Tis the season to be jolly! With Christmas around the corner, we’ve thought of 12 days of Christmas activities to get both children and teachers in the festive spirit and bring holiday cheer to the playground.
On the first day of Christmas, my playmate Sang to me, “Sleigh bells ring, are you listening…”
Everyone enjoys music regardless of age, language, physical abilities and skill set.
Outdoor musical instruments can seamlessly capture the spirit of Christmas. Children can sing impromptu Christmas carols or hum to the rhythm and dance to ‘Jingle Bells’.
It’s sure to bring lots of merry cheer and movement to the playground.
On the second day of Christmas, we built a snowman - come on let’s play!
Play a game of “Snowman” with Mark Making Activity Panels. A traditional ‘guess the word’ game, but with a festive twist.
This encourages children to practice new words they have previously learnt, in the playground.
For the first wrong answer, the bottom of the snowman (biggest snowball) is drawn, for the second, the middle snowball is added and for the third, the head of the snowman. Thereafter, the snowman gets two sticks (the arms), a top hat (like Frosty the snowman), two eyes, and an unhappy face. Hey presto, 9 mistakes!
Tons of fun outdoors and encourages learning, creativity and group work too!
On the third day of Christmas, there was “no room at the inn”
Play Houses are well known for unleashing children’s imagination; they’re a great source of social activity too.
To bring the spirit of Christmas to the playhouse, children can use their imagination to make a pretend inn. This lets them act out the nativity and gives kids a sense of what it was like for Mary and Joseph.
With the creative freedom to decide who plays which role, it encourages a higher level of thinking, develops decision-making skills and increases communication amongst peers.
On the fourth day of Christmas, we had a Talent Show
Children can host an amusing talent show for their peers using an outdoor performance stage. Whether they sing a Christmas song, play a musical instrument, recite a poetry, dance or perform a fun party trick, these can help to build self-confidence in children.
Shift the focus from the show being a serious competition, to being a mode to showcase individual skills, whilst praising their effort.
This offers heaps of entertainment and a way to channel children’s energy. It endorses collaborative play where kids can let themselves be free.
On the fifth day of Christmas, we sparkled like Shining Stars
Another fun way of using the Outdoor Performance Stage is to play Christmas charades.
Charades is a fun way to build social-emotional skills. With little equipment required, there’ll be lots of giggles watching friends acting out. Guess the film, book or Christmas character.
Charades encourage children to think ‘outside the box’. With limited resources available, the child ‘acting out’ and the children guessing will have to think of inventive ways to communicate.
This, in turn, boosts ‘non-verbal’ skills too. There is a real sense of teamwork to charades as children must work together to guess the answer.
On the sixth day of Christmas, we travelled Mud, Sand and Sea - Christmas Sensory Play
A jolly take on your water, sand table and mud kitchen. This explorative activity moves the attention for reluctant kids and those with sensory issues from sensory play onto ‘let’s find the shining star, or the sparkly baubles’.
Sensory Play helps to integrate all the information from the senses and encourages cognitive development in kids. Similarly, children can bake Christmas pudding in the mud kitchen.
Make way for the next Heston Blumenthal!
On the seventh day of Christmas, we went Walking in a Winter Wonderland
Walking, jogging and running the length of a mile daily, which would approximately take 15-20 minutes, is well known to have positive effects on children’s concentration, attitude and performance in class.
In the build up to Christmas children have lots of additional energy to burn. The Daily Mile Track is an ideal way to help kids to use up some of that liveliness. The sides of the track could be decorated with lights or children can simply partake in a 12 days to Christmas fit challenge.
This sets up a healthy attitude for the future and encourages children to continue their fitness routines even during festive periods.
On the eighth day of Christmas, ‘A Christmas Truce’
This activity is inspired by one of the most iconic moments in British military history, when in 1914, German and British forces laid down their weapons and instead, took part in a game of football, famously known as ‘The Christmas Truce’.
Why not relive this great moment in British history and arrange a Christmas football match using your MUGA? It can be a great teaching/learning experience for pupils and a good life lesson that violence is not the answer: people can come to solutions in peaceful ways.
After all, Christmas is the season of goodwill!
On the ninth day of Christmas, “O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, Your lights are shining brightly”
Decorate an Outdoor Christmas Tree with your children.
From upcycling old bottles to creating unique DIY decorations in art class, children will gain a sense of pride in their work being displayed on outside trees and around the outdoor play area.
The result; a spectacularly festive playground, costing little money and tons of love!
On the tenth day of Christmas, I made a new friend
The outdoors allows children to socialise and meet other kids; they can discover what they like and don’t like.
But like adults, it is easy to form cliques with people with common interests, so timid and reserved children who struggle with self-confidence and communication skills may find it difficult to make friends. Christmas should be a joyous time for all.
In the spirit of goodwill and kind-heartedness, by encouraging children to play with others, it can create new, unlikely friendships. It is also a fantastic confidence-building exercise, encouraging them to step out of their comfort zones.
On the eleventh day of Christmas, I was kind
Be kind, be nice… Children are commonly told to be a certain way, but words hold little weight until they are demonstrated through actions.
Children could be asked to do one nice thing to make another child smile in the playground and not expect anything in return.
Just like St Nicholas and his legendary habit of secret gift giving, which is how Santa Claus (Saint Nick) was born.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, we learned the truth about Babushka Dolls
Gather the children together to tell them about the renowned Russian, Christmas story of Babushka. Whilst it isn’t going to be a white Christmas, all children love stories and being outdoors perfectly captures the true essence of Christmas.
To protect children from rain, being in the Outdoor Classroom under the shelter can give them the best of both worlds.
It is also a good way of uniting teachers and children before the jolly holidays.
Lastly, we hope you have fun together and wish you all a Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year!
If we can help with your school's Christmas shopping list, Contact Us to arrange a free consultation with one of outdoor play experts.