Festive December Activities for First Grade

Classroom learning in December can feel like a mixed bag. On the one hand, you and your students are excited to celebrate the holiday season. On the other hand, as a teacher trying to squeeze important standards into a shorter-than-usual month, it can feel hectic! If you're hoping to make amends with this dilemma, come along and see what I teach in December and how to balance it all. Today we're talking about my favorite festive December activities for plenty of learning and a sprinkle of holiday magic! 

Use these festive December activities in your classroom this winter for fun math and ELA practice your students will love.

What I Teach In December

First off, I just have to acknowledge that this time of year can feel busy and overwhelming at times. As a primary teacher trying to balance classroom fun with academic requirements, as well as personal holiday commitments, it can feel like a lot! My best tip for making the most of your time during December, and really any time of year, is to bridge the gap between holiday fun and learning. 

Even though December is typically a busy month, these fun December activities will make learning and practicing key skills more exciting for everyone.

Yep, you heard that right! How much easier would your planning become if you had engaging holiday activities that were also standards-based? Sounds like a Christmas miracle right?! Well, the good news is that this IS possible, and actually quite easy to implement. In fact, this is exactly how I teach in my own classroom. 

In December, we're working on place value activities in math, nouns and adjectives in our grammar lessons, and beginning consonant blends in phonics. Now, right off the bat, these don't sound all that festive right? Luckily, over the years I have learned ways to incorporate a bit of holiday sparkle into these topics, making them not only meaningful for learning, but lots of fun too! Let's jump into the specifics of my favorite December activities. 

1. Teach Nouns and Adjectives with Christmas Elves

What is more festive than a Christmas elf? I mean really, these jolly little creatures are sure to spark a smile across everyone's faces in your room with a fun activity like this Christmas Grammar Word Sort.

In this resource, you'll find a fun adjective and noun sorting activity that's perfect for center time. There is also a recording sheet included and you can have students work independently or in pairs to sort each word into the correct grammar category. And for even more holiday fun, try the mad-lib style small group activity with your students as well! 

This noun and adjective activity feels more like a game than learning and is a great addition to your December activities this year.

In my small groups, we read a fun elf-themed mini-reader together and then take turns drawing adjective or noun cards as we come across a page with blank spaces to fill in. Students love hearing the silly sentences constructed with this activity! After everything is filled in, I have students color and illustrate the books with cute picture cards and their own drawings. Finally, we read through it one more time to see just how our silly story turned out!

2. Holiday Centers for Tens and Ones

I always like to add a bit of holiday magic to our daily center activities in the month of December. To help my kiddos practice tens and ones I use these hands-on poke cards. To use this activity, students will look at the picture on the card and identify the number shown. The numbers are represented in a variety of ways including base ten blocks, tens frames, and objects. 

Incorporate this tens and ones center activity into your December activities for math practice your students can complete independently.

Once students know what number is represented in the picture, they use a small straw, pipe cleaner, or coffee stirrer to "poke" the correct answer. Once they answer, they flip the card over to see if they are correct. Since this activity is self-checking, I love to use it during center time as an independent work activity. 

The resource also includes some tens and ones worksheets that make a great follow-up activity for this center. I assign these during centers, to early finishers, and even as homework assignments. 

3. Consonant Blends Write the Room

Speaking of centers, can a first-grade teacher ever really have enough? I don't think so! The more variety we have with our center activities, the more likely we are to have full engagement from our students. One of my favorite December centers is these Consonant Blends Write the Room Cards. I love the versatility of this activity since it can be used at a table, as a center, hung around the room for traditional write the room, and even played as a scoot game with the whole class! 

A write the room activity like this is perfect to add to your list of December activities because it not only helps your students practice key ELA skills but also gets them up and moving.

This activity focuses on beginning consonant blends like bl, cl, fl, gl, and more. I love this activity because it uses easily decodable words containing short vowels, making it simple for my kiddos to work on independently. I also love that it uses a fun holiday theme to make it feel a bit more special than a regular old phonics center. 

This resource also offers 2 different options to allow for differentiation by skill level. One set includes the ending letters only, and the other set has students fill in the entire word. Both sets include recording sheets with letter boxes to help students identify the word on each card. 

4. Holiday Place Value Activities

Next up, I have a fun resource that includes 2 hands-on math centers as well as a cute holiday train craft that your students will love! I love using these math activities in December to target place value with a bit of holiday flair.

In the first center activity, students will draw a card and identify the number represented on the card. Each card uses expanded form, base ten blocks, number words, or pictures to show each number. Once they know the answer they sort the cards into the correct spot. This works best with a pocket chart. There is also a recording sheet to go along with this activity to fill in as they go. 

December activities like this place value activity will give your students the opportunity to practice writing and identifying numbers.

The other activity is a holiday board game that's always a big hit. Kiddos can play this alone, but I love to have them play with a partner during center time. To play, students will roll a die and move their game marker the correct number of spaces. Once in their space, they read the number of tens and ones shown in expanded form on the ornament and find a matching ornament on the board with this number. They cover it up and the next player goes. Students take turns until all of the ornaments are covered. 

Place Value Train Craft 

Finally, the craft in this resource is always a student favorite! Not to mention, these low-prep crafts are a total teacher time saver too! All you need to do is copy the pages for each student and then let them complete it by coloring, cutting, and gluing it together. They'll get plenty of fine motor practice and you won't have to spend hours prepping tiny craft pieces! 

This place value train craft is a great addition to your December activities because it gives your students the opportunity to practice some math skills and get creative at the same time.

The idea behind these crafts is to encourage students to work on writing numbers in expanded form. There are 2 different options, an elf and a reindeer. The reindeer train asks students to record ones, tens, and hundreds while the elf train focuses on ones and tens. I like to have students fill in their numbers first, then color, cut, and glue them down to a piece of paper. These trains will make an adorable bulletin board display as well to help decorate your room for the holidays!

5. No-Prep Math and ELA for December 

Every month, I always seem to find myself in need of some meaningful, low-prep worksheets to use in the classroom. When planning my December activities, I'm always sure to include these no-prep Math and ELA Mystery Puzzles to help fill that need. I love that these worksheets are aligned to the standards and what we're focusing on in December, while still having a festive holiday feel to them! 

No prep worksheets like these are a must for your December activities because they give your students the opportunity to practice key math and ELA concepts and you don't have to prep a thing.

We use these primarily as independent work activities, center assignments, and fast-finisher activities. These puzzles are more fun than your average worksheet too. To use, students will cut out the pieces and glue them onto the board to fill in their answers. Each puzzle and all the pieces are included on one page, so you won't have to worry about printing a bunch of pieces and boards separately. Just print and go! 

These mystery puzzles target addition doubles, subtraction, blends, digraphs, and more! The best part though is that each puzzle reveals a magical holiday scene that students will love! Students will know if they answered incorrectly if the puzzle is jumbled up. I always ask students to lay the pieces out and check before gluing and then use glue sticks lightly. This helps to ensure the puzzles will dry quickly to make coloring easier. 

6. Christmas BINGO 

Do you have a holiday party in your classroom? If so, you'll absolutely LOVE this Christmas BINGO activity! This game is great for holiday parties, center time, or fun Fridays in December. Children will focus on holiday vocabulary words like wreath, candy, and cookie. 

It comes in both color and black and white, so you can use the option that works best for your group. I like to laminate the full-color version and play it with holiday mini-erasers as a fun game during our class party. There are 30 different cards included, so you'll be able to easily play this game as a whole class!

Add this Christmas BINGO game to your December activities list or even to your class party plans for fun ELA practice that feels more game like.

The black and white cards work well if you'd like to have students use BINGO dauber markers or color in their squares as words are called. These cards double as a great Christmas story-starter too! Simply have your students hold onto their page after the game is done and choose a few words from the page to write a fun, holiday story. 

7. Plural Nouns Gingerbread House 

I saved the best for last, teacher-friend! This Plural Nouns Gingerbread House is by far my favorite December activity year after year. In this resource, students get to build a gingerbread house full of goodies while working on adding -s, -es, and -ies to root words. The craft itself is constructed by folding and decorating a gingerbread cut-out and filling it with holiday-themed word cards. Students will read the word and add the proper ending to make it plural. 

This adorable gingerbread house activity is great for your December activities and will help your students practice plural nouns in a fun and creative way.

Before doing the craft, I have students work on a clip-card center activity included in this resource as well. This helps them to identify the proper spelling of these holiday words. They also complete a plural nouns worksheet and flap-folding activity as well to get plenty of practice working with these words. I like to complete the flap-folding activity in small groups and then have my kiddos work on the clip cards during center time. 

Once we've had plenty of practice with these activities, we build our gingerbread houses. By this time my students are experts with plural nouns, making this a really fun crafty activity for the whole group. I love using this activity during the last couple of days before our holiday break. Students love to take these home as holiday gifts for their families!

Plan Your Own December Activities

So, what do you think? Feeling a bit better about balancing your academic standards with holiday fun? I hope so! I'm a firm believer that this is absolutely possible and totally worth it! After all, students are always more excited about learning when we tie them into fun holiday themes. 

And what's December without some special gifts? Click here to grab a FREE set of beginning blends worksheets to kickstart your December planning session as a special gift from me!

Grab this Beginning blends FREEBIE to add to your list of fun December activities this year.

Take a closer look at all of these activities and plenty more for December in my TPT Shop! And if you're looking for more holiday fun be sure to check out these posts too: 
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Looking for fun ways to teach or review math and ELA concepts this winter? These exciting December activities are packed full of math and ELA practice activities your students will love. From games like BINGO to write the room activities, to craftivities, these December activities are packed full of learning opportunities your students will love. #thechocolateteacher #decemberactivities #decemberactivitiesforfirstgrade #decembermathandelaideas

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