Create a Sensory Christmas Playgroup

Christmas time is a visual treat and a perfect time to introduce the 5 senses into your playgroup activities.  With all the amazing smells, sights, beautiful sounds, textures and tastes Christmas time offers many opportunities for children to discover and explore their 5 senses as they interact and learn about their world.

My Five Senses Christmas (poem)

I see the Christmas tree
And children on Santa’s knee
I smell the cookies I make
And the Christmas cake
I hear bells ringing
And children singing
I taste the Christmas sweets
And all the other treats
I feel the Christmas toys
Made for girls and boys

It smells like Christmas … 

Sung to: “The Muffin Man”

Oh, do you smell the gingerbread,
The gingerbread, the gingerbread?
Oh, do you smell the gingerbread?
I’m glad Christmas is here.

Cinnamon Ornaments.    Put equal amounts of apple sauce and cinnamon in a bowl and mix it together. This is a lot of cinnamon so check out the bulk section at the supermarket for a better price. This can be used like regular playdough, or help your child roll it and cut it with cookie cutters. This dries in a few days to make wonderfully aromatic ornaments for children to smell.

Candy Cane Playdough.  Make white and red playdough and add peppermint essence.  Have children roll out lengths of playdough and twist together to make candy canes.

Smell Train: Set up a train of boxes – each box containing a hidden item with a distinct smell of Christmas such as as a slice of lemon, a piece of chocolate, cinnamon sticks, a marshmallow, a peppermint candy cane, gingerbread men or a pine tree branch. As the children move the train along the ‘tracks’ (you could use masking tape on the table in a track shape), they can open one of the ‘cars’ and smell the contents of the container to guess what is hidden inside. Which smells do they like?  Which have they smelt before?  Which one tickles noses? This connects language and smells.


It sounds like Christmas

Hear his bells
Sung to: “Are You Sleeping?”

Are you sleeping?
No more peeking,
Or I’ll tell, or /I’ll tell.
Santa Claus is coming.
Santa Claus is coming.
Hear his bells.
Hear his bells.

Ring the Bells
Sung to: “London Bridges”

Ring the bells it’s Christmas time,
Christmas time,
Christmas time.
Ring the bells it’s Christmas time,
Merry Christmas time!

Addition Verse
*Play the drums it’s Christmas time
*Tap the sticks it’s Christmas time
*Clap your hands it’s Christmas time

To encourage hearing at Christmas read Christmas stories to your children, sing favourite Christmas songs and rhymes, use snake bells, dance and feel the music.

Christmas, Christmas, Who’s ringing the Bells?
Played like “Doggy, doggy, who’s got the bone” using bells instead of a bone.

Sound Bingo
Play Sound Bingo using Christmas pictures and sounds.  Things to include could include:

  • Santa with the sound “Ho, Ho, Ho”
  • Children laughing
  • Jingle Bells
  • Drums
  • Wrapping paper crinkling

Christmas Shakers
Use small bells, red or green coloured rice or sand, yellow star pasta, sparking beads etc.  Make to of each kind of shaker and have children try to match the sounds without seeing the shakers.

Ring the Bell Game
Using a large piece of heavy duty cardboard, cut a large bell shape. Add ribbons with jingle bells attached to hang from the open middle area. The children throw bean bags through the bell to “Ring the Bell”. Great for hand-eye coordination and throwing skills!

It looks like Christmas

Three Little Candles
Three little candles twinkling on the tree.
The first one said, “What do you see?”
The second one said, “I see Santa big and jolly.”
The third one said, “I see Christmas wreathes or holly.”

Decorate a Christmas tree
Christmas lights have a magical quality for children.  Why not decorate your own playgroup Christmas tree and add Christmas lights.

Night Excursion
Go on a playgroup excursion to view the amazing Christmas lights around Canberra.  Point out the colours and talk about the brightness and contrast between the dark sky and bright lights.

Light Scavenger Hunt
Hide coloured print outs of lights of different colours inside and outside of your playgroup.  Have children go on a coloured light scavenger hunt to find lights of a specific colour.

It feels like Christmas

Reindeer Pokey
Sung to: “The Hokey Pokey”

You put your antlers in. You put your antlers out.
You put you antlers in and you shake them all about.
You do the Reindeer Pokey and you turn yourself around.
That’s what it’s all about!
You put your hooves in….
You put your red nose in….
You put your fluffy tail in…
You put your reindeer body in…

There are so many different textures to feel at Christmas.  Touch sensations help children develop awareness of their body and how it is moving.  Some great Christmas related activities to develop children’s sense of touch include:

Finger paint Christmas Trees
Cut out a triangle shape.  Use blue and yellow paint and have children mix them together until the paint turns green. While wet sprinkle lightly with glitter. Add a brown paper trunk and a star.

Feely boxes
Create a feely box of Christmas things such as a pine cone, bell, Santa, stockings, cookie cutters, bows, book, soft toy, reindeer, candle, hay and small foil wrapped presents.

Christmas presents
Wrap boxes in different types of paper or varying textures including smooth, slippery, bumpy etc.

Pin the Nose on Rudolf
Create a sensory Rudolf with soft fur, smooth antlers, and a silky ribbon collar with a bell.  Blindfolded, have children feel Rudolf and try to find where his nose belongs.

It tastes like Christmas

Candy Cane
Sung to: “The Muffin Man”

Oh, do you taste the candy cane
the candy cane, the candy cane?
Oh do you taste the candy cane?
It’s yummy to eat on Christmas day…

Bake Christmas food such as Gingerbread, Christmas cake or hot chocolate.  Allow children to help by touching the different ingredients to feel their different textures, smell the ingredients to enjoy the aromas feel the warmth as they drink the hot chocolate or taste the crunchiness of the gingerbread.

Eat and drink Christmas
Drink hot chocolate and eat gingerbread.  Remember to enjoy the aroma before drinking and eating.

The Five Senses of Christmas Book Idea

Create a Five Senses book at playgroup with the children.  Some ideas include:

  • Christmas looks like presents.
    • Draw a tree, and cut out squares of gift wrap to glue under it
  • Christmas feels like Santa’s beard
    • glue cotton on to the beard of a picture or drawing of Santa
  • Christmas tastes like candy canes.
    • Attach a candy cane to the page for children to eat on Christmas day
  • Christmas sounds like Rudolph’s bell.
    • Have a picture of Rudolph or get children to draw one and add a jingle bell to his collar
  • Christmas smells like gingerbread.
    • Using sandpaper cut out into gingerbread men shapes have children colour in the sandpaper with cinnamon sticks and ginger.  Glue in the book
  • Christmas is love.
    • Allow children to paint or draw a heart and glue red glitter onto it. Alternatively add a picture of each family or the whole playgroup family together.


The 5 Senses of Christmas

The home teacher

Hotchalk lesson plans

Child Fun