With the Christmas holiday right around the corner it’s time to have some fun with your preschoolers! These printable Christmas Roll & Cover Mats are an excellent way to practice visual discrimination and pre-reading skills with your preschool.
Be sure to download your free elf visual discrimination mats from the end of this post.
Teach Visual Discrimination with Roll and Cover Mats
Elves are just one iconic element of the Christmas season, and with the recent introduction of more modern traditions like Elf on the Shelf, elf activities in preschool become even more fun!
These elf visual discrimination mats feature the cutest, jolliest, silliest little elves. Preschoolers will have a ball finding just the right elf to cover in these roll and cover games.
What is Visual Discrimination?
Visual discrimination is the ability to identify the similarities and differences between shapes, sizes, patterns, colors and objects. This is the natural skill that is practiced while playing the ever-popular matching games like Memory or Concentration.
Visual discrimination activities are frequently a part of both preschool math and literacy curriculum to help preschooler notice subtle differences in letters and numbers.
Why is Visual Discrimination Important?
Visual discrimination is a crucial skill that is developed in the early childhood years. It’s important because having solid visual discrimination skills allows us to interpret the world around us. It allows us to see patterns and systems.
For preschoolers, visual discrimination skills are important pre-reading skills. Preschoolers need solid visual discrimination skills to be able to learn the letters of the alphabet, to identify numbers, and later in elementary school, to be able to quickly read high frequency words.
How Can Visual Discrimination be Taught?
There are a lot of different ways to teach visual discrimination. Here are some simple ideas:
- Play seek and find games.
- Play “Which doesn’t belong?” games like this monster game and this lady bug game.
- Read “I Spy” and “Where’s Waldo” type books.
- Go on scavenger hunts.
- Play matching games, even with everyday objects like cups, socks, or crayons.
- Practice sorting objects: crayons, candies, toys, laundry, etc.
- Use visual discrimination mats like those in this post. (Be sure to see all my visual discrimination activities at the end of this post).
Free Christmas Roll and Cover Mats for Preschoolers
Preschoolers will have fun looking at the details in these adorable Christmas elves. these mats quickly became one of our favorite Christmas preschool activities. They won’t even know they are working on pre-literacy skills with this easy, print and go visual discrimination game.
- free Christmas roll and cover mats
- Christmas themed counting manipulative (or any other counting manipulative)
The Set Up
First print the Elves Roll and Cover Visual Discrimination Game on heavy cardstock paper. You may wish to laminate it for extra durability. Then assemble to paper dice with clear tape. Last, set up the printed mats and dice with the counting manipulatives of your choice. Now this pre-reading game is ready for play!
How to Teach Visual Discrimination Skills with Elf Roll and Cover Games
To play this visual discrimination game, preschoolers will roll the die, find the matching elf on the mat and cover it with the manipulative. Encourage your child to play the game until all the elves on the mat are covered. Just keep rolling the dice and covering the corresponding elf.
Alternatively, you can turn this into a roll and cover math game by rolling a pipped dice and then covering the corresponding number of elves. It’s fun to use thematic manipulatives, too, like mini candy canes, pom-poms, or other counting addition manipulatives.
You can even practice addition and subtraction this way, too!
Preschoolers develop visual discrimination skills by noticing the details, similarities and differences in elves. By developing these skills early, preschoolers will be better able to discriminate letters when it comes to reading.
Some children may have difficulties with pre-reading activities. If this happens you can help by pointing out some details in the pictures and crossing off or covering some of the elves that do not match.
Talking about the individual elves will help develop oral language skills, too.
More Ways to Use Elf Roll and Cover Mats
You can easily add these elf roll and cover cards to your preschool literacy centers, but they’re not limited to just that. Try some of these other ways of using this exact printable.
- Use the elf mats to teach counting. Have your child count all the similar elves on the mat.
- Build vocabulary by asking the children questions, such as “Which elf do you like best?” Encourage your child to use great descriptive words.
- Use the mats to teach prepositional words such as, above, below, next to, etc. For example you could ask, “What elf is next to the one holding a present?”
- You could use to elf mats to reinforce colors by asking your child to point to the elf with a red hat.
- Use the mats to encourage storytelling. Ask your students to make up a story about one of the elves or tell what it might be thinking.
Don’t Forget Elf Picture Books!
The only thing left is to add some well-written, well-illustrated Christmas books. These are some of our favorite elf picture books.
Get your Free Elf Visual Discrimination Mats Here
Think you need these free roll and cover mats in your preschool Christmas lesson plans? Grab your free copy by filling out the form below.
More Free Christmas Activities for Preschoolers
Here are some more fun Christmas printables for you! We have counting games perfect for math centers, Christmas tree games great for alphabet activities, and more visual discrimination activities and dice games.
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.