Christmas is a time that treats the five senses, so adding a Christmas sensory bin for preschoolers to your lesson plans will be a treat for your students. This red and green sensory bin also includes measurement activities for your preschoolers!
Sensory Bin for Christmas Time That Teaches Measurement Skills
Christmastime is full of sensory stimulation.
Think about the last time you walked into a coffee shop. Bells hanging on the door jingle as you open the door. Pine garland with white twinkling lights deck the counter top. Seasonal spices like clove and allspice float through the air from freshly baked pastries that are still warm from the oven.
You patiently anticipate the warmth of the 16oz hot cocoa with eggnog whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
And you take a sip, loving every bit of its fatty, high calorie goodness.
And you drink it without guilt because it is every bit as wonderful as you were hoping. I love a rich hot cocoa on a cold December day in the midst of a little bit of shopping.
Christmastime awakens every one of your senses.
But Christmas + Sensory = Math?
The idea for this sensory bin actually came to me as I was out grocery shopping. I was walking down the pasta aisle at a grocery outlet and came across some rigatoni noodles.
In two sizes.
Two sizes that would when dyed red and green with a little bit of peppermint essential oil would make a lovely base for a Christmas sensory bin that would also teach some serious concepts in measurement.
FAQ About Teaching Christmas Theme to Preschoolers
Christmas is a special time of year for us to recognize the wonderful people in our lives and share gifts from the heart. Create opportunities for young children to share with each other, write notes to show appreciation, or make handmade treats or easy Christmas crafts. Invite children to make handmade Christmas cards for the people they love, or create these colorful Christmas ornaments for DIY Christmas gifts.
Christmas activities for all subject areas are a great place to start. For building math and counting skills, use these Christmas tree counting cards or estimate with jingle bells. Infusing literacy during the holidays is easy with 20 of the best Christmas literacy activities. Grab some super exciting AND simple Christmas STEM activities too!
Make festive Christmas wreaths, create sensory paintings with pine boughs, or fill your sensory table with some hands-on holiday-themed sensory play. If you are looking for lots of Christmas craft ideas, try a sock snowman or pine cone ornament!
How to Make a Measurement Sensory Bin
The two sizes of rigatoni pasta happened to be just right for a sensory bin where I could create some opportunities to indirectly teach my preschoolers about measurement.
- small Rigatoni noodles
- large rigatoni noodles
- red pipe cleaner
- green pipe cleaner
- red pom poms
- green pom poms
The Set Up
To prepare, dye the pasta in advance. I used the same method as when I dyed dried beans for a summer sensory bin.
The smaller noodles fit perfectly within the larger noodles. I added some red and green pipe cleaner cut in various lengths, as well as some pom poms of different sizes.
Just arrange the red and green dyed pasta as the sensory bin base filler, and then add the pom poms and pie cleaner on top.
Recommended Picture Books About Measurement
A Red and Green Christmas Sensory Bin
Since the dyes pasta is on the larger side, this can also be a Christmas sensory bin for toddlers. My 19-month-old son loved exploring this bin.
The first thing the preschoolers did was to mix up the colors, of course.
That’s ok, and should even be encouraged, because their play naturally led them to searching through the sensory bin for specific items, kind of like a kid searching through a bin of legos looking for that perfect piece.
One toddler gathered as many green noodles as he could and lined them up on the floor, placing them on end like dominoes. I love it when my students have better sensory bin ideas than me!
I also love it when sensory play has an unexpected fine motor element, and this Christmas sensory bin certainly was that. This toddler was young and it took a fair amount of concentration for him to make such a long line of pasta.
My son, who was just two and a half at the time, tried filling the hollow pasta with the pom poms. He quickly discovered that not all the pom poms were the same size, as some of them could easily fit into the pasta while others had to be forced a bit.
These activities teach kids to measure as they explore the contents. They learn about size differences, as well as concepts of length. Preschool math lesson plans in measurement should include both those concepts, as well as weight.
Some of the older preschoolers treated the sensory bin more like Christmas math activity.
The preschooler below put red pom poms into the green noodles to make “dolls”. She made on for each member of our class, inadvertently practicing one to one correspondence skills, and kindly asked the students using the center that they leave her creations so everyone had a chance to play with their handmade doll.
So, How Does This Teach Measurement?
Well, let’s recap just how the way the preschoolers played in the Christmas sensory bin proves to be them practicing their math skills.
- The colors and sizes of the noodles got mixed up, so the children had to sort through the bin to find exactly what they were looking for.
- One preschooler selected a specific size to stack on end and line up.
- Another preschooler discovered that not all the pom poms would fit into any given noodle, but that he had to make comparisons to find the right size.
- Another preschooler had to sort through the bin to find both the right size noodle and the right size pom pom to make her dolls.
- That same preschooler also practiced one to one correspondence skills as she counted how many dolls she made and made sure that she created one for each preschooler in the class.
Looking for More Measurement Activities for Preschoolers?
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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.