24 Days of Kids Learning Activities

December is fast approaching… and with it, the return of every child’s favorite, Elf on the Shelf. But this year, you are going to love it too. We’re making it easy for YOU and awesome for the kids with Teach Yourself with Elf on the Shelf. Featuring 24 days of kids learning activities that make for easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas!

Teach Yourself with Elf on the Shelf

What if I told you every morning of your December could look just like this??? Your kids actively engaged in playful learning, while you savor a still hot cup of coffee! Want to make it happen?

Print the Teach Yourself with Elf on the Shelf printables package. The package includes an introductory letter from your elf explaining the “changes in the game” this year, a farewell letter for Christmas Day, 24 daily kids learning activity cards and directions. It also includes blank cards and blank elf stationary if you would like to customize your letters, for your child’s letter to Santa and if you would like to add your own activities.

Each day, your elf will arrive with one activity card and the supplies for a 5-15 minute kids learning activity, perfect for the preschool to kindergarten age set. Best of all – you can set them all up the night before in minutes (and in some cases just seconds). While we feature some of our favorite Learning Resources toys and manipulatives, you can use whatever you already have on hand as well.

24 Days of Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas That Teach Your Kids Too!

Below you can find a quick summary of each daily activity, along with the supplies your elf will need to bring. From early literacy skills to counting, sensory play to science, your kids will be so excited to wake up each morning to see what they get to learn through play next…

Be sure to bookmark, pin, or save this link for easy reference and access ALL December long!

lacing alphabet letters

1. Make a name for your s(Elf)!

Work on your child’s early literacy skills… starting with their name! Your elf arrives with letter manipulatives spelling out your elf’s name and inviting your child to spell out their name too. We recommend Learning Resources ABC Lacing Sweets or Lacing Alphabets.

2. Time to Sort

Encourage your kids master the earliest math skill – sorting! Use this simple ornament sorting activity from Busy Toddler into one of your easy Elf on the Shelf ideas. All you need is a container of ornaments or assorted holiday candies work well too.

3. Smells Like Christmas

My favorite part of every season is the smells that come with it. Explore a little science and test your child’s sense of smell with holiday scent jars. We recommend using Learning Resources Sensory Tubes (find them in the Primary Science Five Senses Activity Set or Deluxe Lab Set). Add one scent per tube or jar. Some of our holiday favorites include vanilla extract, peppermint extract, cinnamon sticks, cloves, ginger or evergreens. Add liquids to jars on a cotton ball. Share The Sweet Smell of Christmas by Patricia Scarry along with this activity for an added literacy element.

Young girl with bells

4. Jingle All the Way

Can your child keep a rhythm? Your elf brings popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, and loose jingle bells to make your own jingle bell sticks. For a festive twist, try making these Reindeer Bells from Pre-K Pages for a fun Christmas music activity for kids. Once they are made, see if your kids can keep the rhythm with their bells as you all sing Jingle Bells.

5. Make me a Candyland!

Do your kids love to play candyland? They will love Learning Resources Candy Construction Building Set. Have your elf bring it today to invite your kids to build a sweet play land for him or her!

6. A Star in My Orange

This is a favorite book in our house – A Star in My Orange: Looking for Nature’s Shapes by Dana Meachen Rau. Have your elf arrive today with the book and an orange, and see how many of nature’s naturally occurring shapes your child can spy today and all season long!

7. Peppermint Measurement

Have you introduced measurement to your kids? Invite them to try a little indirect measurement using objects other than rulers… you can measure in candy canes as easily as inches and feet for a great holiday STEAM activity! How many candy canes tall is your child? Use Learning Resources Simple Tape Measure to see what it translates to in feet!

8. Merry Christmas Word Jumble

Today, your elf spells out Merry Christmas… depending on your child’s literacy abilities, ask them to name the letters or see how many sight words they can make from the letters. We love using Learning Resources Letter Blocks for this (they make great cookie cutters or play dough stamps too!).

9. How Many Turtle Doves

How many times this month have you sung the 12 Days of Christmas? Get your kids thinking about just how many gifts that adds up to… if you get two turtle doves on days 2 through 12, how many turtle doves do you get? Give them some counters to work it out (check out Learning Resources Birds in a Nest Sorting Set).

10. Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?

Even if you don’t get snow outside, your kids can still build a snowman of their very own. Have your elf bring the supplies – our favorite way to make your own snowman is this Jumbled Snowman sensory bag from Playground Parkbench, but feel free to send your elf with craft supplies, paint or play dough to invite your kids to build their own snowman.

11. Letter to Santa

Have your kids written their letter to Santa yet? Today’s the day to make their wish lists and send them back with your elf to Santa tonight. Even if your child is a pre-writer, they can still write a letter. Encourage phonetic spelling, let them dictate it to you… or my personal favorite – have them cut out and paste pictures from the toy catalogs! Then, have them sign their name to their letter and send it off with your elf.

12. Christmas Discovery Bottles

Repurpose your holiday scent bottles to use for Christmas Discovery Bottles. Have your elf bring them filled with pine needles, pine cones, cranberries, holly or other naturally occurring winter plants. Fill the bottles with water, which acts as a natural magnifier. Then encourage your kids to check them out – what observations can they make? For more ideas with your Discovery Bottle, check out this Pine Needle in a Bottle activity from Teach Preschool.

13. Snowy Day Writing Tray

Nothing makes writing more fun than a sensory writing tray! Have your elf bring a Sensory Writing Tray inspired by The Snowy Day by Jack Keats. Make your own snow filler with baking soda and glitter in seconds. See the full how to at Pre-K Pages.

igloo challenge supplies

14. Igloo Challenge

Your elf needs a winter appropriate place to camp out… invite your kids to build an igloo! Your elf brings the ice cubes. For added holiday fun, freeze your ice with glitter and sequins. To help them hold together, you may want to provide a small bowl of water and eye droppers. This one will keep them entertained for so long, you can even cook a hot breakfast!

15. Take a Guess

Do your kids know what it means to estimate? Your elf brings a jar of holiday treats. Encourage your child to estimate how many treats are in the jar. Talk about different ways to make an educated guess. Then, together count the treats to see just how close they are.

Elf with a challenge

16. Build a Bridge

You elf drops a candy cane out of his reach. Can you build a bridge, path or links to reach it? We used this fun and colorful jar of Learning Resources Buddy Builders, but you can use anything!

LR Learning Drums

17. Keep a Beat

The holidays are full of song and music… and in our house, The Nutcracker suite is on repeat from Thanksgiving through to the New Year. Today, your elf brings percussion instruments (like these Learning Resources Learning Drums or similar). Can your kids keep a beat to different tempos of music?

18. Christmas Graph

After mastering sorting, another early math skill to work on is graphing. We love this Christmas graphing activity from And Next Comes L. Your elf brings a bag of mini holiday stick on bows and a sheet of white paper. Make a graph to plot the bows by color.

19. Tinsel Clean-Up

Oh, no! Your elf needs some holiday clean-up help after decking the halls last night. Here’s some holiday science fun experimenting with static electricity from Little Bins for Little Hands. All you need is tinsel and a balloon.

20. Map My Route

Introduce a little geography to your child’s life. Can they find where they live? How about the North Pole? Can they map a path for your elf to make his way back to the Arctic? My oldest has learned all her continents and more with the Learning Resources Puzzle Globe, and its color and shape coded pieces make it engaging enough for my 2 year old to play with too!

21. Holiday Patterns

With everything for the holidays coming in green, red and white, your kids all they need to make patterns all day long. Your elf arrives with holiday colored pom poms, M&Ms, confetti or similar. How many different patterns can they create? Leave some matching crayons and paper to document the patterns they create.

22. Make a Snowflake

You can’t have Christmas without snow… help your elf get Christmas ready by making some snowflakes. Your elf brings toothpicks and mini marshmallows. Talk about the unique characteristics of snowflakes or grab these templates from Playground Parkbench for your kids to make their own Marshmallow Snowflakes.

23. Can You Catch Me?

Your elf is warming up for the long trip back to the North Pole – he/she built an indoor obstacle course through your living room to work out overnight. Let your kids burn off their cabin fever and test their gross motor skills as they make their way through the course. Need some ideas to use whatever you already have to build your own winter obstacle course? Check out this Indoor Obstacle Course for kids by Playground Parkbench.

24. Twas the Night of Rhymes

When I was little, on Christmas Eve, just before we all went home to bed, we all gathered around my Grandfather to read the holiday favorite, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore. Have your elf leave a copy and some holiday pointers. Can your kids recognize the rhymes as you read?

.Don’t Forget Your Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas Printable

This December, make it easy on yourself. Download and print your Teach Yourself with Elf on the Shelf printables here.
The Teach Yourself with Elf on the Shelf printables package includes:
• Introductory letter from your elf
• 24 easy Elf on the Shelf ideas featuring a daily holiday-themed kids learning activity card
• 8 blank activity cards
• 1 blank Elf on the Shelf stationary page
• Farewell letter from your elf
• Detailed directions for you

Be sure to PIN this post for reference all month long. Happy holiday learning with your Elf on the Shelf!

Teach Yourself with Elf on the Shelf