Make a Christmas Chain With Your Kids to Count Down the Days and Teach Patterns

If you were like me as a child, you made a Christmas chain at school on December 1st to count down the days until the 25th. It was always made in a red/green pattern with the last loop being gold. With more religious diversity in schools these days, many of these Christmas classics have gone by the wayside. But there's no reason not to continue the tradition at home!  

Making a Christmas Chain Teaches Kids About Patterns, Enhances Fine Motor Skills, and Improves Counting Skills. It's the Ideal Project for Preschoolers, Kindergartners, and First Graders.

Don't underestimate all that young children learn from making a Christmas chain. Here are just some of the benefits:
  • Making a pattern. Creating, recognizing, and duplicating a pattern are a big part of the preschool and kindergarten curriculum. By alternating green and red loops, children are building an AB pattern (2 different colors).
  • Counting to 25. They children must hold the loop together and slowly count to 25 for it to stick. If they don't, their loop will pop open and they'll have to try again. This teaches patience in addition to counting!
  • Enhancing fine motor skills. When holding the loop together to stick, the children are using their pincer grasp (their thumbs and index fingers). A strong pincer grasp is necessary for using a pencil, drawing with crayons, and cutting with scissors.
  • Improving gluing skills. If you've ever watched youngsters with glue, you know they like to use a whole lot. This project gives them the opportunity to see firsthand the power of using less. I like to say as a reminder: "Just a dot, not a lot!" But just be warned: They will still use a lot of glue. Don't stress about it but be prepared for some mess (or you can always use a glue stick)!
  • Practicing with scissors. Once the chain is complete, the children cut off a loop each day with scissors. This is marvelous for beginners and builds their confidence.

What You Need:

22 strips of red construction paper (about 1" thick, 12" long)
22 strips of green construction paper (about 1" thick, 12" long)
1 strip of gold construction paper or gold tinsel (about 1" thick, 12" long)
glue or glue stick
poem (see below)

1. Prepare 25 strips for your child or let her do it herself to practice using scissors.

2. Have your child put one dot of glue on the end of a strip. Remind her: "Just a dot, not a lot!"

3. Have your child hold the loop closed while slowly counting to 25.

4. Have your child continue until she has 25 loops with the last one being gold. Hang it up. Each day have her snip a loop while saying this poem:

Christmas day will soon be here
And I can hardly wait.
I've made this pretty Christmas chain
To help me celebrate.

Each day I'll snip one loop from it
To help me to remember
That happy happy Christmas Day
Is the twenty-fifth of December.

Please help me hang my chain up high.
I'll cut one loop each day
And when we reach the shiny loop
It will be Christmas day!

It would not be Christmas at our house without reading the charming, Santa Mouse. In rhyme, it tells the tale of a little rodent who becomes Santa's helper. Because of this story, my sons always left cookies and milk for St. Nick, cereal for the reindeer, and a slice of cheese for Santa Mouse!

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