Holiday Lights and Decorations Can Be Fun and Educational

With Thanksgiving a sweet memory, our thoughts are now turning to the December holiday season. We can’t miss it – decorations, lights, and holiday music are all around us. Children seem to especially enjoy the holiday atmosphere, as it is bright and colorful and entertaining. But instead of allowing your child to passively look at the decorations around him, capitalize on his interest and add some skill-building games and activities that will be engaging and fun.

Look at the holiday lights with your child. As you are driving to the store, make it a point to drive through some neighborhoods with lots of house decorations. There are always a few streets where a friendly rivalry can be seen – usually two or three houses within close proximity are decorated to the hilt. Stop in front of these and ask your child some questions that will help him practice early skills.

For visual discrimination practice
– Ask your child to notice the details on each house. Which house does he like the best and why. Ask your child to point to specific details in the decorations. How are the houses the same and how are they different? Did the neighbors use the same colored lights when decorating?

– Mention specific details on a house and see if your child can find them. Can he see the small bunny hiding behind the large tree, for instance. Or can he spot the bright blue box in the sleigh on the lawn? Can he find the two candy canes that are hanging on the front door?

– If the bright lights and busy scenes of some highly decorated houses seem to overwhelm your child, look for houses with fewer details to notice.

– If your child seems to struggle with identifying details as you drive around town, give him an opportunity to practice with some colorful compare and contrast worksheets.

For counting practice
– Find some houses with fewer lights. Perhaps you can find a house with lights in only two or three colors. Ask your child to guess how many lights of a specific color are on the house. Then challenge him to count the lights to see if his guess was close.

– Ask him to guess which color of lights was used the most on a certain house. He will need to count each color of light to see if he was right. Make a guess yourself before your child counts to add to the fun.

Practice following directions
– When it is time to decorate your home for the holiday your family celebrates, allow your child to help. But turn the decorating activity into an opportunity for listening and following directions. Place the appropriate materials on a table within easy reach of your child. Then let your child know that your will guide him, step-by-step, as he helps put the decorations up. Start with one-step directions, since this activity may be new to him. As he becomes more comfortable handling the decorations, you can give him two-step and even three-step directions, such as: Take the candlestick out of the box, put a large white candle in it and put the candlestick on the dining room table.

– Continue giving oral directions when cleaning up the boxes and packaging that housed the decorations. the more you can direct your child, the more practice he gets following directions and the less work you’ll have to do later. If you sense that your child is having some difficulty following your directions, ask him to repeat what you say before he sets out to complete the task. Or give him some additional practice with colorful following directions worksheets.
For information on helping your child develop important school-readiness skills, please visit Renee at for a kindergarten readiness test and free kindergarten worksheets including shapes worksheets, dolch sight words, and color words worksheets.

Renee Abramovitz is a a former preschool and kindergarten teacher who retired in 2008 to become a “full-time grandma” to her four beautiful grandsons. She is passionate about the idea that all parents are their child’s first and most important teacher and strives to give parents the tools and confidence they need to successfully work with their children at home. 

Renee shares tips for working with young children at where she offers a free kindergarten readiness test parents can take to assess their child’s readiness to start school plus hundreds upon hundreds of free kindergarten worksheets for parents to use at home with their children.
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