Spread the good cheer of the holiday season throughout your classroom with these exciting Christmas games for school. From preschool to the teenage years, kids of any age enjoy gathering and giggling at holiday festivities. Select a game that fits your space, group size, and ages, and everyone is sure to have a blast!
Santa Bag and Snowball Relay Race
Usually, Santa's bag is filled with toys, but the bag will be filled with students in this game. The object of the game is to be the first team to cross the finish line and fill the bowl at the finish line with snowballs (marshmallows). This game will work for all ages, from preschool through high school. Vary the distance between the start and finishing line depending on the age and ability of the students.
- 1 potato sack per team, dyed red (or sew some simple sacks out of red fabric)
- 2 bowls per team
- Large marshmallows (snowballs), divided equally among the teams
- Markers to indicate the starting and finish line
- Whistle to start the game
- Large space, such as the outdoors or a gym, although the classroom could work for a tiny group
- Designate a starting line and a finish line that are at least 20 feet apart. Increase the distance if you have fewer players or older students.
- Put a bowl of marshmallows at the starting line and an empty bowl at the finish line (one per team). Be sure to have an equal number of marshmallows per team, so it is fair for all players and teams. For instance, if you have 10 players on each team, put 10 or 20 marshmallows in the starting bowl (depending on whether you want each player to play once or twice). If you have an uneven number of players per team, ask one or more players from the team with fewer students to take an extra turn.
- You may want to use a small table (or box) to hold the bowls at the starting and finish line.
How to Play
- Divide the students into teams.
- Line the student teams up at the starting line.
- Blow the whistle to start the game.
- One player from each team hops into a potato sack puts a marshmallow (snowball) in their teeth, and hops to the finish line.
- The player must then drop the snowball into the bowl at the finish line, hop out of the bag, and run the bag back to the starting line for the next player.
- The game continues until all players from one team have crossed the finish line, and all the marshmallows have been transferred from the bowl at the starting line to the bowl at the finish line.
- The team that has all their players cross the finish line first and has transferred all the snowballs wins the game.
The Christmas tune Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer talks about the "reindeer games" that Rudolph was excluded from. Don't exclude any of your students in your version of this reindeer game. Move a pile of gifts from their pile to a bag about 30 feet away. Players must travel on their hands and feet (or knees) to resemble how a reindeer may walk. Preschool and kindergarten kids may have difficulty transporting the packages, so teachers may choose to allow children to walk or run with the gifts instead of crawling on all fours. Otherwise, all ages should be able to participate.
- Wrapped boxes, approximately 10 per team
- Ribbons and bows
- Red noses and antlers, 1 set per team
- 1 large garbage sack per team
- A space large enough for players to run without tripping, like a gym or outdoor playground
- Wrap several boxes (about 10 gifts per team); some can have ribbons or bows if desired.
- Set a pile of gifts on one end of the play area for each team.
- Put an opened large garbage sack about 30 feet away from piles, one per team.
- Set the noses and antlers on top of the gift piles.
How to Play
- The first players, one from each team, should put on the reindeer antlers and nose.
- Each player should get down on all fours (hands and feet or knees) and place a gift in front of their nose.
- Players need to move the gift from the pile to "Santa's Bag," which should be roughly 30 feet away. The players may choose to scoot the gift with their noses, hold the ribbon in their teeth, balance it on their backs, or any other way that doesn't involve carrying and running it over (unless the kids are young).
- The next player on each team waits until their teammate "delivers" the package into the bag, returns to "base," removes the antlers and nose, and hands it to the next player in line, who also has to put on the costume.
- The game continues until all packages have been transported from the pile to the bag. The winning team is the first one who delivers all their packages to the sack.
Behind the Back Christmas Tree Sculpture
How adept will your students be at creating a sculpture behind their own backs? Players attempt to form Christmas trees behind their backs or while blindfolded. This game is best for upper elementary to high school students, as younger kids may have trouble making the trees and get frustrated.
- Play-Doh or clay
- Blindfolds (optional)
Other than gathering the supplies, there is very little preparation necessary.
How to Play
- Ask students to stand by the tables
- Hand out the Play-doh or clay. A small ball, about the size of the palm of your hand, should be enough, but more can be used for larger sculptures.
- Put the clay on the table and ask the players to turn their backs to the table.
- At the sound of go, students should attempt to mold their clay into the shape of a Christmas tree while still having their back turned away from the clay.
- Students should not be allowed to turn towards their sculptures but should be encouraged to keep their backs turned.
- The teacher can indicate when the game is finished.
- Students can then turn towards their creations. Giggles will ensue!
- Classmates can vote on their favorite sculpture, and you can declare a winner.
You can increase the game's difficulty for older students by having the students add colored ornaments (multi-colored clay or small beads) to the tree. You can also ask students to be blindfolded to prevent cheating.
Shhhh!!! Students of any age will enjoy sneaking around being Santa, but this will probably appeal most to elementary-age players. They'll enjoy the fun of figuring out who the secret Santa is that shares treats with everyone.
- Small treats such as candy canes, stickers, or unsharpened pencils for every student
- Small boxes and wrapping paper, optional
- Classroom with desks and chairs
If you want to wrap the small treats in wrapped boxes, do this before the game.
How to Play
- Ask students to put their heads down on their desks with one hand open (palm up).
- Quietly take three small candy canes (or other small treats) and place them in the open hand of one student.
- That student should quietly stand up and walk to three other random students and put one candy cane or treat in each of the three students' hands.
- The students who received the candy canes or treat should leave their heads down.
- The first student should then put their head back down on their desk and put their hand out.
- The teacher then tells the students to lift their heads.
- The students who received the candy canes or treat should stand up.
- Each student then guesses as to who they think the Secret Santa was. You can keep track of correct guesses and award a prize to the overall winner or not keep the score at all.
- Everyone gets to keep their candy canes or treat.
- The game repeats, with the teacher choosing another Secret Santa from those who guessed correctly, and continues until everyone has received a small prize.
Santa says is a simple holiday spin on a classic classroom game, Simon Says. Instead of giving commands from Simon like "touch your head" and "spring around," Santa gives holiday-related actions to students to enact.
- Space to move
- To play this game with your students, you need nothing more than some creative actions to give out as commands and space for kids to move about. This game is a great time filler or option for substitute teachers.
How to Play
- Write down a list of holiday themes actions for children to recreate. Ideas can include:
- Guide the sleigh
- Decorate the tree
- Eat the Christmas cookies
- Lip sync your favorite holiday tune
- Build a snowman
1. Have the students stand up in an open space or near their desks.
2. Tell kids that they must perform the action given ONLY IF the teacher says: Santa says. If the teacher does not say Santa says, they do NOT do the action.
3. Give the kids a series of commands, starting with "Santa says" and not starting with "Santa Says." Draw ideas from a master list created in step one.
4. Children who perform an action that does not come with the "Santa Says" prompt are out and must sit down at their desk or in a designated area.
5. As fewer players remain standing, give the commands more rapidly until one player is left standing. That is the winner of the game.
Jump to the Front
Jump to the Front is a great way to get teenage bodies up and moving. Older kids and teens might not be as apt to act things out or dance around, but even the most sullen, grinchy teen can manage this game.
- A pre-made list of holiday-related questions for students to reply to via movement
- Space to move in a forward direction
- Space for the students to walk forward roughly 20 feet. Consider a hallway space or a gymnasium. If classrooms are large, move desks to the walls to make space for movement.
How to Play
- Create a list of Yes/No questions for kids to respond to. Questions should relate to the holiday season. Examples might include:
- Have you ever eaten gingerbread?
- Do you celebrate Christmas?
- Do you know all the words to Frosty the Snowman?
- Does your culture eat something special on Christmas?
- Do you play Find the Christmas Pickle with the Christmas tree?
- Does your Christmas tree have a star on top of it?
- Do you put milk and cookies out for Santa?
- Line the students up horizontally in a space where they will eventually move in a forward motion.
- Ask pre-made questions to the class. If their answer is yes, they take one step forward. If their answer is no, they remain standing.
- The person to reach the designated finish line is the winner.
Christmas Pictionary is another excellent holiday game to play with older children and teens, primarily because the groups of students playing can manage the directions and rules themselves. The game gets their creative minds going, and with kids playing in small groups, this is perfect for shy teens who don't like to perform in front of large groups of peers.
- 2 whiteboards
- Scorecard or paper
- 2 dry erase markers and a pencil
- A basket
- Small slips of paper
- Break the class up into four teams, with an even number of children per team.
- Have space in the classroom for two teams to compete and another space for the other two teams to compete.
- Each set of teams will need a whiteboard, a dry erase marker, a set of slips of paper with holiday words written on them, and a basket as well as a paper and pencil to keep score.
How to Play
- This game is played exactly like classic Pictionary, except all items being drawn are holiday-related.
- Create a list of objects for kids to draw. All objects should be holiday-related. Ideas of items to draw might include:
- Christmas cookie
- Christmas Tree
- Gingerbread man
- One team chooses a person to be the drawer. They pick a slip of paper from the basket and have a designated amount of time to draw the holiday-related object written on the paper on the whiteboard.
- Their team tries to guess what they are drawing. If the team guesses correctly, then that team earns a point. The team with the most points wins.
Prizes for Games
Though it is not necessary, prizes for game winners and participants are appropriate. Small prizes might include candy canes, Christmas-themed pencils, stickers, and bookmarks.