Combine a three-dimensional contact paper Christmas tree with a sensory bin for hours of fun! Be sure to add it to your Christmas activities for preschoolers this winter.
As my son would tell you, I have a lot of favorite things about the holidays. He’s not wrong!
Christmas lights are definitely in the top ten for me. I love all lights – white, colorful, blinking, traditional big bulbs, small lights, etc. I’m really not that picky.
And I know I’m not the only one! Children young and old get a kick out of all the lights up around the holidays.
If your preschoolers are enamored with lights, they will love this Christmas tree sensory bin that lets them “light the tree” as they play.
Contact Paper Christmas Tree and Sensory Bin
I like to reuse sensory materials as much as possible, and this bin was no exception.
The beans and corn were from a variety of previous sensory bins, and the Styrofoam trees were used last year for fine motor activities.
It makes me happy to reuse materials because it saves money and is overall less wasteful. Plus, it’s a great way to show the kids how using their imaginations can transform the same materials into new adventures.
Related: Christmas Sensory Activities
Christmas Sensory Bin Materials
As I mentioned above, most of what we used was already on-hand from previous activities.
You can adapt what you already have in your teacher stash, or you can grab the same items we used (I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post):
- White Navy beans
- Colored popcorn kernels
- White Styrofoam trees
- Clear Contact paper
- Large sensory bin
If you don’t have the exact same materials we do, you can add other items. Here are some possibilities:
How to Make a Contact Paper Christmas Tree
To get all the fun started, you need to put together a sticky paper Christmas tree.
All you have to do is wrap contact paper around your styrofoam trees, with the sticky side facing out. Add some tape to secure the sticky paper to the bottom of the trees as needed.
Once you have the sticky Christmas trees, it’s time to put together the Christmas sensory bin.
Related: Pony Bead Christmas Tree
Mix up your “Christmas lights” in a bin. We used colorful corn and white Navy beans for the lights. You can add in other small, colorful manipulatives if you’d rather. Or just stick with the beans if that’s easier for you.
Then add the contact paper Christmas trees to your sensory bin. If you want, you can add scoops, spoons, funnels, and other sensory tools to the bin as well. We added a few child-sized pouring cups to our bin.
Finally, let the children play and explore!
Playing and Learning
As with all sensory bins, you’ll see the kids interacting with the materials in a variety of ways.
Some of my students added the “lights” to the contact paper Christmas tree one at a time, which gave their fingers quite a workout!
Related: Individual Sensory Bins
Others figured out that rolling the trees in the beans and corn was a lot faster.
A few of my girls enjoyed loading the trees up with the “lights”, then scraping everything off and starting again from scratch.
Of course, there was a lot of pouring using our mini glass pitchers. The kiddos enjoyed running their hands through the materials, then letting everything slip through their fingers. The beans and corn made fun sounds in the glass pitchers, as well as when they fell back into the bin.
Even though the kids had used the beans and corn before, calling them “Christmas lights” added a new dimension to their play.
Related: Christmas Lights Printable Book
Since the children were REALLY into “decorating” the trees, the contact paper’s stickiness wore off by the end of most days. But it wasn’t that difficult to replace the sticky paper each day.
Needless to say, this Christmas tree sensory bin was a HIT with the children! And while I’m all for playing for playing’s sake, there was quite a bit of learning going on, too:
- Fine motor skills
- Problem solving
- And more
Would your students enjoy a contact paper Christmas tree sensory bin like this one?
More Christmas Light Activities for Kids
Be sure to check out more lights-themed ideas below:
Fingerprint Christmas Lights Photo Frame from Fun-A-Day
Matching ABC Lights Activity from Fun Learning for Kids
Colored Lights Book Making from Growing Book by Book
ABC Christmas Lights from Powerful Mothering
Christmas Light Math Activities from Life Over C’s
Pony Bead Christmas Lights from The Preschool Toolbox
Scented Fingerprint Lights from Stress Free Homeschooling
Make a Light Bulb Model from Capri + 3
Shadow Puppets with Lights from The Educators’ Spin On It
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Originally published December 2014.