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Stocking Stuffers

Stockings are a wonderful novelty item that all children love. Usually, they are the appetiser to Christmas day, with children emptying their stockings and enjoying its contents, before the main event of unwrapping presents.

As adults we have the task of helping Father Christmas in putting the designated ‘stocking filler’ gifts into said stockings, often opting for smaller items that we know will fit in without a fuss. This strategy, however, does not always go to plan and some items don’t quite fit, perhaps due to their larger size or abstract shape.

This festive activity is a fun way for children to take part in the stocking-stuffing experience, while supporting their mathematical development. Only a few items are needed for this activity, and they can be easily adjusted to suit what resources are available.

Santa placing some goddies in a Christmas stocking
Photo sourced from iStock

Follow our simple step-by-step guide to have a go at this activity today:

What you will need:

· A stocking

· A selection of toys varying in size and quantity (enough to fill the stocking in different ways). These could be any toys such as cars, teddies, toy food, animals, blocks, paintbrushes, etc.

Preparing the activity:

1. Gather the items needed

2. Sit in a circle and place the selection of toys in the centre

Doing the activity:

Sit the children in a circle and explain the aim of the game – to play at being Santa and filling the stocking with the items available. Ensure there are many items of different sizes, with some being too big to fit in the stocking (such as books). Working your way around the circle, encourage each child to select an item and place it in the stocking.

Ask them to identify the item and why they have chosen that specific one (perhaps they like the colour, the texture or enjoy playing with it.) Talk about the items size and shape and whether they think it will fit in the stocking.

Continue until wither the stocking is full or all the children have had a turn. If everyone has participated and there is still space left, empty the stocking and start again, seeing if different items can be selected to make the stocking full to the top.

Photographer: Donna Spearman | Source: Unsplash

As the stocking is emptied, count all the items with the children to help them understand that more smaller items are needed to fill it, or less larger items.

Using the one at a time, turn-taking approach not only exercises their patience, but allows them to channel their focus and attention skills. However, this activity can also be adapted into a table-top activity if multiple stockings are available. For example, 4 stockings may be placed at a table with various items to fill it, and 4 children would take part at a time.

Tracking the activity:

16-26 months

Communication and Language: Understanding- Understands simple sentences (e.g. ‘Put it in the stocking.’)

Communication and Language: Speaking- Uses different types of everyday words (nouns, verbs and adjectives

Mathematics: Shape, space and measure- Enjoys filling and emptying containers

22-36 months

Mathematics: Numbers- Recites some number names in sequence

Mathematics: Numbers- Begins to make comparisons between quantities

Mathematics: Numbers- Uses some language of quantities, such as ‘more’ and ‘a lot’

Mathematics: Shape, space and measure- Begins to use the language of size

30-50 months

Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Managing feelings and behaviour- Begins to accept the needs of others and can take turns and share resources, sometimes with support from others

Mathematics: Numbers- Shows an interest in representing numbers

Mathematics: Numbers- Recites numbers in order to 10

Mathematics: Shape, space and measure- Beginning to talk about the shapes of everyday objects, e.g. ‘round’ and ‘tall’

40-60 months

Communication and Language: Listening and attention-Maintains attention, concentrates and sits quietly during appropriate activity

Mathematics: Numbers- Counts objects to 10 and beginning to count beyond 10