Candy Cane Math and Sight Words for Preschool and Kindergarten!

Kids love to play with (and eat!) candy canes.  The activities below can be done with real candy canes (leave the wrappers on for games) or the children can twist red and white pipe cleaners together to make candy canes for use at home or in the classroom.

Candy Cane Counting by 5’s – Candy Cane Number Flags  Blank Candy Cane Flags 

Materials needed:  Red or White Play Dough (or peppermint homemade dough – see recipe below), 15 Candy Canes or ones made from red and white pipe cleaners, Candy Cane Flags Printable (linked above), and tape.

Have the children make 3 large balls (per student) from the play dough and pat down into circles (see photo above.)  The play dough circles will serve as a “base” for each group of 5 candy cane flags when counting.  Print the candy cane flags (linked above) and laminate for durability.  Have the children cut out the individual flags (assist younger children).  Help the children tape one flag to each of 15 candy canes (print the blank flags file to use larger numbers for older children.)  *you can also have the children tear off small pieces of poster putty to adhere the flags – it is easier for younger children to use the poster putty than to tape each individual flag.

Have the children first make a number line of the flags on the floor or a table.  Begin with the number 1 and continue through number 15 (for younger children print an extra copy to lay out on the table and have the children “match” their numbers to the one already completed.)  When the children have counted all 15 flags and placed in numerical order, have the children count out five flags (in order, beginning with 1-5) to stick into each of the play dough bases.  When finished there should be 3 groups of 5 flags in the play dough bases:  1-5, 5-10, and 10-15.  Have the children count by 5’s verbally to 15: 5, 10, 15. Using a separate sheet of paper, have the children make tally marks for each group of 5.   There are blank flags for use with larger numbers, if desired.

Peppermint Play Dough Recipe

5 cups flour
2 1/2 cups salt
3 Tablespoons cream of tartar
10 Tablespoons vegetable oil
Red Food coloring
Peppermint Extract (2 tsps.)
Glitter, if desired

Combine the water, salt, cream of tartar, and the peppermint extract.   Next, add the oil and the flour. Stir well. If desired, add the glitter. The mixture will be stiff and a bit crumbly. Turn the dough out onto a table lined with waxed paper and knead until the dough is smooth (if still crumbly, add a few drops of water while kneading). Separate the dough in half.  Add 15 drops of red food coloring to one half of the dough (if they dough still looks pink, add more food coloring until the desired color appears.  We have also use red Koolaid with good results.)  Keep the play dough separated in two gallon size plastic bags.


Candy Cane Sight Words – Candy Cane Sight Words

Print the Candy Cane Sight Words (linked above) for your students and use them often to aid in recognizing high frequency words. Sight word recognition is useful to enhance reading fluency and reading comprehension. Try incorporating the words into daily activities such as word walls, word sorting, and word games.

Activity example:  Print two copies of the Candy Cane sight words.  Laminate the cards for durability and cut out the individual cards.  Have the children attach the cards (with tape or poster putty) to real candy canes or candy canes made from pipe cleaners.  Distribute the candy cane sight words to the children.  Place one copy of the sight words face up on the floor or a table. On a signal, the children must go find the matching sight word on the floor, hold it up, and read the word out loud. Younger children can say the beginning letter of their cards only. Continue the game until all cards have been found or until the children lose interest.  There are extra cards in this file for additional sight words that the children may be working on or that you would like to introduce.

The file also includes a sight words checklist (last page of the file) that the children can fill out.

For more Christmas  Activities, you can download the Christmas and Gingerbread Theme via this blog!