Welcome to our second annual 12 Days of Christmas series. Today is Day 4. You can read all the post on our 12 Days of Christmas Series page.

My boys have been perennial fans of the Bear series since the first time they saw one of the books. In December, we always pull out Bear Stays Up For Christmas and read it often throughout the month. Inspired by my boys’ love for this sweet cast of characters, I decided to create some learning opportunities to accompany the book. Read on to see how my family is using Bear Stays Up For Christmas to support early literacy and learning during the holiday season.

Reading Bear Stays Up For Christmas

Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman have put together another sweet story about Bear and his animal friends. All the forest friends are excited for the holiday. They go out into the woods to fetch a Christmas tree and decorate together in Bear’s den. Of course, since he typically hibernates all winter, Bear struggles to stay up with his friends for the holiday preparations. Santa arrives and presents are opened before Bear eventually gives in to his need to rest, after a wonderful celebration with his closest friends.

As always, Bear and the other critters are illustrated in a beautiful, painterly style. The animals’ faces are expressive and endearing. “The bear stays up,” is sprinkled throughout the book frequently. This repetition provides the perfect opportunity for little ones to ‘read along’ with you. In addition, the text is written in short, rhyming verses. The lyrical nature will keep young readers listening attentively. Rhyming stories help children to guess what word will end each verse, especially when paired with ‘reading the pictures.’ Both are important skills for young and pre-readers, making Bear Stays Up For Christmas an ideal choice for a holiday read aloud.

Small World Play With Bear Stays Up For Christmas

A great hands on idea to reinforce story comprehension is to introduce ‘small world play’ inspired by the book. With some very simple props, my toddler was able to replay the story in his own way. Small animal figures or stuffed toys, some miniature trees, and some ‘snowy’ garland were all we needed to jump into Bear’s winter world. You can likely create the same opportunity for play using items you already have around the house. Small world play inspired by a picture book is the perfect mix of early literacy and imaginative play- definitely an activity worth trying out at home!

bear stays up for chrismtas

Bear Stays Up for Christmas Color By Word

I’m always happy when I can find a great activity that keeps my boys engaged without a lot of supervision from me. I consider it a bonus if I can work a bit of learning into their fun as well. This printable color by word page inspired by Bear Stays Up For Christmas is a great option. With just a few crayons, my oldest can create a fun Christmas tree picture and practice reading key words from the book at the same time. Coloring often feels more like creative artwork than academics to kids, so this page is the perfect choice for reluctant workers. It’s an easy option to take along to a restaurant or doctor’s waiting room as well. Grab your copy of the printable I created towards the end of the post.

christmas book activities

Christmas Tree Sensory Spelling Ideas

When you have more time, taking your Bear Stays Up For Christmas spelling in a sensory-rich direction is a fun idea as well. We created some very basic green play dough triangle ‘Christmas trees’. By pairing the dough with some rubber stamps, my oldest was able to stamp out words from the story. If your older kids have specific spelling words they need to work on (their name, sight words, etc.), you an easily adapt this activity to focus on their spelling list. Younger children may enjoy simply working on letter recognition. You can call out letters to add to their trees. They’ll enjoy the hands on approach to learning letters as they search for the correct stamp and press it into their play dough tree. As a bonus, this sensory-based idea would pair well with any book featuring Christmas trees. There’s plenty of flexibility to choose a book that is already in your home library.

christmas literacy activities

Do you have any favorite books for holiday story times? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

Looking for other early literacy & learning ideas? Connect with Kate!

Kate is the semi-reluctant stay at home mom and blogger behind Homebound But Hopeful. She’s a mom to three boys who is on a journey to find the balance between stir-crazy and satisfied. As a former fashion designer and kid-lit fanatic, Kate loves sharing story time ideas and printables with her readers. Follow along on Instagram and Facebook to be sure you don’t miss a moment of family friendly fun and learning.