5 attention grabbing & keeping Christmas props for group times

Updated: Nov 22

I LOVE Christmas but I notice as we get closer to it and the end of the year that group times and storytelling can be a bit of a challenge!


I have found 5 props that support teachers and children to be more focused and energised when it comes to group and storytelling times.


They are:

  1. eye masks

  2. hats

  3. headbands

  4. puppets

  5. soft toys


I find I rely on my group times 100 list more as I feel time poor and weary. I have created a smaller Christmas list with the same system I teach in my group times mini-course. The children often display behaviours that indicate tiredness, can be distracted and less engaged so I use props for myself and the children. Using props and other techniques to engage children are lessons I draw on from my storytelling mini-course.


Sustainability and inexpensive items are important to me so I collect secondhand Christmas books throughout the year and buy Christmas ‘props’ after Christmas or secondhand too. BUT sometimes I buy items as soon as they are released as I feel they won’t be on clearance.


The key to buying something is that it needs to grab or keep children’s attention, bring delight and energy to the teacher (me) or the children.


Let's look at the props I have for my Christmas group times and storytelling for 2022 (I always buy more than one of something and NZ teachers will find some of them in my Facebook SHOP to purchase).


I will start with reindeer.



Eye masks are honestly a favourite of mine, they are inexpensive and wonderful for the teacher or children. I found a reindeer eye mask and use it for ‘Rudolph the red nose reindeer’.


Last year I found reindeer pet head bands at Kmart which even have bells on them (this year I see there are some again with lights). Not only do the children get to count the reindeer they also get to jingle!! Which I image will led into the song jingle bells.


I have also used masks in counting books and rhymes (a favourite is 5 little reindeer prancing on the roof- to the tune 5 little monkeys jumping on the bed).


5 little reindeer prancing on the roof

5 little reindeer prancing on the roof

One fell down and bumped its hoof

Santa called the doctor and the doctor said,

“Put that reindeer right to bed!”


You can also get headband reindeer antlers which are marvelous and Jena found them very helpful in her group times.



Next Santa or Father Christmas. The choices are endless and I have to remind myself of storage and space otherwise I could go overboard on props for him. In terms of storage, I use organza bags as they are see-through and keep items together to grab easily for group or storytelling times.



A Santa eye mask or hat (or 5) are Christmas essentials! Great for counting rhymes in group times and there are so many books with him in it. I found a chimney soft toy (part of a dog toy set) and added a Santa for the song when Santa got stuck up or in the chimney. The hands-on aspect only added to the children’s love for this song.


A favourite rhyme or song with masks or hats is Santa laughs on Christmas day as it is interactive getting the children to add a 'ho'. This one often ends up with us all laughing or 'ho, ho, hoing' more than 5 times at the end.




And finally, elves. I have yet to find a mask but will keep looking!


We have decorated our own wooden elf puppets (from Kmart or craft shops) for story baskets and used them in group times for books, rhymes and songs (Jaimee Voight shared the ones she decorated). I just spotted some Christmas tree wooden sticks and have ordered them!



The rhyme or song 5 Elves jumping on a sleigh (variation of 5 monkeys jumping on the bed) is always a hit and I use elf hats and a Santa hat or mask for it. I lay a brown mat down for the song, so the children can jump on it like a sleigh (or prance on it for the reindeer). Elf hats are harder to find secondhand but are often on clearance or inexpensive in the first instance.



Five Little Elves jumping on the sleigh

Five little elves jumping on the sleigh, One jumped off and ran away! Reindeer called Santa and Santa did say, “No more elves jumping on the sleigh!”


For younger children I like to use the ‘that’s not my…’ series in a story basket with Santa and elf as favourites. I hope to get my hands on the reindeer version this year. They are simple to create and can be personalised with items that support interests or schema that the children are engaged in.


To find a little calm and mindfulness we will be creating ‘I spy bottles’ they will have Christmas shapes and coloured salt. These are great for neurodiverse children as are story baskets. I will also set up an invitation for the children to fill and empty bottles with the shapes and pompoms.



I am also like to add puppets and soft toys to my storytelling and group times. It is always a happy dance when you find a toy to go with a book or vice versa!



Here are 3 of my favourites- Kuiwi’s shiny bum, The dinosaur that pooped Christmas and a sheep puppet with Christmas books that the main character is a sheep..


I have plans to add Pig the elf but haven’t found a Santa hat small enough to fit… YET! I am thinking a pet Santa hat. I will need to take Pig for a shopping trip.



Here is ‘Pig the grub’ with shower caps to give you an idea (I just saw a set with Pig wearing a shower cap!).


If you have read my other Christmas blogs you will know that each year a book or an interest will stand out in the lead up to Christmas and I will support it with gusto! I am always excited to see what it will be! Last year it was all about Santa’s beard and the book ‘have yourself a HAIRY Christmas’ was perfect to support this.



This year pirates are a strong interest and I found ‘a pirates night before Christmas’ book which the children love but as it is mid-November and too soon to tell if this will be where we land. Arggghhhh!




As you will see I use the props for myself as much as the children. I find when I put on a character mask or hat, I am energised, a bit like when a child puts on a cape I imagine. This may be the burst of energy or even confidence you need as you head into the Christmas season.