Holiday-themed play ideas


It’s that time of year! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or nothing at all, it’s hard to ignore the excitement in the air. Why not explore this excitement through play?


What is a provocation?

A provocation is an invitation for children to explore and investigate a particular concept or idea. Provocations could include pictures, books, objects, materials - really anything that will spark curiosity, discussions, questions, and creativity. Here are a few open-ended, holiday-themed provocations you could try at home or in your classroom.



Not only do trees play a significant role in many Christmas celebrations, but they are also closely connected to the changing seasons at this time of year. Take a closer look at trees outside, then bring some of your discoveries inside to investigate!

Suggested materials:

  • Branches from different types of trees (deciduous and coniferous)

  • Pinecones, tree needles, leaves

  • Non- fiction books about trees

  • Paper & brown/green coloured pencils


Christmas lights, fire, and darkness are just a few of the ways light could be explored this holiday season. Listen and watch your children to see how they interact with the concept of light, then choose provocation materials that would be most relevant.

Suggested materials:

  • Twinkle lights

  • Flashlights

  • Menorah, Kinara, candles

  • Coloured cellophane

  • Light table


Our sense of smell is closely connected with our memories, especially during the holidays. Depending on your traditions, consider baking or cooking to begin a discussion, then explore certain ideas in more detail.

Suggested materials:

  • Whole spices

  • Orange peel

  • Magnifying glass

  • Cotton balls with different scents

What ideas are your children and/or students exploring right now?