As an early childhood major, I have spent hours on end researching and preparing various projects to teach preschoolers and young children. Here are a few of my favorites that I'd like to share with you:
1. Hot Chocolate Mugs
Cut out a large mug from construction paper. Mix together hot cocoa mix and dishwashing liquid to create a fragrant "brown fingerprint". Have children fingerpaint on plain white paper. When dry, cut/staple mug atop the painting where the mug opening would be. Allow the child to decorate their mug. Add cotton balls on top of white paper to act as marshmallows.
2. The Reindeer Pokey
Not technically a project, but an activity you can do with children during the holidays. Gather children and start exploring and discussing various parts of a reindeer's body. With the children, begin to sing and use hand motions replacing the traditional hokey pokey with:
You put your antlers in, you put your antlers out.
You put your antlers in, and you shake them all about.
You do the reindeer pokey and you turn yourself around, that's what it's all about!
(Repeat with different reindeer parts such as: hooves, red nose, fluffy tail)
3. Roll A Snowman
This activity will take a bit of preparation with making a game board. To do this, you can take a piece of paper and draw individual rectangles in a circle shape (like a children's board game). In each space, draw a various part of the snowman (such as the nose, a button, a snowball). You can also have the children assist in making the game pieces out of baking clay. Once you want to start playing, have each child choose a game piece. Determine the order of the players, then take turns rolling the dice and moving the number of spaces that was rolled. Each space will correspond to a different part of the snowman. Have the children keep rolling until they are satisfied with the snowman they have created as a team. Players may use extra pieces if they would like (such as two noses or six snowballs).
4. Decorate a Christmas tree or gingerbread house
Have children and adults take turns and place ornaments, lights, and garlands on the christmas tree! If decorating a gingerbread house, prepare by giving the child a house that is already put together and allow them to decorate it.
5. Clay and Q-Tip Menorahs
Make clay with the children, in any color they would like. Give each child a small/medium piece of the clay and have them shape it into a rectangle. Give each child 4 Q-tips (each cut in half to make 8 total). Place the bottom of each Q-Tip into glue and dip into gold glitter and place into the clay rectangle in a line. You may use a 5th Q-Tip (cut the second tip off but keep it long) as the "helper candle" and place it in the middle of the rectangle.
6. Popsicle Stick Star Of David
Obtain 6 popsicle sticks and glue. Have the children glue three popsicle sticks into a triangle shape, and continue again with the three remaining popsicle sticks. Put glue on top of each triangle and sprinkle blue glitter on top (or paint the popsicle sticks blue). Glue the second triangle on top of the first transversely so that it makes a six sided star.
7. Handprint Menorahs
Paint both hands blue at the bottom and leave the tip of each finger to paint yellow. Place the hands together with the thumbs pressed together and print on paper. The Menorah should have 9 candles.
You can also teach your child various holiday related songs!