Super Simple Christmas Tree Maths – Prep Time 60 seconds

tree maths

Okay, this is *not* an elaborate craft. I repeat *not* an elaborate craft!

However, it *is* effective! After colouring and decorating her Christmas tree with the number of red baubles and green baubles in the sum, and counting them up to solve it, V-bot (3.5) promptly did it 7 more times and then asked me to draw her some more! Maths, reading, and writing all rolled into one fun 30 minute slot before dinner 🙂

I love this fun activity because it takes exactly 58 seconds to prepare (okay, maybe 90, if you try really hard on the shape of your Christmas trees, which I did, and they’re still rubbish), AND it ties in a preschool / kindergarten / nursery love of suddenly understanding quantity and trying their hand at addition, AS WELL as sneakily sliding in some literacy practice and fine motor work!

Stuff We Needed:

  • A Drawing Pad, or a number of sheets of paper (we ended up using 9, and were only interrupted by dinner!)
  • Some crayons or colouring pencils, or whatever the little one might like to colour their tree with
  • Red, black and green sharpies
  • Dot stickers, or any other sticker representation of baubles.

Draw a Christmas tree shape on the paper.

Next, add a sum underneath. Use the red sharpie to write the number of red baubles to put on the tree, and use the green sharpie to write the number of green baubles to put on the tree:


We use the sum format that she will become familiar with later on when she starts to do addition formally in school. She is familiar with the plus and equals signs already, but it would be fine to introduce them in this activity too.

Cut out the red and green stickers ready for peeling and use. Then invite to play!


She got right to colouring before I even had a chance to explain what the activity was…

Then we talked about the numbers underneath “This is a secret code that tells you how to decorate your Christmas tree! Shall we find out what it says?”


I’m glad we put the “red” part first, because this was an easier word for her to sound out and recognise on her own. By the time we got to green, she kind of already got the idea that it was going to be the colour it was written in, and the colour of the other batch of stickers, so she went right to it! It was still great for her though: the literacy part of this activity was secondary to the numeracy part by design, and I really just wanted her to start to realise that words are there to be understood and to incite action!
Once the stickers were on, time to add 2 plus 4! She did, by counting all the dots, and then set straight to writing her answer. She did this without prompting, which surprised me a little. She loves writing letters but struggles more with numbers – maybe all our rainbowing and decorating is paying off! Beautiful 6!


She loved the colouring part, and I think it really gave her time to think and refocus, so I probably wouldn’t do this with green paper and take this part of it away – she loved it, and I think it’s what kept this going through 9 sums all the way to dinner time!


And it got us talking about evergreen trees, types of Christmas trees, and pots and stands for Christmas trees that hold some water in them so the tree can stay alive indoors!


Plus, the fine motor skills in peeling tiny stickers really can’t be underestimated!


By the third exercise, she was really focused, and asked me to go away and make dinner, which is v. unusual for this one! She normally wants to show me every stage. I think she knew she was doing something important and I love that she wanted to carry it through on her own.

I snuck back to catch a couple more photos of her sneakily grabbing the forbidden sharpie!

I love this activity because it’s so simple, so low-prep, and so do-able for that busy after-school time when everyone needs attention.

V-bot (3.5) worked on:

  • Numeracy: identifying numbers, understanding quantity, putting addition into practice
  • Language: Identifying words (“red”, “green”), sounding out and understanding, putting into practice. Talking about trees, leaves, evergreens, spruces, baubles, decorations, Christmas!
  • Science: a wee bit of conversation around tree leaves, and trees needing to take up water in order to stay alive.
  • Fine motor skills: Those stickers were TINY!
  • Concentration: the all-important skill. I love that this totally absorbed her.

Books we loved reading before and after this activity…

What kind of super simple 60 second activities are you up to? And what lovely Christmas crafts too? I’d love to hear in the comments!

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