Games and Activities Based on 'Twelve Days of Christmas'

The Twelve Days of Christmas

12 Days of Christmas
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We all know the lyrics to the song "Twelve Days of Christmas." According to some, the song was meant as a way to teach children about the Christian faith, particularly Catholics during times of persecution. However, there isn't any evidence for this. It is an interesting theory though. Mostly today, people just have fun singing the song, trying to keep the lyrics straight and wondering how much it would cost to buy all those gifts for one's true love.

Technically, the Twelve Days of Christmas are the days between Christmas (December 25th, the birth of Christ and the Epiphany (January 6, the coming of the Magi), but if your child needs something to do while waiting for Christmas, give him something to do everyday based on the gifts of the twelve days, starting on December 13. That will take you to Christmas Eve.

Day 1: Partridge in a Pear Tree

Partridge in a Pear Tree
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Do you have the game Pairs in Pears? If so, that's the perfect game to play on this first day. Or your child can play King's online game PapaPears. Or perhaps your child would enjoy the online match three game "Pear School." If your child likes to color, print out a one or more coloring pages of a partridge in a pear tree.

Day 2: Two Turtle Doves

2 Turtle Doves
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Doves have long been considered to be a symbol of peace and love. So the second day is a good day to get children thinking about peace in the world, especially at this time of year. The Planet Pals Web site has an idea for a matching card game. Instead of using a regular deck of cards, the kids use cards with these words on them: hope, love, friendship, sharing, understanding, tolerance, equality, peace, and caring. Instead of matching a pair of jacks of two's, kids match these words. All you need to do to get the cards is print out the cards and the instructions.  There are two sets to print out: the first has the main cards; the second has wild cards and the instructions.
Print out four of the first set of cards.
Print out one of the second set of cards.

The Peace Corps Web site has an online game for kids, called Peace Corps challenge. In this game, kids take on the role of a Peace Corps volunteer to help the mayor of an African town Wanzuzu solve the problems in his village.

If your child likes to color, print out one or more coloring pages of two turtle doves

Day 3: Three French Hens

3 French Hens
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Le jeu de la poule is a very simple online game, so simple that no knowledge of French is required.  All you need to know is that "jouer" means "play," and "Recommencer" means "Try again,"  and "Rejouer" means "Play again."  In this game a hen is lying on a stool. The player must adjust the angle of the hen so that the eggs it lays will shoot across a wall and land in a basket.  "Angle" is a French word, so it's easy to see where to make adjustments. To get the hen to lay an egg, the player clicks on the chicken. If the chicken is not hit with the right amount of force, it will either hit the wall or miss the basket.  The force is adjusted by clicking on the plus and minus signs at the top and bottom of the bar just above the chicken. has two great online "fowl words" games.  In the first, Fowl Words, hens present a number of letters and players need to make as many words as they can out of the letters.  When the player types in a word, the letters appear in the eggs above the hens to form the words. In the second, Fowl Words 2, players just type the letters that appear in the eggs running along several conveyor belts. This is a fun way to develop and practice typing skills, even for the little kids. The words are short, but eventually make use of all the letters of the alphabet. (Flash plugin in required.)

For kids who like to color, print out pictures of three hens.

Day 4: Four Calling Birds

4 Calling Birds
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On the fourth day of Christmas, the gift was four calling birds. Some people say calling birds are song birds, but apparently they are colly birds, which are European blackbirds, which are actually thrushes. It's confusing. Kids can spend the day learning about birds or playing some online bird games from the Cornell Lab of Orinthology. These games include designing a meadow and matching birds with their food. Or they can watch bird cams focused on bird nests across the country.

If your child is interested in identifying birds and their calls, he might enjoy listening to bird callsor looking through a bird guide. And if your child is really interested in birds, get her started in birdwatching by buying her a pair of binoculars for Christmas.

And of course, if your child like to color, print out some coloring pages of four birds.

Day 5: Five Golden Rings

5 Golden Rings
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The gift for the fifth day in the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is five golden rings. So today your child can play games involving rings or circles. The first is an online game from PBS. The game is called "Lost in the Northern Frontier," and the object is to find "Digit" using the "power" of circles, which just means kids need to create intersecting circles.

Another game involving rings is "Battle Rings" from Primary Games. Kids have to point a red ring so that it crosses the center. That's not so easy as it sounds since there are 3 other rings that are let loose at the same time causing the red ring to bounce off of them and go off in other directions.

No selection of games involving rings would be complete without a game based on The Lord of the Rings story. Net-Games has a simple game based on the story that is free to play online.  The object of the game Save the Ring is to capture as many rings as possible without running into a Ring Wrath.

Speaking of games based on The Lord of the Rings, if your child is a big fan, get him a board game based on LOTR for Christmas.

Does your child like to color? Print out some coloring pages of rings.

Day 6: Six Geese A-laying

5 Geese a Laying
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On the sixth day of Christmas, the gift was six geese a-layin'. I don't know of any games about geese laying eggs, but there is a great game called fox and geese. It's an old game that was played in colonial America in the 1700's. It's a little like checkers in that the "fox" can jump over the "geese" and when it does, the "goose" is taken off the board.  However, there is only one fox and 15 geese. The Plimouth Plantation Web site has more detailed instructions for the game as well as a "board" that you can print out.

The PBS Kids Web site has a fun online Virtual Goose game that the younger children should enjoy. While this goose doesn't lay eggs, players do have to match one of the surrounding "eggs" with the "egg" the goose is sitting on. The eggs are actually circles divided into quarters, with the quarters filled in with different colors.

Looking for something for your child to color? Print out some coloring pages.

Day 7: Seven Swans a Swimming

7 Swans a Swimming
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Seven Swans a-swimming -- that was the gift on the seventh day of Christmas. I didn't find any games with seven swans a-swimming, but I came close!  The Free Printables Web site has a Swan Swim Maze that can be printed out. It looks a little harder than it is, but the little ones should have some fun with it.  Kids who like dress-up games should have some fun with the Swan Lake flash game. The little girl in the game is about the dance in the ballet, but she needs to get dressed.  The kids can mix and match dresses, shoes, hair, and other accessories to get the girl ready.

Finally, for kids who like to learn a little something (and what gifted kid doesn't?), A Kid's Heart Web site offers a game about eight swans. More accurately, it's about The Eight Species of Swans. In this game, kids match the name and picture of the swans with their descriptions.

If your child wants to color, download some coloring pages of swans.

Day 8: Eight Maids a Milking

8 Maids a Milking
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On the eight day of Christmas, the gift was eight maids a-milking. If your kids enjoy seek-and-find games like "Where's Waldo?" they might enjoy trying to find the 8 milkmaids in this colorful picture from It's a pdf file that can be printed so your kids can either look for the milkmaids on the computer screen or on the printed picture.  Once they find the milkmaids, they can look for all the gifts from the previous days!  They are all listed on the picture so the kids don't have to remember them all.

Your child might like to play some games with cows. One is The Great Escape game, in which your child can help Bo the cow "escape the farm and make it to the Great Calcium Fair." Another game to play is Hide and Go Milk. The cow has to get bottles of milk to keep the party going.

If your child enjoyrs word searches, print out one for milk and calcium-related words. And if your child enjoys coloring, print out some coloring pages.

Day 9: Nine Ladies Dancing

9 Ladies Dancing
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On the ninth day of Christmas, the gift in the song is nine ladies dancing. I had no luck finding games with nine ladies dancing, but I did find some games about dancing. The first one is an online game that is similar to DDR, as played on the screen. It's called Dancing Queen. In this game, kids have to match the arrows on the keyboard with the arrows on the screen. Hitting the arrows correctly moves the little girl so that she dances to the music.

A second online game is Dash's Dance Party. In this game, kids can choose one of four characters, including Curious George and the Cat in the Hat, and choose one of eight songs to play. They can then choose five moves for the character, but they can "earn" additional moves. The character will then make the moves to the music. The best part, though, is that when the dance is finished, the kids can watch the dance and imitate the moves.

For children who like to color, print out some pages of dancing ladies!

Day 10:Ten Lords a Leaping

10 Lords a Leaping
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Ten Lords a-leaping -- that was the gift on the tenth day of Christmas. So today your child can play some leaping games - with frogs.

One leaping game is the Frog Leap Game consists of two groups of three frogs facing each other as they sit on lily ponds. The two groups are separated one one lily pond between them. The object of the game is to switch the two groups of frogs to the opposite site in two minutes!  But only one frog can move at a time. They can either leap over a frog or move one space.

The second frog leaping game is Frog Jump. The object of this game is to remove each lity pad by making the frog jump on it. The frog can only jump horizontally or vertically. It can't jump diagonally. The amount of space between the lily pads doesn't matter.

For children who like to color, print out some leaping lord pages.

Day 11: Eleven Pipers Piping

11 Pipers Piping
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On the eleventh day of Christmas, the gift was eleven pipers piping. Today we think of pipers as those who play bagpipes, but they were once also those who played the flute-like recorder. In keeping with the piping gift today, your child can play some musical games. The site has several great games that will help kids learn to read notes and train their musical ears. They are free to download.

The recorder is a forerunner of the flute. It's a relatively simply instrument to learn. If your child is learning the recorder, or wants to, there are some helpful sites. One has interactive fingering charts for recorders (in C, D, and F), and  Kay Greenhaw's site has a a practice page with some short and easy songs. The best part of this is that kids can read the music and play along with a midi.

The last game is an online game based on Mozart's "The Magic Flute." Kids listen to the sound of an instrument and then have to select the picture of the instrument that made it. When they answer correctly, an animal playing the instrument appears on the screen. When all the instruments are identified, the orchestra begins to play, with the instruments being played lighting up.

Kids who want to color, can color some pages of piper piping.

Day 12: Twelve Drummers Drumming

12 Drummers Drumming
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On the twelfth day of Christmas, the gift in the song is twelve drummers drumming. There are some really fun online drumming games on the Web site. Kids can learn rhythm, play with drum sets, and even create and replay drum melodies.

Older kids might enjoy the virtual drumming on the virtual drummer site. There kids can play with different drum sets, such as rock and jazz. They can even select the drum set of a specific drummer, like Phil Collins or Philly Joe Jones. It can take a while to learn the keys that go with the items in the drum sets, but it can be fun.

If your child wants to color some drummers drumming, download some coloring pages.

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