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Age Range: 5-7
Duration: 30-59 mins
  • Maths

Dress the elf activity

Design a new uniform for Santa’s elves while learning about maths combinations

In this engaging Christmas elf activity, students will use multiplication to determine the possible wearing combinations with a set number of clothing items. Children will have a lot of fun selecting outfits for their elves to wear and fostering their creativity and mathematics skills.

Activity: Dress the elf
This activity is one of a series of accessible STEM resources designed to allow learners to use Christmas themes to support the teaching of the Primary National Curriculum. These resources support the delivery of key topics within maths and science. This exercise focuses on a dress-the-Elf activity to determine the number of wearing combinations possible with a set number of clothing items. It allows pupils to take a practical approach to applying multiplication.

A version of this resource without a Christmas theme is available from the IET Primary website titled Fantastic Fashion.

When trying the combinations of clothing on the Elf, learners could use the tabs, double-sided sticky tape, or sticky tack to keep the items in place. After counting the combinations, they could use a glue stick to permanently attach their favourite clothes to the Elf to keep as a record.

Tools/resources required

  • Coloured crayons/pencils
  • Sticky tack, double sided sticky tape, glue sticks
  • Safety scissors
  • Thin card for printing the Dress-the-Elf activity sheet.

The History of Christmas Elves
We can trace the history of Christmas elves to European folklore and traditions. In Scandinavian countries, elves known as “nisse” or “tomte” were believed to be small, mischievous creatures who lived on farms and brought good luck to the household. Over time, these elves became associated with the Christmas season and took on a more benevolent role as helpers of Santa Claus. The popular image of Christmas elves as cheerful, industrious beings with pointy hats and pointed ears emerged in the 19th century, thanks to stories and illustrations. Today, Christmas elves are synonymous with Santa’s workshop, assisting in toy-making and spreading holiday cheer.

The engineering context
Understanding combinations is vital to how engineers work out how to make things at the best cost. A bicycle has many parts, so an engineer will work out the best combination of parts to keep the production costs down.

Suggested learning outcomes
By the end of this activity, students will be able to write and calculate statements for multiplication, they will be able to solve a contextual problem using multiplication, and they will understand how to determine the number of wearing combinations possible using a dress-the-Elf activity.

Download the free Dress the elf activity sheet below!
All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable so that you can tailor them to your students and your schools’ needs.

The activity sheet includes teacher notes, guidance, helpful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in the four devolved UK nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Oh ho ho, please share your classroom learning highlights with us @IETeducation! #SantaLovesSTEM.


Dress the elf

A fun way to learn about multiplication by dressing an elf. 

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