Roll an Ugly Sweater with the Elements of Design

What started out as a crazy contest for holiday parties, has evolved into a huge seasonal highlight! So, whyugly-sweater not incorporate a little “ugly sweater” into your classroom fun?  Students are always a little hyper, energetic (aka bouncing off the walls) and enthusiastic this time of year anyway, so why not encourage them to put those energies into creating an “ugly sweater”?  The thing is, this activity is actually meant to be somewhat educational, incorporating the elements of design.  However, I’ve taken a few creative liberties with them in order to stay consistent with the theme and the time of the year!  So, give it a try and if you have any suggestions to make it better, please let me know in the comments below.


  • How many of you have an ugly sweater?  What qualifies it as an ugly sweater?  When you hear about people going to an ugly sweater party around the holidays, what type of sweater comes to mind?
  • Optional Activity: Read the TIME article titled “A Brief History of the Ugly Sweater” found here.


  • Dice (enough for one die per person)
  • Markers, colored pencils, glitter, sand, texture stencils, foam paper & shapes, puff paint, yarn, pipe cleaners, etc.
  • Embellishments such as pom-poms, strands of mini craft pearls, buttons, sequins, jewels, etc.
  • Scrap book paper, stickers (regular & 3D)
  • Glue
  • Camera & Printer (optional)


  • Note:  This activity can also be done as a contest within your class.  Students love competition and this one certainly encourages them to be creatively outrageous!  Invite colleagues to judge the ugliest sweater in each class and award an actual “ugly sweater” as a prize! I find some real “uglies” at our local thrift stores for minimal dollars!  You could also have students take a selfie and print out their “heads” and glue them to the neck of the sweater like they’re actually wearing it and then display them outside your room for holiday fun!  I’ve included several versions of sweater templates to choose from depending how you want to do this activity.  I also encourage students to bring in craft supplies from home especially if they are into scrap booking or crafting.
  • Pass out one die per person along with a marker and guide sheet.
  • Students roll the die and circle the corresponding element for that number for each round.  There are 5 rounds total.  I have them circle in marker so they can’t change along the way.  The randomness of each roll allows for true uniqueness for each sweater.  For the color round, students may choose the base color to start with and then incorporate it into the color scheme.  I encourage holiday colors, but it’s up to each student.
  • I encourage students to bring items from home to include in this activity, but I also open up my stash for them to use as well.  I’m always on the look out for unique, fun embellishments.  Again, my local thrift store sells these for a dime a bag.
  • I also encourage students to really think about and plan out this sweater before actually adding marker or gluing embellishments.  I encourage them to sketch it in pencil first and then when satisfied, they can add the color, texture, embellishments, etc.  They really need to think sequentially when doing this project.
  • When the sweaters are finished, invite colleagues in to judge for the ugliest sweater in the class! Hang outside your classroom for some interesting conversation and holiday fun!


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