As a Christmas display, I have a pretty red tray filled with different color ball ornaments. Last year I decided to purchase some cheap plastic ones both so J could help hang some on our tree (without the stress that he would break one) and so he could play with them throughout Christmas. A side benefit is they have become a good learning too for J.
What you need: a variety of of colorful ornaments, the more you have of each color/type the more patterns possible. (I found packages of 12 for $1 at the dollar store).
I used the ornaments to set up a pattern for J to continue. We started with colors, then added textures to the patterns (glittery, shiny, smooth, and bumpy). I also had J come up with his own patterns for me to continue. This adds another level of difficulty to the activity.
You could include other fun ornaments in your patterns too, candy canes, angels, bells,… there are so many options available! Or just look around at the Christmas decor you have in your home. What can be used for a little pattern practice? I’m sure you can find something!
Age attempted: 31 months
We played this fun and simple game and ever since J has been bringing me the stocking and asking to play again.
How to Play: Gather a group of items from around the house with different shapes, textures, and purpose. Older children could handle more suddle differences in the objects. Keep them hidden from sight. Place one item in a Christmas stocking and have your little one feel inside and make a guess at what the item is. I encouraged J to describe the item as he felt it to help him make an educated guess.
This is so simple, no reason not to try it! With older kids you could even make this a game you play on Christmas morning. Younger ones might have a hard time with guessing items they’ve haven’t seen yet.
This is great for exploring textures, using simple deductive reasoning, and practicing descriptive words.
Last night we reversed rolls. He hid things inside and brought me the stocking to make a guess. It actually worked great while I was cooking. It kept him well occupied. Every few minutes I heard, “Mommy no peeking! Just look!” (What he meant was, “no peeking, just feel”). Of course it took him awhile to realize he should let me make a guess before he told me what it was. He was just so excited!
Age attempted: 31 months (certainly can be done earlier!)
**I’m even categorizing this as a good travel activity since a similar version could easily be done in the car or on a plane. Just use a bag or the seat-back pocket on the plane.
Posted in Age Range, Christmas, Early Preschool (3-4 years), Early Toddler (18-24 months), Games, Holidays and Seasons, Homemade Games, Preschool (4-5 years), Science, Textures, Toddler (2-3 years), Travel Activities
We’ve all probably seen little ones busy at play on Christmas morning, usually with an empty box or crumpled tissue paper, while the $30 gift sits alone in the corner. Especially when they’re young. there’s no need to break a budget for Christmas. Here’s some of J’s best homemade toys and games from birth to his current 2.5 years. None of these are difficult to make and they have all provided him with a TON of playtime and learning time. If you’re looking for a little something extra to include under the tree for your little ones, these just might work! Include just one homemade gift or put together an entire busy box like these.
Baby & Pre-Toddler (6-18 months)
Family Board Books
Family Photo Cards
Pipe Cleaner in a Bottle
Early Toddler (18-24 months)
Pipe Cleaners in a Bottle
Pushing Puff Balls
Sponge Jewelry (aka Stringing Sponges)
Matching Boards or this
Toddler (2-3 years)
Color (and Number) Wheel
You can also check out the category link Homemade Toys or Homemade Games for other suggestions.
And remember, they don’t need fancy. In fact at this age, they will most likely not notice at all if you spent tons of time making the homemade toys “cute”. At these ages, they’re all about function and entertainment!
This time I included my Christmas Activity Index as a new page. Click on the link in the header to see the fun activities I’ve found and want to try to incorporate this season. I describe more in detail how I’ve used my indexes here (present) and here (past) for those looking for planning tips.
I’ll probably be adding to the list over the next few days and have already decided some of the activities can wait for January since they aren’t specific to Christmas (and we definitely won’t have time to complete them all in the next few weeks!).
I plan to save my actual posts for describing activities I’ve personally tried with J.
I hope the index helps others too!
My grandparents are always telling me that really all they want for birthdays or Mother’s day are lots of pictures to show off. So this year, J made a photo-filled birthday card for his great-grandma. This would be a great art project for toddlers to give at Christmas time.
All you really need is a stack of ziploc bags, photos and a stapler and/or duct tape. To make this activity last longer, I added construction paper and various art supplies to the materials. I set out the materials and J chose how to decorate each page (stamps, stickers, dot markers, crayons, rolling stamps, … hmmm that’s all I remember). He then chose which picture he wanted to place with each page and placed both his art piece and his photo into the ziploc bag. I stapled all the opened end of the bags together and covered it with fun green duct tape.
Older kids could write their own story, draw their own pictures and give their first published piece to grandpa or grandma.
Age attempted: 29 months
Posted in Arts and Crafts, Birthday, Christmas, Early Preschool (3-4 years), Early Toddler (18-24 months), Family, Father's Day, Holidays and Seasons, Homemade Cards, Mother's Day, Preschool (4-5 years), Subject, Toddler (2-3 years), Uncategorized
J made these Christmas tree cards to include in our shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. I precut the trees then he lined them up according to size and glued them onto the paper like a puzzle. (I sneak in some learning whenever possible!) He glued the different jewels on for decoration, added a star sticker and trunk and was finished. I thought they turned out pretty cute.
Age attempted: 30 months
We dropped off our shoeboxes today. Look at the excitement on J’s face when we were ready to load them in the car and give them away!
You have until Monday, November 22th to drop off your box. No worries, you have plenty of time! You can find a drop off location near you by typing in your zip code here. If you haven’t started but would like to get your little ones involved, you have time! It really doesn’t take long to put them together, even on toddler time.
If you haven’t heard about this great opportunity to teach your little one the blessing of giving, check out my other posts here and here. Or check out Operation Christmas Child’s website.
Posted in Age Range, Childhood (5+ years), Christmas, Early Preschool (3-4 years), Early Toddler (18-24 months), Heart of Giving, Holidays and Seasons, Life Skills, Pre-Toddler (12-18 months), Preschool (4-5 years), Toddler (2-3 years)
I thought I’d share something that I’m giving my 4 year old nephew for his birthday busy box. He loves to cook, so I thought we’d start helping him work through simple (VERY simple) recipes on his own. Many of the recipes involve no actual cooking, focusing on just the basic skills of working in a kitchen (ingredients, measurements, and following steps). They are recipes that preschoolers would enjoy eating as much as they enjoy ”cooking”. I included pictures to go along with most steps to help a non-reader out.
I’m going to try to do one of the easier ones with J pretty soon. I already have some modifications in mind to make it even easier for younger ones, but I do think these will work well in their current state.
Here’s the entire set of cards. My First Recipe Cards
To prepare them, I printed them on cardstock. I then cut along the horizontal line and folded along the vertical one to create a front and back for each card. I then hole punched along the left side of the cards (the open side) and used two small binder rings to combine the cards together.
Add some measuring spoons, cups, mixing spoons, a hat and apron and laminate these great toddler/preschool food charts as a placemat and you have an easy gift for birthday or Christmas. If their interest continues, you could easily add a few recipes to their collection each year.
If you try it out, I’d love to hear how it goes!
Posted in Age Range, Birthday, Christmas, Counting, Early Preschool (3-4 years), Holidays and Seasons, Homemade Games, Life Skills, Math, Measuring, My Little Chef, Preschool (4-5 years), Science, Subject
Tagged Cooking, Homemade Games
I wanted to post about our experience filling boxes for Operation Christmas Child. This really was a perfect way to help my 2 year old understand the concept of giving. See this post if you want to know more about the opportunity to give!
We made filling shoeboxes a family event with my husband, J and myself, starting by watching the videos I mentioned in the last post. Veggietales’ Operation Christmas Child
is 3 minutes long and “Give This Christmas Away”
is almost 5 minutes. They are great videos to help show the concept of Operation Christmas Child to little ones.
We talked about how happy the children were when they opened their boxes and how happy the children that made the boxes were. Basically we got him excited about filling a shoebox with goodies for a little girl/boy somewhere in the world, focusing on how it would make that child feel. We talked about what type of things we should put in the boxes and had him come up with a few things on his own (cars and balls!). Print off this list of items to consider from Operation Christmas Child to help.
We pulled out our shoeboxes and pointed out that they were empty! We needed to fill them with fun things for little boys and girls.
SHOPPING: We all piled into the car with J holding his empty shoebox, ready
J is ready to fill his shoebox!
to fill it up! For younger ones, I would really suggest bringing the empty shoebox to the store with you. This really helped J focus while we were shopping. We went down the aisles to look for things little boys and girls could use. He never once forgot the purpose of our visit. Each time we pulled something off the shelf, he placed it in the shoebox. It was fun to watch the shoebox fill up!
PACKING: Since we were technically shopping for 3 boxes we had some more packing to do at home. I spread out all the loot we brought home from the store (the following afternoon) and layed out our three wrapped boxes. I could hand J 3 sets of crayons and he would sort them into the different boxes. We made this an event too, letting him choose which boy would get the grey and white socks and which would get the blue and white ones, …
ABOUT US: OCC has a fun worksheet that allows you to share a little about yourself to the little one that will receive the box. J helped answer the questions and glued a picture of himself onto each one. Finally, he helped place the labels on each box and they now sit ready to deliver next week! **Remember if you want to follow your box, you’ll need the barcoded labels found here. **
Your Turn! You still have time to put together your own shoebox of goodies! I was reminded of this event last Thursday and we had it completed by Sunday with no rushing and lots of fun. You don’t have to mail the boxes yourself, just drop them off. Click here to find your nearest drop off location. You can drop off your shoebox between November 15-22. Plenty of time to join in!
Posted in Age Range, Bible, Childhood (5+ years), Christmas, Early Preschool (3-4 years), Early Toddler (18-24 months), Heart of Giving, Holidays and Seasons, Life Skills, Pre-Toddler (12-18 months), Preschool (4-5 years), Subject, Toddler (2-3 years)
I am so excited about this! I first heard about Operation Christmas Child last year through a Veggietales video. Of course I didn’t find out about it until the after the deadline to drop off boxes. This year I won’t miss it! I think it is so important to teach J a heart of giving. That takes putting it into practice.
So this year we will be organizing some shoeboxes full of goodies for little boys and girls around the world. I plan to do something similar to what Amanda described here on Impress Your Kids (a WONDERFUL site by the way!!)
Since J is so young, I first plan to show him this video: Veggie Tales Operation Christmas Child story. I originally saw this on the St. Nicholas Veggietales video.
We’ll talk about the act of giving, make a list of fun things to give other little boys and girls and GO SHOPPING! I’ll be sure to share how everything goes once we’ve packed our boxes, but I wanted to get this info out in case others would like to join us! The week to drop off boxes is November 15-22, 2010. Don’t miss out like I did last year! If you go to Operation Christmas Child you will find all the info you need, including where the drop off locations are for your area. This is something everyone in the family can get involved in!
ETA: I wanted to mention that they even give you the opportunity to track your box. You can a barcode online to attach to your box to determine it’s final location. This is a great way to incorporate a little geography and culture to the project! This page tells more about their tracking process.
To add to the links for you to check out, please take time to listen to this song, Give This Christmas Away. It will touch your heart and inspire you to find all sorts of ways to give this year.
Posted in Age Range, Babyhood (6-12 months), Bible, Childhood (5+ years), Christmas, Early Preschool (3-4 years), Early Toddler (18-24 months), Heart of Giving, Holidays and Seasons, Life Skills, Pre-Toddler (12-18 months), Preschool (4-5 years), Subject, Toddler (2-3 years)
Tagged Bible, Life Skills