7 Christmas Mini Activities & Tot Trays

7 Christmas Tot Trays and Activities


Christmas is trickling away, and its almost time for me to change over our kitchen set up ready for our new unit, but first I wanted to show you our small collection of busy boxes, mini activities and tot trays that we returned to over and over.


These were ready in a drawer to pull out whenever we needed to fill 10 minutes or so in situations where Squirrel just wasn’t inspired to play independently, where i could guide him through it a few times and then let him putter at it nearby while I did whatever I had to do.


I wasn’t particularly organised this month, and its been a difficult one with my health taking a rather unpleasant turn for the worst, and with my whole being getting used to a new state of Sarah, so calling upon these between our bigger activities was fantastic, even though all of them were pretty much done on the fly!

Cookie Cutter Transferring & Sequencing

I love these sets of cookie cutters that come in a pack of size variations, all packed within each other. I love these vintage drop bauble shapes that I picked up a while back (I have a bit of a christmas cookie cutter ‘problem’; they’re my precious…Ahem) and I thought they would go down a treat with Squirrel as hes taken some interest in sequences and size ordering – boy was I right!


Naturally, the glass pebbles were initially the most exciting, and he enjoyed making different transfer patterns, first some into this shape, then from that shape into the next size down, etc.


He discovered they fitted together, and spent time playing at finding the right order.


You can see through them, and hold them together inside each other! Maaaan!



Colour In Nativity Play Dough

I’ve written another post on festive play dough activities but I decided to pop this one over here, as there was a process of creation involved. These lovely illustrations were downloaded and printed from a pack from Twinkl and we all loved them.


We had a few days on and off with colouring when we had a chance to, given that Squirrel isn’t really a colouring kinda guy.


Both Squirrels daddy and I joined in too! A family nativity!

When it was all finished, I laminated them and cut them out. Bish bash bosh, we have very simple but very customised playdough nativity! Just add stable-likely animals- don’t forget the donkey!


We loved revising over the different names- Jesus, Mary, Joseph, shepherds, wise men and stable as we played, going back to our nativity books and reading it through again.


They never got put away- instead they live on our kitchen wall where they are blutac’d and can be moved around, played with and recognised.






Pop-em-ins is my term for micro-transferring, which, once again, is my term for basically using small counters and assorted pockets or containers. We’re using pincer grips and practicing some serious dexterity and fine motor here! I used a kraft card envelope, a little organza bag and a Christmas mitten decoration among other cute little seasonal nooks and pockets.



Wrapping Paper & Counters

Wrapping paper scraps are perfect for all sorts of visual tracking activities, and for playing with counters. I used coloured pegs, glow in the dark stars, glass pebbles and mini pegs for a lot of these activities- and they were great tools for wrapping paper activities.


For big, more physically extending activities, I taped the sheets of paper to the floor, and gave him demonstrations of matching up stars to the big snowflakes, and coloured pegs to the coloured mittens on the other paper.


It was deeply interesting playing this with Squirrel, as he formed his own logic behind very particular placements on the paper. Between swishing off all the counters and collecting them back up again, of course.


I cut a small scrap and laminated it- perfect for the high chair!



On the reverse side it was free from patterns, but it did have faint lines, and that was enough for a while new game using the counters- recognising and creating lines!

Pom Pom Bauble Colour Match


These baubles were a very simple colouring page print out that was in a pack of colouring sheets from Twinkl, and quite accidentally, this pom pom colour match became a game, so I laminated that too!

Rainbow Of Reindeer

Between other colouring ventures, we would go back and colour our multiple print outs of reindeer. Squirrel loves reindeer; calling “dayy-dee-yah” whenever he spotted a decoration featuring one, or in a book, movie or passing any other form. So we decided to use them as our colour focus.


I lead him through most of the colouring, as he isn’t a massive fan, so I try to invite it as a terribly excited event. I would ask him to specifically colour a body area, and we would practice those words too, “Can you colour the reindeer’s head?” and also doing a spot of colouring alongside him to encourage him.


These were supposed to get laminated and cut out too, and then adapted with either magnets or velcro, and the plan was to have a scene prepared with which he could do some rooftop imaginative play. That didn’t happen. But they did look adorable around our blackboard!



I grabbed these from a carboot sale, completely untouched, but I’ve seen them around all over the place this season, lots of variations of home crafts for kids, including this non toxic ink and stampers set. Squirrel and I had great fun just mindlessly stamping over page after page!



I did actually end up laminating the sheets and cutting these into gift tags, using candy cane striped cord to compliment them.


So all in all, we had a lovely Christmas, made some beautiful crafts which we gave as gifts, learned some wonderful words and saw magical things. We also fizzed our brains as we went, too!



This post is part of Unit 3. Winter & Christmas



Shrinkie Plastic Scribble Charms

Shrinkie Plastic Scribble Charm Gift


Scribbling is satisfying. It just is! Just grabbing a pen and letting all the loopy out in whatever shade you like is nothing less that completely therapeutic, for both children and adults. Try it, it is entirely liberating!



What with being 21 months old, and with a new favourite colour every week (FYI, it is red right now, I know, terribly festive) Squirrel gets fired up at the very sight of his pens, and I swear he cracks his knuckles in a showdown type manner, ready to scribble the scribbies right out of him.
Such passion.

So, harnessing it is totally a thing for us. Wrapping paper, cut outs for cards, whatever the occasion, we scribble and make it work. So when I saw this activity from Rust & Sunshine I figured we could have scribbley fun in a keepsake gift form. I “ooh’d” outloud. Yep.

scribble charm list



I ordered my shrinky plastic, I have to admit, its been so long since I used it, I expected to just go straight at it with felt tips. I was apparently wrong. Thats a nono, with the brand I ordered anyway.

So, as it just so happened that I had 2 sharpies in teal and blue, I reluctantly decided to let Squirrel have a shot with them, because I was in a I’m-not-wasting-money-on-flipping-shrinky-paper mood.



I was on him like a hawk. A big, hovering squawky hawky. He was completely unphased by my flapping and created some glorious scribbles on this mysterious transparent stuff! Scribbling aside, the shrinky plastic rocked his world for 10 whole minutes, lifting it up and looking through it AND his scribbles, flapping it around his head and experimented pressing his hand against it and then moving it with the other, as if it were moving independently. Mind blown, man.




That being said, I figured we would give the other pens a shot…




Nope. Thats a nu-uh. Oh well. It pooled, lesson learned.

So, with Squirrel keeping an eye as I cut them into large rectangles, curving the edges and hole punching them once each to create a place to thread them, we layered them out on a tray, and Squirrel and I watched through the oven as they curled up and shrunk!

I’m not going to lie, I was a bit more excited than he was, but still! We looked at the itty bitty ones compared to some unheated cut pieces and he felt the differences in their thickness and size, acknowledging the interaction with the oven, pointing at it saying “innn deeeer!” while holding them.



That is where Squirrels part in this activity came to an end, the rest was all me, but it didn’t take long, and these are going to make sweet little keepsakes for his family, so it was a lovely craft to do together with some great scientific observation thrown in too!



I raided my beading box, one container among the vaguely organised shelves and shelves of hoarded craft material and tools, and found bits and beads that would work, and in the right colours too! These are all easily purchased from craft and bead shops, and I daresay there is a world of choices online too.



I looped split rings into each of them, threading on several small colour matched beads, then a flat headed bead pin with a thread of white beads, and plied a loop into the split ring too. Jolly sweet.

I followed that by taking lengths of fine chain, threading them through and rejoining them with size matched split rings, and there we suddenly had a collection of hangable scribble charms, beautiful gifts for the family from Squirrel in the small gift packs that we are working on together.



These are so versatile too, they could easily be threaded onto full necklace chains, made into wind chimes (an activity I’m hoping to do in the Spring!), keyrings, you name it. We are very pleased with our charming little scribble pendants!



This post is part of Unit 3. Winter & Christmas.