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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

 

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“Pop-’em-in”s

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

 

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

Stamping 

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!

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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!

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This post is part of Unit 3. Winter & Christmas

 

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Autumn & Harvest Unit Round Up

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Rich colours, kicking leaves, muddy wellies, howling winds, hooting owls, foraging for nuts, throwing sycamore seeds, slow cooked stews, corn reaching for the sky, pumpkins on every doorstep, chilly breezes and snuggling under blankets.
We loved Autumn.

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I spread this unit over a long period, just about 2 months, and considering i have been in increasingly poorer and poorer health, and have encountered other challenges, plus a lovely short holiday away, i think we have maintained relatively good flow.

I will break down what we have involved in this unit in blocks of content types so its a little easier to navigate the mass!

KEY SPEECH AND VISUAL RECOGNITION

Squirrel learned to recognise and/or say/sign LEAF, TREE, PUMPKIN, CORN, WOOD, TOADSTOOL, NUT, COLD, CONKER, OWL, FOX, SQUIRREL, OTTER, RABBIT, BROWN, RED, GREEN, PURPLE, BLUE, YELLOW, BROCCOLI, CARROT.

 

BOOKS
We enjoyed these superb books alongside our theme, encouraging words spoken and visual recognition of the various animals and objects that are so heavily repeated through Autumnal activities. I meant to get hold of The Scarecrows Wedding but I never got around to you. Bah.

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We had a great fortnight dedicated to The Gruffalo, which you can read about in its separate round up, which involved a Gruffalo Hunt, Scrambled Snake Sensory & Lunch and a magnificently exciting Gruffalo Small World.

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TV TIME

We also enjoyed relaxing with lots of youtube videos of documentaries on squirrels, foxes, deer and owls, while also watching BBCs Autumnwatch, which follows nature in Britain live over a week- we love it!

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BUSY BOY TRAYS

Our busy boy trays, those activities that are easy to whip out to fill moments in need regularly while maintaining our theme for some learning consistency went down very well.

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We laminated some leaves and created a collection of activities using them including CRAYON LEAF RUBBING, THREADING, COLOUR MATCHING, LIGHT BOX WINDOW OBSERVATION and CHALK TEMPLATING.
You can explore them further here.

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We also enjoyed sorting conkers into variously spaced trays with tools and fingers.

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Playdough Time!

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Playing with felt vegetables with various tools and containers.

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Squirrel really enjoyed THREADING and SORTING these cute little leaf buttons!

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I made him a ‘Fiddle Stick’ which was two tough sticks wound together with twine; Squirrel would spend handsy time unraveling and twisting the twine together, great LOGIC and FINE MOTOR practice.

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We would occasionally turn our lunch into leaves!

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And a spot of delicious creature dress up and role play!

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BIG ACTIVITIES

We thoroughly loved painting with vegetables out in the sunshine. We turned our painting into apple bunting for our display at home and our friends Sukkot Party.

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We made Squirrel Soup! Imaginative play and sensory mess turned up to 11!

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Transferring leaves! Such crunchy, interesting sensations! Plus we made beautiful Squirrel nests!

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Bubblewrap Corn! Awesome, am i right?

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We experimented with finding and RECOGNISING AND MAKING LINES in the garden with foraged things.

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We explored and deconstructed ears of corn, most exciting!

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Harvest Produce freestyle play was so great; he explored so thoroughly and did such unexpected and brilliant things with it all!

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Pumpkin Deconstruction was a squishy, sensory, seedy adventure, where Squirrel loved sorting the seeds and sniffing!

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We made this beautiful Pumpkin Orb and Leaf Crown!

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VISITS

We spent as much time out and about as my poorly legs could manage, walking in the woods, watching sunsets, visiting owls and deer at the local farm and falconry attraction, farm shops with harvest festivals, foraging marvelous things, playing with natures offerings, puddle jumping and getting pretty muddy indeed!

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Of our various visits and walks I covered our Farm Shop trip.

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I hope you are enjoying your beautiful Autumn as much as we are!