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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Transferring Leaves & Squirrel Nesting

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The leaves that we collected at the beginning of our unit have dehydrated quite well and now are completely different sensory tools to those that we started with; new colours, new crispiness and new curled structures.

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Equally, the spikes of the chestnut cases have softened enough for me to feel confident that Squirrel couldn’t be harmed by them as he was handling them so gently and mindfully.

IMG_1490editI laid out a blanket on the kitchen floor and surrounded it by different large, open containers. We also included some smaller containers, like the egg box, and also left him the tongs and some paper cups.

IMG_1453editHe sat himself down with no encouragement and got to work transferring all the autumnal treasures from container to container by various means, being gentle as he inspected each leaf, handled them by their stems, cupping them gently and stroking his fingers across the curls of the leaves.

IMG_1464editHe used the cup to try stuffing and scooping.

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When he discovered the conkers, which have been a constant favourite for smaller busy box activities, he went straight to work with the egg box.

IMG_1471editGood gracious, mama, conkers! I do love conkers!

IMG_1476editAs we played with our leaves and bits, we chattered with lots of descriptions and identifications, lots if pointing and plenty of asking via his “that?” gesture, which he uses to ask the name of, sign for or more recently, the colour of! Upholding his favour to anything yellow, he picked out a few yellow leaves, then we played at the word “crunch” as we played at crushing the leaves in our fists. We smoothed the conkers with our fingers as he loaded them into the egg box, and Squirrel enjoyed the ‘moo’ part of smooth!

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Now then, time to make some Squirrel nests! Time to transfer all the lovely leaves into the barrel, while the Squirrels wait patiently on their tray.

IMG_1510editBut first, they needed “din-dins”! Smart kid, knows how treat his critters.

IMG_1513editSquirrel, he loves his squirrels! Even though he knows his nickname has always been Squirrel, its only in this last week he has given it a good try himself! “Sig-aw”! Nawwr. Cutie.

IMG_1494editRight, Sig-aws. Lets get this nest made! Make room on the tray!

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Beautiful! Very happy squirrels indeed, all tucked up in their nest with conkers to snack on. So plenty of great sensory, fine motor, exploring and imaginative play and learning. A lovely long afternoons play.

This post is linked to Unit 2, Autumn & Harvest.