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



Gruffalo Fortnight


We have enjoyed such wonderful Autumn walks over the past week, and there is nothing like holding my little ones hand, kicking leaves and hearing the calm echoes in my mind of the those beautiful words “A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood…”



When I was planning the Autumn and Harvest unit I knew that The Gruffalo would be very much incorporated and enjoyed. So when I found some great resources on Twinkl, I knew I had the foundations of a lovely collection of activities both at home and outdoors.


Squirrel and I have enjoyed reading our book, and took it on our mini break to Cornwall with us to read together with my sister and mum, curled up in our caravan during the blustery evenings.


We also took this fantastic matching game away with us, and have been going at it over and over in different methods. I will often set it up for him, so he can match them himself with a little encouragement from me.


We used the cards like little flashcards to practice words including ‘nut’, ‘wood logs’, ‘rock’ and ‘tree’ as well as all the animals. We also played bingo with them in the caravan with mum and my sister, really making use of the two mats, and getting Squirrel used to taking turns, group participation and card allocation and selfless play.


He really got into colouring!


We used our dyed rice with these super laminated printed character cut outs and other autumnal treasures for our sensory small world play!



We made, ate and played with our yumsome and slippery green Scrambled Snake (homemade broccoli and cheese soup with spaghetti!)



We are also blessed to have one of the Forestry Commission Gruffalo Trails very close to us up at Haldon Forest, and we wrapped up warm with a friend and her gorgeous sons to find us some characters and investigate beautiful woodland life.




As well as our great walk on the Gruffalo trail, we spent some time watching documentaries on foxes and owls, and visited the owls up at World Of Country Life.


We have had the opportunity to see them in flight several times as well as meet them and their hawk friends up close, but this time we had a good time waving and hooting from outside their cages. Squirrel just adores them!



Squirrel loved this guy best, and spent a long while hooting with him.


This guy stole my heart!

Try as i might, apparently Squirrel isn’t yet vocally ready to verbalise ‘Owl Ice Cream’!


The very first soft toy that my sweet husband bought our Squirrel after he was born, bringing him to the hospital to keep him company while he nursed and dozed, was a Gruffalo, and he still loves it. We cuddle together and watched the television production with his little Gruffalo and the squirrels, and let it sweep over us in all its gentleness.


This post is part of Unit 2. Autumn & Harvest.