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



3 Activities Using Christmas Cards


You get to December and suddenly post gets interesting. Even at 28, i get a Christmas card buzz. I know its less joyful for some, and more of a chore, but for me there is something quite lovely about sitting back with a list and my address book, popping on a festive movie and writing til my hands hurt (with my bad hands, thats not long; it’s total fluke if you receive a card from me which is remotely legible) and working my way through them.

Then receiving them is a little joy too! It seems that i have passed it onto Squirrel who hears the post and runs to get them and brings them over to us, so we can open them together, excited to spot which classic Christmas elements are on the cards, and to see which friends and family members are thinking of us in return.


When the day came that we had a few too many for our shelf, I gathered them together in a small box i had hanging around, and punched holes in them to thread them with so i could hang them.
Naturally, it was a matter of seconds before Squirrel was tangled up and involved.
His refreshed interest in our card collection was adorable, so we sat together and inspected them and played for a long while, and that is when these activities were born! We now keep all the cards and some ribbon (with the hole punch nearby) in the little box where we can add to them as they arrive, and where Squirrel can get them whenever he wants to play with them. Sure, they’re not displayed, but i personally feel this is a perfect use for them.


Festive Flash Cards

Squirrel loves going through the cards and practicing his new words and visual association with me. Not necessarily flash cards, but sort of. Ish. Well, it’s how we use his other picture flashcards! We love playing “What is this?” and also “Can you find a…” with them.


He loves pointing out anything he recognises on the cards, then finding more robins/reindeer/snowmen/Santas in the card collection.

Fine Motor Threading


Originally i was threading them onto some cute red velvet ribbon to drape across the wall, and Squirrel found me while i was threading them on, and immediately wanted in on the fun!


Pulling them through and following the length around and collecting his beautiful cards so that they flap when he moves the ribbon… Good gracious, such fun!


Size Sorting & Transferring


Well, a box is a magical thing. Ask any toddler or cat. Squirrel loves transferring in containers and recently showed us recognition of ‘big’ and ‘little’ and also ‘TOO big’ and ‘TOO little’, and this lead on fantastically.


This is, once again, a Leo-discovered game. He started filing them away, apparently sorting them somehow into some piles, before transferring them to the box. He discovered that some were just simply a bit too big, and with a little guidance, we experimented standing them up instead, and then of course, we had a little challenge on our hands, as once one was standing, he couldn’t get any little ones in!


He soon learned which ones were too big by recognition, using his words ‘beeeek!’ when ever he identified one that had previously had to be saved til the end to stand up. Then would resume counting the other smaller ones in. “Un”, “Oo”, “Theee”, “Dooor”, etc, repeating by tipping them out again once finished for another go.

There we have it! Let no Christmas card be wasted if your mantle becomes over crowded when they can become a new world of discovery for your tot!

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


Linked to and featured on 1+1+1=1 with the Tot School Gathering Place Link Up.