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

 

Jingle Bell Experiment Station

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Bells. That signature Santa sound. Literally ringing of reindeer prancing across the sky, its a magical sound. Last year we gave Squirrel a jingle bell shaker toy around Christmas at around 9 months old, and he loved it, and now, at a whopping great big 20 months, when daddy bought him his own box of big, beautiful golden bells, he took one in each hand, looked them over, inspected their shine and stars…
And them shook them hard all over the place like a knee height maniac and melted into giggles and nose scrunching gurns.

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Spheres are all kinds of awesome, and these are like balls that go up to 11. I love jingle bells too, so its my mission to find as many toddler activities as i can to use these bells.

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We are starting here, getting up close to a good shape and getting to know it, beyond the crazed flingful rattling and decorating purposes.

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I laid out a tray with a bunch of containers, tubes and other bits with bells ‘behaving’ in different ways, from hiding to hanging, and let him get on it.

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One thing i have learned in our toddler year so far, is that although actual verbal counting is beyond him at the moment, he knows full well how many there are of certain things, and so will keep looking for individuals until they are all rallied, and these bells are no exception.
He went through each of them, looking attentively at the bell ‘hidden’ under the clear pot, and noticing the convenient little nook on top of the pots, perfect for perching the balls on, and wrestling the hanging bell off of the wooden spoon until he possessed all 6.

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What with harbouring the compulsive need to sort everything into any given receptacle, that was next on his agenda. That tray was just too inviting.

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Then ‘fed’ them to the reindeer for a bit. Seems legit.

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Next up, that bucket. Oh the irresistible sound of jingle bells tossed into a metal bucket.
He went for a little walk with them and the reindeer.

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Then, having noticed that mama had ridiculously neglected to cover the floor in toys that afternoon, he decided it was worth remedying (my hero, right?) and moved everything onto the floor, where he could stretch and play but also reinvent what i had set up for him and explore from new angles. Dropping the bells through the tubes until it was so full it would no longer drop and we could see them at the top.

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We rehid a bunch of them under various pots and played “where’d they go?” for a bit. He loves these games, his new phrase being “there-y’is!”

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We had lots of fun thinking experimentally and getting to know these great seasonal tools for a good half an hour.
I’ve got a few other ideas lined up to use them in up coming activities too!

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This post is for Unit 3. Winter & Christmas.