The holidays will soon be here! We thought you might be looking for a few extra activities at this time of year to do with your toddler. Here are some of our favourites with a Christmas twist!
(toddlers who are in the stage from taking steps to running):
What’s hiding in there? – If you receive a parcel with shredded paper inside to protect the contents, keep the box and the paper. Alternately you can shred your paper – get your traveller to help you tear the paper (an old phone directory or yellow pages offers soft, easy to tear paper). Now you can hide toys or shapes under the paper in the box and see if your traveller can find them. Encourage him to use his fingers to feel the toys rather than just his eyes to see them. You can hide more than one toy at a time. Around Christmas time you may have a few different boxes and packaging material. You can hide things in the various boxes and even cut up some tinsel into the packaging material to add a Christmas twist to this activity.
“Go fish” – Make a simple fishing rod with a stick, some string and a magnet for a “hook”. The fish can be made from paper, although thicker cardstock will last longer. Print or draw some fish and cut them out. Laminate them (if you’d like this game to last a little longer) and put a small magnet or paper clip on the nose of each fish. Now you’re ready to play “go fish” by placing the fish on the floor and giving the fishing rod to your traveller. Shorter sticks with shorter string are easier to control (you can simply wind some of the string around the end of the stick, to begin with), so start with that and lengthen the string as your traveller gets better at the game. For a Christmas fishing game, you can make some Christmas stars, baubles, trees, etc. for your toddler to “fish”. Let him help you decorate these before you laminate them.
My very own book – As your traveller’s vocabulary expands, it may be useful to keep a book of all his favourite words. Try to use real photographs of family and friends, household objects and toys. Alternately, real pictures from magazines can also be used with success. Stick a few pictures on each page of a hard covered book and allow your traveller to read to you! You can make a Christmas book and add in all the new words and their pictures to help him to practice his Christmas vocabulary!
Housework – It may seem too good to be true, but your little traveller will probably love to help with the housework – sweeping, dusting, wiping, vacuuming and anything else that needs to be done. You can get miniature brooms, dust pans, etc., but they are not necessary. While you sweep, let him use the brush from the dust pan, then swop, and he can have a turn with the big broom while you sweep up the pile of dirt. You can also “make a mess” with paper scraps, plastic beads, etc. so he can sweep and re-sweep the “mess”. At Christmas time there are many opportunities to sweep up (especially after gift opening!), so before you rush to do it all, wait a bit and ask your traveller to help you. If he has had an opportunity to practice this beforehand, it will be easy-peasy for your little helper!
Warning: small parts can be a choking hazard.
(toddlers who are in the stage of running, jumping and leaping):
Sort me, pack me – For this activity you will need a container with divisions in it (e.g. an ice block tray, egg box, pill box or first aid box) and some objects to sort (e.g. small Christmas decorations, beads, sweets, nuts and raisins, Lego blocks, toy bugs, toy soldiers, etc.). Encourage your adventurer to put the same type or colour objects into one division and another type or colour into another division, and so on until all the objects are packed into the container.
Peg play – Let your adventurer peg pegs onto the rim of a bucket or box. Cut t-shirt, pants or sock shapes out of paper and helps him to hang his “teddy’s clothes” on a makeshift washing line. Make it easier for him to peg the “clothes” on the line by using stiff cardboard, pegging one side of each item or folding the tip of the “clothes” over the “line” so that they hang before he has to put a peg on. You could make a “Christmas stocking” for each family member and friend to hang on his line.
Eyedropper painting – Use a medicine dropper or eyedropper and show your adventurer how to squeeze the top to suck up some dye (water and food colouring works well) or thin paint. Then let him squeeze the paint onto thick paper or cardboard. Make different coloured blobs on one side of the paper and then fold the paper to make the wings of a butterfly! This is an excellent way to make Christmas gift tags or cards; you can draw a Christmas tree outline or bauble outline, and your clever adventurer can then decorate them.
Lily pad leaping – Use large leaves or make large cardboard shapes, hand or footprints and lay them out to make a pathway. You could stick them down with re-useable adhesive (e.g. Prestik) or masking tape. Encourage your adventurer to walk from one to the other. As his jumping becomes agiler, he can start to jump from one “lily pad” to the next using both feet at the same time. He can also experiment with jumping like a frog from one “lily pad” or print to the next, using his hands and feet. Try walking backwards or sideways over the prints and try not to touch the floor…pretend that crocodiles might bite your feet if you do! At first lay your “lily pads” in a straight line, then make the pathway change direction, e.g. turn left or right or go in a circle. As your adventurer becomes a jumping expert, challenge him to jump with his feet out (onto two lily pads, positioned slightly apart and next to each other) and then with his feet in (onto two lily pads, positioned close together and next to each other). For a Christmas activity, you could make stars, baubles, trees, crowns, reindeer footprints , etc. for him to jump onto. Let your adventurer help you to decorate these. Covering them with
contact paper or laminating them will help them to last a little longer.
For these and many more fun activities, take a look at our book “Groovy Adventurers Book” and spend many fun-filled hours playing and helping your child to develop strong sensory motor foundations.