Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

With Easter just one week away, I wanted to put together some Easter activities for Alexander (age 2 years, 9 months). I looked around online, through Google images, Instagram, and mostly just in my own head. Finally I came up with more than 15 different ideas that are Easter-themed but also have a learning aspect. I wasn’t able to use all of them because (a) I ran out of eggs! and (b) I ran out of space on my schoolroom shelves.

In a post later this week, I’ll share a few more Easter things:

  • Breakfast and Lunch (served in eggs, in an egg carton… I’ll repurpose eggs for that!)
  • What’s in Alexander’s Easter basket
  • Some ideas for egg hunts for toddlers

Here are 15 Montessori-inspired Easter activities for toddlers. I’ve got some links along with each picture and description if you’re interested in buying the products to do it yourself. If you use that link to buy something, it doesn’t cost you anything extra; but I get a tiny bit of commission from Amazon, which helps me fund future projects and activities.

Sound Matching Eggs

This is a great sensory activity that involves hearing, which isn’t always an easy sense to work with. In each pink/green pair of Easter eggs
, there’s a different object. For example, one pair has a little bit of rice. When you shake the egg, you hear the sound of the rice inside. So the object of this activity is to shake each pink egg and find a green egg that sounds the same. Here are the things I put inside my 6 pairs:

  1. about 1 teaspoon of rice per egg (I taped over the holes, on the inside of the egg)
  2. about 1 teaspoon of instant oats per egg (I taped over the holes as well)
  3. 2 tiny pom poms per egg
  4. 1 tiny plastic turtle per egg
  5. 1 small crumpled piece of paper per egg
  6. 2 rubber erasers per egg

The sounds are distinctive enough but can still be confusing for a toddler. The rice and oats are similar. The felt balls are nearly silent, as is the crumpled piece of paper. And the plastic turtle and erasers sound a bit similar.

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Double Digit Number Matching (10-19 only)

This idea is fairly simple and can be used for lots of things. I took the numbers 10-19, since they all started with the number 1, and I put one number on each half of an egg. So 1 and 2 make twelve, for example. I put all of the egg halves into a bowl along side some tracing cards. He will pick a card, then find the halves that go together to make that number. NOTE: You’ll want to use more than just a regular Sharpie (or you can paint over the Sharpie with some clear fingernail polish); otherwise it will rub off. I used this Sharpie Pro.

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Count and Match

For this activity, I used jumbo Easter eggs. Inside each egg, I placed 1-9 little rabbit erasers. I found a cardboard egg container that was going to be thrown away, and I cut it down to a 3×3 grid. I labeled it with the numbers 1-9. Alexander’s task is to open each egg, count the erasers, close the egg, then place the egg in the corresponding hole.

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

NOTE: All of my bowls, I found for under $2.00 at the local thrift store (Goodwill specifically).

Upper and Lowercase Letter Matching

The image below shows most of the activity but not all. All together, there are 52 egg halves that can be matched! In order to make it not so overwhelming, I simply separated these by color. Now, a bigger challenge would have been to swap all the colors around, but I decided to keep the colors the same (for the top and bottom halves). On the top half, I wrote the uppercase letter, and on the bottom half, I wrote the lowercase. Alexander’s task will be to find the matching letters and combine the egg halves.

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Open and Empty

This was easy! I took some of the tiny pom poms and put them inside of some eggs. He just has to open the eggs and dump out the pom poms. (I got this idea from Busy Toddler!)

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Melty Bead Kit

I bought this from Hobby Lobby, and all I did was put the beads in a little bowl next to the egg shape. This is a great practice for fine motor skills. There are a TON of beads, though, and I’m not sure if I want to leave them all out for him or just have about 20-30 at a time. I can imagine a lot of little beads all over the floor… Anyway, he’ll create a pattern, and I’ll heat the final product to set it. This can be done and redone, using the egg shape as the base. It should make a pretty little activity!

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Window Clings

Window clings are simply stuck to a window. But in order to get to the cling, you have to first peel off the front and back plastic layers! So Alexander will have to peel open each cling, then press it to the window.

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Carrot Patch

This was a super simple little craft. I saw it somewhere, a little while back, and had to recreate it myself. When I saw it there were no instructions, so I did my best! I used orange and green pipe cleaners plus half of an empty egg carton.

  1. Trim the egg carton so that when you turn it upside down, it lays flat.
  2. Poke holes in the tops (the bottoms, really) of each little cup. I just used a pair of scissors to stab it into an X shape.
  3. Cut two orange pipe cleaners and two green pipe cleaners into 3 equal segments each.
  4. Fold one orange piece in half and twist the ends shut. The twisted part becomes the bottom of the carrot.
  5. Thread one green piece through the top of the carrot and twist to secure it.
  6. Take the loose ends of the green piece and fold them toward the orange, to create two leaves.
  7. Shove each carrot through an X-shaped hole.

The task here is to simply tug on the carrot and pull it. I made some carrots a little fatter than others so that they’d be a little tougher to pull out. And once finished, push them back in!

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Flower Arranging

This is a classic Montessori practical life activity. I really should have fresh flowers and water and a watering pitcher and all that. I do want to do that in the future, but for today, for this week, for this theme, it was easier to opt for the fake ones. I found 3 little bouquets of flowers at the Dollar Tree (for $1 per bunch). I cut off each individual stem (they were connected). THAT was a task… if you have some wire cutters, it will be easy. If you do not have wire cutters (like me) it will be more tricky! I used scissors, clamped them shut, and just twisted each stem around and around about 10 times. Then I released the scissors, bent the stem back and forth a few more times, and it finally broke off. It took about 10 minutes to cut all the individual stems.

I stuck some of the flowers into a mason jar, and I placed some extras next to the jar. I’ll show Alexander that this is what a bouquet looks like and ask him to make an arrangement for himself. There are 3 colors of flowers. I anticipate that he’ll put all 3 colors together, but he may choose to stick to just one color for his arrangement.

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Pom Pom Color Sorting

Here are those pom poms again! And I used a divided tray that I found for $1 at the Dollar Tree. Here’s a set of them, though, if you just want to get some for future sorting practice (but if you have a Dollar Tree, check there first since it’s cheaper!). I put 4 colors of pom poms in the center, and Alexander simply has to separate the 4 colors into the 4 sections. This isn’t totally Easter-related, but I didn’t have any more tiny Easter-y things! You can use small crosses, or rabbits, or chicks, or eggs. The pom poms are Spring-y, at least.

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Tweezer Practice

I found these felt egg pouches at Target and these tiny colorful chicks from Hobby Lobby. I matched up the colors, placed the chicks inside the matching egg pouch, and I put a set of tweezers inside the 4th egg pouch.

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

DIY Nesting Eggs

I found a giant egg filled with jumbo eggs, at Target. I had some regular sized eggs, but I bought more regular eggs as well as some miniature eggs at the dollar store. I matched colors to make 4 sets of nested eggs! I placed them inside of the base of the giant egg.

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Simple Egg Puzzle

I was really excited about this idea. If we had a router, I would have cut these from a thin piece of wood, sanded them, and stained them. But alas, I used scissors and heavy card stock. I cut 5 eggs to be the same size. Then I cut them in half in 5 different ways. Alexander simply has to match them. If it proves to be way too easy, I’ll make a new set that is a variety of similar jagged cuts.

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Tong Practice

I saw these bunny tongs at Hobby Lobby. They are perfect for picking up the tiny eggs!

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Easter Stickers!

Stickers are good for fine motor skills! I make it a little easier by peeling away everything but the stickers.

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

OUR SETUP

Since I came up with more than I expected, I’ll leave these trays available for two weeks instead of just one. I found some bunnies that I put in our frames for the time being.

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers


What About the Meaning of Easter?

We are Christian. And I do have a few crafts related to the Easter story planned. One big project I hope to finish this week is a children’s book of the Easter story that is in the style (of writing and illustration) of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I have the text written. I just need to work on the simple illustrations and put it all together!


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St Patrick’s Day Activities for Toddlers

St Patrick's Day Activities for Toddlers

I should really start thinking of these ideas BEFORE I want to do them. I’ve been staying up until midnight recently, just racking my brain for ideas for the NEXT day. Seriously. I need to work on this!

Anyway, as usual, I peruse Instagram and (sometimes) Pinterest and Google images, then I take what I see and make it work for Alexander. Sometimes I take an idea and just totally copy it, but I usually tweak it so that it works for us. He likes certain things, so I want to cater to them, to help him grow and stay engaged.

For this St Patrick’s Day, Alexander is 2 years 9 months. Here are the ideas we used this year:

1. From Busy Toddler (busytoddler.com and also on Instagram), rainbow rice. To make this, I poured 1/2 cup of plain white rice into each of 6 small plastic bags. Then I squeeze 4 drops of food coloring in each bag. In one bag, it was 4 red drops. In the second bag, it was 2 red, 2 yellow to make orange. Then 4 yellow, 4 green, 4 blue, and 2 red+2 blue. Alexander and I took turns shaking the bags vigorously, to dye all of the rice. I poured each bag, carefully, into a large metal tray, to create a rainbow. I set it by a window, in the sun, to dry for an hour or so. Then I offered Alexander several types of spoons to practice scooping! Afterward, he helped me by using a measuring cup to scoop the rice and pour it into a bag, to use again another day.

St Patrick's Day Activities for Toddlers

2. From Busy Toddler again (she’s awesome, by the way!), a green bath. I found all the green water-safe toys I could, placed them in the bathtub, and filled it up with water along with one good squeeze of food coloring. It didn’t make a mess, as you might have been wondering!

St Patrick's Day Activities for Toddlers

3. Stickers + Matching. This was SO easy to put together. First, I stuck plain white stickers to a sheet of printer paper. Second, I found an image of a shamrock on the internet and printed it onto that piece of paper. Third, I wrote capital letters on the stickers. Finally, I removed the stickers one by one and wrote the lowercase letter underneath. Voila! Easy peasy. Alexander simply had to match the letters and place the sticker where it needed to go!

St Patrick's Day Activities for Toddlers

4. Banish the Snakes. One of the many legends surrounding St Patrick’s Day is that St Patrick drove all of the snakes out of Ireland. “Since snakes often represent evil in literature, ‘when Patrick drives the snakes out of Ireland, it is symbolically saying he drove the old, evil, pagan ways out of Ireland [and] brought in a new age.’ “ (If you’ve never read it, you should read some of the history/legends surrounding this holiday, like why we use a shamrock, wear green, etc. It’s interesting!) This activity is “banishing snakes” by pushing the pipe cleaners into a container, therefore making them disappear. For Alexander, at just 2.5 years, it’s just practicing some fine motor skills.

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5. Rainbow Bubbles. Woo! This was fun. I used baking soda, vinegar, and food coloring for this one. In a big plastic bin, I put about six 1/4 teaspoons of baking soda, separated. On each little pile, I squeezed a few drops of food coloring (like in #1). Then I put some white vinegar in a cup along with an eye dropper tool. Alexander simply drew water into the dropper and squeezed it onto each little pile!

6. Shamrock Painting (NOT DONE). The afternoon got away from us, so this one didn’t happen! But here’s the idea: Mix up some green paint and cut a green bell pepper (that I already had) into rings. Dip the pepper into paint and stamp it onto some paper. The cross section of the pepper is shaped similarly to a shamrock!

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Transferring and Scooping

Transferring Activities | Mostly Montessori Blog

Today I decided to put together some activities for Alexander that were all related to transferring. During his nap, I gathered lots of container, objects to transfer, and things I could use to transfer the objects. I ended up with more than I needed, and I was able to put together these 8 activities that are focused on transferring (or spooning or scooping).

Transferring Activities | Mostly Montessori Blog
Separating red and white beads using a measuring spoon
Transferring Activities | Mostly Montessori Blog
The Tower of Hanoi (great for sorting colors and also stacking from largest to smallest)
Transferring Activities | Mostly Montessori Blog
Pouring beads from one glass container to another
Transferring Activities | Mostly Montessori Blog
Transferring beads from one bowl to another, using a spork
Transferring Activities | Mostly Montessori Blog
Using a spoon to put felt balls onto a tray and then back into the bowl
Transferring Activities | Mostly Montessori Blog
Using a dropper to transfer water back and forth between
Transferring Activities | Mostly Montessori Blog
Using a small ladle to move balls from one bowl to another
Transferring Activities | Mostly Montessori Blog
Using tongs to move lollipop sticks in and out of a small cup

So far Alexander has only explored a few of these. He really loved the balls and the lollipop sticks!

 

 

Letter Hunt and Matching

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I got this original idea (the hunt) from Susie @busytoddler (blog and IG). I love her. 🙂

I added one element to it just because I know Alexander loves his letters.

The first thing I did was write the 26 uppercase print letters on card stock. Then I laminated them, added a piece of tape to the backs of each, and “hid” them around the kitchen and dining areas. As you can see above, they weren’t really hidden. They were just around, but for Alexander, that’s hidden enough! Some were a little harder than others, where he had to look on the side of something instead of the front of it.

The second thing I did was make a “board” that had the 26 letters, in lowercase print. I laminated that also and taped it to the wall. (Since he liked it so much, I’d like to make a more permanent version of this activity!)

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His job? Find the hidden uppercase letters and match them to their lower counterpart. He played this for a LONG time. After the first time, I helped him hide the letters. After that, he started removing the letters and hiding them himself. Of course, they were mostly on the same few cabinets; he just liked matching them. But the physical aspect (actually having to walk back and forth each time) is what I really liked. He likes matching letters, but this also got him moving. That changes it a lot, especially at his age!

This can easily be done for a younger baby/toddler. You could have 5 shapes printed (square, heart, star, circle, triangle) and have the same 5 shapes printed but cut out. Hide the cut-outs and have baby find them. Then match them to the original print-out. Much simpler but still matching + moving.

Activities for a 1-Year-Old

ACTIVITIES FOR A

I’m on a few social media platforms, and the most common question I get is “What activities can I do with my 1-year-old?” Many of the kids of my followers are younger than Alexander, so the activities I share aren’t necessarily suited for them.

My backstory with Alexander’s “education” is that we didn’t start, officially, until age 22 months. And shortly after, I realized that we were doing a Montessori style of learning. That’s when I started really getting into it. (At the time of this writing, he’s 32 months… I would normally just call that 2.5 years!)

Alexander is smart. And so are most kids his age! He may be great at numbers and letters and many things. Other kids may not be great at numbers and letters but are great at other things. So don’t get too caught up in comparing your child to mine or anyone else’s. Some toddlers really are geniuses, but they are few and far between. Kids are smart, definitely, and you can foster that natural curiosity in so many ways. Don’t worry about flash cards or structured activities or “the right” toys.

I can only speak to what I did with Alexander, so let me give you my personal not-necessarily-“Montessori” suggestions for your 1-year-old.

  1. Describe everything you see in a lot of detail (that will change based on baby’s age and current knowledge). And don’t shy away from REAL descriptive words. Like, if you see a cardinal in a pine tree, you can say “Look at that red bird in the pine tree! That’s called a cardinal!” Or if you are using a spatula to flip an omelet, say “Watch mommy/daddy flip the omelet with a spatula!” If you’re at the grocery store and you see a bag of rice, say “Look at tiny all this rice is. The rice is white.” Or if baby is older, “Look at this bag of white rice. This word is RICE.” Then point to the letters and say “R-I-C-E”. I didn’t spell words until Alexander was a little older, but I definitely used REAL words and not baby words, and I used colors and numbers constantly. If I saw an octagon, I called it an octagon. A crosswalk is a crosswalk. A bridge is a bridge. A cashier is a cashier and not just “a nice lady at the store”. I think being specific is super helpful in building a vocabulary. Alexander didn’t speak at all until he was 19 months, so for a long time, it was just me talking to him, and he never replied or validated what I was saying. Now, I can see that he was absorbing so much!
  2. Put small objects in a large object. This can be done in a hundred ways. Littler babies with chubby little fingers might be better at picking up balls and putting them into a bucket. With the development of fine motor skills, a baby could pick up beans and put them into a bowl. Or drop blocks down a paper towel tube. Or put utensils into the dishwasher. (<< This is a good age to start helping load the dishwasher or help with laundry.)
  3. Practical life! As I just mentioned, this is a great time to do some practical life activities. A 1-year-old can wipe off a surface with a rag (not well, necessarily, but the motion is there and the effort is important!). She can put clothes into the washer or, a little later, move the clothes from the washer to the dryer. She can put trash into a trash can. She can use a dull knife to cut a banana or other soft food.
  4. Let go of “Good job!” I was 100% guilty of this for a long long time. And “good job” isn’t BAD. But it’s certainly overused. Your toddler does something simple, like getting off the couch by himself, and you say “Good job!” Then 10 minutes later, he does something complex, and you also say “Good job!”, there’s no distinction between them. It’s also a good idea to keep quiet and just observe. What you don’t want is to build an environment in which your child doesn’t feel validated unless they hear your approval. It’s good to have some internal validation, like… “I finally solved this puzzle! That was exciting!” Even if mom isn’t standing there to say anything, he would be excited that he finally solved the puzzle. What I’ve started saying is “Wow!” and “Look at how you stacked those books!” and “I love the way you write your numbers!” It’s validation without really judging the final product.

I have several bloggers I like, and a lot of them have younger babies. Search them out. Find a few groups on Facebook or people to follow on Instagram. If you see an activity that’s clearly for an older baby, MAKE IT YOURS! Nearly everything can be scaffolded up or down to meet your child’s abilities. If you aren’t sure how to do that, just ask – I’d be happy to help!

6 New Activities: February 2016

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It’s been a while since I have done any formal “teaching” (exploring is more like it) because baby 2 was born January 30. I was tired the weeks leading up to that and I’ve been tired since then!

Either way I decided to put together a few activities for Alexander, mostly based on the scope and sequence of Montessori. I picked some objectives that could be translated to easy, DIY activities. Because Alexander is younger, and because I am happy with making things myself, I created these activities with objects we already had in the house. I have a lot of trays and baskets, which I repurpose as needed.

I’ll quickly run through the 6 activities I plan to introduce to Alexander this week and next. I’m not an expert at this, so my “technique” is probably not the best. Basically, I briefly introduce all of the new items to Alexander. I literally mean, “Hey Alexander, look at this! And look at this over here! And check out this one!” I don’t really explain too much. I let him pick the one that seems most interesting, and then I show him how to work with it. He is almost always drawn to one or two things and ignores the rest. That’s fine by me. I leave the others out and revisit them on a different day.

Here are the 6 things I’ve got set up right now:

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1. Walk the Line

The objective is to just walk along a marked line on the floor. I used some yarn and tape to create a closed loop that started in his school room, went out and about, then came back into the room.

So far, he has walked along the line a few times but got distracted and hung out in the school room after that. I may try to make it more interesting by adding some obstacles (like things he needs to jump over or do along the way).

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2. Sweeping Rice

The objective is to sweep small objects into a designated area. I think the point is to practice a sweeping motion so he can help with actual sweeping soon. Right now, if he tries to help me clean, he uses the broom and just pushes it forward, shoving all the food particles and dirt underneath the table or cabinets. Not super helpful! Ha! I demonstrate it for him, but it doesn’t quite stick. I keep meaning to get him a small broom, but I don’t know if it would help.

In this case, he used the same pushing motion to “sweep” the rice forward. He didn’t get the rice into the square hardly at all. Again, I did a demonstration but he just couldn’t get the sweeping motion down. I’ll give it another shot in a few days. He may have just been distracted.

For the materials, I had the wooden tray/box from another toy. The brush is from my husband’s head shaving kit. And the pink is a piece of Post-It tape that I cut into 4 sections.

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3. Tracing Numbers

Alexander has been really into 11-20 (finally!) so I’m embracing it. He counts to 20, except for 16 usually. And he recognizes them all. He can write a handful of numbers without tracing, but for the rest, we trace.

First we have these tracing cards (aff).

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And second, I write the numbers on his chalkboard for him to trace.

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4. Word + Picture Puzzles

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I saw this idea on Instagram, so I made a few of them. This one spells Alexander once his face is put together.

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5. Pin Punching

The basic idea is to use some sort of pin — push pin, safety pin, paper clip — to punch out a pre-drawn shape. If you make enough tiny dots, the shape should pop right out.

We aren’t there yet! Alexander has enjoyed making holes in the paper, but he isn’t so concerned with creating a shape.

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6. Water Transfer with a Baster

Simple: Just transfer water using a baster/eye dropper! Alexander loves water transfer. This is a bit of a challenge for him, but he’s sorting it out!

Size Matching Activity

I found this blog post on The Kavanaugh Report. She’s got some killer ideas. This was just too good to pass up.

The basic instructions are in that blog post, but I wanted to share a few pointers now that I’ve gone through the project myself!

I went to Home Depot. They sell PVC pipe in long pieces and short pieces. The short pieces are 24 inches each. They sell wooden dowels in 48 inch pieces. Both of those items come in a ton of sizes, gradually increasing in size (and price). TIP: Get a shopping cart! You should have seen me trying to carry my decaf gingerbread latte in one hand and a bunch of pipes and dowels in my arms. Then I realized, once I cut all the pieces into smaller pieces, I was going to have FORTY pieces… A cart (or basket, if your store has those) is absolutely necessary!

Now, back to the pieces. I found that there were a lot more size options of dowels than PVC pipes. I would suggest grabbing 6 various sizes of dowels and taking them to the PVC pipe section. Then test them out! Be sure that each dowel can only fit into one PVC size (and larger) but not smaller. Otherwise, there are too many configurations of a correct answer in the finished product.

If you’ve got a good power saw at home, use that to cut down your pieces! We only have a hand saw, so I figured I would get the guys at the store to cut everything for me. Guess what the wood guy used to cut the dowels… a hand saw. Hey – at least I didn’t have to do it. BUT a hand saw didn’t give me very clean edges, so I had to sand down the ends of every little piece. No big deal – it was calming.

For the PVC pipe, they have a machine. But the PVC guy who helped me decided to use a hand tool to cut them all. That’s 20 cuts, buster! I gave those two fellas a workout. (Oops.)

For the size, I knew that I wanted each piece cut into 5 smaller pieces. And I wanted to dowel to be taller than the PVC so that a little part would be exposed, for grabbing onto. That said, I didn’t think it mattered that much how much taller the dowel was. I ended up going to 4.5 inches per PVC section and 6 inches per dowel section. TIP: Use a measuring tape and marker to mark 4.5 inches or 6 inches. Then once that first piece is cut, use that piece to mark the rest. Basically, the guy at the store would cut once, and I would mark off everything else. That way, he could just focus on cutting instead of pulling out the darn measuring tape each time!

Another TIP (at least for Home Depot): Make sure that you’ve got a barcode preserved from each original piece. The PVC pipes were marked up in multiple places with a barcode, but the dowels were only marked once. So if that one barcode got cut in half, make sure to grab a second identical one, just for scanning at the register!

When I got home, I sanded down all the wooden dowel pieces. I was going to spray paint the PVC pipe but figured the exposed markings were kind of cool. It looks homemade, and I’m totally cool with that.

I had a box from the thrift store that I’ve been using for something else. I always knew it would serve a better purpose: this project was it.

It took me 3 good efforts to fit all 20 PVC pipes into the wooden box, but I finally found a configuration that worked! Once I had them situated, I heated up my hot glue gun. I removed one piece at a time, glued the bottom edge, and replaced it.

It dried right away, so I played a matching game myself. While it wasn’t a challenge for me (go figure), it was very satisfying the way that every piece only fit in there a certain way. Alexander hasn’t quite figured out how to get all the pieces in there, and I imagine that will take him a while. But it will be a long-lasting activity in our school area. And according to the original blogger, her 4-year-old has recently taken an interest in it again. That’s very reassuring that a $20 project will last me such a long time!

12 Christmas Boxes

Christmas Boxes for Pinterest

This will be a photo-heavy post! We have not even completed all the boxes, but I’m going to show you what each box says, what is in each box, and what our plans are for each box. If we’ve done that box already, I’ll share a few pictures from it. Otherwise, I may come back and add pictures, especially if I get a lot of feedback on this!

I got this idea from Katherine Marie’s blog (this is the blog post). Her kids are older, so while I was able to take a few ideas from her, most of mine were just from brainstorming! Most of what I came up with is appropriate for Alexander, who is about 2.5 years old. I included some items in each box that just reminded me of the theme, but I didn’t have any specific plans for those items.

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The 12 boxes I went with (for this year!):

  1. Grinch Day
  2. St. Nicholas Day
  3. Snow Day
  4. Christmas Giving Day
  5. Reindeer Day
  6. Christmas Carols Day
  7. Nativity Day
  8. Fireplace Day
  9. Happy Birthday Jesus Day
  10. Christmas Tree Day
  11. Candy Cane Day
  12. Gingerbread Day

I think it’s important to celebrate the reason for the season (aka Jesus), but there are so many things that make this a fun, special time of year. Christmas trees! Hot chocolate! Gift wrapping (and gift giving)! The music! So I want to instill some of that magic into Alexander as well.

Now I’m going to break down each box. If you can’t read the card inside the box, just check below, in the text. I’ve outline everything in more detail!

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Grinch Day

Thanks to lots of my followers who gave me some great ideas for this box! There were way too many to include, so these are some I am going to use.

  • Who Hash – According to the Dr Seuss website, “who hash” is just any sort of hash you want to create. I plan to make a breakfast hash with potatoes and bacon or sausage.
  • Green Pancakes – To go along with our who hash, I’ll make some green pancakes. I’ll just make a traditional pancake mixture, minus the sugar, and add in some puréed spinach or kale for the green color.
  • Fruit Skewers – I’m using this idea to make fruit skewers that resemble The Grinch! It involves strawberries, green grapes, and marshmallows.
  • Handprint Activity – Here is a link to one of many handprint ideas!
  • Green Face Paint – We will paint our faces green.
  • Green Paint – We’ll mix blue and yellow paint to make green paint. Then we will use a Q-tip to draw on some large white paper.
  • Heart Sorting – The Grinch’s heart grew and grew and grew. So I made this printable that has 10 hearts in growing sizes! HERE is the free printable. I printed it directly onto red construction paper, cut out the hearts, laminated them, then cut them again.
  • Watch The Grinch – If we can find the old cartoon movie online (Hulu or Amazon Instant or whatever), we’ll watch that together.

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  • Beard Masks – I cut two paper plates into a beard shape, cut holes for the mouth, and attached string to each side. We’ll use glue to attach some cotton balls and then wear the beard masks.
  • Santa Hats – I got two Santa hats (size small and size large!), and we will wear the hats and masks together.
  • Puzzle – I found a set of Christmas puzzles online (24 pieces each). We’ll put together the Santa one.
  • St Nicholas Book – This is a beautiful book about St Nicholas. I want to teach Alexander about the history/origins of “Santa” and this is a good place to start.

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  • Glitter Snowflakes – I got some glitter snowflakes at the craft store. We’ll hang those on the windows.
  • Homemade Snowflakes – We will cut snowflakes out of paper.
  • Pipe Cleaner Snowflakes – We’ll twist white pipe cleaners together to make more snowflakes.
  • Coloring Page – I simply printed snowflake shapes, and Alexander will color them.
  • Build a Snowman with Cotton Balls – Using glue and cotton balls, we’ll build a tiny snowman on red paper.
  • Build a Snowman with Marshmallows – We will pinch and pull apart the giant marshmallows to make 2 different sizes. We’ll use pretzel sticks to attach the “body” pieces and then use pretzels as arms.
  • Read Snowmen at Night – I love this book!
  • Watch Frosty – This movie is currently on Netflix, so I’d like to watch at least part of it.

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  • Food Bank – We’ll collect some cans of food to take to a local food bank.
  • Salvation Army – We will take some coins and a few bills, and Alexander can put them into the red bucket.
  • Bible Verses – There are tons of verses in the Bible about giving to others and helping the poor. I’ll read some of the shorter verses to Alexander.
  • Wrap Gifts – Alexander will help me wrap some gifts and put them under the Christmas tree.
  • Read Christmas Carol – This book is about a grumpy, greedy old man who has a change of heart. It’s all about giving, in the end.

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  • Dress As Reindeer – I got some antlers and red face paint. We’ll wear antlers and paint our noses red!
  • Sing Rudolph Song – This is just for fun.
  • Reindeer Poop – It’s just chocolate-covered raisins. I made incorporate them into the next bullet point.
  • Make Fake Deer Tracks – Using a fake snow recipe I found online, we’ll create fake deer tracks around the house. (I may also do this before he wakes up one day.)
  • Learn Reindeer Names – I found some reindeer flash cards online. Each one has a picture of a reindeer with a reindeer name underneath.
  • Rudolph Puzzle – There was a reindeer puzzle in the set of puzzles I mentioned earlier! We’ll put together this 24-piecer.
  • Rudolph Book – I love this old movie. We’ll read the book, for sure.
  • Rudolph Movie – If we have time, and if I can find it, we’ll watch the movie that goes along with the book.

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  • Sing Christmas Songs – I printed a few songs in a “song book”. I mostly wanted to introduce Alexander to music notes.
  • Play Joy To The World on the Recorder – I wanted to play a song on the recorder for Alexander. Instead, he played the same note over and over again. He has been playing it for a week!
  • Make Jingle Bell Bracelets – Using pipe cleaners and jingle bells, we create bracelets for ourselves. Then we listened to Jingle Bells and shook our bracelets to the music.
  • Make a Paper and Felt Microphone – This was an activity that didn’t happen. I wanted to roll a piece of black paper to create the handle of the microphone, then add the green felt as the mouth part.

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  • Read The Christmas Story – This book tells a child-friendly version of the Biblical Christmas story.
  • Nativity Set – I found a ceramic, pint-sized nativity set online. And my husband got some hay. We will set up this nativity scene together. I’ll explain each component as we do so.
  • North Star – We will cut out a star shape from the yellow paper. We may hang it above the nativity scene.
  • Manger – Using popsicle sticks, thread, and glue, we’ll try to create a manger.

1

  • Roast Marshmallows – I would like to roast marshmallows, but we do not have a gas stove, so this may be wishful thinking!
  • Giant Cup of Hot Chocolate – I cut a paper plate into a smaller white circle. I cut a brown sheet of paper into a circle. And I cut a piece of white pipe cleaner to represent the handle. If we glue them together just right, it might look like a cup of hot chocolate from above. There are 10 cotton balls in the box to represent giant marshmallows. Alexander likes to count, so I thought he might just enjoying placing the 10 cotton balls onto the brown circle!
  • Fake Fire – I cut out some fake flames in various colors. We will tape them onto our fireplace grate.
  • Real Hot Chocolate – Using chocolate chips and marshmallows, we will make real hot chocolate on the stove.
  • Hang Stockings – I got some plastic hooks that I’ll hang above the fireplace. Alexander can help hang our stockings.
  • The Night Before Christmas Book – This book mentions a lot of Christmas things. But I had a book in some of the other boxes already! So it fits in this box too.

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This one was a little deeper and more theological than the others! I know that Alexander won’t really understand much of this box, and that’s okay. It was important for me to put together the ideas. Each year, I can add to it, and one day, hopefully he will understand a bit of the theology that is behind Christmas. I don’t want it to be just a holiday for him! You know, it’s more than just Santa and gifts and trees and treats.

  • Birthday Party Decor – In the box are some candles, balloons, and a cookie cutter.
  • Birthday Cookies – I’ve got the dry ingredients for cookie dough in a mason jar, ready to go. We’ll use a recipe to make some simple sugar cookies. We’ll stack them to make a “cake”.
  • Happy Birthday Song – We’ll sing Happy Birthday to Jesus, naturally.
  • Gold – I wanted Alexander to give Jesus 3 small gifts. With my dad’s help, I landed on gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But of course, I won’t wrap those things specifically. Gold represents His Royalty (birth). In the box is a long gold bead, which Alexander will drape on the Christmas tree.
  • Frankincense – Frankincense represents His priesthood (life). Basically, I connected it to His leadership and relationship with the 12 disciples. In the box is a string, 12 small beads (the disciples), and 1 larger and intricate bead (Jesus). We’ll string the beads together to make a chain. Alexander can hang the chain on the Christmas tree.
  • Myrrh – Myrrh was used for embalming, so it may have represented His sacrifice (death). In this box is just a round, smooth stone. It represents the stone that was rolled away from the tomb. Alexander will place the rock under the Christmas tree.

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  • Pick Out Tree – We went to a tree farm. Alexander helped us pick out our Christmas tree. He also helped my husband push the tree over and roll it up toward our car.
  • Decorate Tree – I included some ornaments in this box so that Alexander could hang them on the tree.
  • Small Paper Trees – We used popsicle sticks, brown paper, green papers, glue, and felt balls to create paper trees.
  • Pinecone Trees – I found some pinecones in the neighborhood. Then we shoved felt balls into the pinecones! We used ornament hooks to create ornaments from the pinecones.

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  • Candy Cane Ornaments – We used pipe cleaners and red yarn to make candy cane ornaments. This was difficult for Alexander, so I ended up making a few to hang on the tree. We also hung candy canes on the tree!
  • Striped Paper – I cut red paper into strips. Alexander glued them onto white paper.
  • Candy Cane Smoothies – I layered a banana smoothie and a strawberry smoothie, then we drank from candy cane straws!
  • Giant Candy Cane Coloring Page – I drew a simple candy cane onto a giant sheet of paper. Alexander colored it. He doesn’t like to color much, so only a tiny portion of the candy cane was colored.
  • Peppermint Pancakes – This was a failed project. I made plain pancakes then tried to swirl strawberry jam into them, to look like giant peppermints. They tasted fine, but they did not look like peppermints!

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  • Gingerbread House – I found a kit at Michael’s craft store for a gingerbread house. My husband and I did the structure part of the house. Alexander helped with some of the decorations.
  • Gingerbread Man/Woman Cookie Cutters – We traced the gingerbread people onto brown paper using cookie cutters.
  • Gingerbread Man Rhyme – We read a poem about a gingerbread man. And every time I said the word “gingerbread”, Alexander was supposed to jump. Instead, he just ran around the table about 400 times.
  • Gingerbread Pancakes – I made some plain but delicious gingerbread pancakes.

That’s all, folks!

This took a ton of planning and brainstorming. And I know that next year, I’ll have an 11-month-old and a 3.5-year-old. Those boxes will look much different, but I hope I’m able to reuse many of these ideas.

I also hope this is a lovely tradition that we continue over the years. This year, the materials and planning were a little expensive and overwhelming. But now, I’ve got the boxes, lots of books, and lots of ideas. I imagine it will be easier as the years go on!

Pine Nuts in Play Doh (VIDEO)

This is a great sensory experience, and it’s good for counting practice as well!

You can see exactly what to do in the video above. But in case you don’t have time to watch:

  1. You need 10 pine nuts (or any number of smallish objects).
  2. You need a small amount of play doh. The amount will depend on the age of the child. I think that an older child, you could use more of the play doh (and more objects to hide). This was a good amount for Alexander because it didn’t take much effort to find the pine nuts. A younger child, I would use a smaller amount of the play doh and only 3-5 objects.
  3. I pressed the play doh fairly flat.
  4. Alexander would press the pine nuts into the dough, and we would count them as he did so.
  5. Once all 10 were pressed into the dough, I would roll up the play doh and roll it into a ball. Most of the pine nuts were visible from the outside, and the others were just under the surface.
  6. I handed him the doh ball, and he would dig through and pull out each of the 10 pine nuts, counting as he went.

Super simple!

NOTE: You don’t want to do this if your baby is allergic to nuts! Use rice or dry beans or plastic/wooden beads. I just happened to have pine nuts in the pantry. (Plus “pine nuts in play doh” sounds cuter than “dry beans in play doh,” am I right?)

Tracing Objects Activity

Tracing Objects Activity

This activity is super simple and a lot of fun.

I found about 20 objects around the house that had different shapes. (You’ll see a few “mistakes” I made in a second.) I placed them onto a large piece of paper. [NOTE: I went to the local newspaper office and bought a huge roll of newspaper paper for $5.]

Then I traced the basic/rough outline of each object.

Tracing Objects ActivityAs you can see, the jar lid and the apple are both a similarly-sized circle. So those were confused when he was putting the objects back in place. Also, the large lego piece would have made more sense if I turned it to the side, so that the little nubs were visible. He left that one for the end because he couldn’t figure it out (a rectangle isn’t obviously a lego, you know?).

Tracing Objects Activity

And here’s a short video that shows the process. This is an activity we will do regularly! It would be easy to recreate using whatever objects fit our current theme, too. This one has no theme, but if we were learning about shapes, fruits and vegetables, or the continents, this would work nicely.