Painting Fortune Cookies – New Year’s Eve Activity For Kids

new year's even activity for kids You don’t have to keep your kids up until midnight to celebrate the new year but it is nice to have some extra special activities. The start of a new year is the perfect time to think about what lies ahead and make predictions. One fun way is to crack open a fortune cookie and read what’s inside! Just eating a fortune cookie is fine but you can take it up a notch and paint fortune cookies for a special New Year’s Eve activity and treat.

Gather your materials. You will need some regular fortune cookies, food color, a little milk, an ice cube tray, and paint brushes. You may also want some paper towel and a plate for your work surface. fortune cookie painting new years eve activity for kids

Mix your color with just a tiny bit of milk. You can use water if you are dairy free but the milk adheres just a little better. new years eve activity for kidsInvite your cookie artist and let the fun begin. While she carefully painted I dotted one of my own.painting fortune cookies for new years eve family activity

I loved it when she decided to dip dye the fortune cookie. fortune cookie painting new years activity for kidsIt looked beautiful but it never really dried making the cookie mushy. It’s best to paint just a little without too much soaking in.new years eve activity for kids

Make sure you have a handful of cookies for each kiddo because she just kept painting and painting!new years eve activity for children

Easy Candy Cane Craft

candy cane craft for kids These tape candy canes are my Christmas version of our insanely popular Tape Mummy. After a long day at preschool my daughter still wanted to make some crafts but I didn’t want to set her up for a meltdown. Instead I grabbed a few simple things and let her create. There is no waiting for glue to dry so these easy candy cane crafts are a great choice for class parties on the last day of school or as a 2nd activity at a cookie decorating party. They are so simple you can do it anywhere.

Gather your materials. You will need some red paper ( card stock would be perfect but all we had was flimsy construction paper… still worked out fine!), some tape in whatever colors you have, a pencil, and scissors. That’s it!easy candy cane craft for kids

Start by drawing a candy cane on your red paper. My daughter wanted to make a bunch so we made them using only half a sheet per candy cane. As you can see my candy canes are far from perfect and I think that’s a good thing. If you want your kids to try to create you have to make it accessible. If we reject ourselves when we are less than perfect our kids will learn from our example. I don’t want to just be sloppy but I want to be accepting of my own efforts so they are not afraid to try.candy cane craft for children

Invite your candy cane creators to the table and let them loose with tape!candy cane craft for kids

Some of our tape ( ours is a mix of masking, washi, and foil tape) was really hard to tear off. I started to reach over and just do it for her and she very rightly told me to stop that she can do it. It’s funny I don’t intervene like that with students, I always wait to be asked for help ( unless there is a danger) but with my own kids I guess I go auto pilot. I need to remember not to.

Pop the tape on!candy cane crafts

And on.

candy cane craft for kids

Or not. If your child is happy with one piece that is rad. I will say ” Are you finished with this masterpiece?” to be sure but if your child is sure, resist the urge to add more on to their art.

When it’s all taped down, cut it out.

cut out candy cane craft

See how it magically turns into a candy cane? Well maybe not magic, but my daughter loved it!simple candy cane craft

I told you they are simple but I think this time of year this is what you need. Something festive but FAST that doesn’t really make any mess.

Need more fast activities for the holidays? Here are some toddler activities to keep them engaged for a few minutes at a time.

screen free holiday activities

Artificial DYE FREE Christmas Treats For Kids

dye free Christmas treats for kids When I was a teenager I remember rolling my eyes at the parents who would put ” DO NOT GIVE RED DYE” on the health forms for day camp. I thought it was hogwash. Funny how a few years of maturity, your own kids, and a big dose of respecting other people will change your attitude. My kids both react to red dye and I will never forget my parents ( who thought I was nuts restricting it) falling all over themselves when they saw first hand how my then 3 year old son reacted after ingesting it.

Do my kids get some food color? Yes, but it’s something I really try to avoid. Not all kids have the same reaction but if you read this post Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Artificial Food Coloring by Megan over at Sorta Crunchy even if your kids don’t react to dye you will want to limit it anyway!

Most of the year it’s not hard to avoid dye especially when red is the main culprit. Around Christmas I start hearing the whining. ” But mom just a little won’t hurt! ” It’s true my son at 8 is starting to outgrow the hyper irritability that it seemed to cause but it’s so easy to let a little become a lot and why take the chance. We don’t have to anymore because over the years I have found wonderful alternatives. Here are two fun and classic Christmas treats with no artificial food dyes!

Rudolf Candy Canes – with Naturally Colored Candy Canes

candy cane reindeer craft for kids now dye free

I think I first made these in Brownies in the early 80s. I have made them as small trinkets for classes I have taught for almost as long. 3 year olds at preschool and 14 year olds in my Babysitter Safety class all loved them. My kids do too. Now they can love them more because finding dye free candy canes isn’t as hard or as expensive as it used to be. I picked these up at Safeway but last year I bought these on amazon  Organic Candy Canes Peppermint  ( affiliate link)

If you aren’t sure how to make these candy cane reindeer here is a quick tutorial.

Gather your materials. You will need some candy canes, pipe cleaners, pom poms, googly eyes and a hot glue gun.reindeer candy cane craft

Add the pipe cleaners by wrapping it around the curved end of the candy cane twice and bending to make some antlers.reindeer candy canes with no dye candy canes

Add hot glue to the end and a pom pom on top.candy cane reindeer craft for children dye free

Add hot glue a little higher and pop on two googly eyes. Have a puppet show with them or, what we usually do with them, pop your reindeer on the Christmas tree.dye free candy cane rudolph crafts

Ice Cream Cone Christmas Trees with Naturally Dyed Candies and Icing.

dye free christmas treats no red food color

We did these ice cream cone Christmas Trees many years ago with artificial dye ( see how little my son is?) but it was before I discovered just how poorly my son reacted to all the artificial colors. I have been meaning to do it again with my daughter so this time we did it more naturally.

Gather your materials. You will need some sugar cones. I didn’t check the ingredient list on these because my kids won’t eat it. They will pick off the candy and leave the tree. There are lots of all natural options out there, check out the shopping list below. You will also need some icing Wilton was dye free , and I used India Tree colors which are all natural to make the green. You will also need candy and stars for the top, two paper plates, some knives for spreading and my favorite candy holders… an ice cube tray.dye free christmas treats

Start by spreading some white icing on the bottom and sticking the tree on top.ice cream cone christmas trees

Ice the tree in green ( now natural dye isn’t as bright but my kids didn’t say a word about it’s lack of vibrancy).cone trees dye free

Taste a little here and there.christmas tree treat dye free

Add the jelly beans, sprinkles and chocolate chips for ornaments.adding the ornaments candy tree dye free

When you are done add more icing for snow with coconut for flakes! Use as a centerpiece for a holiday cookie decorating party or just to add to your decor. My kids ate theirs which was quite the treat. edible christmas centerpiece for kids

Shopping list for Candy Christmas Trees
This list contains affiliate links.

White icing ( I can’t confirm this item as color free so check the ingredients on your icing or make your own to be sure! Ours was Wilton but I can’t find the exact item on line to provide a link)
Gourmet Jelly Beans

India Tree Natural Decorating Colors, 3 bottles(red,yellow,blue)

India Tree Jimmies – Carnival Mix – Natural Colour

Ghirardelli Baking Chips, Classic White, 11-Ounce Bags (Pack of 6)

Coconut Flakes Unsweetened

Trader Joe’s Mini Dark Chocolate Mint Stars

Trim A Tree Sticky Easel – Christmas Activity For Preschool

christmas free choice activity for preschool When we made our Create A Face Sticky Easel it was such a hit it stayed on our easel for AGES. For weeks it changed a little by little but I didn’t take it down for a long time. I knew then that I would be making a holiday version of a sticky easel . This is a great Christmas activity for preschool free choice time . The project can be a cooperative art project in class. With activities like this our role is to set it up and invite them to create. This isn’t a directed craft or step by step activity. It’s a creative buffet and kids can serve themselves. Let me show you how we set up this sticky easel and how my daughter created with it.

Gather your materials. The only thing you really need is contact paper. Good sticky contact paper. Everything else we used can be substituted with whatever you have on hand. Heck you don’t even need an easel, you can pop it up on the wall. We used green popsicle sticks, colored wooden shapes, and gems . I also used a dry erase marker to make an outline of a tree on the easel as a guide. Christmas Sticky Tree supplies

Start by drawing the outline of the tree. Peel the backing off the contact paper and secure it to the easel. christmas tree sticky easel set up

Place the bits and pieces into the easel and invite your tree trimmer to come trim the tree!

She started off with the shapes and gems. fine motor skills christmas tree activity

Then discovered she could make letters with the popcicle sticks. early literacy christmas tree sticky easelThis sticky easel is filled with tactile exploration. Since the items can be added then removed it’s a wonderful activity for those ” must be perfect” days that seem to crop up from time to time with preschoolers. This activity also works on so many skills like fine motor, shape recognition, and counting. Don’t force the skills or use the time to quiz your kids just be there to catch the opportunity to talk more about their observations if they make them.  For us the observation I jumped on was about how think the gems were vs. how thin the wooden shapes were.

She didn’t like that I used black for the outline so she covered it up with more sticks.
christmas tree sticky mural activity

I sat back in our book nook with my camera and listened to her chatter away ( which if you are a parent that has had a child in speech therapy chattering is music to your ears, especially when it’s perfectly easy to understand).

When she was done our playroom was ready for Christmas! Christmas tree sticky easels

Winter Play Dough Creation Station

winter play dough for preschool Play dough is my daughter’s favorite activity. It’s such a wonderful material whether you make your own your buy Play-Doh at the store like we did for this winter play dough creation station. I am not a pre-planner. It looks like I am because you see all the activities after I put them into neat tutorials but I plan as I go and it’s rare I remember to make the play dough, so I buy it. I also LOVE the smell of Play-doh. LOVE. That said if I need a lot of one color I will make it like I did for our Snowman Play Dough gifts. My daughter was so into this simple activity. I set it up for her while her lunch was cooking and by the time she was done I had to re-heat her lunch because nothing was tearing her away from this winter play dough ! I also want to encourage you to sit with your child at least for part of their play because play dough can be a great prompt for storytelling and my daughter proved that point by walking me through a whole story about her snowmen. You can read it below!

Gather your materials. You will need some white and blue play dough, embellishments like buttons, jewels, baker’s twine, yarn, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes. You will also need some cookie cutters. When I do this with a class I have 4-6 cutters but for one kid I offer 2. Too many can be overwhelming. winter play dough creation station

Dive in and play! With younger kids you might have to help them make the shapes, as you can see my daughter is a pro. snowman play dough for preschool winter play dough

She was so into this! winter play dough for preschool

Next up, snowflakes! snowflake play dough winterThese may or may not have been inspired by a certain animated movie…  I love all the fine motor work in this winter play dough! Kneading the dough, picking up the teeny tiny beads, working with the little pipe cleaners and baker’s twine… it’s all a great exercise for fine motor skills which will help them with other skills like cutting and writing. winter play dough for preschool fine motor pincer grasp

I get so excited about the discoveries that are made because of challenges. She was getting frustrated that the foil pipe cleaners weren’t sticking and instead of just throwing up her hands or omitting them, she tried and tried finally discovering that if he stick the pointy end into the play dough it would stay put where she wanted it. Way cool. best play dough activities

She wasn’t done still – one more snowman! My daughter wanted to be very clear that the snowman is not a cyclops, she is just wearing a cyclops hat. winter play dough for kids

Now time to talk about her creations. The snowmen are a family with a mom named Merritt who is a “cooker” , a dad named Judy who is a toy maker elf snowman, and a baby named England ” She’s a girl!” . winter play dough and storytelling

Books About Snow

All our book lists include affiliate links.

The lonesome  polar bear

The Lonesome Polar Bear by Jane Cabrera is a lovely book about a little polar bear who’s only friends are a snow cloud and snow animals and they all keep melting away. The book has an important  message about not giving up hope and to keep trying to make friends , a lesson that is worthwhile for everyone. The illustrations are very cute and my son (who was a toddler when we read it )loved it!

the snowy day

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is a classic. Some classics are the type of books that lose their relevance and leave readers wondering what the hype is about. This book is timeless. A little boy goes exploring in the snow and discovers his world in a new way. The illustrations are magical and the way that  they convey the emotions this little boy experiences throughout the day are nothing short of perfect.

jack frost snow

Here Comes Jack Frost by Kazuno Kohara is another fantastic book that will have you aching for snow. A little boy is lonely after his friends have all gone into hibernation for the winter when Jack Frost shows up. They frolic and play exploring all the fun that winter has to offer friends but when the first signs of spring arrive Jack is gone. The illustrations are perfectly simple and will suck you into a wintery world that you won’t want to leave. My kids love this book and after one reading at the library we bought our own copy.