We love playdough and this fine motor activity isn’t just a fun way to build and challenge fine motor skills it also naturally encourages counting, color recognition and or course pumping everyone up for Christmas. We had fun trimming our tree earlier this month and my daughter has been moving ornaments around so I knew she would be into a tree trimming themed activity. If you have Styrofoam from Christmas packages you could use that instead of playdough for the tree but we didn’t have any handy so we used this.
Gather your materials. You will need some mini ornaments ( these were found in Target’s dollar spot a few days ago), toothpicks, green and yellow playdough, a mat and a fun container for the ornaments.
Start by making a tree with a star with the playdough. Kids can do this or you can. I did it for my daughter. Make sure it’s thick enough to hold a toothpick upright.
My daughter was interested in the metallic colors trying to decide which gold tone one was rally gold and what the other one was. She ended up calling one gold and one pink-gold. I thought that was pretty accurate.
I was so pleased with how well she took to this activity. She loved it.
When they are done let them be done, don’t push to add them all. As long as kids gave the activity a great go pushing them to do more more more will only end up in a negative feeling about these little skill building activities and can result in them refusing to give the next one a try. They will have lots of must do activities while they are older when they are little I like to be a fun buffet of ideas to try instead. Leave it out if it’s something they can do independently and let them return or not return to it at their leisure. I left this out for a few hours. She was done for good though, and that’s OK.
I thought I was done with Christmas crafts ( I have a few more ready to post) but when I found these little checkers pieces I knew just what I wanted to do with them. It’s a fun, easy Alphabet For Starters activity but can be adapted for older kids as well. Alphabet for Starters is our series of fun and playful ideas for teaching children the alphabet. See the end of the post for ideas of how to play with this alphabet activity in a more structured way .
- Gather your materials. You will need 2 sheets of construction paper ( any color and green) , glue, velcro dots, star sticker, checkers pieces ( these are from the dollar store checkers games) , marker, scissors and possibly contact paper * see below for my explanation of why.
- Start by cutting your green paper into a Christmas tree.
- Glue to the other paper , add the star and add velcro dots. ** If you are making this for a class or for kids that might be anything but really careful I would laminate or cover with contact paper before adding the dots so that the velcro doesn’t simple rip the paper when it’s pulled. I made sure my kids only gently placed the letters and prayed it didn’t rip. I was lucky.
- Write the alphabet on the checkers pieces.
- Add the other half of the velcro dots on the checkers pieces.
- Let all the velcro set for at least 30 minutes. We practiced cutting and did puzzles while we waited.
- Add some garland and lights ( aka some silver sharpie) .
- Add the letters! Most children will narrate as they go especially if they are used to you labeling letters for them. My daughter searched for letters in her own name and those of her family. 26 letters are a lot of r a 2 year old so I asked her to choose some to give to mommy to add. Of course she grabbed some labeling each before handing them to me. Then finished it herself.
- Later that afternoon when we showed her brother what we did while he was at school he took each off and added them in alphabetical order . He can also spell words with it and my favorite is to fill in the blanks.
I love Christmas crafts and kids love making them. These Christmas tree crafts are all easy to do , inexpensive to make and educational too. Some make great add ons to Christmas gifts, can be used as gift tags or even ornaments. Many of these are the lucky crafts I actually keep and dig out every year to display and reminisce with my kids. Here are our favorites .
Recycled Christmas Tree Craft
Craft By Numbers – Pom Pom Tree
Salad Spinner Tree Ornament
Baby’s First Christmas Tree Craft
Fork Painted Christmas Tree
Shape Christmas Tree Craft
Button and Nail Christmas Tree
Hawaiian Christmas Tree
Bubble Wrap Christmas Tree
Ice Cream Cone and Candy Christmas Trees
Sticky Wall Christmas Tree
My kids love sticky murals and this one was a big hit with my toddler. This Christmas tree craft is fun to make and the best part is that you can keep adding to it for the days and weeks ahead.Also now our playroom has it’s very own Christmas tree that doesn’t need to be watered and is safe for kids too!
- Gather your materials. You will need some green wrapping paper ( ours is glittery and awesome but messy when cut), contact paper, tissue paper in various colors , buttons ( optional) , a pencil, scissors and painter’s tape.
- Start by cutting out a Christmas tree from your wrapping paper.
- Trace onto the backing of the contact paper.
- Tape the tree to your wall using painter’s tape. Place the cut out contact paper on top and hold and peel. Tape it to the wall with more painter’s tape as your peel the backing off. The contact paper should be sticky side out.
- Invite your decorators. Give them the tissue paper and have them rip, crumple and stick it on.
- This was OK for my son but this activity really appealed to my 2 year old, she LOVED it.
- Add some buttons!
- Talk about colors and shapes while they work. She even found a googly eye in the button jar and added it on. She was so proud of her tree she wanted a picture with it.
Stick Man by Julia Donaldson tickles my funny bone and my son thought it was funny and full of adventure too. Stick Man is a happy stick who loves with his stick family until a dog grabs him and he ends up far from his family but determined to get home. As the seasons change he is used as many things from a sword, a bat and even an arm for a snowman. After that he ends up in a fireplace just as a certain jolly old guy gets stuck in the chimney. This is a unique story we both enjoyed , you will never look at another stick in your child’s hands without wondering what it’s been turned into .
How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky is a fun and surprisingly practical story about Santa and how he developed the skills needed for his one of a kind job. It starts with Santa as a young man and as he keeps bouncing from job to job he acquires skills like going in and out of chimneys as a chimney sweep with ease and without getting dirty, develops a relationship with reindeer as a zoo worker and gets chubby eating all the food at a all night diner gig! There are more but i don’t want to spoil the story. My son loved it, especially once the elves showed up, which was when the toys did too! I know when i was a kid I wanted to know how Santa got his job, and there are movies dedicated to this so this book jumped on the bandwagon and did a great job , it’s very cute!
Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson is such a heartwarming story about friendship. Bear is hibernating but his friends wake him up to celebrate Christmas. It’s not easy at first , Bear is super sleepy and wants nothing more than to cuddle back up and fall back to sleep. They get a tree, decorate it, hang their stockings and sing carols. When all the other animals snuggle in and go to sleep Bear stays up. He is busily making gifts for all his friends, he is so busy he doesn’t even notice Santa coming and filling the stockings. He delights in the friendship and when his friends present him with a lovely quilt, he snuggles under and goes back to sleep happy and filled with friendship. This is such a wonderful book , I love it’s focus on friendship and the excitement of giving gifts!This post contains affiliate links
This was supposed to be a craft just for my daughter, but when my son and his friend saw what we were doing they jumped in too. I was not planning on 3 kids doing it all at once so it was a little chaotic but the playroom and all the kids survived… remember to use washable paint . The kids have all used bubble wrap to print on things before so switching it so they painted the bubble wrap was new and a big hit.
- Gather your materials. You will need some bubble wrap, paint, painter’s tape, paint brushes , heavy paper ( paper grocery bags are perfect), a pencil and scissors.
- Start by taping the bubble wrap to the work surface with the painter’s tape.
- Next paint the bubble wrap with green. For my toddler I gave her a big brush for the green to encourage coverage. She was encouraged …
- Next add the lights colors. Let kids decide which colors they want, this helps with color recognition too.
- Ok this is when the boys busted in pretending to be Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader ( I know impossible right… not for two imaginative 5 year olds! ) and grabbed some brushes.
- Keep painting the wrap.
- Draw some trees on the paper and cut out.
- Press the paper into the wrap and peel back carefully.
- For my toddler I left the paper big so she could do as much as possible herself , the small tree would have probably gotten ripped. Leaving it big let her do it herself feeling the wrap under the paper and “bang banging” her hand to make the print.
- Let dry and cut out the tree shape for the toddler.
- Hang up and show off the fun ( and wee bit of chaos…) remember washable paints!