20 Brilliant Ways to Keep Kids Busy During Winter Break

Inside: This collection will keep kids busy during winter break with a variety of fun activities! Can be done indoors, outdoors, with family and friends. No more “I’m bored”!

The kids are home from school.

It’s only day two and already they are bickering, needing something to do, that’s preferably screen-free.

I’ve got you covered!

Here is my favorite collection of easy and fun ideas that you can put together for your kids over winter break.

They will also work with babysitters, grandparents, and child care centers! Get the materials ready ahead of time and you are ready when the first “I have nothing to do” is said.

 

Keep kids busy during winter break with these fun activities! - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

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20 Brilliant Ways to Keep Kids Busy During Winter Break

 

  1. Sing! And if you want books to go with the songs, check out this collection.
  2. Get in the kitchen and make something together. We love these recipes.
  3. Become scientists and put together some fun experiments.
  4. Play a game! Check out these learning games for preschoolers.
  5. Turn your kitchen table into a play dough factory. Try one of these recipes.
  6. Grab a freezer bag and invite your children to create (mess-free) painting.
  7. If you live where the weather is fair this time of year (and I am jealous of you), paint outside!
  8. Paint on ice! Or, if you want to add a holiday twist, paint on gingerbread ice or Christmas tree ice!
  9. Do you have paint samples stashed in drawers? Cut them into shapes for yarn wrapping.
  10. Are they energetic? Get those wiggles out by dancing!
  11. Snuggle up and read a book. Here are our favorite rhyming books.
  12. Make some frozen sparkly paint! It can stay in the freezer until the kids are ready to paint.
  13. Need something simple that you probably already have on hand? You will appreciate these activities that only use 2-3 ingredients.
  14. Do your kids love cars? Drive them through paint!
  15. Give them a box. Seriously, kids love boxes and will turn them into so many different things.
  16. Have a tea party!
  17. Make a necklace (and work those fine motor skills at the same time).
  18. Do you have bubble wrap from Christmas packaging? Make prints from it!
  19. Make hot cocoa and sit by the fire.
  20. Draw on a white board.

 

Looking for more ideas? Head on over to one of my favorite places to share fun activities for young children!

 

 

Keep kids busy during winter break with these fun activities! - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

 

Some of my favorite activity resource books:

            

 

More ideas for young children:

Watercolor Snowflakes - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds    preschool winter books

 

Looking for something fun to do with the whole family over winter break? 

Now available! 30 Festive Ideas of Christmas Ornaments – 35 pages of creative fun for the whole family! From the creative Red Ted Art blog. Buy ebook now for only $7.99.

 

Christmas Ornaments a Delightful ebook

 

 

 

 




Ice Painting for Kids Using Gingerbread Shapes

Inside: Have you tried ice painting for kids yet? It’s one of our favorite activities! This time we froze water into gingerbread shapes for a fun extension to our gingerbread theme!

We just finished our last week before winter break.

That means finishing our gifts, making our homemade gift bags, practicing songs for our singalong ….

We needed something calm.

And ice painting is always a fun, calm activity!

So fun that I’m finding ways to include it in many of our themes! It started with our basic ice painting, then our heart-shaped ice painting, and, most recently, our Christmas tree ice painting.

Every single time it’s a hit.

We like that!

 

Ice Painting for Kids Using Gingerbread Shapes

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Ice Painting for Kids Using Gingerbread Shapes

This idea didn’t come to me until I found a gingerbread cake pan.

I just knew it would be a perfect addition to our ice painting collection. Add some watercolors and you are good to go!

How to set this activity up:

Fill pan with water and freeze. You will need one frozen gingerbread for each child. (We only had one cake pan, so as each gingerbread was frozen, we removed it from the pan, placed in freezer, and started again until we had 10 frozen pieces.)

Right before inviting the children to participate, place trays on the table along with the watercolors. (We pre-moistened our watercolors by adding a drop of water on each oval.)

Place the frozen gingerbread on the trays.

Ice Painting for Kids Using Gingerbread Shapes

Invite the children to place their paintbrushes into the paint and then onto the frozen gingerbread.

Ice Painting for Kids Using Gingerbread Shapes

I love how the details showed up as they were covered in paint!

Ice Painting for Kids Using Gingerbread Shapes

As the ice starts melting, the colors will mix. Some of the children might notice that when 2 colors met, a third color was made!

Ice Painting for Kids Using Gingerbread Shapes

Several of our children painted the entire piece, so we asked if they wanted us to wash the paint off so they could start again. This was quite exciting for them!

Simply carry the tray with the gingerbread ice to the sink and run cold water over it, removing the watercolors.

Then take it back to the table to start again!

This could be a solution if you don’t have enough gingerbread ice for each child. As one child finishes, wash off the watercolors and then invite another child to paint on it.

Just remember that the ice will be melting!

Ice Painting for Kids Using Gingerbread Shapes

I just had to get some photos before they were placed in the sink to thaw.

Ice Painting for Kids Using Gingerbread Shapes

Super fun, super easy, and clean up is a breeze.

Simply dump all the gingerbread ice pieces into the sink to thaw. Done!

Ice Painting for Kids Using Gingerbread Shapes

Here’s another fun process art activity to try during the holidays:

Easy Preschool Christmas Craft Using Jingle Bells - Free Printable

 




20 Christmas Snacks Kids Will Love

As I flip through Pinterest to get ideas for Christmas, I am amazed at all the fun Christmas snacks out there! I got side-tracked from planning (I do that well), and started pinning the snacks. Well, why not create a blog post with a collection? So, I chose 20 Christmas snacks kids will love.

They are (mostly) healthy snacks that would be fun for class parties, home parties, and even tucked into lunch boxes.

20 Christmas Snacks Kids Will Love

 

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

 

20 Christmas Snacks Kids will Love

 

  1. Cheese Reindeer from Cute Food for Kids
  2. Mint Chocolate Chip Energy Bites from My Recipe Magic
  3. Mickey’s Strawberry Santa Hats from Disney Family
  4. Window Star Sandwiches from Laughing Kids Learn

Kids Christmas Snacks - Fun for Playgroups and Class Parties! Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

5.  Healthy Carrot Cake Truffles from The Big Man’s World

6.  Banana Snowmen from One Handed Cooks

7.  Healthy Reindeer Holiday Treats from Hello Splendid

8.  Snowman Popcorn Cups from Creative Kids Snacks

 

Kids Christmas Snacks - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

 

9. Red and Green Dipped Apple Slices from Party City

10.  Raw Gingerbread Cookies from Raw Amanda

11.  String Cheese Snowmen from No Biggie

12.  Rudolph Applesauce from The Melrose Family

Kids Christmas Snacks - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

13.  Popcorn Snowballs from Study at Home Mama

14.  Reindeer Sandwiches from A Spotted Pony

15.  Reindeer Pretzels from Lil Luna

16.  Gingerbread House Cookies from Nurture Store

Kids Christmas Snacks - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

17.  Santa Claus Crackers from Martha Stewart

18. Reindeer Granola Snack from Clean and Scentsible

19. Crescent Pizza Christmas Stockings from Pillsbury

20. Graham Cracker Reindeer from Mom Inspired Life

Fun Kids Christmas Snacks - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

20 Christmas Snacks Kids Will Love - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

 

More Christmas ideas for young children:

 

Christmas art with DIY Stamps made from large cookie containers. Great for toddlers and preschoolers!    Preschool Christmas Fine Motor Fun with Jingle Bells - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds     easy christmas activity for preschoolers

 




Super Easy Toddler Ornament with Glitter

Inside: Looking for a super easy toddler ornament? Well, I have one for you! It involves 2 steps that young children love: brushing paint and shaking glitter. The result is a handmade ornament that shimmers when it’s on the Christmas tree!

Glitter.

After talking to many parents and teachers, I realize there are 2 feelings about this tiny shiny stuff.

You either love it or you really don’t like it.

If you fall in the latter category, I’m not going to try to sell this activity to you. Unless you just skip the glitter altogether. That could work!

But, just be warned, I’m going to mention glitter here, and share some glitter photos.

Super Easy Toddler Ornament with Glitter

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

 

Super Easy Toddler Ornament with Glitter

First, I must share that this was not my idea. It was created by my co-teacher, Mari. Mari has only been with me for 3 months and she is amazing. And she loves glitter. Score!

Here’s what you will need:

Super Easy Toddler Ornament with Glitter

Setting up this ornament activity:

  • Add even amounts of glue and paint to a shallow tray or cup.
  • Add a paintbrush.
  • Place those and the paper mache ornament on a tray. (You will need 1 for each child participating.)

My tip for the glitter:

We buy our glitter in big containers, so I found some small salt and pepper shakers at Goodwill and poured glitter into them. I’ve also used plastic spice bottles. You want to pay attention to the size of the holes in the lid. If they are too big, the glitter will just pour out. I prefer using containers that have holes that are small enough so that the children really have to shake the container to release the glitter.

I do this because I want to add some extra fine motor in the activity.

And truthfully, young children just love shaking those containers. They aren’t even really paying attention to what’s coming out. They simply love to shake them!

Super Easy Toddler Ornament with Glitter

Start painting!

Invite your children to paint the ball ornament, covering as much as possible. Some might want to paint the entire ball, but others will perhaps paint half and call it good. These are busy toddlers, after all!

Super Easy Toddler Ornament with Glitter

Super Easy Toddler Ornament with Glitter

Now comes the glitter.

As the children finish painting their ball ornament, I remove the paint/glue and the paintbrush and replace them with a bottle of glitter.

 

Super Easy Toddler Ornament with Glitter

They then shake the glitter onto the ornament for as long as they’d like.

Don’t look at the next photo if you have a glitter phobia. (I happen to love it. Call me crazy.)

Super Easy Toddler Ornament with Glitter

When they are finished, let dry completely. Then spray some acrylic sealer all over the ornament balls.

Make sure to do this in a well ventilated place. (We like to spray them outside after the children have gone home.)

You might still want to keep your eyes closed, because the next photo is keeping it real.

This is how our classroom countertop looked when we were finished.

Reminds me of my kitchen after cooking a big Thanksgiving dinner.

Super Easy Toddler Ornament with Glitter

But it was all worth it. I absolutely love how these glitter ornaments turned out!

Super Easy Toddler Ornament with Glitter

We wrapped them up along with our photo keepsake ornaments and placed them in our handmade gift bags.

Super Easy Toddler Ornament with Glitter

Super Easy Toddler Ornament with Glitter

 

Here are even more ornaments for your toddlers and preschoolers to try:




Easy Christmas Spin Art for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Inside: Try this easy Christmas art for toddlers and preschools if you are looking for a fun activity that is all about the process …. along with paint and a salad spinner!

‘Tis the season for lots of holiday crafts!

You know the ones. They are cute, you’ve worked hard cutting out all those little pieces, you stand close by so you can gently suggest the pieces be arranged in a certain order. And, when finished, you either have a Pinterest fail because they look nothing like the photo that proudly sat on your computer screen a few days back.

Take a break.

Pull out a fun, hands-on activity that is all about the process. There is absolutely no end result in mind.

I just happen to have one for you. Grab your salad spinner….

 

Easy Christmas Spin Art for Toddlers and Preschoolers

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Easy Christmas Spin Art for Toddlers and Preschoolers 

Okay, so yes, I mentioned a salad spinner.

It really is a remarkable tool at the art table! We’ve used ours to paint apples, hearts, even spiders! And depending on the salad spinner you choose, there will be different ways to make the spinner move. There is something magical to a 2 or 3 year old who can figure out how to make this gadget spin, then opening the lid to see what happened.

What we used:

Paper cut into long thin triangles. I actually found some pre-cut shapes that had scalloped edges months ago. Back when I was probably supposed to be searching for apple stuff. Or who knows – maybe it was during the summer. All I know is that it was quite awhile ago and I cannot even recall where I got it.

This is how I roll.

So I can’t tell you where I found the paper, but you can easily cut your own triangles out of cardstock. And if you just happen to have some scrapbooking scissors that give a scalloped edge, bonus! But truly it will look just as nice with a flat edge.

Salad spinner. I’ve used many different brands through the years, but I realize clear salad spinners are most fun because the children can watch the paint spin and mix. As I was preparing this activity, I found the 2 spinners that were downstairs. The one I loved most, that was clear, fell off the shelf as I walked away and broke. Turns out it all turned out well, as I found what I consider the perfect salad spinner for this activity. It’s an OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner that is large and all clear. It even has a button that acts as a brake to stop the spinning. You can imagine the delight when our 2 and 3 year olds figured that one out!

Green and yellow washable tempera paint. 

Blue glitter.

White card stock paper, cut into tree shapes.

Easy Christmas Spin Art for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Steps to making a spin art tree:

Place paper in the basket that is inserted in the salad spinner.

Squeeze a bit of green and a bit of yellow paint onto paper. (I like to put our paint in plastic squeeze bottles as they are easier for the children to handle.)

Make sure to be close to them while they are pouring the paint, as they will just want to keep on going!

Easy Christmas Spin Art for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Try to drip the paint rather than pour a clump on top of the paper. The drips spread more evenly than if the paint is poured into one or two clumps.

Easy Christmas Spin Art for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Place the lid on the salad spinner.

Easy Christmas Spin Art for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Salad spinners differ on what makes them spin – some have buttons to push, some have strings to pull, some have levers to move back and forth, some have  handles you turn. The OXO salad spinner has a nice big knob on top that is pushed. Our 2 year olds used 2 hands to push it while looking through the clear lid and watching the colors mix. It also has a small button that acts as a brake. When the button is pushed, the spin immediately stops. You can imagine how fun this is for 2 and 3 year olds!

Easy Christmas Spin Art for Toddlers and Preschoolers

When finished spinning, remove the lid and then remove the triangle. We placed them on a big plastic tray.

Easy Christmas Spin Art for Toddlers and Preschoolers

While the triangles are on the tray, shake some glitter on top.

Easy Christmas Spin Art for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Allow to completely dry and then glue a trunk on the bottom.

Easy Christmas Spin Art for Toddlers and Preschoolers

You can leave it like this, or glue it onto a solid piece of paper. (We chose red.)

Easy Christmas Spin Art for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Easy and so much fun!

Easy Christmas Spin Art for Toddlers and Preschoolers

 

Christmas Tree Ice Painting

If you liked the spin art Christmas tree activity, you will love this Christmas tree ICE painting. Yep! Freeze water into tree shapes and paint with watercolors right on top!

 

How to Put Together the Easiest Toddler Christmas Painting Activity

 

 

 

 

 




How to Put Together the Easiest Toddler Christmas Painting Activity

Inside: This truly is the easiest toddler Christmas painting activity out there! Once you have your ice ready, grab some watercolors and invite your little ones to paint on top of it. It’s a wonderful calming activity during a season that can feel so rushed.

Welcome to the Christmas season, where life can feel so rushed as we try to do a million things at once.

Even we teachers are guilty of bringing that stress into our classroom.

As soon as Thanksgiving break is over, we are making our lists that include gifts for parents, extra activities, perhaps a Christmas program, too.

It can be crazy.

And if we adults feel that way, how do we think toddlers and preschoolers feel? They are the recipients of everything we put out there.

I am guilty of this, even though I preach to other teachers not to go crazy during this season.

In fact, I found myself trying to squeeze an extra Christmas art activity into our 3 hour morning. Thankfully I stopped myself.

Instead, I recalled one of our most popular activities, painting on ice. I put a holiday spin on it by freezing water in Christmas tree shapes. I turned on some soft holiday guitar music, added watercolors, and invited my little friends to start painting.

Right on top of the ice.

You guys, if you are feeling the holiday craze in your home or classroom, you just might want to give this a try. It’s that good.

How to Put Together the Easiest Toddler Christmas Painting Activity

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

How to Put Together the Easiest Toddler Christmas Painting Activity

When I published my ice painting post, I had no idea it would go viral. I mean, really? It’s just ice and watercolors.

But then it dawned on me that was why it went viral. Because it’s so simple.

We crave simple, right? I mean, we love seeing all those cute crafts. But then we need to go purchase the materials, prep them, show the children how to use them.

Let’s face it. Painting on ice is so much easier. And perhaps even more fun. (My toddlers and preschoolers would say yes.)

Scroll down to watch the video of our 2 year olds trying this activity!

How to Put Together the Easiest Toddler Christmas Painting Activity

What you will need for the easiest toddler Christmas activity:

Note: If you don’t have time to get a tree cake pan, or if you don’t celebrate holidays in your classroom, you can simply freeze water in any plastic container, as we did in our original ice painting activity. It will still be just as fun!

How to Put Together the Easiest Toddler Christmas Painting Activity

Preparing the activity:

Make sure to allow enough time to freeze the water. Since we have 10 students and 1 cake pan, I had to repeat the process 10 times until I had 10 frozen trees. I did this at home, storing them in my kitchen freezer. On the morning of the activity, I put the frozen trees in an ice chest and brought them to the classroom. I removed them from the ice chest just before inviting our toddlers to paint.

I placed a tray at each spot to contain the drips. I then placed 1 ice tree on each tray and then placed a watercolor palette beside each tray, along with a thick brush (not the thin brushes that come with the palettes).

I moistened the watercolors by placing a drop of water on each of the ovals of dried paint.

How to Put Together the Easiest Toddler Christmas Painting Activity

The invitation to paint:

When the children sat down at the art table, I invited them to touch the ice. How did it feel? Since this was my 2 year old class, they didn’t have a lot of descriptions except “It’s cold! It’s slippery!”

I then showed them how to take their paint brushes, dip them into the paint, and brush the paint on top of the ice tree.

How to Put Together the Easiest Toddler Christmas Painting Activity

Once they started painting, I could step back and just watch.

As the ice started melting, the colors started blending. This was fascinating for the children!

How to Put Together the Easiest Toddler Christmas Painting Activity

The ice was so frozen that it barely melted by the time we were finished. The photo below shows the end result.

How to Put Together the Easiest Toddler Christmas Painting Activity

Cleaning up the activity:

Here’s the best part. Clean up is a breeze. Simply place the ice trees in the sink to thaw. I wish all art activities were this easy to clean up!

How to Put Together the Easiest Toddler Christmas Painting Activity

 

Watch the video on my You Tube channel:


 
How to Put Together the Easiest Toddler Christmas Painting Activity

 

Make sure to come back in a couple of months and try this activity with a Valentine’s twist!

Valentine's Ice Painting for Kids- Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

But while we are still in December, you might enjoy these ideas:

 

 




How to Make Jingle Bell Instruments for a Fun Music Activity

Inside: We made our own festive jingle bell instruments out of empty water bottles for a fun music activity. Perfect for the holidays!

I have an addiction to water bottles.

Not just any water bottles, mind you, but Voss water bottles. They are the perfect size for little hands to work with, they are much sturdier than regular water bottles, and they can be sealed shut easily with hot glue.

So when I am at any grocery store and see those bottles, I just might do a little dance. (While my husband rolls his eyes and chuckles. He knows!)

And then I might buy 2 or 3 or 10. Hey, water is good for me, right? So I do get to drink the water first.

While planning our Christmas sing-along that includes our families, I thought it would be fun to shake something.

Something with jingle bells.

Something they could make themselves and use during the Christmas sing-along and then take home.

How to Make a Jingle Bell Instrument for a Preschool Music Activity

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How to Make Jingle Bell Instruments for a Fun Music Activity

As I mentioned above, I wanted to use my beloved Voss water bottles. So the first thing I had to do was drink lots of water. Easy! It doesn’t matter what size. I actually had some 330 ml and some 500 ml. You decide which size would work for your kiddos. And you can use any empty plastic water bottle. I just happen to love how sturdy the Voss bottles are.

Then, I thought about what the children could put into the bottles.

The 330 ml opening is a bit smaller than the 500 ml, so make sure to take that into consideration when choosing pieces.

The one thing you will need are jingle bells. I used assorted sizes and colors for a nice visual effect, but that’s just my preference. I also added some crinkled cut paper in red, green and gold. I grabbed some pom poms from our stash and some tiny Santa erasers from the dollar section of Target.

Note: Adult supervision is needed during this process, due to the small pieces that can be a choking hazard. This is especially important if you make them with toddlers.

How to Make a Jingle Bell Instrument for a Toddler Music Activity

Preparing the Jingle Bell Activity

I found enough shallow containers for each of our children and placed an assortment of the materials inside them. I took the top off the bottle and had everything ready when they came to the art table.

How to Make a Jingle Bell Instrument for a Toddler Music Activity

The Invitation to Make Jingle Bell Instruments

We had been singing the classic song Jingle Bells for a few days before we made these instruments. I explained that we would be using our fingers to drop the materials into the bottle so that we could make our own jingle bell instruments.

How to Make a Jingle Bell Instrument for a Toddler Music Activity

Very carefully they used their fingers to pinch the pieces and drop them into the bottle, one by one. Great fine motor strengthening!

How to Make a Jingle Bell Instrument for a Toddler Music Activity

When our 2 year olds filled their bottles, they promptly turned them upside down and shook everything out.

I should have seen this coming. I mean, I’ve told you all many times how this age LOVES to dump things. Over and over again.

How to Make a Jingle Bell Instrument for a Toddler Music Activity

I decided to let them have fun with this process that they love so much.

Fill and dump.

Fill and dump.

How to Make a Jingle Bell Instrument for a Toddler Music Activity

Eventually we got all the pieces to stay in the bottle and I put the lids on and let the children shake them to Jingle Bells.

How to Make a Jingle Bell Instrument for a Toddler Music Activity

I then had them place all their jingle bell bottles in a basket so we could save them for some more music and movement activities.

Oh, and I also secured the lid with my hot glue gun so that those little hands couldn’t open and dump the materials. Because you know they would.

How to Make a Jingle Bell Instrument for a Preschool Music Activity

And that’s all there is to making this fun jingle bell instrument!

How to Make a Jingle Bell Instrument for a Preschool Music Activity

How to Make a Jingle Bell Instrument for a Preschool Music Activity

Related posts:

Easy Christmas Jingle Bell Sticks

Jingle Bell Magnetic Sensory Bin

How to Strengthen Fine Motor Skills with Jingle Bells




How to Make a Toddler and Preschool Keepsake Ornament

Inside: This toddler and preschool keepsake ornament is fun because it allows the children to choose what small items they want to put into their plastic ornament, along with a laminated photo of themselves. It is then wrapped and sent home before winter break.

Every Christmas, as we are setting up our family tree, I love pulling out ornaments that my now-grown children made back in their days at preschool and elementary school. Their little touches. Perhaps their photos glued on top. Paint and glitter and maybe a handprint.

They get my mama heart all soft and sappy and take me back to those days of having children in the house.

Perhaps that’s why I’ve always had my toddler and preschool students make a keepsake ornament. I’m sentimental like that.

My hope is that many years from now they, too, will unpack their Christmas boxes and get emotional when they see those ornaments their children made in my classroom.

In fact, I’m friends with some of my former preschool families on Facebook and now and then they will share a photo of the ornaments on their tree. And there it is – the ornament their child made in my class many years ago.

It’s those little things, I tell you.

How to Make aToddler and Preschool Keepsake Ornament

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How to Make a Toddler and Preschool Keepsake Ornament

I tend to change the details of our ornaments from year to year, but they always contain a photo of the child.

Okay, well one year I did not do a photo ornament. But just one out of 18.

This year’s ornament started with some clear plastic fillable ball ornaments that I found on Amazon. I found some assorted small pieces the children who choose from to place inside their ornaments, along with a laminated photo that I had taken of them during class.

How to Make a Toddler and Preschool Keepsake Ornament

How We Set Up This Toddler and Preschool Keepsake Ornament

I placed all the materials in one tub, all mixed together. You can see there is crinkled paper strips, jingle bells, santa erasers, sequins, little gift boxes, and pom poms. After laminating a small photo of each child, I wrote their names on the back of the photo along with the year. (We think we will remember what year the photo was taken, 10-20 years from now, but we won’t.) I placed those into the tub as well.

How to Make a Toddler and Preschool Keepsake Ornament

Because this contains small pieces, I invited the children to make their keepsake ornaments one at a time, so that I could be right there. I intended to place the tub on the table, but realized the toddlers felt more comfortable with it on the floor. I handed them one half of their plastic ornament and told them to pick out a few pieces to put into it.

How to Make a toddler and Preschool Keepsake Ornament

The santa erasers and the miniature packages were the biggest hit. I found the erasers in the dollar section of Target and the packages at Michael’s.

How to Make a Toddler and Preschool Keepsake Ornament

Then I asked them to find their laminated photo. They had great fun first noticing their friends’ photos, calling out their names. When they found their own photos, they included them with the pieces that were in the ornament.

How to Make a Toddler and Preschool Keepsake Ornament

I was a bit surprised how patient the toddlers were with this activity. They took their time sorting through the materials in the tub and selecting what they wanted in their ornaments.

How to Make a Toddler and Preschool Keepsake Ornament

When they were finished filling their ornaments, I snapped the other half on so that it was complete.

How to Make a Toddler and Preschool Keepsake Ornament

After the children had gone home, I added some hot glue in between the cracks, hoping it will be harder to open. I also tied some gold string through the hole at the top of the ornament. (The string actually came with the ornaments.)

How to Make a Toddler and Preschool Keepsake Ornament

How to Make a Toddler and Preschool Keepsake Ornament

 

Here are some other ornaments to try:

25 Homemade Christmas Ornaments for Kids

Fun ornaments that make great gifts!

 




Easy Preschool Christmas Craft Using Jingle Bells – Free Printable

Inside: This easy preschool Christmas craft is pure fun! All you need is the candy cane printable, a small box, paint….and jingle bells! While the final result is cute, it’s actually the process that makes this activity so popular. Even our toddlers had fun with it!

We love jingle bells during the Christmas season.

In fact, we have one week devoted to jingle bells.

We’ve tossed them in our sensory bin. We’ve added them to our science table. We’ve used them during music and movement.

Check out these posts:

But how about using jingle bells for process art?

That’s exactly what we did this week.

And it was a huge hit in our classroom!

Scroll down this page to watch the tutorial on my You Tube channel.

Easy Preschool Christmas Craft Using Jingle Bells - Free Printable

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Easy Preschool Christmas Craft Using Jingle Bells

We love process art because it’s open ended. Your materials list is small, it can even be altered a bit depending on your preference, and it involves actions that are fun for the children. And, when finished, no two look alike.

I appreciate activities such as this even more during the holidays, when the focus seems to be more on teacher-led crafts.

Easy Preschool Christmas Craft Using Jingle Bells - Free Printable

What we used for this preschool Christmas craft:

  • Jingle bells
  • Gold glitter paint
  • Red glitter paint
  • A small box (we actually used a plastic shoe box)
  • Candy cane printable page (scroll down to grab your free download!)

 



Easy Preschool Christmas Craft Using Jingle Bells - Free Printable

Setting up this activity:

  • Make copies of the candy cane page and cut it so that it fits in the box you are using.
  • Squirt red paint in one small container and gold paint in the other.
  • Add a few bells to each container of paint and gently move the container to coat the bells with paint.

Easy Preschool Christmas Craft Using Jingle Bells - Free Printable

Invite the children to place the paint-covered bells on top of the candy cane paper. Then show them how to hold onto each side of the box and gently tip it back and forth. If the children are having a hard time maneuvering the box, I will stand behind them and move the box with them until they get the feeling for it.

Easy Preschool Christmas Craft Using Jingle Bells - Free Printable

Once they get the motion down, they will love watching the paint travel across the paper, leaving red and gold marks.

Easy Preschool Christmas Craft Using Jingle Bells - Free Printable

When finished, have them remove the bells and place them back in the container of paint.

Easy Preschool Christmas Craft Using Jingle Bells - Free Printable

If you have children who don’t want to touch the painted bells, they can use bug tongs or even a spoon.

Easy Preschool Christmas Craft Using Jingle Bells - Free Printable

If not, carry on! But you might want to have some baby wipes handy for a quick clean up before heading to the sink.

Easy Preschool Christmas Craft Using Jingle Bells - Free Printable

Easy Preschool Christmas Craft Using Jingle Bells - Free Printable

Once finished, remove the paper from the box and let dry.

Easy Preschool Christmas Craft Using Jingle Bells - Free Printable

You could easily leave it like that, or cut the candy canes out and glue onto another piece of colored paper. I love how the red pops more with a green background.

Easy Preschool Christmas Craft Using Jingle Bells - Free Printable

Ready to give it a try? Make sure to grab your free candy cane digital printable:

Watch the video on my You Tube channel:


Easy Preschool Christmas Craft Using Jingle Bells - Free Printable

 

 

 




Gingerbread Theme Ideas for Toddlers and Preschoolers

The gingerbread theme is one of my favorites, and our toddlers and preschoolers love all the activities provided. After reading several versions of The Gingerbread Man/Boy/Girl, we put together several gingerbread dramatic play ideas in our classroom. During the same time, we create gingerbread art activities, use gingerbread mats at the playdough table, and provide gingerbread matching games for the children to enjoy. Here is a collection of gingerbread theme ideas for toddlers and preschoolers. Enjoy!

 

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Gingerbread Theme for Toddlers and Preschoolers

 

Gingerbread Dramatic Play Ideas - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

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Gingerbread Dramatic Play Ideas - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Gingerbread Dramatic Play

Each year we seem to find more gingerbread items to add to our dramatic play area. This year my co-teacher’s mother found these stuffed gingerbread people at Goodwill. They were adored by our toddlers and preschoolers! They carried them on trays to serve to all their classmates. Oh, and to their teachers, too.

Gingerbread Dramatic Play Ideas - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

We also added our Christmas slice and bake cookies that I found on Amazon last year. (Seriously, this is worth every penny. It is loved THAT much. And it doesn’t have to be limited to Christmas. Kids would have fun with it year round!)

Gingerbread Dramatic Play Ideas - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Manners were practiced as the children asked if we wanted a gingerbread cookie.

Gingerbread Dramatic Play Ideas - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Language skills were strengthened as the children role-played.

Gingerbread Dramatic Play

Gingerbread Dramatic Play Ideas - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

 

Gingerbread Theme Ideas for Toddlers and Preschoolers

And now, here is my favorite collection of gingerbread theme ideas. If you have gingerbread theme posts, please share the link in the comments section!

 

Gingerbread Theme for Toddlers and Preschoolers

 


Make sure to follow our Christmas pin board for lots more toddler and preschool activities!

 

Related Posts:

Easy Christmas Jingle Bell Sticks

Christmas Sensory Play Activities

12 Fun Christmas Dramatic Play Activities

 

Bonus!

gingerbread literacy pack

53 pages of fun, hands-on gingerbread literacy activities for preschool, pre-k, and kindergarten.

Lots more information here: Gingerbread Literacy Activities

 

 

 




Jingle Bell Magnetic Sensory Bin

What is it about jingle bells that we love so much? No matter what activity we use with them, it is a hit. It’s hard for me to say which activity they’ve loved most, because making and using our jingle bell sticks was a lot of fun. And sorting jingle bells by color was popular, too. But when we put this jingle bell magnetic sensory bin in our classroom, it got immediate attention.

Since this was the week we were also exploring magnets, we added other items to the bin as well. Some were attracted to the magnets, some were not. A bit of science at the sensory table!

 

Jingle Bell Magnetic Sensory Bin

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Jingle Bell Magnetic Sensory Bin

What we used:



Jingle Bell Magnetic Sensory Bin

It’s always fun to see what a magnetic wand picks up. Moving it through the rice allowed some buried treasures to be found.

Jingle Bell Magnetic Sensory Bin

Using a variety of sizes made the bells fun to hold, too. (And then wonder why they didn’t make as much noise when the hands were wrapped around them.)

Jingle Bell Magnetic Sensory Bin

 

Jingle Bell Magnetic Sensory Bin

 

We also added small boxes and containers to place the small items in. Always a favorite with this age group!

Jingle Bell Magnetic Sensory Bin

Some ideas for the miscellaneous items:

  • Puff balls
  • Metal lids from containers
  • Metal rings
  • Juice can lids

You might notice those metal rectangular pieces. When I worked in retail years ago, they changed their signs’ frames and asked if my preschool could use them. They are truly the best magnetic pieces ever! The bottoms of each one have a magnetic strip that was used to keep the signs on the racks. Our toddlers and preschoolers create some amazing buildings with them!

 

 

Jingle Bell Magnetic Sensory Bin

And that’s it! Super easy, right?

 

Make sure to follow our Christmas pin board for hundreds of other fun activities!

Jingle Bell Magnetic Sensory Bin

 

Related posts:

12 Christmas Dramatic Play Activities      16 Christmas Science Activities for Preschoolers     christmas playdough activities


 




Easy Christmas Jingle Bell Sticks

We  love using bells year round, but especially before Christmas, when we actually devote a week to it. We have bells at the science center, bells in the sensory bin, even bells in the block corner with Magnatiles! So when I saw the book There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell, I knew it would be a great way to add some literacy to this theme. I thought of a way to make easy Christmas jingle bell sticks that we could use while reading the book.

Fun, right?

I’m not sure what the preschoolers loved more: making the jingle bell sticks or ringing them while reading the story. What a great addition this was to our jingle bells theme!

Click here to pin!

Easy Christmas Jingle Bell Sticks

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Easy Christmas Jingle Bell Sticks

What we used:

First, paint the sticks. We gave our preschoolers a choice of red and/or green.

Easy Christmas Jingle Bell Sticks

Let them dry.

Then, attach the jingle bells.

Easy Christmas Jingle Bell Sticks

I asked each preschooler to choose 4 jingle bells.

Easy Christmas Jingle Bell Sticks

Then it was time to thread the bells onto the chenille stems. This can be a bit of a challenge, so I was there if some help was needed.

Easy Christmas Jingle Bell Sticks

After the bells were threaded on the chenille stem, it was time to secure them to the stick.

Easy Christmas Jingle Bell Sticks

We taped one end of the chenille stem to the stick and then wrapped it around several times.

Easy Christmas Jingle Bell Sticks

You can secure the end of the chenille stem with more tape, or wrap it around itself a few times.

Easy Christmas Jingle Bell Sticks

How we used these jingle bell sticks:

As we read the book There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell, we rang our bells every time I read the words “swallowed a bell”. This is a great way work on comprehension skills and figuring out what comes next.

Easy Christmas Jingle Bell Sticks

The jingle bell sticks can then be taken home to enjoy with family while singing Christmas carols.

 

Watch the video on our You Tube channel:

Easy Christmas Jingle Bell Sticks

Easy Christmas Jingle Bell Sticks

More Christmas ideas for young children:

 

Easy Christmas Ideas for Little Kids     Christmas Painting Activities      Christmas Sensory Play Activities




Using the Kindness Elves with Preschoolers

Last year, when The Imagination Tree first shared their Kindness Elves idea, I was intrigued. During a season that can be focused on asking for gifts, I love the idea of instead focusing on what we can give others. So this year when I heard that the the Kindness Elves were going to be an actual product that could be purchased, I placed my order. Using the Kindness Elves with preschoolers is going to be a new tradition in our classroom.

Using the Kindness Elves with Preschoolers

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Using the Kindness Elves with Preschoolers

First, a bit of background about the Kindness Elves. The idea was created by Anna from The Imagination Tree. She wanted her family to focus on the sense of gratitude for what they have and the kindness towards others. She came up with the idea of using the Kindness Elves to share kindness and gratitude.

And I am beyond thrilled that she put together her own elves to sell – elves with their own house that was designed by a real architect!

Today our Kindness Elves arrived on my front porch. I could not wait to open the box! And when I did, I found the elves peeking out of their house’s window.

Using the Kindness Elves with Preschoolers

I was beyond impressed with the quality of these adorable dolls! And their house has a working mailbox!

Using the Kindness Elves with Preschoolers

I also purchased the accessory kit. It is packed full of amazing extra goodies to use with the Kindness Elves, such as 50 acts of kindness cards.

Using the Kindness Elves with Preschoolers

My plan is to place one of these cards somewhere in our classroom each morning with the elves. What a great lesson on doing something for others!

Using the Kindness Elves with Preschoolers

The accessory pack also comes with mini postcards for the Kindness Elves to write to the children. These will be on our preschoolers’ sitting stools when they arrive each morning.

Using the Kindness Elves with Preschoolers

There is also a kindness resource pack for teachers. You will see all of this when you click on the link later in this post.

Here’s a video that will give you a better idea of how cute they are:

 

Good news! Because I love these Kindness Elves so much, I’ve decided to help sell them by being an affiliate! Here’s your link to order or get more information: http://bit.ly/2gPQU9J



 Using the Kindness Elves with Preschoolers

 

Related posts:

12 Christmas Dramatic Play Activities      16 Christmas Science Activities for Preschoolers     christmas playdough activities




21 Fun Christmas Sensory Play Activities

Inside: 21 fun Christmas sensory play activities that toddlers and preschoolers will love!

I just love this time of year. I always have! There is such a wide variety of Christmas sensory play activities for toddlers and preschoolers!

While my co-teacher and I were planning our December curriculum, I was thinking about how we could add some sensory in more areas than just the sensory bin. You caught a glimpse of this when I shared my collection of 5 senses activities.

So, I went to my Pinterest page. (Yeah, I’m just a little bit addicted. Okay, a lot.) I thought I would share with you some fun ideas that I think all preschoolers would love this month!

 

A Collection of Christmas Sensory Play Activities

 This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

 

21 Fun Christmas Sensory Play Activities

 

1. Add silver and gold watercolors instead of food coloring to make festive silver and gold play dough. (Craftulate)

2. Involve your sense of touch and hearing by painting with jingle bells.

3. Experience different textures while creating paper mache Christmas ornaments for the tree. (Buggy and Buddy)

4. Use painters tape to make a sticky sensory tree. (How Wee Learn)

5. Dye rice red and green and add some peppermint extract to make a fun Christmas sensory bin. (Stir the Wonder)

Sensory Play Activities Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds 1

 

6. The hands will love the feeling of  Santa slime! (Growing a Jeweled Rose)

8. The room will smell so yummy when you make a batch of gingerbread play dough.

9. Strengthen fine motor skills with this peppermint writing activity. (Kids Play Box)

10. The room will sound like Christmas after making jingle bell noise makers. (Meri Cherry)

11. Involve the nose by making Christmas sensory cards. (A Little Learning for Two)

 

Christmas Sensory Play Activities

12. If you have bubble wrap available, make some sensory trees. (Mummy Musings and Mayhem)

13. Gold food coloring and glitter make a sensory delight for the hands and eyes. (The Imagination Tree)

14. Learn with Play at Home has a shivery snow sensory bin that truly is cold!

15. Read the book “The Sweet Snow of Christmas” and fill a tray of items that smell like Christmas. (Teach Preschool)

16.  Delight your sense of touch by making a foam geoboard tree. (Fun-a-Day)

 

Christmas Sensory Play Activities

17. Create a Christmas sensory book for younger children. (Baby Centre)

18. Add some science to your sensory play with a melting Christmas tree baking soda activity. (Little Bins for Little Hands)

19. Make some Santa binoculars so you can enjoy the sights of Christmas! (Meri Cherry)

20. Put together jingle boxes for some fun Christmas listening games. (Nurturestore)

21. Explore peppermint scented paint with your fingers. (Growing Hands-On Kids)

 

Christmas Sensory Play Activities

Ready for some more Christmas Play ideas?

Simple Fine Motor Snowflakes

Felt Button Tree Ornaments

Over 700 Christmas Ideas for Little Kids!

Christmas Sensory Play Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds


 

I’m so excited to be selling  these darling kindness elves!


 




Easy Gingerbread Sensory Bin for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Inside: You will love this easy gingerbread sensory bin for toddlers and preschoolers! Super easy to put together, lots of fun to play with. Win, win!

I was minding my own business, sipping hot coffee while wasting time on Amazon, when I saw them.

Boxes with lids, shaped like gingerbread people.

Without hesitation, I put them in my cart and clicked ORDER.

My mind starting spinning with the possibilities. What about painting them and using them as gift boxes? Or, using them as a 1:1 correspondence activity? They’d be a great color sorting activity if I painted each one a different color. They’d be loved in the block corner, too!

After allowing my mind to come up with lots of possibilities, I knew just how I wanted to use them.

In the sensory bin!

Christmas Gingerbread Sensory Play for Preschoolers

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

 

Easy Gingerbread Sensory Bin for Toddlers and Preschoolers

So, here are the little darlings that caught my eye on Amazon.

Christmas Gingerbread Sensory Play for Preschoolers

Gingerbread boy shaped paper mache boxes. 

I fell in love immediately. Our preschoolers love any containers with lids. But gingerbread men? I had never seen these before. I got all giddy, just like when I found the pumpkin jingle bells. Fellow teachers, please tell me I’m not alone here! And so then I knew we needed little gingerbread men bendables to put inside the gingerbread containers. And we already had a gingerbread house.

My mind was spinning, I tell you! When my purchases arrived over Thanksgiving break, I was in the kitchen dying rice red and green. While the turkey was defrosting and I needed to get the table cleared and set for guests. Just being real here!

But, I did have some restraint. I did NOT go into my classroom during the break. I actually waited until that Monday morning before the preschoolers arrived.

 

Christmas Gingerbread Sensory Play for Preschoolers

I got everything set up before the classroom door opened. We read our first gingerbread book before opening centers time.

Christmas Gingerbread Sensory Play for Preschoolers

When it was centers time, this Christmas gingerbread sensory play activity was an immediate hit. First they wanted to fill the gingerbread house with rice.

Christmas Gingerbread Sensory Play for Preschoolers

And then they started playing with the little gingerbread figures.

Christmas Gingerbread Sensory Play for Preschoolers

They decided to see if they could fit all 12 in one of the gingerbread man boxes. They counted them as they placed them inside.

Christmas Gingerbread Sensory Play for Preschoolers

They couldn’t all fit inside, so then they placed one gingerbread boy figure inside each cardboard gingerbread boy box. 1:1 correspondence!

Christmas Gingerbread Sensory Play for Preschoolers

Then I noticed the preschoolers lining them up along the edge of the sensory bin. More counting and figuring out that they all weren’t completely the same.

Christmas Gingerbread Sensory Play for Preschoolers

 

You can see a video of our preschoolers actually playing with this on Instagram.

Playing with our gingerbread sensory bin. . . #childhoodunplugged #earlychildhood #earlylearning #ece #preschool #preschoolteacher #blogcreate #kbn #iteachtoo #instakids #instateacher

A post shared by Teacher Sheryl Cooper (@teaching2and3yearolds) on

We will expand on this activity with some gingerbread man cookie baking tomorrow!

Christmas Gingerbread Sensory Play for Preschoolers

Related posts:

12 Christmas Dramatic Play Activities      16 Christmas Science Activities for Preschoolers     christmas playdough activities


Gingerbread Theme Activities

We love starting the Christmas season with a gingerbread theme! There are so many fun activities out there, just perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.

See them all here: Gingerbread Theme Activities

 

 




12 Fun Christmas Dramatic Play Activities

Christmas is a fun time for pretend play, isn’t it? There are so many great ideas out there for your classroom dramatic play center or in your family’s home. If you are looking for ideas, you will love this collection of 12 fun Christmas dramatic play activities!

I recently wrote about the benefits of dramatic play over on Melissa & Doug’s blog. If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know how passionate I am about children learning through play. You will find those benefits in this Christmas dramatic play collection, too!

12 Christmas Dramatic Play Activities

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

 

12 Fun Christmas Dramatic Play Activities

 

Toy Store: Put together a toy store where customers can shop for Christmas (with free printables). (Pre-Kinders)

Cookie Shop: Bake and sell pretend cookies at this fun cookie shop! (Play to Learn Preschool)

Hot Cocoa Stand: Offer pretend hot cocoa in your dramatic play area. (Pre-K Pages)

Gingerbread Dramatic Play: A fun way to act out the story! (Fun-a-Day)

Christmas Pretend Play

Christmas Post Office Writing Center: Write letters and cards and send them in the pretend  mail. (The Imagination Tree)

Holiday Gift Wrap Station: Pretend to shop for family and friends. (Pre-K Pages)

Pretend Cinnamon Roll Shop: Have fun wrapping boxes and adding stickers. (Childhood 101)

Snow Cave: Gather some sheets and make a cave during the Christmas season. (Sun Hats and Wellie Boots)

Christmas Pretend Play

Santa and Rudolph Puppets: Easy to make using wooden spoons. (Messy Little Monster)

Reindeer Antlers: Download the free printable and make your own antlers. (Kids Craft Room)

Santa’s Wrapping Station: Create a small space for children to wrap small objects. (Childhood 101)

We Play Nativity Scene: How to retell the Nativity scene using a small world pieces or a puppet stand. (Planet Smarty Pants)

christmas dramatic play


 

Looking for more ideas? Check out our Christmas pin board! Over 1,000 Christmas ideas for toddlers and preschoolers, for the classroom, childcare center and home!

Related posts:

16 Christmas Science Activities for Preschoolers      christmas playdough activities     Christmas fine motor fun with jingle bells


 12 Christmas Dramatic Play Activities