The holidays are an excellent time for crafting! (Also singing ‘Jingle Bells’ at the top of your lungs.) (Or both! At once.) So we hit up our play expert, Tara Ient, and asked her what she’s making with her adorable sidekick Charlie this festive season.
Festive sensory bags
Perfect for: 4 months +
Go on and grab: laminating pouches, a hair straightener, water, food colouring (optional), eco glitter (optional), and lots of (non sharp!) decorations like sequins, pipe cleaners or pom poms.
These sensory bags are very simple and very quick to make, and a very easy way to impress your parent friends. With your hot straightener, style your hair in a sleek festive bob! (No!) Use ot to seal three sides of your laminating pouch, leaving the top open creating a pouch. Fill the pouch halfway with water, then add a drop or two of food colouring, and your fun decorations of choice. Once it’s suitably stuffed, fold the bag down to the water line so that you get rid of all the air, and seal the top with your hair straightener. We highly recommend shaking it around to ensure there are no pesky holes in the edges before you let the little humans at it!
You’ll be working on: making tummy time more fun, giving them motivation to crawl, visual scanning, fine motor skills, cause and effect (from banging and seeing the decorations move), and language concepts. It’s also incredibly helpful for distracting a hangry baby at dinnertime.
Christmas wonderland tub
Perfect for: all ages! Just adapt what is in the tub to ensure it’s safe.
Go on and grab: a tub or tray, coloured rice, dried split peas, nature items (such as pinecones, sticks or plants), Christmas bells, pipe cleaners, plastic clear baubles, spoons, and broom or vacuum ready for clean-up!
This activity is all about ‘sensory play’ (which is really just a fancy way of saying ‘stuff that you can feel, smell, taste, see, hear or move about’). So, let your creative juices flow! Start with an empty tub or tray, and pour in the coloured rice. (Quick How-to Break! Making coloured rice is easy – just combine 1 cup of rice, 1 teaspoon of vinegar and 1 teaspoon of food colouring in a container with, and shake shake shake, till the rice is covered. Lay it out to dry for an hour on some baking paper.) Add the split peas to the base of the tub, then pop in any fun items that are safe for your child to explore. They can use the spoons for scooping and pouring. Once you’re done, you can store the rice and dried peas in an airtight container for a sensory tub another time.
You’ll be working on: sensory processing, open-ended play, creativity, problem solving, cause and effect learning, fine motor skills (from scooping, pouring and exploring items in the tub), language concepts, getting messy, and cleaning up. (Important life skills!)
Jingle bell shaker
Perfect for: all ages!
Go on and grab: a plastic bottle with a lid, a bunch of noisy Christmas bells, and some earplugs. (Maybe.)
We can’t promise this will be your favourite toy (or your neighbours), but the kids will definitely enjoy making and shaking a noisy bottle of bells! Take a clear bottle with an extra-wide spout, and let your crafty little helper feed the bells in, one by one. Then screw the lid on nice and tight! And SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE.
You’ll be working on: fine motor skills, gross motor skills, rhythm (pair it with your child’s favourite song for a dance party), tummy time and crawling, cause and effect, language concepts.
Christmas tree posting
Perfect for: kids who can stand up.
Go on and grab: a large old cardboard box, green paint, yellow paint, scissors, a box or basket, and coloured balls or beanbags.
Make your tree by cutting a large triangle and a small star shape out of your cardboard box. Get your kids to help you paint the tree green and the star yellow. (Top tip: Keep a bucket and Sud Bud handy for the post-painting clean-up.) Once the paint has dried, cut out a bunch of circles that are big enough to ‘post’ your balls or beanbags through. Attach the star to the top of the tree and cut two slits in the bottom, so you can secure it on the box or basket, like a stand. Then put your balls and beanbags in the basket, ready to be posted through. You can make this a simple activity for young squirts, or up the challenge by painting a coloured outline around each hole and using coloured balls to match.
You’ll be working on: hand-eye coordination, gross motor skills, cause and effect, visual motor skills, problem solving and persistence, colour matching and language concepts.
Perfect for: 12 months +
Go on and grab: cardboard, markers, bottle lids/pom poms/stickers, scissors, Blu Tack, and a quick lesson in drawing reindeer faces.
Use your marker to draw a sleigh-load of reindeer on your piece of cardboard. (Santas and Snowmen will also work, if that’s more suited to your artistic talents!) Then put a spot of Blu Tack on each reindeer where the nose should go. Round up your bottle lids or pom poms or coloured stickers, and encourage your child to stick them on, one at a time.
You’ll be working on: fine motor skills, visual motor skills, and language concepts.