Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiday Activities with Toddlers

Working on a college campus has its advantages, one of them being an extended winter break. The downside to that is we don't have as much time to explore with the holiday-themed materials I've accumulated over the years. This year we have to be extra careful to insure the materials didn't pose a safety hazard to the younger toddlers. But, we have managed to do that and they have had fun experimenting.

One of their favorite activities seems to be using tongs so I try to come up with a variety of activities throughout the year that lets them practice this fine motor skill. For the holidats, we have winter-themed ice cube trays and a variety of materials, including large erasers, pom-poms and Christmas lights, that they can pick up and place in the trays. Sometimes they even work on matching and sorting, although we let them sort the materials in any way they see fit. This activity gives us the chance to work on language skills and some concepts in a playful way. We often talk about colors, textures, and shapes along with concepts like same and different when we have these activities out.  We get to introduce new language, like squeeze, and talk about the hard work it takes to squeeze the tongs and actually hold onto the item in the question.

Moving them from the floor to the shelf and back again became a great challenge that they took on with delight.

We have been sorting Christmas ornaments by color but we really like to fill the buckets and dump them out. Sometimes we even experiment with the ornaments in the ball tubes or on the ramp.

And I have to include a few more pictures of the snow painting we started earlier this week. The young toddlers finally got their turn and tasting and feeling the paint was the highlight for them.

What surprised me the most about this activity was the interest the older toddlers took in making hand prints after we made one for their parents' gift. I honestly thought they would spend most of their time finger painting or simply exploring but almost all of them continued to make their own hand prints when they had more opportunities to paint later in the week.


  1. I love the fine-motor play... and especially the way you're having conversations with the kids about how hard it is to squeeze those tongs with the right degree of pressure to both hold on to and release objects. Great stuff!

  2. Thanks Laurie! We've been working much harder to acknowledge their efforts this year and not just dole out praise and random 'good jobs'. I love watching them with the tongs. They concentrate and stay engaged so much longer than most people give toddlers credit for.