Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Activities for Advent with a Toddler

I had a conversation with a friend whose big kids is the same age as my babies.  She talked about wanting to start Advent traditions with her daughter and expressed interest in my activity Advent calendar.  Upon further discussion, however, it became abundantly clear that my plans are for ages 3 and up.  So what to do with your toddler?

If you've got older kids, I'd suggest scaling down or scaffolding their activities so the littlest can participate.  Clearly parties and outings can involve everyone, even babies can listen to Christmas music, and books can be leveled for your audience.  Crafts can be simplified and oriented more towards process than product (I've cut paper wreaths, you can put on stickers however you like or use bingo dabbers to paint "ornaments" on them.  Here are pine cones, glue, and glitter: perhaps you'd like to combine them?)  Games can be about playing with the components, instead of actually playing the game.  Honestly, my littlest littles like to be involved, even if they have no idea what's going on.  Case in point; L says "knock knock, wha-hoo!" and then laughs hysterically.

If your only kids are under three, maybe a sensory themed activity every day is your best bet.  Introduce the material, let your little explore, and enjoy watching or playing along.  To that end, here are a few ideas:

Twenty-Five Sensory Suggestions for Advent

Lit candles (again, please supervise closely!  A two year old might be able to blow candles out.)
Christmas lights hung in the neighborhood (I would probably just take a walk before or after dinner some night)

Recorded Christmas music
Jingle bells
Caregiver singing
Salvation Army bell ringer

Cinnamon play-dough (or a chunk of cookie dough)
Cinnamon sticks
Pumpkin puree (with spices already mixed in or on the side)
Seasonal drink (eggnog, hot chocolate, apple cider, or cinnamon tea)
Candy cane
Pine branches

Tinsel or Garland
Unbreakable ornaments
A pile of pine needles or a pine branch and pine cones
Miniature tree with unbreakable ornaments to decorate and undecorate
Wooden or plastic nativity scene
Straw + box + doll = manger
String of Christmas lights plugged in (with close supervision, of course)
Wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows
Snow (or fake snow)
Toy reindeer or a horse and sleigh or a toy Santa Clause
Unlit candles (scented ones would be fun)
White fur, faux fur, or a Santa hat and beard
Advent wreath with fake candles (here's an example, but you could certainly DIY something different)

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