Easy Last Minute Advent Calendar for Families

 Use these easy last minute Advent calendar ideas for families as a way to connect this season. This advent calendar is a craft the kids will love to create each year while developing fine motor skills and making memories! 

For Christmas activity ideas with a therapy punch, use these 25 days of Christmas play ideas. Paste them onto the Christmas lights in the Easy last minute Advent calendar below.

 
 

 

Does your family made an Advent Calendar each year?  We love to fill our Advent Calendar with activities for the whole family, and designed to make memories.  This year, we were a little late getting our calendar filled with activates and figured there are so many other busy families who are in the same boat!  We needed an Easy, Last Minute, and Home-made Advent calendar.   This calendar does just that.  This was so easy to throw together, and with a little help form the kids, hang in our home for festive Christmas décor!  We chose activities that are part of are usual Holiday traditions, so that it would be easy to add into our days leading up to Christmas.  We really don’t need to have a huge to-do list every day and make more work for our selves.  This Christmas Advent Calendar is perfect for busy families and will make lasting memories!
 
{Note: This post contains affiliate links.  In other words, this blog will receive monetary compensation when any purchases are made through the links in this post.  Our opinions and ideas are in no way affected.  As always, we thank you for your support and community here at Sugar Aunts.}
 
 

 Easy Last Minute Advent Calendar

To make our calendar, I cut light shaped pieces of red and green  Construction Paper , and little black squares.  These were by no means exact AT ALL!  Just easy and quick.  A little Glue
to hold the black squares in place, and the lights were done.

 

 
 

Advent Calendar Activities for Families

The kids and I came up with fun Christmas activities that we normally do every year to write on our lights.  This is memory making right here, folks!  With a black Marker, I wrote out our favorite traditions…
 
Decorate the Christmas Tree
Eat a candy cane
Donate toys
Visit Santa Claus
Watch Frosty the Snowman movie
Make cookies
Make Christmas cards
Drink hot cocoa
Deliver treats to neighbors
 
…What holiday traditions are part of your family?
 
A little tape and Red Yarn, our lights were strung!  We used clothes pins to attach our activity lights for ease and for the one reason that may make our holiday very simple…
we can easily change the activities around based on what our day looks like.  Maybe on a certain day, Christmas play dough is just NOT going to happen.  Switch it out for Reading a Christmas Book.  
 
See, this really is the easiest Advent calendar for busy families!
 

Our Christmas Advent calendar ends with a star and a special activity…Singing Happy Birthday to baby Jesus!

So, we’re heading into the Christmas season with our last minute, home-made Advent calendar all ready to go!

Christmas modified paper for holiday handwriting for kids

SALE! Save 25% on Modified Christmas Paper NOW THROUGH CYBER MONDAY.

Coupon code is HOLIDAY25

Use the Christmas modified paper handwriting pack to work on handwriting, letter size, letter formation, and legibility with meaningful and motivating activities:

  • Letters to Santa
  • Wish List
  • Holiday To-Do List
  • Shopping List
  • Thank You Notes
  • Recipe Sharing
  • Winter Writing Prompts

Click here to get your packet.

Thanksgiving Felt Board Patterns Direction Following Turkey

This Thanksgiving Felt Board activity was just the thing we needed one afternoon when Little Nephew was at our house.  It was a super cold day and we were happy to stay inside warm and cozy playing and having fun with a few Thanksgiving activities!  This felt board was super easy to put together.  I have a big sheet of orange colored fleece fabric that we use for all kinds of activities and play.  It makes the perfect fuzzy background for felt play, pretend play when we need to have an impromptu living room teddy bear picnic, and the perfect baby doll blanket!
This time we used our fleece to make an easel cover for our Felt Board Direction Following Turkey.   We’ve been doing a lot of turkey crafts and activities leading up to Thanksgiving, and this one was even more fun for the littler ones.  Baby Girl (age 2) and Little Nephew (age 2) both loved moving the felt pieces all over the board.  And worked on fine motor skills and direction following and patterning at the same time!  


{Note: This post contains affiliate links.  In other words, this blog will receive monetary compensation when any purchases are made through the links in this post.  Our opinions and ideas are in no way affected.  As always, we thank you for your support and community here at Sugar Aunts.}
 Thanksgiving Felt Board Patterns, Direction Following, and Fine Motor Turkey by Sugar Aunts
Just a few supplies are needed for this activity.  The Orange Fleece worked perfectly to hold the felt pieces of our turkey.  The rest of the turkey was easy to make using Assorted felt pieces.  A few brown circles, feathers of different colors, little turkey feet, a beak, and a wattle and our turkey was ready for creating! 
I snipped a few little pieces of felt and glued them to the backs of Googley eyes.  Then the googly eyes could stick to the fleece.
The fleece was perfect to throw over our Easel.  The fleece stayed in place pretty well without sliding much.  With the material up on an included surface, the kids were able to manipulate the pieces of the turkey while using an extended wrist.  This positioning of their hand while managing small pieces prepares them for handwriting with a proper position of the wrist and fingers while holding a pencil.
I put one turkey together so the Toddlers could see where all of the pieces went.  This task required visual scanning and direction following.  We put our turkeys together with multi-step directions to add a little difficulty to the task.
Little Guy (age 4) worked on some patters with the feathers.  We used an AB pattern for our turkey feathers.

Little Nephew is a smarty when it comes to identifying colors.  He told us all of the colors of the feathers easily!

Working those little pieces was a great fine motor task for these guys!
They needed to use a pincer grasp to pinch the littlest pieces, all while maintaining that extended wrist. 
We had such fun day with our Turkey patterns, direction following, and fine motor play.  This would be an easy activity to put together in these last days before Thanksgiving!

Gift Guide Toys for Sensory Play

We had so much fun putting together our recent Gift Guide Toys to Improve Pencil Grasp, that we decided to put together this gift guide for Toys to Inspire Sensory Play.  If you follow our blog posts, you know that we LOVE messy, sensory, textural play.  


There are so many benefits to sensory play for young children.  They can explore textures, colors, scents while manipulating with their hands, expanding language skills, developing self-confidence, and so much more.  And while they are playing, they are exploring, exploring, investigating, and creating!  


This gift guide provides ideas to incorporate sensory play into daily play.  We wanted to provide a list of gift ideas so that sensory play can be done easily once you have all of the needed items.  What better time to stock the activity bin/closet/box than during the holidays?  


Maybe a relative is asking for gift ideas and there is something you would LOVE your kids to play with for sensory experiences.  Direct them to this gift guide for ideas to encourage sensory play!


{Note: This post contains affiliate links.  In other words, this blog will receive monetary compensation when any purchases are made through the links in this post.  Our opinions and ideas are in no way affected.  As always, we thank you for your support and community here at Sugar Aunts.}

Gift Guide: Toys to Inspire Sensory Play. By Sugar Aunts

Toys for Sensory Play

Water Tables In Sensory Play:
Water tables are great for sensory play.  Despite it’s name, water tables are not JUST for water!  There are so many possibilities for messy play with a water table.  Goop, moon dough, birdseed,  shaving cream…the possibilities for sensory and textural play are endless! A water table is not just for outdoor play during the summer months.  We love bringing our sand and water table indoors during the cooler months and playing with bigger items like seashells, animal figures in play dough, mixing flour and a bit of water.  We love this Step2 WaterWheel Activity Play Table
for its large basin, the added water wheel (How fun to pour sand and watch it fall!), and the low cost.  So many senses can be addressed with water table play.  We explored the textures of fall with a
Fall Themed Water Table.  Since we’ve added our water table to our play, we’ve had so much sensory play fun!

Color Changing Tablets for Sensory Play:
The sense of sight is such an immediate one!  A sensory experience can be set up for the kids and as soon as they see a bright green bin of water with scoops or foam pieces, they are excited for play!  These Color My Bath Color Changing Bath Tablets
are great for setting the stage for multi-sensory play.  We’ve used them in our
Swamp Water Bin Sensory Play activity.  Watching the colors fiz and mix is such a fun experience!

Throw these tablets into the bath tub along with a few unexpected items (Paint Brushes, fun eye droppers like these Learning Resources Twisty Droppers , or a Funnel Set) and you’ve got a great sensory play environment!

Light Panel in Sensory Play:
This Portable Light Panel
from ConstructivePlaythings is great for visual sensory exploration.  Tracing and tactile manipulation can enhance math, handwriting, spatial relationships, and more through sensory play.

You could add a few Light Table Pattern Blocks
or even magnetic
Imaginarium Letters & Numbers
like we did in our
Light Box post.  Explore the shapes and textures of leaves, petals, and so much more with a light table!

Manipulatives In Sensory Play:
Sensory play is such a fun way to play and learn any topic.  Exploring textures with sensory input can really instill learning. So what can you put in the sensory bin, or water bin, or in the shaving cream on a tray?  The possibilities are endless!

Try a jungle theme and add Jungle Animal Counters.  Maybe your child LOVES dinosaurs and would go crazy to play with Mini Dinosaurs
in a tub of birdseed.  Any theme or subject can be added to sensory play. 

Textural play:
Our kids LOVE to get messy!  Not all kids do and may need gradual experience to build up their tolerance to touch and manipulate different textures.  Some of our favorite messy play materials are:

Moon Sand (such a cool texture…but be warned, Moon Dough is VERY messy!)

Educational Insights Playfoam (such a neat textural experience!)

Aqua Sand Polar Playground
is another super messy but very cool play experience.  The wet sand dries immediately, how fun!

Glow in The Dark Slime
is slimy, messy, and glow in the dark.  Add a few
Marbles

and you’ve got a super sensory texture.
The slime and the marbles would make fun stocking stuffers!

Scented Play:
Remember these Mr. Sketch Scented Markers
from grade school?  I can still remember that blueberry scent!  What a great way to explore the sense of smell while playing and creating art.  Have the kids draw with the markers and then spray the art work with a water bottle to see the colors run.  This would be a great sensory and process art project for kids of all ages!

This Scented Balls Set
sounds so neat!  We’ve never played with these before, but they each come in a different scent and would make an awesome stocking stuffer!

Water Beads in Sensory Play:
There is nothing more fun than this sensory play item!  Water Beads
are typically used as a vase filler because once soaked in water, they expand and become a super sensory, fun, fine motor medium.  We’ve used them in 
sensory bins of all kinds.  This set from Bundle Monster is great deal and comes in so many fun colors.  (Note: always be sure to supervise children when playing with water beads!)

Great stocking stuffers for sensory play:

More Ideas for sensory play:
shaving cream
food coloring
scoops
birdseed
field corn
split peas
dry beans
colored rice
colored sand
cotton balls
tinsel

So, if you are looking for a few ideas to add some sensory fun to your gift giving this holiday…or have family and friends asking for gift ideas…maybe one of these sensory play toys will be just right for your little one!  This list is by no means exclusive.  There are limitless ways to encourage sensory exploration into play.  We just wanted to provide a few ideas.  Happy playing!

Playful Ways to Learn the Alphabet

This week on Share It Saturday, we are highlighting Playful Ways to Learn the Alphabet.  We love to create unique learning experiences for our kids.  Not only is it a great way to encourage participation and develop multiple skills, it’s just fun!  Learning letters (and the whole alphabet) in a playful way ensures retention of letter formation, the order of the ABC’s, and encourages children to actively ENJOY learning letters and pre-reading skills!  Learning the alphabet in a playful way can be fun with a little creativity.  Check out the links below for awesome ways to Play and learn the alphabet!

This post contains affiliate links. 
Playful Ways to Learn the Alphabet by Sugar Aunts


Playful Ways to Learn the Alphabet

DIY Montessori Moveable Alphabet from Moms Have Questions Too
Early Learning Magnet Puzzle from And Next Comes L on B-Inspired Mama
Squish and Seek Sight Words from Playdough to Plato
Musical Letters from Reading Confetti
Golf Tee Letter Hammering from Sugar Aunts
Letter Ice Muffins from Sugar Aunts
Alphabet Chicka Chicka Book Boom Tree from Adventures At Home With Mum

Gratitude Leaf Garland

We make a Thankful Tree every year where the kids tell me the things they are thankful for and I write out the leaves.  We have our Thankful Tree up on the dining room table all November up until Thanksgiving.  Check out last year’s Thanksgiving Tree.  This year we went a different route with our thankful leaves and made a Gratitude Garland.  We still had the fall colored leaves and the kids told me all of the things they are thankful for.  We strung our garland along the wall in the dining room so we can see the leaves while we’re eating dinner.   We save our leaves from each year in envelopes so that we can read through them together and remember the things we were thankful for each year.  This is one of our favorite Thanksgiving traditions!


{Note: This post contains affiliate links.  In other words, this blog will receive monetary compensation when any purchases are made through the links in this post.  Our opinions and ideas are in no way affected.  As always, we thank you for your support and community here at Sugar Aunts.}
Gratitude Leaf Garland for Thanksgiving by Sugar Aunts

Garland Leaf Garland

I cut out a bunch of leaves in nice fall colors and set out the pen so we were ready to go once Big Sister got home from school one day.  The kids started telling me all of the things they are thankful for.  My favorites: noodles, God, Jesus, hot dogs, and especially the handwritten-by-Big Sister “thankful mom” and “thankful dad” leaves!

Gratitude Leaf Garland for Thanksgiving by Sugar Aunts
This is the easiest family craft to make.  All you need is Construction Paper, Markers, and Yarn.  A few leaves cut from the paper and you are all set.  This would be a great scissor skill activity for the kids too if they would cut out the leaves. 
Big Sister wrote out a few of her leaves this year.  Love that new writer handwriting!
Gratitude Leaf Garland for Thanksgiving by Sugar Aunts

 I LOVE pulling out the envelopes of leaves from each year and reading through them with the kids!  We keep them in our fall decorations bins in storage, so once it’s time to decorate for fall, we have them handy each year.

These leaves will be something that I save forever!

Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions to share gratitude?  Do you make a thanksgiving tree or garland? 

Fine Motor Sun Catchers

The dyed pumpkin seeds have returned in this easy, last minute, thrown-together craft!  A fine motor play activity turned into a cute sun catcher craft.  We shared this post on our Facebook page when we played with sequins and contact paper before nap time one day recently.  With a little child-led art, the sequins-on-contact paper turned into a pumpkin seed/sequins sun catcher!
{Note: This post contains affiliate links.  
Fine Motor Sun Catchers
 

Supplies needed for this sequin fine motor activity and sun catcher craft include Sequins ,

Clear Contact Paper, pumpkin seeds, and Food Colors

Fine Motor Sun Catchers

Sequin Fine Motor Activity

We started out with this little fine motor play activity for the littlest kids in the house before their nap time one afternoon.  I put out squares of clear contact paper and a scatter of sequins and let them go to it!  I showed them how to pick up the sequins and stick them onto the contact paper.  Baby Girl and Little Nephew are both two years old and I wasn’t sure how this would go over with them.  They both really liked sticking those little sequins on the sticky paper!  (There was a lot of tongues sticking out too…you know when kids stick their tongues out when they cut with scissors or reeeeallly concentrate on something?  LOVE that cuteness!)
Fine Motor Sun Catchers

Pumpkin Seed and Sequin Sun Catcher

Then Little Nephew pulled out some of the Dyed Pumpkin Seeds that we have been playing with a lot lately.  He started sticking them onto the contact paper and making a pretty little art collage!  These little buggers are so easy to make…just a few drops of food dye into a baggie of dry seeds and you’ve got an instant sorting, pattern making, art medium for play and learning!

Fine Motor Sun Catchers

One funny thing, when the dyed pumpkin seeds were stuck to the contact paper and then moved, the dye peeled off a little.  We stuck another square of contact paper on top of our sun catchers and hung the art to our dining room window.  Cute, easy sun catcher fun! 

Note:  Be sure to monitor closely children when laying with small items such as sequins and pumpkin seeds with young children.  All children are different and an activity like this one may not be appropriate for some.  Always use caution when doing one of the activities found on our website and social media communities.  Have fun!

Sight Word Sticky Easel

  
This was a fun post to write, and more importantly it was fun to PLAY this one!   We made this Sight Word Sticky board on the easel to practice a few of Big Sister’s sight words with a fun fine motor twist.  Big Sister, Little Guy, Baby Girl, and Little Nephew all enjoyed this sticky board easel  activity.  At one point there were hands everywhere sticky leaves up on the sticky board.  We used different colored leaves to help the littler kids to learn some of their colors.  Big Sister liked reading the words as she went along sticking letters up on the tree.  We went with a leaf theme, but this sight word activity could be modified to so many different themes, all using a few items.  Check out what we did…


{Note: This post contains affiliate links.  In other words, this blog will receive monetary compensation when any purchases are made through the links in this post.  Our opinions and ideas are in no way affected.  As always, we thank you for your support and community here at Sugar Aunts.}
We received the books from Set 1 for beginner readers from BOB Books to review.  We were so excited when the package arrived with our book set.  Big Sister opened the first book up as soon as she got home from school and started reading her way through it!  This was her first real book that she’s read through by herself and was so happy that she could do it!  You could see her confidence overflowing when she read that book!  So what did she do then? She pulled out the next book and read that one too!  This was such an amazing experience for us both.  She was all smiles when she finished those books! 
We loved the simple pictures on the pages of the BOB Books.  The fact that similar characters are in each book helps with carry over with new readers.  Each book is only 12 pages, so it’s short enough that she didn’t lose interest or become overwhelmed.  I loved the consistent sounds and words in each book. These beginner books are just what I have been looking for as Mom of a new reader.  I wanted a book that would allow her to have confidence so she wouldn’t give up as she learns to decipher words. These books were just that!  We are so excited to be working our way through the books and can’t wait to get started on the next one!


Sight Word Sticky Easel

We made this activity to go along with some of the words in the third book, as well as some of the words Big Sister has recently learned in school.  For this activity, we used Foam Sheets , Clear Contact Paper, and our Crayola Magnetic Double-Sided Easel
to do this activity.  First, I cut little leaf shapes from different colors of the foam sheets.  I wrote out the words on the leaves.  They were in one of the bins on the easel and ready to grab.

For the tree, I drew a quick tree shape on the non-sticky side of the contact paper.  I pulled the backing from the contact paper and attached it to the easel with some tape.

The kids LOVED this!  There were hands in every direction as they stuck leaves to the contact paper.  Big Sister would tell us the words on the tree and the younger kids would tell us the colors.  Little Nephew and Baby Girl played with this much longer than everyone else, just pulling the leaves from the contact paper and sticking them back up again.  Reaching up to the easel and placing the leaves on the contact paper was a great fine motor activity for them.

Later, I found an interesting thing stuck to the contact paper…
cheese! So funny!

Leaves Craft and Fall Leaf Books

We made a Leaf Placemat Craft recently for a play date craft.  This was so much fun that when we came home from the play group, the kids wanted to make more!   Our dining room table is looking pretty festive with our leaf place mats.  We enjoyed going out on a nature hunt to collect lots of leaves of different size and color from the yard. And now, it’s nice to see them every day at every meal!  This was such an easy craft for younger kids and a hit at the play group.  One day, I was able to set up a little after-nap snack and book time, using our leaf place mats and a few new favorite books from the library.  123 We  read the books and had a little Cheerio snack on our easy leaf placemats.   Read more below to see what we did and our book recommendations:

{Note: This post contains affiliate links.  In other words, this blog will receive monetary compensation when any purchases are made through the links in this post.  Our opinions and ideas are in no way affected.  As always, we thank you for your support and community here at Sugar Aunts.}
Leaves Craft and Books
 

Leaves Craft

We started by collecting different colored leaves from around the yard in lots of colors and sizes.  Luckily (or unluckily, depending on who is working the rake…) we have a bunch of HUGE trees and loads of leaves to jump in, play with, and collect.  We put our leaves in big trays to dry and take to our play group.

Leaves Craft and Books
The craft was SO easy and perfect for toddlers.  We cut sheets of Clear Contact Paper
into large sheets that would be able to fold over to placemat size.  This was definitely NOT accurate or precise.  Each of our placemats are slightly different sizes and as unique as the child making them!
Be sure to grab the clear contact paper and not the one with a white backing so the leaves will show through both sides.
Leaves Craft and Books
This was fun for the kids to scatter leaves around on the contact paper.  Big Sister made a few shapes and pictures with her leaves.  (Perfect for one of the books we read!)
Leaves Craft and Books
Leaves Craft and Books

 Fall Leaf Books

The books we had from the library were fun fall books, just right for a leaf placemat snack!
   Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert is such a fun book, showing leaves as they move across the land in the breeze.  They pictures of the leaves change forms as the book progresses and Big Sister really like pointing out the man, or cow, or bird made from leaves on each page.  This book was perfect for our leaf craft project!

Leaves
by David Ezra Stein is such a cute story about a bear who is surprised about the falling leaves.  This book was fun for us because we enjoy seeing the leaves fall from our trees and we love to try to catch them as they fall.

Autumn Orange (Know Your Colors)
by Christianne C. Jones was a good book for us and a fun read.  Especially Baby Girl liked this one (who is just learning her colors and thinks every color is purple 🙂 !

Leaves Craft and Books
It’s not too late to grab up a few fall themed books and create a leaf craft before the craziness of the Christmas season is on us!  What are your favorite fall books?