Christmas Sorting Game

This Christmas sorting game and ornament sensory bin is perfect for toddlers during the holiday season. It’s a Christmas sensory bin idea that little ones love! Simply grab some baby-safe ornaments (plastic and soft ornaments work!) and put them into a basket on the floor for baby play during the Christmas season.

Christmas Sorting Game

This Christmas occupational therapy activity is a big hit, and it supports skill development, too.

Sort the ornaments by color. Color sorting is great for toddlers and babies.

Day 18 of  25 Days of Christmas Play….
 This busy activity is great for toddlers and babies (supervised!) for color concepts, shape and texture exploration, transferring skills, language development, and so much more!  Grab some child-friendly Christmas ornaments, a basket  or bin, and get ready for some excitement from your tot!

Christmas ornament sort learning game, perfect for a busy activity for babies and toddlers

Ornament Sorting  Basket for Toddlers

This day of play involved sorting, matching, memory, and just plain fun!
We took a few ornaments off of the tree and put them in a basket.  My little guy just loved this game because he has been trying to play with these for weeks now!  All of the ornaments on our tree are fairly kid-friendly, so I figured why not?  I picked two of each color so there could be some matching, some of the same size and some different, some smooth, and some rough.  We had to have a few sparkly too for my daughter:)
My 4 year old had fun sorting them by color and sorting them by biggest and smallest…

 We also had fun playing a game of memory. I would put a few it the basket and my daughter would take a look, then turn her head and cover her eyes while I took one away. She had to try to remember which one is missing.

It was also fun sorting them by texture, the ones on the left had sparkles and the ones on the right were smooth and shiny!  This is a great way to work on vocabulary as well as learning about textures for my little guy.  He is learning new words every day and trying his hardest to repeat.
And do babies love anything more than putting things in and out of a basket?!?
We had so much fun with this easy Christmas activity!

Find more Christmas play activities in our 25 Days of Christmas Play series

Looking for done-for you therapy activities this holiday season?

This print-and-go Christmas Therapy Kit includes no-prep, fine motor, gross motor, self-regulation, visual perceptual activities…and much more… to help kids develop functional grasp, dexterity, strength, and endurance. Use fun, Christmas-themed, motor activities so you can help children develop the skills they need.

This 100 page no-prep packet includes everything you need to guide fine motor skills in face-to-face AND virtual learning. You’ll find Christmas-themed activities for hand strength, pinch and grip, dexterity, eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, endurance, finger isolation, and more. 

Magnet Play: Apple theme

This was a play invitation I set up one day for Big Sister and Little Guy.

Paper clips, magnets, tissue paper, and the corn bin.
((The Babies were sleeping…tooooo many hazards with this one!))

The Big Kids had fun exploring with the magnets.

We tore the tissue paper into small squares (Tearing paper into little bits works on those small muscles in the hands).  Put a couple of paper clips into the tissue paper.
And crumble it up into a ball 
We were calling them “apples”. 
Only requiring a small stretch of the imagination 🙂

Big Sister and Little Guy went on an Apple Hunt, raking the magnets through the corn to grab up the apples.

It felt pretty neat on the hands to rake through the corn…a great sensory play activity!
We had a hunt for paper clips too…

Enjoy Today!

Teaching Over, Under, Around, and Through

teach spatial concepts over under around and through with play

Let’s cover a few different directional concepts; This over, under, around, and through activity for preschool is a spatial relations concept. These positional concepts are an important part of preschool development.

Teaching Directional Concepts: Over, Under, Around, and Through


Learning Spatial Concepts during play

One rainy pre-Halloween day, I had an idea to bring a pumpkin into our play.  We were going to play a game teaching Spatial Concepts.

Teaching Spatial Concepts to Preschoolers and Toddlers through play. Over, under, around, and through and their need in functional tasks like shoe tying and handwriting.
What are spatial concepts??  
It’s those direction/spatial relationship/preposition words that tell you where something is related to something else… you know… beside, in front of, behind, over, under, around,  through, last, etc. 


These are great concepts to teach to preschoolers. 

Positional concepts are especially important in pre-handwriting.  Once they begin handwriting, kids are taught line awareness, placement of letters on the top/middle/bottom lines, how to move over a space between words, how the “y” has a tail that hangs below the bottom line…So many times, a messy hand-writer is showing problems with spatial organization and concepts.

Spatial concepts and directional terms are also important in teaching shoe tying…BIG need for understanding “AROUND the loop”, “push the lace THROUGH with your thumb”)…
They can begin learning these concepts by discovering where their bodies are in relationship to objects.  
We pulled the couch cushions off of the couches and set up tunnels, bridges (cushion over a blanket…use that imagination!), and obstacles.
My kids love the couch cushions…There are definitely days that we use the couch cushions more on the floor than we do actually on the couches.
I started singing to them, “Where is pumpkin? Where is pumpkin? Here I am, THROUGH the tunnel!” to the tune of Where is Thumbkin, and changing the last line depending on where the pumpkin was that time.

Teaching Over, Under, Around, and Through

Preschool children will love to learn and play with spatial concepts over, under, around, and through with this pretend play activity.
You totally don’t need to use a pumpkin for this…you could use a stuffed animal, action figure, apple…whatever would spark your child’s interest!
We changed it up after a bit.  And for something different, I would tell them to first go over the bridge, then go around the cushion wall, then go through the tunnel.  
They loved going over, under, around, and through obstacles to get to where the pumpkin was.  And then making up their own sequence to get to the pumpkin.  
Baby Girl just enjoyed going over cushions.


Pretend Play with Spatial Concepts

Big Sister and Little Guy decided to change the game into a pumpkin patch, complete with a cushion “tractor” to take them to the pumpkin patch and some stuffed animal “kids” to join them.  
The stuffed kids got to ride the tractor…
And go into the pumpkin patch.
And pay for their pumpkins with “coins”.
Real-world application of the spatial concepts we learned???
“Cuddles the Bear gets to go in the pumpkin patch in front of Puppy, because she is pink, and that’s good manners”.
Ok, then. 

More Preschool Spatial Learning Activities

Want to continue the spatial concept learning with your preschooler?  

  • Add music…Sing and act out “Over the river and through the woods”, “Going on a bear hunt”, and “The bear went over the mountain”.
  • Grab a basket or container of any kind. Toddlers love putting things “in”/taking them “out”.  Add more complexity for bigger kids by adding multi-step directions. “Take 5 steps forward, go under the chair, then crawl around the blanket”.
  • Make a backyard map to work on directional concepts.
  • Play “I Spy” by looking around the room and finding 3 things that are under something, or 3 things that are behind something.
  • Pencil control worksheets you can make at home
  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

Growing Memories

The Dirt will wash away, but the Memories will last!
We spend a TON of time outside.  Lately, we’ve been playing a lot in our “mud pit” as Little Guy calls this part of our yard. We pull out the shovels, construction vehicles, and add in all kinds of extra things. 
It is so fun to see them explore and learn through sensory play. Kids learn not only about their senses, but learn about their world, all through sensory exploration. Getting messy adds great tactile integration.
We started with a little section of the yard with hard dirt and rocks and added some left over potting soil from planting earlier this year. The big kids took turns scooping dirt and adding acorns.

 Nothing says “summer” like bare toes in the dirt…
…School may be back in session, but we are still enjoying summer while this warm weather lasts 🙂

A little pattern learning with rocks and acorns…
My poor parsley plant needs a little love! It didn’t work out indoors, so it can’t hurt to try outside. We watered it and got some great mud to scoop…more sensory processing!

Playing on hands and knees with an extended wrist and tripod grasp to move those little rocks and trucks. All are important precursors to handwriting.
Little Guy said “Mom, this is my favorite thing ever to do”! How cool is it to hear that from such a simple play activity?!!?
An 11 month old can explore seashells. As always, keep close supervision to be sure none go in the mouth. Baby Girl played for a looong time with the seashells!

 We finished with some sorting play with the big kids. Baby Girl loves putting things into containers and taking them back out. This is such a great tool for language learning! 

Sorting, Patterns, Exploring, Language, Fine Motor work, Pre-Handwriting, Planting, Sensory Exploration…so many cool accomplishments today!
Go outside and play in the dirt!