Christmas Water Play **25 Days of Christmas Play**

Day 19 of 25 Days of Christmas Play

We’ve had this ice cube tray/chocolate mold thing for a few years and have used it to make all kinds of yummy treats.  I had an idea to make ice cubes with it and Little Guy thought that was a pretty good idea.
The snowflake ice cubes have been in our freezer for a few days now and he was very excited when we popped them out.  (He had helped me dye the water green and pour it into the ice cube tray so he knew it was in there, just waiting for a fun activity!)  We put them into a bin of water right on the kitchen floor.  

We decided to make it more Christmas-y and add some red food coloring to the water.  

Chasing those ice cubes around with the ladles and spoons really helps with visual motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and motor planning.
Baby Girl took over after Little Guy moved on to something else.  She played for a while in this.  Look how small the green snowflake ice cubes are! 

We had a great weekend of playing at home, snuggles, laughter, and enjoying every bit of crazy-awesome-chaos!

Christmas Ornament Memory and Sorting Game **25 Days of Christmas Play**

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

Christmas Math

Day 15 of 25 Days of Christmas Play

This one was super easy and Big Sister gave a big “OOOOOoooo, Cool, Mom” when she saw it, so I think that means it is pretty fun…
AND it helps with teaching beginning math, so bonus!

 I had her start by putting the correct number of clips on each decorated circle.  This is a great activity for fine motor strengthening.  Pinching the clothes pins works the small intrinsic muscles of the hands.

Then we did a little simple math…I put two of the circles on the left and asked her what they added up to.
She did pretty well, without needing to count the pins for most of them!  
We also had some Christmas-y fun taking pics for our Christmas card…with lots of out-takes!
It is reeeeeallly hard to get THREE children to look at the camera, smile, and not move for a split second!  
There is not much you can do, besides laugh! I think I got one good shot, though.  Will work on the card and try to share it here, soon ūüôā
Fun Times! Looking for more fun ideas to stop, take a minute, and play with the kids this season? Check the Christmas Play tab 
to follow along each day with Christmas themed play!

Christmas Tree Sensory play

Day 8 of 25 Days of Christmas Play

Christmas Tree Sensory Play for learning colors, shapes. This is great for Toddlers and Preschoolers!



This Christmas Tree Sensory Play activity was fun for the senses, cutting, patterning, sorting, and even pre-handwriting!

Big Sister showed Little Guy how to cut shapes from foam sheets. ¬†We had these in our crafting bin just waiting for some fun Christmas play…

Each color was a different shape so they could be sorted and used in patterns on the tree.
While the Big Kids worked on the cutting and sorting, the Babies had a fun time fighting¬†playing with some coasters ūüėČ



I stuck the tree shape in the water and when the foam sheets are wet, they stick really well to a white board. 

Everyone was so excited when they realized the shapes would stick and had a blast decorating our little tree.  
We started out with the tray of water on the table and did some patterns on the tree, putting the colors or shapes one at a time on the Christmas Tree.  


I wanted them to use the easel white board to promote wrist extension (bending the wrist back). This is so important in controlled use of those little fingers when they write, cut, tie their shoes…any fine motor dexterity task. ¬†
If a child has a flexed wrist (bent forward), they don’t have the control to manage skills using the small muscles of the hand. ¬†Think¬†about holding a pencil. ¬†If the wrist is bent forward, it is so much harder to write with smooth and controlled pencil strokes. ¬†A slightly extended wrist is much more efficient in any fine motor task. ¬†
Working on a vertical plane (like the easel) is perfect for promoting an extended wrist!


 The Babies just had sooooo much fun with this! 


After a bit, we decided to put the whole water tray on the floor…
Oh yeah, that was fun! 
¬†They had so much fun with this! ¬†The mess really was not bad, with the small amount of water that was in the pan. ¬†Even still, the point of our Christmas Play Series¬†is to have fun with your little ones, enjoy a moment of play, and slow down during this hectic, crazy month. ¬†If you’re too busy worrying about the potential mess in any play activity, it’s not worth it…put it away and try something else. ¬†The kids will sense your stress level and that affects them! ¬†
One important thing to keep in mind when doing a (fun) messy play activity… is the sensory inputs, educational aspects, and unique experiences you’re exposing your kiddos to. ¬†Not to mention the bonding experience and LAUGHS that will without a doubt result!

Don’t Stress the Mess!

And, at least with this play activity, you can mop up the floor a bit afterwords and combine some cleaning into it ūüôā
Look at all those happy little piggy toes!!
I think we are missing the swimming pool days of summer ūüėČ


Have a Fun Day!

More Christmas Play activities you may be interested in: 


Indoor play: baby edition…spoons and cups

Indoor Play Ideas

This was a simple invitation to play that I set up for the babies one day after breakfast was finished. 

They loved the idea!  Putting spoons in the cup, taking them out of the cups…
Banging the cups off of the table…

Hearing the loud sound when they rattled the spoons around in the cups.

They turned the cups over and started playing drums with the spoons.
Little Guy loves any thing drums, so this was too good to pass up!

This easy play activity entertained for a long time!
Looking for other indoor play ideas??? Try these:

Ghost Catch Game

We have been playing a fun Halloween game recently. ¬†We used empty milk jugs to make these friendly ghost scoops. ¬†It was a multi-step activity…with lots of fine motor work and fun.

Ghost Catch Craft and Game
I cut the tops off of the milk jugs, keeping the handle on. ¬†While I did that, I had Big Sister and Little Guy paint white contact paper with black washable paints. ¬†They covered a big square, painting the whole thing black. ¬†Little Guy said he was making “tracks” with his paint brush in the paint. We let it dry for a day…
Then, Big Sister cut out shapes from the painted contact paper. ¬†I didn’t draw circles for her. ¬†I wanted her to work on rotating the paper, using her mind’s eye to picture the shape she wanted for eyes and mouths.¬†
She did pretty well! ¬†Her ghost’s eyes are pretty similar in size and shape, and those smiley face mouths are pretty good! ¬†She was really working those bilateral coordination skills, to hold and turn the paper, while cutting a shape she saw in her mind.

Ghost Catch Craft and Game
Figuring out how much space she had on the sheet for all of the¬†shapes¬†she needed for four ghosts was really great visual-spatial organization. ¬†This is so important in handwriting. ¬†When a writer gets to the edge of a sheet of paper while writing a¬†sentence,¬†she needs to be able to determine how much space is left, and if the word will fit…or decide that she better write the word on the next line of the page. ¬†
Neatness in handwriting is very dependent on visual-spatial organization.
Big Sister and Little Guy worked together to stick the shapes onto the milk jugs.  They look pretty cute! 

 Ghost Catch Game

We have been using these ghost catchers for a ton of fun catching games…catching leaves as they fall from trees outside, catching bubbles, scooping up balls in a fun catch game, tossing bean bags into them.
Even the babies have been loving this activity. ¬†They put toys into the ghosts and take them back out again, over and over and over….
Have you been playing any fun Halloween themed games?

Nature Adventure

My kids wanted to go for a Nature Hike one beautiful, sunny, fall day.  I pulled out some squares of contact paper and we went around the yard, gathering leaves, acorn tops, flowers, grasses, pine needles…all kinds of fun, fall things. 

Big Sister is learning about the senses in her Pre-K Science class.  We talked about the 5 senses a little bit, but mostly just enjoyed the warm sun and crunchy leaves.

Big Sister came up with the idea to use this as their “map”.  I thought this was a pretty cool idea, and it coming all from her is so exciting.  I love the imagination at this age!
Big Sister and Little Guy are really into Jake and the Neverland Pirates right now.  Everything is a pirate adventure with pixie dust and gold doubloons!
We went off on our adventure around the yard to visit Acorn Island, Leaf Land, Flower Isle, and Pine Needle Island.

Such a fun day!  

Learning Red, Apples

This Apple Gross Motor Activity is the perfect way to introduce learning about the color Red and Apples this Fall with toddlers, preschoolers, and babies. ¬†We made our own life-size apple tree (well, make that Toddler-life size!) that kids can really climb and develop gross motor skills while learning. ¬†We’ve recently update our¬†Toddler Play page with all of our play ideas in one place. ¬†Your Toddler will love some of the other creative play ideas we’ve shared in the past.
Gross Motor Apple Tree activity for learning red and apples with toddlers and preschool children. Kids love this in the Fall!

Gross Motor Apple Activity for Toddlers and Preschoolers

So, two days a week, I have my nephew here with us while my sister is working.  That makes a 5 year old, 3 year old, 1 year old, and 11 and 1/2 month old.  We had a Red/Apple play day one afternoon, with something for each age to love! (This post contains affiliate links.)
Even with two children in two different stages of preschool (3 y/o class and Pre-K), it is easy to¬†supplement¬†school lessons at home (and keep the babies occupied). ¬†Keeping the activities PLAY makes learning fun. ¬†They never know that you are actually teaching so many ideas (turn taking, manners, colors, handwriting, developing motor skills…& so much more)!



¬†This time of year, it is all about apples in preschool. My¬†3 year old is learning all about red, apples, and circles in his class. We pulled those concepts into our play with this fun apple tree activity. ¬†I placed this set up on our living room floor and had the kids pick ‘apples’. We counted them as we put them into baskets. ¬†My 5 year old loves writing when I spell out a word, and so we worked on writing the words “red”, “apple”, “circle”, and “tree”. ¬†She was “in charge” of ¬†simple math ideas (We have two apples in the basket. Adding one more apple makes 3 apples).


The babies loved putting the red balls into baskets, taking them back out and then putting them into a different basket.  They are learning through exploring!




We did some Gross Motor balance beam play on the “trunk” of the tree. This was a hit for all of the kids. ¬†These babies WATCH the big kids and try their hardest to keep up!



Gross Motor Apple Tree activity for learning red and apples with toddlers and preschool children. Kids love this in the Fall!
Gross Motor skills are tasks that require the large movements of the body.  Development of gross motor movement is important for so many play skills of childhood (riding a bike, throwing and catching a ball, hopping, skipping, climbing).  Developmentally, we refine our fine motor skills after and as a result of, appropriate gross motor skills. For example: Stable shoulder girdle strength is needed to produce controlled fine motor control needed to hold the pencil and write in a small area.

Baby Apple Theme and Red Learning Activities

The big kids did a few more motor tasks including tossing the balls into the baskets.  The controlled balance needed to stand on the balance beam, while tossing the ball into the basket is really working their eye hand coordination and can be a challenge for many kids!  
(The babies had a blast carrying the baskets around).
We went on a search for red toys, keeping with the red theme. These were put into a pretzel tub that we keep to store the baby pop-beads.
Babies love to manipulate objects, explore how they can move objects…love to see what they can do to a toy (chew it, bang it, throw it…). ¬†And then see if they can do it again! ¬†


Baby Girl is always putting these stacking rings onto her wrist. She’ll walk all over the house with one on her wrist, just like a bracelet. My other two never did that at this age! Is she a future fashionista??? Have your babies done this???


The babies loved pulling red objects out of the bin, chewing on a few, putting them back in (…pulling them away from each another, grabbing it back with a screech…these two cousins are more like siblings…LOL)
This is a great opportunity for language development.  Say each item that baby has.  Babies, at this age, love to hear your voice in different pitches.  Describe to baby the details of a toy, pointing out interesting parts.  Talking constantly to baby truly does wonders for their language development.

We finished up with a snack of sliced apples for the big kids and applesauce for the babies.
This post was originally posted in 2012. ¬†We’ve recently updated to share with you again!

Our favorite ways to work on gross motor skills: