The holidays are always an exciting time of year for babies and toddlers – and their parents. Seeing the wonder as kids experience the holidays is magical. But, the holidays are also a great opportunity to try some new activities and start new traditions as a family. Here are a few fun educational holiday activities for kids that are great tradition-starters, and they will also allow your child to practice those skills they are developing at the same time.
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Holiday Activities for Kids:
Make a Halloween Sensory Bin
Halloween is a great time to make a sensory bin. A sensory bin is a large container that is filled with materials that kids can explore with their senses. Sensory bins are often filled with a material like sand, rice, dry pasta, or beans. For a baby or young toddler, a sensory bin could be filled with a small amount of water instead to make sure it’s not a choking hazard. In the wintertime, we like to fill our sensory bin with a scoop of snow from outside. This is a great way for kids to experience the snow without having to go outside in the cold temperatures.
Sensory bins help toddlers develop calm and focus as they learn to use their senses to explore their world. Kids can also practice fine motor skills with a sensory bin as they work on scooping, pouring, and stirring. Sensory bins are a great way to reinforce language skills as well. Hide a variety of different items in the bin and then discuss each item with your child as they find it. This is a great way to help your child expand their vocabulary with new words as you discuss what they are finding in their sensory bin.
Mess? No Problem!
A fun (but messy) sensory bin for Halloween can be made while carving a pumpkin. Scoop out the goop from the inside of a carved pumpkin, and put it in an empty tub to make a special Halloween sensory bin. You can also add Halloween-themed items for your child to find. You can have a conversation with your child as they use their senses to explore the texture of the pumpkin goop, the slippery feeling of the seeds, and the smell of the pumpkin as you play together.
Read a Thanksgiving Story
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to choose some simple holiday-themed books to read together as a family. This great idea highlights the many benefits of reading with your kids, starting when they are babies or toddlers.
In addition to being a great bonding experience, sharing books can help your child develop a love of reading that will be beneficial when it’s time for him to learn to read on his own. Reading together also helps expose your child to more language, which many studies have shown helps kids do better in school. Even babies can benefit from being read to, and a child is never too young for you to start this habit.
There are a wide variety of books about fall and thanksgiving available for babies and toddlers. You can check your local library or favorite bookstore; many will have a special section of holiday books to explore.
Babies will enjoy word books with photographs of everyday items. You can help them learn new words even before they are speaking by pointing to the items and saying their name.
Older babies and toddlers may be able to point to pictures and find items that they know, even before they can say the words. This is a great way to practice vocabulary skills when babies aren’t talking yet.
For older toddlers, simple storybooks with Thanksgiving or fall themes are lots of fun. Kids enjoy reading about activities they have done themselves or reading about things they will be doing.
Bake Christmas Ornaments
At Christmas time, our family always likes to make cinnamon ornaments together. We follow a simple recipe to mix the ingredients, roll out the dough, cut out ornament shapes with cookie cutters, and bake them in the oven. Hanging them on the Christmas tree can also be included using different words.
This is a fun tradition to start with a baby or toddler and continue every year. Even young toddlers can enjoy helping to dump ingredients in the batter, rolling out the dough, and choosing cookie cutter shapes.
Baking is a great Christmas activity to engage a small child’s senses as they smell the cinnamon and touch the dough. Toddlers can develop fine motor skills by helping to roll out the dough and cutting out the shapes with cookie cutters.
This is also a great way to practice language skills, as you discuss the recipe together. As you are cooking, you can explain the steps of the recipe to your child. It’s ok if your child doesn’t understand everything you are saying. They will benefit from hearing your words even if they don’t understand each one.
The school holidays are a great time to start a new family tradition. I hope I’ve given you a few more ideas about what activities to do on holidays so your new traditions can help support your baby or toddler’s development, while making long-lasting family memories.
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