Five festive ways to play for toddlers

Five festive ways to play - cuddles & muddles & muddy puddles

We’re all about Christmas at the moment… I’ve been taking advantage of the season to try out some different activities with ToddlerGirl to keep us both entertained as the days get colder and darker (and we are confined to the house more than usual with one or the other one of us being unwell!)

These five activities have provided us with lots of festive fun. They are all very simple to set up and do, as I am also all about making it easy for myself at the moment!

Making Christmas prints

Making Christmas prints - cuddles & muddles & muddy puddles

We haven’t done a lot of printing activities to date but this one proved to be a big hit with ToddlerGirl. I laid out some pieces of black and white card; red, green, gold and silver paint on trays; and our two Christmassy foam stamps. These are cubes, with a different foam piece on each face, including a Santa’s hat, a reindeer, bells, a present and a snowflake. It took a bit of practice to get the stamps to work well; we found that loading them with paint just left a blobby mess so instead we painted the shapes before printing, which ToddlerGirl did very carefully, with a lovely look of concentration on her face. She really enjoyed stamping the patterns all over the card. After a while, she also painted her hands to do handprints, and her arms just for the fun of it! We weren’t making anything in particular but the results were lovely and could be used as wrapping paper or chopped up to use as gift tags or Christmas cards. Cookie cutters would work for the printing too if you didn’t have foam stamps. In fact, we might try that next time!

Christmas post pretend play

Christmas post pretend play

With all the Christmas prints we ended up with I decided to cut them into cards. A few have been sent to family and I thought we could play a Christmas posting game with the leftovers. We already have a post box, made out of a tall cardboard box, covered with wrapping paper and with a slit cut out for the letters to fit through. This comes out every now and then and ToddlerGirl can entertain herself for a surprising amount of time with it! So I was excited to introduce a Christmassy version. With the Christmas cards laid out on the floor next to the post box, I explained to ToddlerGirl that we needed to put stamps on them before we posted them. We used some Christmassy stickers to add our ‘stamps’ – some cards had quite a few more than they strictly needed! Then ToddlerGirl collected them all up and posted them into the box, before emptying it out and starting all over again. After a few rounds of this, we did a special Christmas delivery to all the toys in the room, giving each one their own Christmas card. They weren’t allowed to keep their cards for very long; soon, she was collecting them all up again and putting them in her post bag to repost in the mailbox. This was a good pre dinner game to play as I could sneak out to the kitchen every now and then while ToddlerGirl sorted and posted the cards!

Christmas present wrapping

Christmas present wrapping activity

ToddlerGirl is always trying to ‘help’ me to wrap presents, so for this activity I let her get stuck in! I wrapped up two empty boxes of different sizes, leaving one flap of wrapping paper unstuck. I then prepared a gift wrapping table with strips of pre cut sellotape and sparkly gift tape, and a selection of coloured gift bows, with the backs already peeled off. At the moment, the cutting and peeling is too fiddly for ToddlerGirl but this would also be a great exercise for slightly older children to set up the gift wrapping table on their own. I explained to ToddlerGirl that the presents were just pretend and that she could help me finish the wrapping and she needed no further encouragement! She had the most fun with the sparkly tape, which I had found in different colours in our supermarket. This got applied liberally to the presents, along with several bows. She also tried to decorate herself and me!

Christmas tree matching (with a free printable to download)

Christmas tree matching game

As ToddlerGirl seems to be really into puzzles and matching items at the moment, I thought I’d put together a festive homemade puzzle for her. I found some pictures of patterned Christmas trees and made a document with two of each tree, which I then printed out. I cut the trees out and then laid them onto a small mat on the floor of our living room for ToddlerGirl to find the next morning. When we came downstairs, she made a beeline for the puzzle and I explained to her that we had to find the matching trees. She loves to do this and she was incredibly pleased with herself when she found all the matching pairs. I then tried a slightly more difficult version of the game by laying the pieces out face down. We turned over the pieces one at a time and we had to shout out when we found a matching pair. The rules of this game proved a little more tricky for ToddlerGirl to master so it has extended the challenge for us nicely. You can download the Christmas tree matching printable here as a pdf.

Christmas card colouring and decorating

I set this up as an easy invitation to play for ToddlerGirl to find on her little table. I have a stack of Christmas cards that I ‘carry over’ each year as they haven’t been used, so I grabbed a few of them and laid them out with her colouring pencils and some Christmas stickers for her to colour in and decorate as she liked. This has been a good activity to keep ToddlerGirl occupied pre and post breakfast time, before we are ready to head out and before I’m ready to get stuck into a ‘serious’ game. I’ve been enjoying listening to ToddlerGirl talking to herself as she works on the cards as she is pretending to write in them, obviously having seen me do our Christmas cards the other day! “Dear Mummy and Daddy… Happy Christmas!” I love it! It really makes my heart melt to hear her playing like this :)

Those are the five festive activities we’ve been enjoying over the last week or so. There are so many brilliant ideas around the web for getting creative with the season – check out my Pinterest ‘Winter Wonderful’ board or join me on my new cuddles & muddles Facebook page for more inspiration!

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