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12 Days of Christmas Sensory Play Activities

Updated: Dec 23, 2021


Why Sensory Play? Sensory Play is one of the most important things you can do with your child when they are little. And the best part about it is it is SO EASY to do and can be done with free things around your home or neighbourhood. It is one of the things I love the most!

When some people hear the word sensory play they automatically have an anxiety attack and can only think of one thing – MESSY! And while most sensory play can get messy, especially with little ones, I want to encourage you to look at it differently this time and embrace the mess knowing it has a really good purpose.

I think after you hear why it is important you might be able to overcome the anxiety and enjoy play with your child.

First of all, what is sensory play? Our brains use the senses of touch, sight, hearing, smell, taste, movement, and balance to explore the world around us. Sensory play is any activity that stimulates your child’s senses.

Now… why is it so important? Sensory experiences help the brain develop necessary sensory processing capabilities. Through those experiences, children learn to explore and investigate the world around them and develop an understanding. Sensory play encourages and supports language development, fine and gross motor skills, cognitive development (growing in understanding), problem solving skills, social interaction, and creativity. Those are all essential skills for growing in development and learning.

Besides all those amazing reasons, sensory play is also often very effective in calming your child down. And it is really really fun!

So during these holidays we want to give you a taste for how FUN, EASY and IMPORTANT Sensory Play is for your child!


Making memories

Before you start, we want you to know that sensory play activities require you to SLOW DOWN and choose to make memories with your child and enjoy playing with them. This is so important as our children grow and develop. They need that personal connection and the best people to do that are their parents. We want you to see this as an opportunity to grow in your relationship with your child(ren) and just enjoy time together.

We’ve put together 12 ideas for fun sensory play activities. You can call it the 12 days of Christmas. They can be done in any order, at any time, on whatever day you want them to be done. Just ENJOY!

We have listed ready-made resources at the end of this as well if you are interested in ordering more fun items for your child to help them develop and grow in a fun and playful way – the way children learn best. 12 Days of Sensory Play ideas DAY 1 – Colourful Bath Play www.busytoddler.com

Materials needed:

o Food colouring

o Items from your house suitable for water of a certain colour

o Bathtub or little pool

What to do:

This activity can be done again and again. You could choose a colour each day or once a week, etc. Choose a colour for the bath/pool. Fill the bath with water and mix in food colouring. Find items around your home (toys, cups, spoons, bowls, sponges, etc) that match that colour. Put your child in the colour bath with those items and play! Talk about the colour and enjoy watching them think about what things are that colour around them.

*Please DO NOT leave your child unattended in the bath. Sit with them and enjoy!

DAY 2 – Christmas wish list

Materials needed:

o Newspaper/magazine with toy pictures or food items.

o Piece of paper (any colour)

o Scissors and glue

o Markers, crayons, pencils to colour with

What to do:

What child doesn’t enjoy making a wish list? It’s personally how I keep them from continually asking me if they can buy things every time we go to the shops. I just say “put it on your wish list.” This activity will involve their senses as well as developing fine motor skills.

Give your child pages with toy pictures (we get a lot in the mail these days). You can make a letter for Santa, or create a Christmas wish list, or whatever you would like to call it. Decorate the paper in a fun way and have your child cut out toys they want for their “wish list” and also glue them on the page. Remind them they may not get everything on their wish list but it is fun to create.

If you prefer to take a different route, you can ask them to create their favourite Christmas meal by cutting out pictures of their favourite foods and gluing them on the paper (you can draw a circle for a plate on the paper if you like).

DAY 3 – Painting with ice www.easypeasyandfun.com

Materials needed:

o Food colouring

o Ice cube tray

o Short craft sticks (cut long wide ones in half)

o Big paper

What to do:

This is a fun summer activity!

The night before, fill your ice tray with water, add food colouring (just a bit) in each section. Then place a stick in each section for your child to hold on to. Put in the freezer overnight until solid.

Give your child a big piece of paper and take the colourful ice sticks out of the tray. Show them how to “paint” with the ice sticks. This can get a bit messy so best to have your child do it on a table that can easily be washed – maybe even outside and with their swimming costume on.

DAY 4 – Christmas treasure hunt www.teachingmama.org

Materials needed:

o Christmas sensory rice (rice mixed with green or red food colouring)

o Fun small items to hide in the rice (small toys, or Christmas décor items)

o A tray or box

o Tweezers, scoops, etc. (optional)

What to do:

This activity can be so much fun and varied. Can be repeated again and again. Fill the bottom of a box or a tray with Christmas coloured rice (or plain rice is also fine if you don’t havce food colouring). Take the small toys or Christmas items and hide them inside the rice. Give your child a tool if you want (or they can use their fingers). Let them dig through the rice to find the hidden treasures. You can tell them how many treasures are hidden and they can count as they go until they find all of them.

DAY 5 – Christmas sensory bottle www.thechaosandtheclutter.com

Materials needed:

o Plastic bottle with lid

o Water and glycerine

o Glitter or confetti

o Different Christmas small items: buttons, ribbons, pom poms, glitter pipe cleaners, etc.

What to do:

Fill up your bottle 2/3 of the way with water. Add small Christmas theme items (if you have your child do this under supervision, it is great fine motor skills practice) and some glitter or confetti.

Next fill the rest of the bottle up with glycerine. Put the lid back on (hot glue or super glue closed if you want). Shake and have fun watching everything move around. DAY 6 – At the beach www.funlearningforkids.com

Materials needed:

o Kinetic or moon sand

o Beach toys (bucket, shovel, castle mould, rake, etc.)

o Shells or plastic sea creatures

o Bowl or tray with water coloured blue with food colouring

What to do:

Buy or make kinetic or moon sand. Fill up a tray or box with sand, shells, beach animals, etc. Fill up another bowl or tray with water and mix in blue food colouring. Give your child the tools and toys to play with. Let them spend time digging in sand to find animals and shells, building sand castles, playing with toys and shells in the water, etc. Best to set this all up outside if possible. You can also combine the sand and water in one big plastic tub if you prefer.

EASY MOON SAND RECIPE: 2 cups of flour + ¼ cup oil. Mix it together until crumbly and squishy. DAY 7 – Nature patterns and sorting

www.frugalfun4boys.com

Materials needed:

o Items from the garden or park: leaves, sticks, rocks, acorns, pinecones, seeds, flowers, etc.

What to do:

Have fun going on a nature treasure hunt with your child outside to find leaves, sticks, rocks, acorns, flowers, seeds, etc.

Use the items you found outside to make fun patterns. You may have to first give your child a few examples of patterns, even say them out loud (leaf=rock=flower=leaf=rock=flower…) and see if your child can continue the patterns. DAY 8 – Do you want to build a snowman?

www.growingajeweledrose.com

Materials needed:

o Bicarbonate soda (4 cups)

o Cold water (1-2 cups)

o Tray or bowl

o Snow play items (scoops, trucks, snowman accessories,…)

What to do:

Make homemade snow together (follow the recipe below). SNOW RECIPE: Place 4 cups of frozen bicarbonate soda in a bowl, SLOWLY add 1-2 cups of cold water until it has a crumbly, icy consistency.

Place snow in a tray or bowl and give your child the toys and snowman accessories. It will feel cold. Roll it into snowballs, have fun scooping it, etc.


DAY 9 – Fingerpainting

Materials needed:

o School paints/finger paints

o Paper

What to do:

This is a fun activity to just let your child explore and have fun using their imagination. Enjoy painting alongside them and seeing what fun things you can paint using your fingers. There are many ideas online for inspiration. DAY 10 – Salt dough ornaments www.thebestideasforkids.com

Materials needed:

o 2 cups flour

o 1 cups salt

o 1 cups cold water

o Straw

o Ribbons

o Glitter and/or paint


What to do:

Mix flour and salt together in a bowl. Slowly mix water into flour mixture until dough is smooth and easy to handle. Knead dough for 10 min. and let rest for 20 min. Preheat oven to 120°C

Roll the dough and use cookie cutters to make shapes. You can also make a circle or square and then press your child’s hand inside. Look online for some fun ideas! Poke a hole using the straw at the top if you want to hang shapes as ornaments.

Arrange shapes on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven until shapes are hard and dry (about 2 hours). Cool completely.

Decorate with paints or glitter. Add yarn through the hole to hang them up.

DAY 11 – Make Christmas cookies www.recipetineats.com

Materials needed:

o 1 cup unsalted butter

o 1 cup sugar

o 1 ½ tsp vanilla essence

o 1 egg

o 3 cups flour

o ¾ tsp baking powder

o ¾ tsp salt

o Baking tray, knives, oil or butter for greasing.

What to do:

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease 2 baking trays.

Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamy. Add egg and vanilla, beat until completely combined.

Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Start mixing slowly, then beat until the flour is incorporated - it will be clumpy.

Dust work surface with flour, scrape dough out of bowl. Roll the dough thin (the thinner the crispier the cookies will be). Use cookie cutters to press out shapes and use a knife or spatula to transfer shapes to prepared baking sheets. (Keep dough that doesn't fit in the oven in the fridge).

Bake for 10 minutes, until the edges are just beginning to turn light golden.

Allow cookies to cool completely on trays.

You can ice the cookies with a simple icing. Mix together 1 cup icing sugar, 2-3 Tablespoons of milk, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, food colouring of your choice. Ice the cookies together to make beautiful Christmas cookies.


DAY 12 – Christmas sensory bin www.theimaginationtree.com

Materials needed:

o Leftover Christmas décor, wrapping paper, ribbons

o Coloured rice (rice + food colouring and 1 Tbsp of water, let dry)

o Glitter, confetti, etc.

o Tools like spoons, scoops, cups, sticks, etc.

What to do:

This is a wonderful activity to use all those Christmas extras leftover. Save wrapping paper, ribbons, tissue paper, bows, etc. from the Christmas celebrations. Put them in a tub with some coloured rice, confetti, glitter, and anything else fun and textured. Give your child some fun “tools” and let them enjoy playing, scooping, sorting, making patterns, etc. Enjoy doing it with them.

You can also just give them a bunch of leftover wrapping paper and some scissors and let them cut pieces to put into the sensory bin.


Extra: Make Biscuit Christmas Houses

For an extra special memory-making activity, here is a twist on the traditional gingerbread house using simple ingredients and lots of imagination. This involves so much sensory play (including taste!)

Materials needed:

o Tennis biscuits

o Icing (see recipe below)

o Sweets of all sorts

o Plate, knives

What to do:

You can put together the tennis biscuits using the icing as “glue” to make a house.

Then decorate your house and surrounding area with icing, sweets, etc for a fun imaginative sensory experience. Turn on the Christmas music and have fun creating a new tradition. Another option is to make a nativity scene with a stable, Mary and Joseph, the manger and baby Jesus, animals, shepherds, angels, etc.

Icing Recipe: Whip 2 large egg whites until foamy. Add in ½ teaspoon of cream of tartar and mix for 30 seconds. Add in 3 cups of icing sugar until well mixed. Beat the whole mixture well until thick.


You can visit our SHOP for fun Sensory Play tools for your child!

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