Homemade Christmas Ornaments

I don't know about you, but homemade Christmas ornaments are my VERY FAVORITE ornaments. We have a colored lights tree with multiple homemade ornaments (both from previous students and my own children) and each one is so special. Anything with a handprint or a footprint is a BONUS for me!

Reindeer handprint:

These reindeer ornaments are oh so cute and probably my favorite ornament of all! I made several of these six years ago with my son and it is still in perfect condition! We use brown construction paper or cardstock paper as a background. Use dark brown paint for the handprint and allow time to dry. We have a personal laminator at home (BEST purchase ever!) so I laminated them once they were dry. Use hot glue to add google eyes and a red pom pom for a nose!

Ornament kits:

I also like to pick up ornament kits from the Dollar Tree. This set came with 12 foam trees and 3D stickers. The ornaments and stars were GREAT for working on fine motor skills!

Create your own ornament:

I picked up these plastic ornaments at the Dollar Tree, as well as the snow and pom poms. I put the snow in the ornaments and then let my littles put whatever they wanted inside!

Grinch handprint:

How the Grinch Stole Christmas is my favorite Christmas movie, so we just had to create a Grinch handprint ornament! This was so easy to make. We just did a handprint on white cardstock paper and allowed it to dry. Once it was dry we drew a Grinch face on and I added red cardstock to the back. We laminated it once it was put together! 

Plain handprint & footprint:

There are so many fun ways to decorate a handprint or footprint ornament, but it's also cute to just let it be a plain handprint and/or footprint! I love to see how much my kids hands and/or feet have grown year to year. It's bittersweet!

Reindeer ornament:

My son made this in preschool years ago and it's still a favorite. Paint popsicle sticks, let them dry, and then hot glue them together and add your finishing touches! 

Reindeer thumbprint ornament:

This is another ornament made in preschool and it is oh so cute! Add thumbprints all around the ornament and allow to dry. Then draw on antlers and faces! 

Jingle bell painting:

Last year my girls made this ornament in occupational therapy! It was such a cute activity. We laid a piece of white paper flat in a box, added some paint, and threw in some jingle bells. They held each side of the box and shook it back and forth, allowing the jingle bells to move freely in and out of the paint. Once it was finished, I let the paper dry and cut out circles to make ornaments! 

What are your favorite homemade ornaments?

Christmas Multiplication

It's no secret that we use dot stickers often for multiple uses, but they aren't just for little ones! This week we did Christmas multiplication with my oldest.

I drew a Christmas tree on a piece of craft paper and wrote basic multiplication facts (6x7, 8x9, 4x6, etc) on them. The answers were scrambled on dot stickers. My son solved the problem mentally and then placed the correct answer (sticker) on the problem. This was such a quick activity to put together and a FUN way to practice multiplication facts!

Another fun activity to practice multiplication (and division) facts are these color by number fact sheets! You can find these for FREE at Coloring Squared

Practicing multiplication and division facts doesn't have to be boring! Make it festive and fun! 

Decorate a Christmas tree with dot stickers

Susie over at the Busy Toddler always shares fun ways to use dot stickers. We love dot stickers and use them often. I even purchased a large pack for stocking stuffers this year for my littles.

I used craft paper from our easel and taped it to the wall. I drew a Christmas tree and made yellow, orange, and green dots (those were the only color dot stickers I had at the time). 

Our goal was to decorate the tree by placing dot stickers over the coordinating colors. This was a great fine motor and visual scanning activity.

We had a beautifully decorated tree at the end! I love activities that are quick to put together and you get the most bang for your buck with skills being addressed!

Christmas Crafts with Do-a-Dot Markers

Do-a-Dot markers have been a favorite for all three of my children. Do-a-Dot markers are excellent for hand-eye coordination and visual scanning. My girls can't get enough of them! Today I am sharing two Christmas activities we did with Do-a-Dot markers. 

We recently decorated Christmas tree printables with them. I love how bright and colorful they turned out! It's a fun, festive decoration for our refrigerator now. 

I also drew a Christmas tree on paper and let the kids use Do-a-Dot markers to decorate it. They all enjoyed that. 

Christmas Sensory Bin - Jingle Bells

Yesterday I shared a Christmas sensory bin with you (click here if you haven't seen it). Today I am sharing another Christmas sensory bin. 

For this Christmas sensory bin, you will need:

  • Jingle bells 
  • Christmas themed pom poms 
  • Miniature trees

This sensory bin took only a few minutes to put together! Seriously so simple and quick! I used different types of pom poms for multiple textures. My girls loved the jingle bells the most in this sensory bin. These jingle bells have a handle which made playing with them lots of fun, but you could even add loose bells throughout the bin, too. 

Christmas Sensory Bin

We are having so much Christmas fun the month of December and I wanted to share with you one of our Christmas sensory bins! This was so easy to put together and my girls loved it.
Materials needed for this Christmas sensory bin:
  • Red and green dyed rice
  • Red and green pom poms
  • Christmas tree cookie cutters
  • Miniature trees
  • Wooden peg people 

The beauty in sensory bins is that you can put whatever you like in them! For this bin, I stuck with a Christmas theme and added some pom poms from the Dollar Tree, cookie cutters, peg people, and trees. My girls very favorite part of this activity was the Christmas tree cookie cutters. They loved putting it down in the rice and then filling it up with more rice.

It was so simple to dye rice for this project. I used 1 cup of rice to 1 tbsp of vinegar with a few drops of food coloring. I added all of that to a gallon size bag, shook it up, and then let it dry flat on parchment paper. It is so easy to do! I recommend making multiple colors while you have the supplies out. After making this Christmas inspired dyed rice, I made rainbow rice using multiple colors and mixing them together.

I have so many Christmas themed activities to share with you soon! 

Christmas Books

Over the years we have built up our collection of Christmas books. We've always loved reading and reading special books during December is a favorite. I wanted to make sure we read all of our Christmas books, so mid-November I gathered them and took inventory of what we had. I counted thirty one books total. Many people wrap 24 books total to read one each day beginning December 1st through Christmas Eve. I didn't want to take away 7 books, so we are reading all 31. It worked out perfectly when we got back in town from Thanksgiving to begin reading them that night and read one per day until Christmas Eve. 

I wrapped them in this special paper so they wouldn't get mixed in with our Christmas presents. I thought this wrapping was fun and so child friendly!  

We are loving this tradition so much already! My son's favorites so far are the pop-up storybooks we were gifted years ago. Those are always fun!
What are your favorite Christmas books?

Gift Guide for Boys (ages 8-9)

A few days ago I shared my Gift Guide for Toddlers, ages 1-3. If you missed it, you can click here to read it. Today I am sharing my gift guide for boys ages 8-9! My son will be 8 1/2 at Christmas this year and I am sharing some of his most requested toys, as well as some of our favorites. Some are tried and true toys for us and some will be new to us this year.

We'll divide this into 6 categories:

  • Experiences
  • Science/STEM
  • Outdoor
  • Multi-use (indoor/outdoor)
  • Books
  • Stocking Stuffers

Let's start with experience gifts. 

  • Zoo - Purchase a family membership to your local zoo for year-round fun! We have found this to pay for itself after only a few trips to the zoo and is well worth the price! Plus, everyone in the family gets to enjoy!

  • Museums - We are lucky enough to have several museums around us: a history museum, a science museum, and a children's museum.

  • Tickets for a special event - Movie theater, water park (for summer fun!), amusement park, a special show, concert, etc. Last year we surprised my son with an overnight stay in a hotel in a neighboring state with tickets to see his favorite wrestler, AJ Styles, at a WWE Smackdown show. Hands down - this was my favorite experience gift we've given him! 

Now let's look at Science/STEM related gifts.

  • Sphero ball - This is one of my sons highly requested gifts this year. You can control this robot using an app.
  • Vex Robotics - These robotic kits seem to be the rage this year! You can find them in multiple places. This is a fun project you can do WITH your child.
  • Circuit kit - We purchased this circuit kit for a friends birthday recently. When I taught 4th grade science, my students LOVED working with circuits!

Let's move on to OUTDOOR gifts.

  • Scooter - Scooters are always a fun gift! You can buy push kick scooters or electric ones.

  • Go-Kart - We don't have room for it, but I know older kids would love this!

  • Drone - Drones can be a fun toy and they even come with cameras now. 

My longest list of toys for boys ages 8-9 fits into this MULTI-USE category.

  • Nerf guns - Nerf guns are ALWAYS a hit at our house! We have a space in our garage where we hung pegboard to store them.
  • Vortex ball - This is one of my sons most requested toys this year. The Vortex ball is made by Nerf. 
  • Magnetic dart board - My son recently received this dart board as a gift and it is so much fun! I love that the darts are magnetic. Even his two year old sister enjoys it!
  • Lego kits - Lots of kids love legos, whether it's a classic set or Lego set.

  • Sports equipment - Does your son play sports? Need a new baseball bat? Cleats? Glove? Basketball? Basketball goal? New soccer ball? Soccer goal? Christmas is the perfect time to stock them up on the sports equipment they need/want. 

  • Action figures - Last year was the year for action figures at our house! My son got oodles and oodles of WWE action figures. You can get action figures for whatever character/people your son is interested in.
  • Qixels - My son loves to create with Qixels sets!
  • Hoverboard - You may think this was a popular option a few years ago, but if your son is just now at the age to enjoy a hoverboard, it may be a good option!  Do your research on the best brand! 

Next, let's discuss BOOKS & BOOK SERIES:

  • Kindle - I'll be honest. I'm a book-in-my-hand type, but a Kindle is a great option to have!

Lastly, let's look at stocking stuffers:

  • Special pens/pencils - This is the perfect time to stock your son up on new pencils or pens. My son loves Flair pens (like his mama!).
  • Markers - Need new markers? Perfect time!

  • Small Lego sets - Sometimes you can find small lego sets that make great stocking stuffers! Even Dollar Tree has little sets that would be great.

  • Movies - A movie is an easy stocking stuffer!
  • Small cars/trucks - Matchbox cars or other small vehicles make easy stocking stuffers, too!  

There you have it! LOTS of gift ideas for boys ages 8-9! I hope this was helpful to you. What items are on your sons list?

Gift Guide for Toddlers (Ages 1-3)

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas is my very favorite holiday. It's time to start thinking of the perfect gift for your children. First, I am sharing a gift guide for toddlers ages 1-3. Be on the lookout for my next post, which is geared for older boys ages 8-9.

This gift guide will be divided into a few categories:

  • Experiences
  • Outdoor
  • Indoor/Multi Use

Let's start with EXPERIENCES

I love the idea of experience gifts. Last year we purchased tickets for my son to see his favorite wrestler, AJ Styles, at an event in a neighboring state. Not only did he get to experience the show, but he and his daddy made it an overnight trip, which was exciting all in itself. Some experience gifts I would recommend are:

  • Zoo - Purchase a family membership to your local zoo for year-round fun! We have found this to pay for itself after only a few trips to the zoo and is well worth the price! Plus, everyone in the family gets to enjoy!

  • Children's Museum - We love our children's museum and go often! It was well worth the price for a family membership so we could go as often as we wanted. This is great for those cold months that we are indoors the majority of the day.

  • Other museums - If you have other museums in your area, whether history museums or science museums, family memberships are great for experience gifts. 

Let's move on to OUTDOOR gift ideas.

  • Water table - Water play is so much fun for kiddos and even if they have to wait a few months for warmer weather, a water table makes the perfect gift. We have this one from Step 2 and love it. 
  • Tricycles - As your little one gets older, it's time to begin introducing tricycles! We have both (or are getting both from family) the Schwinn and Radio Flyer. 

  • Picnic table - My little ones love having picnic lunches outside during the summer. This picnic table by Little Tikes is perfect for that. 
  • Basketball goal - This basketball goal by Little Tikes is the perfect starter set for a young basketball player. My girls watch their older brother play basketball, so I know they'll love getting to play it themselves. 

  • Little Tikes T-Ball set - This is another cute beginner athlete set. My son loved this when he was young. To this day, baseball is his favorite sport!

Now let's move on to INDOOR/MULTI USE gift ideas. 

  • Play kitchen - Our little ones will soon receive a kitchen and I cannot wait! A play kitchen was one of my most loved toys as a child and I cannot wait for my littles to enjoy one. We decided on this Kidcraft play kitchen. We decided on a corner kitchen since our space allows it and it looks big enough for 2 to comfortably play. 
  • Play food - If you go with a play kitchen, you'll need accessories like play food. We debated on wooden vs. plastic play food. In the end, we decided to go with plastic, but we knew all plastic play food isn't made the same. I loved the durability of the play food at our local children's museum. It is from Lakeshore Learning, so we invested in it. 

  • IKEA Flisat table - This table is PERFECT for sensory play, which is what we plan on doing with it! We purchased the white Trofast baskets to go down inside the Flisat table. 
  • Mega Blocks Lego set - This is a classic beginner Lego set. They come in primary colors, pinks, and they even have a stack and learn set. 

  •  Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Sink Toy - This has been a favorite toy of my littles for well over a year! It is great to teach the very beginning stages of brushing teeth, combing hair, and washing hands.

  • Melissa & Doug Geometric Stacker - I originally was looking for a simple circular stacker, but found this set from Melissa & Doug and grabbed it. It is great for hand/eye coordination and fine motor skills.
  • Toy animals - We bought a ton of animal figures from Hobby Lobby when my son was two years old. Six years later, they are still in GREAT condition and have proven to be WELL WORTH the investment. I recommend a high quality set that will last for years. 

  • Puzzles - My favorite puzzles are from Melissa & Doug. They are such good quality that lasts. This farm animal puzzle is a favorite of ours.
  • Kinetic sand - Kinetic sand is so great for sensory play. We use it often! 

  • Do-A-Dot markers - These markers are great for crafts! We use them with printable Do-A-Dot sheets online. Great for hand/eye coordination!
  • Dress up - Superhero capes, princess dresses, etc. What's not to love?! We are dedicating a spot in our playroom just for dress up. We have a Minnie Mouse dress up set, a Riverbanks Zoo vest, a superhero cape, and a veterinarian vest. 

  • Play Doh - I know, it's messy. Little pieces of it get everywhere no matter how careful your children are. I like to throw down a sheet before we play so that (hopefully) all of the remnants stay on the sheet. Play Doh is GREAT for sensory play. We also like the Play Doh tools. 

There you have it! LOTS of gift ideas for toddlers ages 1-3! I hope this was helpful to you. What items are on your list for your little ones?

Be on the lookout for my next gift guide --> boys ages 8-9! 

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