Stuck for activity ideas? Look no further, here are 7 Christmas sensory activities for your toddler to try. Each one uses a prop/ item that you can easily find at home over the festive period. These Christmas activities will have you and your toddler Ho! Ho! Hoing! and rocking around the Christmas tree in no time!!
Toddler Christmas Sensory Activity 1: Box Play
Christmas is the perfect time for box play:
a) you’re likely to have more deliveries and boxes in need of recycling,
b) you can pretend you’re a Christmas present!!
How is Box Play Useful for my Child’s Development?
Box play is a fabulous role play activity because it sparks your toddler’s imagination- are they in a rocket? Climbing a mountain? Inside a cave? Imagining and experimenting with all of these possibilities are great for your toddler’s creative brain, but also their ability to problem solve.
It’s also brilliant for developing core strength. Toddlers naturally need to use their core strength to sit inside a box. Babies are supported by the sides of the box, until they’re stronger to sit unaided. Once your little one starts playing inside and even ripping sides off of the box to make a ‘go kart’, toddlers have to use increasing core strength to stay upright!
Box play strengthens your toddler’s understanding of the world around them. They are using role play and sense of touch to experience real world scenarios and form moral understandings.
- Are they a knight in a castle battling evil?
- Visiting a car garage?
- Or creating a work of art at a gallery?
Boxes are great for adding movement possibilities too…
Boxes can spin, be lifted, pushed and slid. They can be climbed on, jumped off of, crawled through and squeezed into. Giving your toddler the opportunities to move in these ways, when perhaps they haven’t mastered spinning independently yet is really exciting! Just like you going on a rollercoaster!
And if play is fun and exciting, they won’t realise that they’re learning; you’ve secretly snuck in sensory activities that develop both their senses and gross motor skills!! Win win!!
Christmas Box Play Activity idea for toddlers
Find a box big enough for your child to comfortably sit in
Pretend that you’re a Christmas present.
Hide inside the box and spring out of it in different shapes/ with different movements
Think of different presents- a toy car, ballerina doll, space ship…
Turn your box into these things with your imagination or movement.
Could you wiggle the box on your knee and pretend you’re flying in a space ship?
Toddler Christmas Sensory Activity 2: Wrapping
My dining room table is currently a sea of wrapping paper!! How can wrapping paper inspire a sensory activity?
Why is Wrapping Good for my Child’s Development?
Rolling is a key physical developmental milestone and light pressure from being wrapped provides sensory integration (especially useful if your child suffers from anxiety, has autism or a sensory processing disorder).
Being wrapped in a blanket (or similar) has a calming effect; recreating a hug.
Again, creative/movement play uses your child’s imagination.
Wrapping Paper Inspired Activities for Toddlers
Using a blanket/ bed sheet or similar, roll your child up in the blanket (making sure their head is free to breathe)
Can your little one unroll themselves?
Can you use the blanket to ‘wrap’ each other?
Can one of you manipulate the blanket and the other copy the movement, for example could your little one throw the blanket in the air and your jump or you could scrunch the blanket into a ball and your little one could curl up into a small shape (displaced manipulation is a fun way to work on cause and effect).
You could always explore what else your blanket can do… can it turn into:
- a butterfly cocoon?
- a tightrope?
- the sea?
Toddler Christmas Sensory Activity 3:
Who doesn’t wish for a white Christmas?? I love the romantic idea of snow, but when I’m cold and soggy I think again!
Why not bring the idea of snow indoors into the toasty warmth?!
What are the Benefits of Rolling?
Rolling is one of the first milestones a baby masters. Rolling is important because it requires co-ordination of both sides of the body and co-ordination of top and bottom halves of the body. Both skills needed for crawling, walking and beyond.
Rolling, much like spinning and swinging uses the vestibular system (our body’s ability to sense movement in our head), proprioceptive (sense of their own body in space), auditory and visual senses. It’s important to develop these movements to allow your child’s sensory and nervous systems to mature and organise.
It helps your child to gain a sense of body awareness and where their centre is- essential before being able to co-ordinate movement and balance.
Often once children have had the combined experience of big movements (gross motor) and sensory stimulation, they are likely to have better concentration and be emotionally calmer.
For more info on the vestibular system check out: https://extension.psu.edu/programs/betterkidcare/news/2017/spinning
Snow Inspired Sensory Activities for Toddlers
Pretend to build a snowman.
Explore how many different ways your child can roll (you could explore how you can roll with your child- teddy bear rolls with a child sat on you is a real ab workout!!)
Explore how many different ways your child can spin.
Mime putting on scarf, hat and facial features.
Finish with an imaginary snowball fight (cotton wool balls are great snow balls!!).
You could always develop this into ice play or go outside and play in real snow too!!
Want to save these activities for later? Download our PDF list of activities here:
Toddler Christmas Sensory Activity 4: Dancing and Singing to Christmas Music
I love nothing more than putting the Christmas tunes on and singing at the top of my lungs (pretending to be Mariah!).
Dancing and singing are mood enhancers. Whenever I’m feeling flat or got too much energy, dancing around the house to feel good, upbeat music; like many Christmas songs, always sorts me out. The same is true of toddlers. When they’ve got loads of excess energy, channel it into dancing.
What are the Benefits of Singing and Dancing to Christmas Music?
Dancing and singing release happy hormones (oxytocin, dopamine and endorphins).
Singing can improve memory. Ever wonder why libraries run Rhyme Time sessions? Singing is fabulous exposure to sounds and language. Putting words to music helps your little one to remember them. A wonderful stepping stone to reading and writing.
Helps with attention/ concentration (releases adrenaline).
Boosts lung capacity and stamina.
Dancing to Christmas Music Activity for Toddlers
Put on a playlist of your favourite Christmas tunes and bop around the house!
Can you wave? Point? Travel? Jump? Turn?
Toddler Christmas Sensory Activity 5: Tinsel Dancing
There’s something nostalgic about tinsel! We found some up in our loft this year and I couldn’t bear to throw it out, so I’ve recycled it into a dance prop instead.
What are the benefits of dancing with my toddler?
Bonding! Spending quality time with your toddler helps with bonding and attachment. Having a strong connection supports brain development and long term mental health including: self esteem, independence and resilience.
To read more about the impact of bonding on mental health check out: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5330336/
Tinsel Activity Idea:
Bust out some Christmas music for this one…
You’ll need some tinsel or a paper chain or other garland-type prop.
Hold one end of the tinsel each.
- Can you turn under it?
- Can you step/ jump over it?
- Can you wrap yourself it and spin out?
- Can you push and pull it?
- Can you swing it?
Perhaps you can try dancing with one piece of tinsel each and copy each other’s movement?
Toddler Christmas Sensory Activity 6: Sleigh Ride
Sleigh rides are a class favourite! Little ones love the excitement of going on a journey around the room.
What are the benefits of sleigh rides?
It develops core strength, understanding of weight placement and balance.
It helps your child to figure out the world and how much risk they feel safe taking.
It’s a great workout for you!!
Sleigh ride Activity Idea:
Using a mat or blanket or bed sheet. Ideally try this activity on a smooth hardwood floor (they slide better!)
- Lie the mat on the floor,
- Ask your toddler to sit/lie on it,
- You hold two of the corners (you could try holding all four corners of the mat, to cocoon your toddler up and give them more support),
- Travel around the room (you’re the reindeer btw!!) dragging the sleigh,
- Stop off to mime delivering presents along the way.
You could experiment with different speeds, directions, adding turns and changing the way you pull the sleigh.
Toddler Christmas Sensory Activity 7: Light play
There’s something magical about fairy lights. Light play is a great activity to stimulate your little one’s senses, whether you choose a torch, battery operated tea lights or fairy lights, it’s a quick activity that ticks lots of boxes.
What are the Benefits of Light Play?
Exploring light, colours, patterns, shapes and shadows are a great way to provide a magical experience and a way to promote your child’s curiosity.
Give a calming influence.
Its a lovely introduction to science and art.
Light play idea:
- Place a string of fairy lights into a clear child safe container, such as a plastic Kilner jar or empty drinks bottle.
- Can your child stack?
- Can they roll?
- Carefully and gracefully walk with the lights?
- Can your child pass the lights from hand to hand? Wave them overhead? Trace circles in the air?
Maybe you could try wrapping the containers in different coloured items and see how the lights change colour.
Enjoyed these activities? Want to try a 40min class recording??
Find out more about our pre-recorded classes here:
Thank you for reading. I hope you and your little one have lots of fun with these activities this Winter.
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See you soon for some more creative movement ideas.