I love that each time we have brought home a new baby, the other boys have gathered in awe of their new sibling. We have been fortunate that sibling jealousy has been minimal or non-existent. I’m also pretty sure that if you asked any of my boys if their siblings were a good gift they would answer with YES! Our boys, though they get on each other’s nerves and backs, truly love one another. These wonderful gifts from God can make getting school work completed a challenge so why not give them the gift of activities planned just for them.

The activities below are a gift to you because many, if not all, of these activities can be independent for your preschooler and should only need to be slightly hands on and monitored for your older toddler. They are a gift to your older children because they allow you to focus on them for a few minutes. They are a gift to your little one – who doesn’t love to have something designed just for them?

Let’s open the gift!

1. Pine Needle Sensory Bin – Place pine needles in a container and use it as a sensory bin. Add forks, tweezers, toy trucks, etc. to increase the fun. If you don’t live in an area with a lot of evergreen trees, you can usually buy boughs and garlands for decorating fairly inexpensively – strip off the needles and voila.

2. Connect the Lights – Cut Christmas light bulb shapes out of heavy paper [cardstock, construction paper] or foam sheets. Slide a large paper clip mostly on to the end of each light. Give your little one a long piece of yarn and have him or her string the lights. Many preschoolers can actually figure out how to use the paper clip to hold the light in a particular place on the yarn thus spreading them out. This can be a great patterning activity as well.

3. Countdown Chain – Kids love to make chains. You can use them as a count down or they can be decorations. Preschoolers can cut their own strips. You’ll want to precut strips for older toddlers. Many of these chains are held together by stapling the strips together but to make this an independent activity, have your preschooler or toddler close each loop with a round dot sticker or piece of tape. We prefer the round dot stickers as most preschoolers and toddlers can peel them off the sticker sheet without any assistance.

4. Decorate the Tree – Speaking of colorful dot stickers, pretend they are ornaments and have your child put them on a cut out tree. Or if you want to make it a matching game, download our December Toddler and Preschool Activity Pack. The tree in the pack has spaces where your child can match the color of the smaller dot to the color of the sticker.

5. Felt Christmas Tree – Toddlers and preschoolers will spend hours rearranging the ornaments on a tree if they are permitted to do so. In our house, the tree is “no touch” after it is up. So to provide this type of experience, we hang a 3′ tall tree cut out of felt on the wall with 3M tabs. We have a basket full of felt ornaments and this tree can be decorated, undecorated and redecorated to their hearts content. Feeling extra adventurous? Allow preschoolers to cut their own ornaments out of felt.

6. Wrapping Paper and Ribbon Art – Wrapping paper and ribbon scraps find there way into every corner of our house in December. Why not collect these bits and pieces and allow your preschooler or toddler to create collage art? Mom tip – Instead of handing a glue stick or bottle of glue to your little one, pour a tiny bit of glue onto a paper plate and allow them to use a Q-tip.

7. Jingle Bell Sort РBuy a bag of bells (the more sizes and colors this better) and give your child a 6 count muffin tin or the print the mat included in our December Toddler and Preschool Activity Pack and allow them to sort the bells into as many of the cups as they like. Ask them to tell you why certain bells went into certain spaces. Make it more of a challenge by adding tweezers.

8. Jingle Bracelets – Pipe cleaners + jingle bells = endless bracelet opportunities.

There you go. Eight gifts to help your littlest crew keep happy and busy this December. No matter how you choose to occupy your littlest ones, remember keep smart. Keep it simple.