Simple Ways to Keep Little Hands Busy at Christmastime

This is an exciting time of year!  And sometimes that excitement, left unchanneled, can wreck havoc on your sanity.  If you’re finding that the nervous energy in your house is being directed into whining, fighting, or general destruction, consider ways you can redirect that energy in positive, productive ways.  To paraphrase from my e- book, it isn’t enough to tell children to STOP what they’re doing.  To be more effective, you need to give them things they CAN do.  It’s like trying to stop water from running down a hill.  You can’t just tell it to stop, or even try to force it to stop with a dam – it eventually runs over the top.  But you can dig a ditch, a channel, to move it in a more constructive direction.

After linking to the simple Candy Cane Painting idea on my weekend reads, I got thinking about other simple ways to channel that excited energy that fills our children this time of year.  Here are a few more ideas:

Beaded Candy Cane Craft – I used regular round craft beads and no bells (just wrap the pipe cleaners around the end beads.  So simple, so fun, and a great way to incorporate fine motor skills and patterning.  Some of the kiddos alternated red-white-red-white, others went with something more complicated like red-red-white or red-red-white-white.  It’s fun to see what they come up with!  You can simplify even more and just make candy canes by twisting or braiding pipe cleaners together and bending them into shape.

Cinnamon Spice Playdough – Whip up a batch of this and your kids will spend plenty of time and energy working that dough into cookies, pies, and who knows what else!  As a bonus, your whole room will smell just delightful!

Make Snowflakes – Even if you live in Florida, you can have snow for Christmas!  I love cutting snowflakes out of coffee filters (one of the most versatile and inexpensive items to have in your craft closet) because they’re already round and thin for easier cutting.  You can have some fun by painting them with watercolors first or go bold and use some brightly colored paper like these fancy ones at Why Not Orange

You can also make fun snowflakes with Q-Tips, glue, and some black or blue paper.  My son made one that looked less like a snowflake and more like the Millennium Falcon….but that’s part of what’s so great about this project.  It’s so open-ended!  That open aspect encourages their creativity, but also keeps them interested longer because the possibilities are endless!  It’s also a great opportunity to talk about math concepts like whole and half or shorter/longer as you trim the Q-tips to different sizes for your designs.

 Simple Gingerbread Houses – Once upon a time, I was crazy and made a real gingerbread house out of real gingerbread. Then I realized how ridiculous that was for me to do with such little kids, so now I hot glue graham crackers and set the boys loose!  So simple and they love it!

Designer Wrapping Paper – Set your little elves loose designing your own homemade wrapping paper.  The Artful Parent gives some great action painting ideas, and Creative Jewish Mom shares her ideas here.

Get Outside – Being in nature often has an inherent calming effect.  Add to that the way the open space welcomes all that energy and large motor movements, and it’s an easy outlet for little ones waiting for the big day.  Check out some of these ways to have fun outside in the snow.

And last of all, remember to enjoy your little ones and this wonderful time to be together, even if that includes dripping paint, cookies with too much icing, or candy canes without stripes.  Check out this post by Tsh of Simple Mom about planning a peaceful Christmas by embracing imperfection.

Enjoy this magical week!

Top photo by Déz Magnér.  Cinnamon photo courtesy of YappsCotta.




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