by Melissa Jaramillo
Toddlers have a short attention span and a limited ability to understand a time line -- especially yours!
You've probably replied to the question "Is it Christmas yet?" at least 42 times since breakfast. Another 10 by lunch. A few more before dinner. Let this simple visual activity answer for you!
A Christmas countdown takes the advent calendar to a whole new level -- both for fun and as a tool to help your tot follow and mark off the days until the big celebration.
Make your own countdown calendar from felt. Glue a pocket in place, adding as many as needed. Choose a craft for each day -- you can do the entire month of December or simplify your calendar to just five activities. We've chosen 15 to get you started.
Write the activities on a slip of paper. Fold them, mix them up (except the last four days) and stick a slip of paper in each calendar opening so it's a surprise to you, too.
Take rolls of brown or white paper, paint, sponges, markers and crayons. Stamp with colorful hand prints or let your little one decorate however they please. Grandma and grandpa will treasure their creations!
Help your child "write" their letter to Santa. If they can't draw yet, cut out pictures to glue on the letter or provide stickers. Then add the text. You may want to stash the note for a scrapbooking project later this year!
Roll out the cinnamon and applesauce playdough. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters or help your tot make hand prints in your dough. Poke a hole for a string. Dry overnight or place in the oven for 3 hours at a very low heat.
Using card stock paper, turn your toddler lose with markers, stickers, glue and a controlled amount of glitter. If your child's still at the scribble stage, tape a template into place and once they've scribbled the design, remove the template and add text.
Cut the card stock scraps leftovers into small rectangles. Allow your child to decorate the tags. You might encourage a paint thumbprint to match the wrapping paper.
Any kind of jar, water, glitter, small figures or other decorations. Glue decorations to lid of jar, fill jar with water and glitter and put top back on. Try out your snowglobe. Also, add laminated pictures of your kids for a personalized gift to family and friends.
Get out your favorite holiday music. Dance to the music. Teach your toddler a new song like "Little Reindeer."
One little, two little, three little reindeer
Four little, five little, six little reindeer
Seven little, eight little, nine little reindeer
Pulling Santa's sleigh
Create a snowscape with shaving cream or whipping cream. Spray a good glob on a plastic sheet and then bring out the action figures for a half hour of sticky fun.
Get out the red, white and green felt, fabric paint, glitter and fabric glue. Cut into ornaments, such as red felt in the shape of a stocking, glue sides together. Help your toddler glue pieces together and decorate with scraps and glitter.
Cut construction paper into strips. Link strips together and glue them to make a chain. Alternatively you can make a chain as long as you have days left and break on off each morning when your child gets up.
It's also known as a mommy's sanity keeper. Make your own illustrated book that has the rest of the activities between now and Christmas. Together you can see what you've already done, what's on deck for tomorrow and how many more fun things before Christmas get here.