Holiday countdown activities for tiny tots

by Melissa Jaramillo

Countdown activitiesToddlers 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.

Holiday countdown calendar for tots

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.

December 10 -- Homemade wrapping paper

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!

December 11 -- Letter to Santa

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!

December 12 --Cinnamon ornaments

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.

December 13 --Make a Christmas card

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.

December 14 -- Gift tags

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.

December 15 --Sparkly snow globes

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.

December 16 -- Sing and dance

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

December 17 -- Snowscape

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.

December 18 –- Felt stockings

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.

December 19 – Construction paper garland

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.

December 20 – Countdown to Christmas book

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.

December 21 –- Felt ornaments

Buy different colored felt, use a cookie cutter and trace ornaments. Decorate how you want with paint, beads or glitter. Add them to your child's tree, hang from string in the window.

December 22 -- Make reindeer food

Mix oatmeal, confetti candy, cinnamon and place it in a small Ziploc bag. Print out the following poem and attach it. Take this magic food and sprinkle on the lawn. On Christmas eve, Santa's reindeer travel miles before dawn. The smell of oats and shimmer path will guide them on their way and you'll wake up to Santa's gifts next morn on Christmas day.

December 23 -- Make Santa's cookies

Find your child's favorite cookie recipe and make them for Santa. You and your child can sample them, too.

December 24 -- Get ready for Santa

Make homemade hot cocoa and read the Christmas Story or the Night Before Christmas.

December 25 -- Merry Christmas!

Hey you creative parents! Add an idea for the activity countdown calendar.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.