As Christmas drew near, I was determined to find activities that my 21 month-old L could join in with (he was already filled with the Christmas spirit and had been singing “Bingle Bells” for weeks prior to Christmas!). This is a post about a small selection of activities that we found highly enjoyable and little hands-friendly (despite requiring a high degree of adult involvement); making glitter baubles, baking jam tarts and creating sticker book art. Aside from these things and others, L also baked traditional “pepparkakor” (gingerbread cookies) with his Finnish grandmother, made a variety of things at his nursery school (including Christmas decorations), made a snowman with his granny and granddad, met Santa no less than 3 times (!) and thoroughly enjoyed opening his advent calendar boxes each morning up until Christmas Eve. Christmas certainly is a great time for little ones… and for those who have the privilege to be around them, sharing their excitement :)
GLITTERY CHRISTMAS BAUBLES
I had actually wanted to make glitter pinecones with L this year, but as every pinecone in town was buried under two feet of snow and the craft store had sold out of all but the most expensive ones (at about 12 US dollars a pop!), when I came across a packet of 6 plain baubles on sale at half price (less than 1 pinecone!), the idea struck me to create glittery Christmas baubles instead. As we were limited with our options, we could only get plain glass baubles and so we did not let L handle them directly himself. We also opted to display them in a glass vase so that he could look at them and appreciate them (which he does… proudly!), but not touch. Plain plastic baubles would be even more toddler friendly, but with supervision this is a great activity for little hands to help with. L has been talking about it for days since!
WHAT YOU NEED:
Faux glitter snow (a small amount to cover the bottom of a vase)
Different types of glitter (we used white, silver, holographic silver and translucent)
White PVA glue
A paint brush
Some string (and scissors for cutting it)
A couple of coat hangers (for drying the baubles)
A packet of plain baubles (we used clear glass ones)
HOW TO MAKE THEM:
- Put everything you need out on the table. Cut lengths of string and tie to bauble tops so that they are ready for tying to a coat hanger later on. Spread out some newspaper to catch glitter.
- Squeeze PVA glue onto bauble, either allowing your toddler to help with the glue bottle or hold a paintbrush with which he/she can paint patterns in the glue.
- Help your toddler shake glitter onto the glue designs.
- Allow toddler to inspect handiwork ;)
- Tie the loose ends of string on each bauble around the rod of a coat hanger and allow ornaments to dry completely.
- After placing an inch of faux snow in the bottom of a clear glass vase, stack the baubles. Put them on display and enjoy!
EASY JAM TARTS
Using the exact same pastry recipe that I used for my mince pies (super-easy in itself… and delicious!), L and I made jam tarts. We have both received lots of compliments on these having served them before Christmas, on Christmas Eve as part of the julbord (Swedish “Christmas table”) and also for afternoon tea post-Christmas :)
225g cold, diced butter
350g plain flour
100g caster sugar
A pinch of salt
Half a beaten egg (for the pastry dough)
Half a beaten egg (for brushing pie tops before baking)
Jam (we used organic raspberry jam and St. Dalfour 100% fruit jam)
- To make the pastry*, whiz butter and plain flour in food processor, then mix in caster sugar, half a beaten egg and a pinch of salt. Combine the pastry into a ball and knead it briefly. The dough may be used immediately, or chilled for later use. *Do this part yourself in advance of involving your toddler.
- Preheat the oven to fan 180C. Your toddler can help you grease a 12 hole pie tin (or 2 if you have 2!).
- Roll out pastry (you’ll need a little extra flour for dusting over the pastry and rolling-pin). Your toddler can also help with the rolling out!
- Cut out circles with a cookie cutter (this is especially fun to do for little ones).
- Press pastry circles gently into pie tin holes. Help your toddler spoon a little jam (1.5 tsp approximately) into the pies.
- Help your toddler use a smaller cookie cutter (we used a star-shaped one) to cut out enough shapes to make pie lids. Top the pies with their lids.
- Brush the tops of the pies with remaining half of beaten egg (little ones can help with this too).
- Bake for approx. 20 minutes or until golden. Leave to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack. To serve, lightly dust with icing sugar.
STICKER BOOK ART
L and I loved doing Halloween sticker book activities during autumn, so I really wanted to get him a winter themed sticker book too and found this one at Usborne Children’s Books. It is important to note that this book is not intended for unsupervised use by children as young as L and that we only ever do sticker activities together. L does not remove the stickers from the page himself. He says “Mamma help” or “Mamma fix it” and I remove the one he has chosen, then we find the page he wants to put the sticker on and I ask him where it should go, he tells me and then we stick it down together. Small toddlers should not do any sticker activity unattended/unsupervised. We love doing these activities together because it gives L a chance to create his own little stories and talk about all the things he can see on the page. He is very proud of the words he knows and it’s lovely to be able to expand his vocabulary by introducing him to new things too… especially seasonal/festive ones.