Like using stencils or sponge painting, a cookie cutter can help your toddler create something he recognizes when he doesn't know how to draw the object. It's also a good starting point for the toddler is reluctant to participate because he doesn't want to get messy or doesn't like the way tactile activities like finger painting feel. You can also use this activity to get ready for making ornaments with cookie cutters.
- For a young toddler, put the paint and cutters inside a newspaper-lined pan. This will keep him from making too big a mess as he scoots the cutters around while loading them with paint.
- Older toddlers with a bit more practice can just use a paper plate. Both clean up easy.
- All ages should wear a smock or old T-shirt.
2. Paint Holly Leaves with a Potato
4. Talk About Christmas in the Environment
Another reinforcing activity for Christmas colors can come by playing with red and green playdough. Make it with Kool-Aid or add a few drops of peppermint extract and stimulate your toddler's sense of smell. Or make it without, add a drop or two of food coloring and let your child experience the mixing of color as he plays. Playdough is an activity that stimulates pure creativity and does so much to help your child master fine motor control.
Tip: Use the same Christmas cookie cutters you used for the painting activity to make festive holiday shapes out of the playdough.
Making gingerbread cookies is one of my favorite holiday activities. We love to make the men and flat pieces for gingerbread houses, too. Like making cinnamon applesauce ornaments, this is an activity where toddlers can participate in stirring, mixing, measuring and using cookie cutters. If you're not into baking or are short on time, try picking up a gingerbread house kit like this one from Wilton where all you have to do is start decorating (just watch out for items your toddler can choke on like gum drops.)
For years, I've been using this recipe to make gingerbread men because it's low in fat and the cookies come out very soft. For houses, you'll want one that crisps up like the gingerbread recipes here (house instructions included).
7. Make Gingerbread Man Ornaments
Don't put your gingerbread cookie cutter away just yet. Use it to trace and cut out a gingerbread man on cardboard that your child can decorate while you eat cookies fresh from the oven.
- Use a small dish of glue and a paint brush to brush the entire surface of the cardboard for decorating. This is good for young toddlers who can't yet control the amount of glue they squeeze out of a bottle.
- Decorative items you use could be fabric scraps, little pom poms, buttons, red rickrack, googly eyes, puffy paint or just plain crayons, colored pencils and markers.
- If you use small items like buttons or googly eyes, make sure your toddler has constant supervision to prevent choking and hang it high on the tree when it's finished.
Using finger paint exposes your toddler to a unique sensory world involving sight, slippery touch and squishy sound as well. Add mint or vanilla extract and excite his sense of smell, too. Finger painting helps your toddler gain fine motor control: Each time his hand moves the way his brain directs or expects, he is closer to fully controlling a paint brush, crayon or pencil. Don't be afraid to let your toddler mix different colors of paint together. This is part of the learning experience. Finger painting is mostly about the process of art rather than producing a finished product.
Tip: Line the table with newspaper or do this activity in a high chair for easy clean-up.