We know how exciting the holiday season is, especially for toddlers and preschoolers who are excited for decorations, presents, and all the goodies that come with it! However, the wait until Christmas or Hanukkah can be difficult, but one way we love to harness that excitement at our Raleigh preschool is through fun craft activities. We wanted to share some activities that are fun, simple, and can even do double-duty as gift ideas from your child to a loved one.
Salt Dough Ornaments
Salt dough ornaments are a classic holiday craft that can be done with items you probably have in your pantry or cabinets, and while they are perfect for little ones, even older children (and adults!) will enjoy putting their personal touch on their own decorations and ornaments.
Making the Dough:
- 4 cups flour
- 1 cup salt
- 1.5 cups warm water
Note: This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled!
In a large bowl, whisk the flour and salt, then slowly pour in the water while stirring gently until it begins to incorporate. You’ll have to get in there with your hands to truly mix everything, then knead like bread dough until the dough is soft and pliable (about 5 minutes).
Shaping the Ornaments or Decorations:
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees, and while it heats, place the dough between two pieces of parchment paper. You may find it easier to halve the dough and only work with one half at a time.
- Roll the dough until it is 1/8″ thick, and remove the top sheet of parchment paper.
- Leaving the sheet of dough on the parchment paper, cut out shapes with cookie cutters (enlist your little helpers for this part!) and poke a hole for a piece of ribbon or a hanger with a straw or toothpick. You can also customize your ornaments by adding texture, writing, or drawing designs in the dough.
- Place the parchment paper with the ornaments on a baking sheet and bake for about one hour or until they are hard.
Decorating the Ornaments:
Once cooled, it’s time to get creative with paint, glitter, and puff paint! Once they are dry, spray them with a polyurethane or use Mod Podge to preserve their artwork, then use ribbon, twine, or hooks to hang them on the tree or give them as gifts!
To make handprint or footprint keepsakes:
Make the dough as usual, but cut out an ornament large enough for their hand or foot. Then have your child stand on the dough or press their hand in it to create a deep enough imprint to be visible. Using a toothpick, write your child’s name and the date at the top or on the back of the keepsake. Then bake as usual.
Recipe courtesy of Wholefully.
No-Sew Sock Snowmen
We all have random, matchless socks lying around, and now you can put them to use by turning them into cute snowmen! They are easy to make and can be decorated with odds and ends, and while an adult will need to operate the glue gun, little helpers can fill the socks, pick out decorations, and make the faces.
- 1 white sock for each snow person (crew socks work the best, but any sock is fine)
- 1 colored sock for each hat (baby or toddler socks are great, but again, any sock is fine)
- Dry rice
- Rubber bands
- Ribbons, yarn, or fabric
- Glue gun
- Fabric paint or markers
- Cut the sock just above the heel and turn it inside out. Secure one end of the “tube” with a rubber band.
- Turn the sock right side out and fill it with rice, then secure it with another rubber band.
- To separate the body and head, use another rubber band and wrap it around the middle, closer to the top to make the head a bit smaller than the body and not super-tight.
- Make the hat by cutting the toe off a colored or patterned sock or make a tobaggan with a baby sock. Roll up the edges to make a sock, and secure the hat with a bit of glue.
- Make a scarf by tying ribbon, a strip of fabric or yarn around the neck (or match the hat by tying a strip of the sock!), and you can secure it with a bit of glue.
- Glue buttons (or pompoms) to the front of the snowman’s body.
- Customize your snowman – use fabric paint or markers to make eyes and a nose, glue pom poms to the hat, make a skirt for a snow-woman with a bit of fabric – let your kids run with them!
Project courtesy of All Free Sewing.
Popsicle Stick Christmas Trees
With a few popsicle sticks and some construction paper or card stock and any other odds and ends you have, you can make adorable Christmas tree ornaments with your toddlers and preschoolers!
- 3 popsicle sticks per tree
- Brown construction paper or card stock
- Colored construction paper or card stock
- Piece of twine, cord, or ribbon
- Glue gun, scissors, craft/X-acto knife
- Decorations – paint, glitter, bells, pompoms, buttons, etc.
- Before you get started with the kids, use the utility knife to trim about 1/2″ from each end of one stick to make the bottom of the tree so it’s more “tree-shaped” than triangle-shaped. (Note: you may need to just score it with the knife and snap the end off if it doesn’t cut all the way through)
- Cut out 1″ squares of brown paper to make the base of each tree and cut out stars from colored construction paper or card stock to put at the top of the tree.
- Paint or use markers to color the popsicle sticks to make your tree (or use colored sticks from the dollar store if you want to save a step!).
- Add a dab of hot glue to each end of the trimmed popsicle and add the two full length sticks to form your tree. Overlap the other two ends of the long side, and sandwich your twine or ribbon between them to make a loop, and secure them with glue.
- Glue your star and tree trunk to the bottom (you can use glue sticks or school glue for this section if you want the kids to be more hands-on!).
- Start customizing! Glue pompoms or buttons around the popsicle sticks, make garland with metallic pipe cleaners, or attach a piece of construction paper to the back of the tree to fill it in and let the kids add buttons, glitter, or any other type of decoration they want to use!
Project courtesy of One Little Project.
Happy Holidays from Our Raleigh Preschool!
These are just a few craft ideas that will be fun for the whole family, and we hope you have the opportunity to take time to enjoy the season and make great memories!