Christmas is just around the corner… and what better way to kick off the celebrations than with some fun Christmas play activities with your children. When it comes to Christmas activities, the possibilities are endless, making them suitable for children of all ages. This year why not try something new and explore your senses by checking out these ten unique Christmas activities.
If you have never made your own playdough, you are missing out. It is so easy, using only basic ingredients from your pantry, and it is much nicer to play with than the store-bought playdough. To make it Christmassy, use red or green food colouring or peppermint oil and add Christmas decorations or craft materials.
Or even better, why not try this beautiful recipe for gingerbread playdough? It smells just like Christmas and goes perfectly with some cute Christmas cookie-cutters. You could also make an extra batch into gifts for some special little friends.
2 cups plain flour
4 Tbs cream of tartar
1 cup salt
2 cups hot water
2 Tbs cooking oil
Add food colouring for colour, scented oils for smell, or other materials (flowers, glitter…)
1 cup flour
½ cup salt
½ Tbs ground ginger
½ Tbs ground cinnamon
1 Tbs vegetable oil
½ cup water
Mix all ingredients together and knead until smooth.
Christmas sensory trays
Sensory trays are a great way for children to explore all of their senses through a variety of different materials and resources. They can be adapted depending on children’s sensory needs and interests and can be as messy or tidy as you desire. Again, the possibilities for this activity are endless as you can use anything as a resource, including cooking ingredients, natural resources, and loose parts. Why not get creative and try one of our Christmas themed sensory trays below.
Christmas coloured sensory tray
Use a variety of Christmas craft materials and decorations such as red and green ribbons and pom poms, jingle bells, battery candles, Christmas sequins, and other trinkets that you may find in the local cheap shop.
Natural Christmas sensory tray
Simply fill a tray with dried oats and add some dried orange slices (these can be pre-made or bought), some star anise, cinnamon sticks and pinecones. This tray really does smell amazing and provides a lot of different textures and smells to explore.
Candy cane rice
It looks and smells just like candy canes!
1 cup dried rice
1 tsp white vinegar
Food colouring (we made a few batches and dyed two different shades or red rice to mix with the white rice)
Shake together in a zip lock bag until evenly mixed and lay flat on a tray to dry for at least 2 hours. Once dried mix the two reds and some white rice together and add utensils for exploration.
Candy cane shaving cream
Simply mix shaving cream, red food colouring, red glitter and peppermint oil together. This can be explored with hands for those who don’t mind getting messy, or with a range of utensils. This activity is better for the older children as it contains ingredients that are not safe to eat.
Now this one is really cool. Only two ingredients are needed and you have fake snow that actually looks and feels like snow! It’s cold to touch, fluffy like snow and can also be moulded into things, like a snowman.
2 ½ cups bicarb soda
½ cup white conditioner (we used Sunsilk with camellia and coconut oils, which smelt amazing too)
Mix together and use straight away or store in a container for a short period of time. We added a Christmas nativity set to ours, but you could add anything you wish. Again this one is better for the older children.
Christmas water play
What better resource to use in this hot summer weather, than water! Children of all ages love water play and there are so many fun ways to use it in activities.
Christmas water play activities
Try using food colouring to create red or green water, add glitter or sequins, Christmas coloured pom poms or Christmas baubles with scoops, Christmas craft resources or decorations that float and sink, or something from your fridge such as some brussels sprouts and cranberries. Why not see what you already have at home and incorporate it into a fun water activity for your little ones.
Christmas ice painting
For a different water play activity, try creating your own ice paint. Freeze some water with food colouring/glitter in large ice-cube trays. Add a paddle pop stick to each ice cube to provide something to hold onto. Once frozen pop them out of the tray and let your children paint with them (my children painted the deck and ended up eating the last few as ice blocks).
Christmas sensory bottles
This is another alternative to the sensory trays, providing a safer and less messy experience for the babies and toddlers. Simply collect some plastic bottles, rinse them out and leave to dry, remove any labels, and fill with different resources and materials. Make sure you tape or glue the lid closed once full to prevent children from spilling them or choking on small parts.
Some Christmas sensory bottle ideas are to fill with red or green water and add glitter, sequins and other small Christmas trinkets; fill with some battery Christmas lights, being sure to leave the control on the outside; use natural materials such as cinnamon sticks, star anise, dried orange and some Christmas leaves; fill with a variety of Christmas craft materials such as ribbons, bells, pom poms…
You could also fill sandwich bags instead of bottles and tape them to the floor or table for children to explore touch as well. Or create a sticky Christmas tree on your wall using clear contact and provide some larger materials for toddlers to decorate it. Be as creative as you like with this one!
If you’re looking for some new ideas to entertain your children at home during the Christmas season, why not give some of these Christmas play activities a try? They’re inexpensive, easy to create, and provide hours of fun and endless learning opportunities for your little ones!
To make sure that you don’t miss any of the fun and family-friendly Christmas events in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and the Hunter, visit the Newy with Kids Guide to Christmas.
Bianca grew up in Newcastle and loves everything about this wonderful city. A mum of two under 2 1/2, she cherishes the crazy and challenging, yet beautiful days that she gets to share with her children. On her days off she enjoys exploring new places together and creating fun and engaging play experiences, which she shares on her instagram account @mila.and.micah. When Bianca isn’t being Mum to her two, she is busy managing a local community-based childcare centre. She has 10 years experience as an Early Childhood Teacher and Director, and is passionate about play-based learning for the early years.