Holiday sensory play activities are wonderful to have on hand during the holidays because they not only help children build a variety of skills but also incorporate many items you likely already have around the house, or can find more readily at the store this time of year.
I’ve written about our family’s love of loose parts play and sensory play activities. So it was only a matter of time before we developed holiday sensory play activities, too. Friends, I cannot even tell you how much I love this kind of play for Toodle and Twinkle because I see them:
- Problem solve while they play.
- Investigate the different textures of items (for example, rough pinecones and smooth beads)
- Use different muscle groups, especially in their hands and fingertips.
- Play independently and more calmly for longer periods.
- Develop confidence and pride in what they create.
- Collaborate on their individual activities.
- Combine individual ideas into bigger creations they build together.
I can’t prove it, but sensory play activities are almost (if not completely) therapeutic for the girls. I’m convinced their creative juices start flowing while their stress levels go down. And the effects seem to last long after the official play time has concluded.
That’s a win-win-win in my book. And I’m all too happy to pull random items out of random corners of our house to make that possible. Also, I love to see what strikes the girls’ fancy. They were gaga over the makeshift tree stacker and the paper chains. They kept adding pieces to their mini villages, and who can turn away muffin cups, even if they are empty of muffins? Also, even though they are 3.5 years apart in age, both girls engage in the activities. What I notice is they use the same items in different ways.
So let’s get building, shall we? Also note: we don’t spend big bucks to make this happen. And you don’t need everything listed here to make it work. You likely have several loose parts holiday-inspired items at home already!
HOLIDAY SENSORY PLAY ACTIVITY ITEMS:
The sky is the limit with holiday sensory play activities. Below are items I found for the girls to play with. Use them as a guide while you scour your house for items. When choosing ornaments, I selected those that weren’t family heirlooms, prone to breaking, or part of a larger set.
- Muffin cups
- Paper chain links
- Beaded necklaces
- Faux snow and confetti
- Cloth or wood ornaments
- Holiday-inspired foam pieces
- Stackers, organizers, or drying racks
- Silk flowers, pinecones, and tree cookies
HOW TO PUT HOLIDAY SENSORY PLAY ACTIVITIES TOGETHER:
With a few exceptions, any time I’m putting a sensory play activity together, I encourage free and open-ended play. So I don’t put too many restrictions on what to do or what not to do (except with regard to safety). More often than not, I simply put the items out, step back, and let Toodle and Twinkle go to town on creating whatever they want. Below are a few activities to use as ice breakers, if desired.
- Create paper chain links in several colors to represent the tree, the trunk, ornaments, and a star or angel for the top.
- Use ornaments to create a small village or mini scene the child can build upon.
- Wrap the beaded necklaces around the pinecones. I noticed this helped our daughters work more with their fingertips rather than the palm of their hands.
- Incorporate the beaded necklaces with the paper chain links like they are holiday decorations.
- Create a makeshift tree by hanging ornaments, necklaces, and silk flowers on a stacker or organizer of some sort. We used a little toy pots ’n pans organizer (pictured), but you could also go much larger and use a drying rack.
HOW TO MAKE HOLIDAY SENSORY PLAY ACTIVITIES COST EFFECTIVE:
One of the benefits of loose parts play and holiday sensory play activities is that they aren’t expensive. You can literally walk around your house to find much of what you need. And what you don’t find at home, you will likely find at many dollar stores or in dollar bins of larger outlets.
Happy building and exploring! (Or maybe grabbing that cup of coffee while the kids play).