Is the change in weather making you panic about how to entertain your little ones? Don’t worry if that is you! I’ve got plenty of winter crafts and ideas on how to entertain your little ones.

Keeping busy doesn’t have to mean buying new toys, there are lots of things around the home that can entertain everyone.

Perfect Penguins

These are ridiculously cute, you have to try them! For extra happiness put on Ozomatli’s Life (feat. Lil P’Nut) and dance as you do it.

You’ll need:

  • White paper/card
  • Black and White Paints
  • Potato
  • A pen

Dig out some white and black paints, a potato and white paper or card. Cut the potato in half. Dip one half of the potato in black paint and stamp it on the paper followed by dipping the other half in white paint and stamp it on top of the black print. Finish by decorating with eyes, beaks, feet and wings.
Curl up with the film Happy Feet to finish off your day with some more cute penguins.

Ice Mountain Rescue

Let your little ones feel like heroes!

You’ll need:

  • A muffin tray
  • Toys to fit in each ramekin
  • Water
  • Kettle

I’ve learnt a nifty trick for this one – You might find the toys keep floating to the top so they don’t look ‘trapped’ inside the ice once frozen. So, if you fill each ramekin of the muffin tray half full, pop in the freezer and then top up with the rest of the water once they’ve frozen, you’ll find they are ready to be rescued!! Your little ones can pop on gloves if the ice is feeling too chilly on their hands.

Pssst! If you use parboiled water, your ice blocks will be clear to see the trapped toys inside.

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DIY Christmas Puzzle

This goes to show you don’t need to buy anything new to have some fun. The activity combines a treasure hunt and a puzzle – double time for a cup of tea/ Bailey’s for you!

You’ll need:

  • A large sheet of paper or several sheets of paper
  • A pen
  • Christmas objects

Ask your little ones to find some of their favourite Christmas items around the house. It could be a christmas tree decoration, a candy cane stick, a christmas book, a bauble and a Christmas card in an interesting shape. Draw around each item on a piece of paper, put all the items to one side and sit back and watch as your little ones try to fit the object to the outline!

Christmas cookie cutters

The only risk of this one is that it might make you crave a real Christmas cookie! But it is a great way to make use of those cardboard boxes you might have stacking up from Christmas deliveries.

You’ll need:

  • Cardboard box
  • Cookie cutters
  • A pen
  • Scissors
  • White paint/ chalk pens

On the cardboard boxes draw around cookie cutters and cut out, decorate the ‘cookies’ with the whitepaint or chalk pens. Pop them on a tray or into their play kitchen and let their imaginations take over! Yummy!

Winter Treasure Baskets

I love using treasure baskets to bring books and story time to life. A few carefully selected props can really make any story interactive, especially for young children who struggle to sit still long enough to focus on the story.

Here’s what I used to create a Reindeer treasure basket:

  • a flat basket
  • Usborne ‘That’s not my reindeer’ book
  • Bath mitt puppet
  • a carrot
  • sticks for antlers
  • red felt balls
  • a clear container with a plastic reindeer hidden in ‘snow’ (aka rice!)

Lots of sensory elements for a little one to play with as you share the story together.

Let It Snow!

It’s never a guarantee in many places in the UK, so it is such a wonderful thing when snow happens! Therefore, I will always prioritise playing in the snow over many other things – that load of washing can WAIT!

It’s such a great thing to play with and plenty of learning can come from snow play such as chatting about weather climates, animals and people that live in those climates, the physics of freezing and melting… plenty for all ages!

Even if you’re not someone who likes being in the snow yourself, you can always bring a big tray or pan of it indoors so that little ones can still enjoy it.
And remember babies can enjoy the snow safely too! Just add a handful of snow to a ziplock bag or clear plastic bottle and secure it with tape so they can play safely and feel the cold without putting it in their mouths.

I hope you’ve found this inspiring. Remember, this is just the tip of the winter-play iceberg! There are so many ideas for any parent, expecting parent, carer, child or educator available in my packs of lovely playPROMPTS.

Happy Christmas and Happy Playing!

Article by Claire Russell, Early Years Specialist, Mum, Author and Founder of playHOORAY.

playHOORAY has helped thousands of families to discover the joy of play using simple items from around the house. Find Claire and the playHOORAY community on Instagram and Facebook @play.hooray for daily play inspiration and more tips on preparing for Christmas.

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