On black Friday I was able to buy a beautiful new printer for half the price and these lovely Christmas Montessori Inspired Tot Trays are the result. I can not tell you how much fun I had printing out these lovely printables and then transforming them into these amazing tot trays. I was shocked actually with how quickly Little Bee gravitated towards these trays and mastered the activities. Needless to say, we both had a ton of fun!
These Christmas Do-a-Dot Printables from Gift of Curiosity, are perfect for transfer activities using pompoms. Little Bee adores transfer activities so he was ready to start as soon as I presented this tray to him. We tried to use the tongs for transfer and Little Bee at 22 months had a hard time managing these tongs. I may need to look for a different kind for him. So we switched to a spoon and that worked perfectly!
Little Bee is just beginning to count to three on his own. I never pushed him to count, but he learned through little songs that count to five or ten. He started to count his matchbox cars and other small toys on his own, so I thought he was ready for his first "official" counting activity. We actually used play dough that I had hand-made in October and kept in the fridge. It was still as good as new! I was impressed. To get the recipe for this hand-made play dough, visit - DIY Textured Play Dough.
I demonstrated this activity for Little Bee and counted out each circle as I placed the play dough. Then I put all the play dough balls back in the bowl and let Little Bee practice his counting skills. He did a fabulous job! He was very careful to place each play dough ball perfectly in the center of each circle.
Christmas Do-a-Dot Printables (free printables) - Gift of Curiosity
In our home, we LOVE sensory treasure bowls to explore. We made one for Autumn and it was a big hit with Little Bee who explored it for a long time. (Visit, Autumn Sensory Play to see how I put together this bowl together.) It only seemed fitting to have a Winter Bowl. Please take note that these treasure bowls can make a mess, so I try to take them outside or prepare an area for the mess. Also, beware that the white beans used in this winter treasure bowl as a filler can pose a danger if placed into the ears and the acorns could be a choking hazard. So always stay next to your child and observe closely while they are exploring the bowl. You can always use another filler like white rice for example.
In January we are going to start learning about forest animals. I thought introducing this shape matching squirrel tray was a great way to start. Plus, squirrels are every where right now gathering nuts and storing them into their tree hide-aways. I also added a cardboard squirrel as I don't have a stuffed squirrel or plastic figurine right now. You can learn how to make your own cardboard animals here in this post - Cardboard Animals for Kids. Finally, I also added a laminated Squirrel Nomenclature book for a toddler to explore. I read through it with Little Bee and we talked about each part of the squirrel - eyes, ears, nose, torso, arms, legs, and tail. Little Bee loves it and can carry it around the house with him.
I Hibernate Works and Presentation (free printables) - Welcome to Mommyhood
Squirrel Nomenclature Cards ($2.49) - Teachers Pay Teachers
This was one of my favorite tot trays because it really showed that Little Bee does know his colors. He did stumble a bit over the pink and purple colors. We really haven't talked about those colors very much yet. We have mostly concentrated on the primary colors. You can see our two color unit studies here - Red Unit Study and Yellow Unit Study.
The first time Little Bee did this tray he got all the colors correct but he placed some of the light bulbs upside down. I didn't correct him on this. He corrected himself the next time he did the tray and placed all the light bulbs in the right direction.
I started with one laminated sheet of light bulbs and then at the end I added both sheets for more of a challenge.
Matching Colored Christmas Lights ($1.50) - Teachers Pay Teachers
We take a walk everyday, rain or shine, we are outside enjoying nature. I love to bring nature indoors for Little Bee to explore. In this activity, I set up a couple shapes for him to place the corresponding nature shapes on top. This activity may be more of a provocation or an invitation to play. I also laminated a tree nomenclature book for Little Bee to read through together and begin to learn the parts of the tree. Finally, for fun I made him a Lego tree out of duplo blocks.
Montessori Botany Nomenclature Set (free printables) - The Helpful Garden
This is another fun matching activity. I didn't know there were so many star shaped objects! I would love to do this activity again with the "real" objects for matching, but that will take some searching. I do have several beautifully colored plastic starfish. I just need to find them. 🙂 I'm sure you know how that is with a toddler in the house. Small objects are placed in mysterious spots like under the couch.
Shape Matching Printable Montessori Cards (free printables) - Teachers Pay Teachers
Here are two super easy and fun pipe cleaner ornaments that a toddler can make. I cut the pipe cleaners in half and then showed Little Bee how to bend them to look like candy canes. We placed them into the decorating tray when they were complete. Little Bee also helped me thread the yellow pipe cleaner through the loop hole of the bells to make bell ornaments and bracelet bell instruments. I did have to bend the two ends of the pipe cleaners together for Little Bee. This activity was a big hit for my toddler!
Finally, Little Bee got the pleasure of decorating his very own "real" elf tree. I left the decorating tray next to the tree, so that he could decorate and then un-decorate the tree to his hearts content. However, his favorite part of caring for a "real" tree is watering it.
Below you will see how we set up our Christmas Montessori Shelves for this year. I have moved some things around as was necessary for unsupervised play. I took the treasure bowl away and added a puzzle in its place. I also took a few activities away to simplify the shelves and now they are working wonderfully.
Thank you for visiting!
You may also enjoy visiting our other Montessori shelves. 🙂