The holiday season is an exciting time. Stores are decorated, bells are ringing, music is playing and the smell of sweets wafts in the air most places.
Whether you celebrate the holidays or not it is hard to avoid them when out and about. It is especially hard for children. This time of year when you do venture out remember how your child may feel by all of this additional sensory experience. Even a relatively calm child can quickly become overstimulated.
Then there are the toys. It seems every endcap and commercial is pushing the latest and newest toy. If you are celebrating the holidays, you may be caught up trying to fulfill your child's every desire.
I offer this suggestion: Time is the most precious gift you can give your child. For a young child it is not the toy but the interaction in playing with the toy. The more open-ended possibilities the better. When you listen to young children and use open-ended questions with them you open the world to their imagination, and in their imagination anything is possible. A simple box, some markers, and duct tape can be transformed into a train, plane, boat, car, or house. Or create kits to do together like a volcano in a bag (dough, baking soda and vinegar), a memory book, testing objects that sink or float, or making shapes from dough. Books are always a wonderful gift. These all involve your children's favorite toy - YOU!
It is a great time to introduce children to the wonders of giving to others. They can make simple gifts for family that will be treasured over the years. Salt dough ornaments stamped with a handprint or footprint, painted wooden beaded necklaces, handmade cards or a painted frame with a picture of your child and the relative or friend.
A juice bottle can be turned into a birdhouse for your child to keep or give as a gift. Who doesn't enjoy watching birds especially on a cold day with a cup of cocoa?
Bird feeder and observation journal
Young children are curious investigators of the world around them. They come ready to explore everything around them and love opportunities to share these observations with you. Birds are particularly interesting to children because they do something we can't - they fly. Sunflower seeds will attract songbirds like the colorful Cardinal through the winter months. Make this easy birdfeeder with your child, hang it outside near a window, and enjoy a winter full of many wonderful observations. By adding a journal, paper in a folder, or old notebook your child can draw, practice writing or dictate their observations to you.
Screw-top juice bottle
Plastic lid from coffee can or yogurt container
Contact paper or drawer liner (optional)
Together with your child
1. Clean and dry out an empty plastic screw top bottle.
2. Glue top of bottle to the plastic lid.
3. Cut out contact paper to place on sides of bird feeder and allow your child to decorate it while you cut holes for hanging.
4. Cut two holes on each side on the bottom of the bottle and lace string through the holes to hang feeder.
5. Cut several holes in the neck of the bottle for birds to eat from.
6. Unscrew bottle and fill with bird seed.
7. Hang near a window to observe.
8. Create an observation journal to record your observations.
Laura Elson is a Westerly-based preschool teacher and artist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org