The Christmas tree and toddlers. . . those are two things that don't generally go together. From the first ten minutes we put up our tree, it has been a fascination to K. He desperately wants to tear it down (we attached it to the wall using fishing line), rip off every single ornament and throw them or hide them (we put a gate around it), and throw things at the tree (Hello.. haven't you ever heard of toddler decorating?!). I get it. It's gorgeous. It lights up. Heck, I'M fascinated with it! But, while we are in the process of teaching Kingston safe tree handling, I thought it would be fun to whip up a Christmas Tree Sensory Bin for him!
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I layered some faux pine boughs in the bottom of the bin equipped with tiny little pine cones. Then I plucked a several toddler friendly ornaments off of the tree focusing on varying textures. I included the nutcracker that K and Dada painted at a holiday event earlier in the season, some puzzle pieces from his Melissa & Doug Holiday Tree Chunky Puzzle (we are seriously in love with this puzzle!), and a recycled spice container filled with Jingle Bells.
I had plans to dive into the bin after nap time, but when K spotted the filled bin on the counter, he demanded to see it right then and there. In fact, he went into the living room sat cross legged on the floor, clapped his hands in excitement, and waited patiently for me to set it on the floor. (True Life: I'm a blogger's kid)
He attacked the jingle bells first of course! He is very musical and loves shaking items. The jingle bells were my favorite addition as they added an extra sensory experience and allowed for us to take our play to a more exciting level (and decibel)!
Then he went for the Nutcracker which we soon learned was painted with some SERIOUS washable paint. So serious that when he put the top of Nutcracker in his mouth, all of the paint came right off, all over his face. Oy vey.
It was fine though because the nutcracker didn't hold his attention for long before he was back to the jingle bells. We sang all kinds of carols with these bells. There were screeching renditions of Jingle Bells, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Rocking Around the Christmas Tree, Rudolph, Frosty, and more. We pretty much sang for twenty minutes. By we, I mean ME of course. Though, Kingston did his part by diligently shaking his bells and shrieking with laughter. It was quite fun!!
He set his bells to the side momentarily and peeked to see what else there was to explore!
He was excited to examine the star. I tried to include ornaments that had different textures. The star had bumps all over it for K to explore. He touched the ridged texture and we counted the points.
Then he went for the velvet reindeer ornament. He has been eyeing this one on the tree for awhile, so was quite excited to play with it. The texture was soft and smooth.
Then he turned his attention to the last two ornaments - the large sparkly ball which had a rough texture and the shiny ball with the scaley scallops. We rolled the large ball back and forth. Then I held the scaley ball as he gently touched each scallop.
At that point, we were down to the bare bones. He had thrown out the puzzle pieces as he got to them since he is used to playing with them. They each got a brief once over before being tossed to the side. He picked up the branch and scowled at the strange texture of it.
Then we used our fine motor skills to practice putting on and taking off the shiny scalloped ornament. He thought this was really fun! Notice the look of concentration on his face.
After he ripped everything out, he examined each object multiple times. We played jingle bells for another half an hour. This sensory bin turned out to be a wonderful experience! He didn't go near the real tree for the rest of the day, seemingly having gotten his fill. We played with this bin for an hour! Afterwards, K helped me clean up by putting all the puzzle pieces away.
Are you one of the lucky ones who has a toddler who is uninterested in the tree? Or do you have a tree lover like I do? How do you keep your toddler from tearing the tree apart?