Your toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy learning through play when using Christmas sensory activities.
Christmas is such a magical time for anyone, but especially for a child. Why not package it up, literally, into Christmas-themed sensory activities, like sensory bins and playdough trays?
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December can be a busy and stressful time of year. Ease that stress by using the ideas below to quickly create sensory materials to keep your toddlers and preschoolers occupied and learning this month. Plus they will allow you time to teach your older children, fold laundry or get a meal ready for these kids who always seem to need to eat!
These Christmas activities like sensory bins and playdough trays are also great to use during your December Morning Basket.
If you have an older preschooler or kindergartener, you may also enjoy these preschool Christmas learning activities.
Materials to Gather for Your December Sensory Bins
Many of the materials for a December sensory bin can be used in other months of the year, so you may already have many of them, especially the filler materials.
Tip: I store filler materials that I’m not using in glass Mason jars or plastic zip-top baggies. Then I can easily see at a glance which materials I have and it’s quick to add them to a bin.
I have found these storage boxes with lids to be great for our sensory bins. I can easily choose one to pull down and set on the dining room table, which is adjacent to our learning area. My son knows that he is allowed to play with the bins at leisure when they are set open on the table. Then I can simply cover them with the lid and stack them high on a bookshelf when it’s time to put them away.
Related Post: How to Create Enticing Sensory Bins
Filler Items for Christmas Sensory Bins
- Kidney and Navy beans for the red and white colors
- Green lentils or peas
- Shredded green, red, white and/or brown paper
- Cotton balls
- Pompoms of various colors
- Dyed noodles, rice, or chickpeas
- Artificial Greenery
Items to Use for Play in Christmas Sensory Bins
- Miniature gift boxes
- Cookie cutters
- Pompoms (if not used as filler)
- Themed erasers
- Small ornaments
- Nativity figurines
- Mini trees
- Scoops, measuring cups, small bowls
Themes for December Sensory Bins
- Jingle Bells
- Christmas Trees/Evergreens
- Christmas Ornaments
- Hunt & Find (letters, certain items)
- Gingerbread Men
- Snowmen (Bonus carry-over into January)
Examples of Christmas Sensory Bins
The following sensory bins will be lots of fun for your toddlers and preschoolers in December. They are a great hands-on addition to your homeschool preschool.
Advent Sensory Bin
If you celebrate Advent, create an Advent sensory bin for a faith-filled playtime. Start with a base of purple and pink dyed rice. You can add a small nativity or nativity figurines. Battery-operated tealight candles of white or purple and pink are sure to be a hit with little ones. Make a small wreath with artificial pine stems.
Christmas Fun Sensory Bin
Create a fun and easy bin by adding in items that represent Christmas. Green and red filler items of any kind can be used as the base. Then throw in whatever you have! Miniature gift boxes, Christmas-colored pompoms, Christmas-themed erasers, mini trees, or small ornaments will be fun to add for play.
Another easy Christmas-themed sensory bin is to put a filler of red, white and green rice or beans as your base. Then add in scoops, measuring cups and bowls. Your little one will have a blast scooping and transferring the filler among the bowls.
Christmas Tree Sensory Bin
Does your child love looking at the artificial Christmas trees displayed in stores? My son adores Christmas trees, so this sensory bin is a given at our house!
Regular white rice can be added as the filler, or mix some green and white for a more colorful base. Then add a variety of evergreen trees in various sizes. For more fun, you could add different colored pieces of yarn to wrap around the trees as garland (what great fine motor skills practice!) or small pompoms to stick on the trees.
Variations: For an evergreen tree theme, add in pine cones of various sizes and pieces of artificial pine stems or pipe cleaners to your artificial trees. Or grab some small pine branches from your yard or nature walk. Watch out for sap! Small deer figurines found in the miniatures section of craft stores are also sure to be a hit. I found mine at my local Dollar Tree.
Christmas Wreath Sensory Bin
Your child will enjoy creating their own wreaths with this bin! Take an artificial pine stem (similar to pipe cleaners) and bend it into a circle, wrapping the ends around each other to close it off. Make a few of these for more fun. You don’t need a filler for this bin, but navy beans would make a nice white filler that wouldn’t stick to the stems.
To decorate the wreaths, add in small pompoms, little pieces of yarn, small gift bows, or even make a few bows with yarn.
Christmas Ornament Sensory Bin
Small Christmas ornaments found with the miniature village pieces in a craft store are perfect for a sensory bin. Your child can add them to bowls, practicing transferring skills. If your ornaments are at least two different colors, have your child make patterns with the colors.
Variation: Another fun idea for a Christmas ornament basket is to fill an ornament with beads, sequins, or rice. I suggest using a clear, plastic ornament from craft stores for this activity so that you don’t have to worry about broken glass. You can just put filler and the ornament in the bin for your child’s play, along with a scoop. If you’d like, you can seal it and hang it on your Christmas tree. Wouldn’t your child love to see that?!
Christmas Songs Box
I also found the cutest activity box for Christmas songs. You put little toys that represent different Christmas songs in a box. Your little ones can choose a toy and then you sing the song it represents. For example, if your child choose a little reindeer, you’d sing Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer with them. Such a cute idea!
Christmas Playdough Tray Ideas
Playdough is another wonderfully fun sensory item for little ones. My favorite homemade playdough recipe can be found in my Teach Your Child Colors activity guide, available as a free bonus to my email subscribers.
Christmas Tree Playdough Tray
If your little ones are anything like my little guy, they love Christmas trees! For a fun playdough tray, you can make green playdough and set it on your tray. Then add dyed noodles in various shapes, cut up pipe cleaners in fun colors, beads or sequins. Your child will have fun shaping the playdough into the shape of a tree, or using a tree cookie cutter to make that easier, then adding the various decorations to their tree.
Fun variation: Instead of a Christmas tree, your child could use any color of playdough along with the above mentioned items of noodles or pipe cleaners to make playdough Christmas ornaments.
Christmas Wreath Playdough Tray
Creating a Christmas wreath will allow your child to work on wonderful fine motor skills of rolling and twisting. Your child can take green, green and white, or green and red playdough and roll it into a couple of strips. Then they can twist the strips around each other and form into a circle. Smaller balls of playdough can be rolled and added to the wreath. They could even try to roll a strip out to make into a bow shape.
Variation: Instead of creating a wreath, the same idea can be used with red and white playdough to form a candy cane. Peppermint scented playdough will nicely enhance the experience.
Gingerbread People Playdough Tray
Little children love to help in the kitchen, don’t they? With this gingerbread person playdough tray, they can pretend to make Christmas cookies. Brown playdough and cookie cutters are really all you need for this activity. However, adding other items will definitely help contribute to the fun. Buttons can be created from small chunks of different colors of playdough rolled into balls, pompoms, or just small buttons. Googly eyes are sure to be fun additions as well.
Snowman Playdough Tray
Creating a snowman out of playdough is a fun alternative when you don’t have snow outside! White playdough is needed for the base. Your child can roll three different sized balls for a 3-D snowman, or roll the dough flat and cut out three circles with a cookie cutter. Then they’ll enjoy decorating their snowman with buttons or beads. They can use a foam cutout for a hat, or create one of their own with pipe cleaners or other craft items. This tray will easily carry over into January to extend the fun!
During December, creating Christmas themed sensory activities like sensory bins and playdough trays will give your children fun invitations to play. They will love creating items they recognize around the house or stores this time of year. Plus they don’t even realize they are learning and working on fine motor skills. An added bonus is that perhaps you’ll get a few moments of peace to homeschool, fit in wonderful Christmas read alouds, or get some baking done while they play!
What are your favorite Christmas-themed sensory activities?