This post is sponsored by Superprof.
Any parent of toddlers knows that keeping their child engaged is the best way to keep them happy (and out of trouble). And, if you’re going to keep your toddler engaged, it might as well be in something that will deliver benefits, immediately and down the line. After all, streaming cartoons all day long might keep the kids out of your hair but what good does it do them?
This time of year, especially after Christmas and all of its excitement, hands-on parents scramble to find activities that will call forth their child’s look of awe and wonder – and maybe, a few giggles, too. That’s really the best gift, isn’t it?
Here, we present activities that you and your toddler can work on in the run-up to the New Year that will feed their learning frenzy and keep their little hands busy.
Make New Year Hats
If you have a well-stocked crafts basket – full of construction paper, color crayons, glitter, and glue, you can tantalize your tots with the prospect of making fun hats to wear on New Year’s eve. You might whet their appetite for the project by showing them such party hats at the store and, when they ask you to buy them, let your eyes sparkle and say: “We’re going to make better/prettier hats than that.” With the pact made and buy-in assured, buy the supplies you need, if any. And then, get busy!
Note that there’s a bit of geometry involved in making hats. You first have to measure everyone’s head, and then draw a large enough circle, mark its radius and turn it into a cone. If you’ve already introduced your child to basic math concepts like counting and addition, this activity makes for a great introduction to shapes and measuring. It’s good for counting practice, too.
Once you’ve made enough cones to fit everyone’s head, it’s time to decorate. You might add streamers to the cone’s point for the ladies and garland around the base for the gentlemen.
Craft Party Masks
How about hosting a masquerade party for New Year? Even if only your family will attend, you can still costume up and wear masks. And if you don’t happen to have any masks lying around? Make them!
To generate excitement for this activity, you can show your young ones pictures of people enjoying such festivities. How deeply you delve into the history of such events depends on your child’s level of interest but you should absolutely tell them where and how such parties got started.
As you bring forth your crafts kit, you might even play Masquerade, from The Phantom of the Opera. If you load the YouTube video, your toddler can see all of the glorious costumes and masks.
Make Your Own Fireworks
Is your toddler keen to see your New Year fireworks show? To curb their impatience, you can make bottle rockets together – not the kind loaded with gun powder, though. All you need are craft sticks, paint, a bit of paper, and some gift wrap ribbon (orange would be best).
First, cut a piece of paper the width of three craft sticks. Glue the sticks, side by side, onto the paper. While the glue is drying, cut and color triangles; those will be your rockets’ heads. Once the glue dries, it’s time to start decorating the rocket bodies. Finally, curl and attach the ribbons at the base; they will be your rockets’ flames.
As you work, you might talk about wishes and dreams you hope will come true in the new year. If you have relatives living far away, you might want to send your best wishes to them. Whatever prospects your child mentions, paint it onto the rockets.
When your family gets ready to set off your New Year arsenal, attach each rocket to a firework and blast it into space. Casting hopes, dreams and good wishes to the heavens is never a bad thing and, besides, doing so allows your toddlers to actively participate in launching fireworks.
New Year Crowns
If you’re a bit short on time and/or your crafts bucket is running low, you and your toddler could make New Year crowns and headbands. All you need are glittery pipe cleaners and plain headbands.
To make a crown, join enough pipe cleaners to encircle the intended wearer’s head. Once you’ve formed that circle, bend other pipe cleaners into Vs – Ms, if they’re long enough, twisting them onto the circle form. You may have to re-gap them a few times until the crown’s points are even. For the headbands, shape your pipe cleaners to reflect the needed numbers. To attach them to the headband, cut small pieces of pipe cleaner to use as fasteners.
Kids love putting things on their heads so New Year making New Year headwear together is sure to generate high excitement and enthusiasm.
Kids also love keeping busy and learning new things. All of these New Year projects help to stimulate their ability to envision, build fine motor skills, and fire their imagination.
Other New Year Learning Activities
- New Year Celebration Clock: You’ve surely laid in all your party supplies, right? How about turning one of those paper plates into a clock? You can add decorations – maybe a party hat, or trim it with leftover garland. The nifty thing about this activity? You can remove the distinctive decoration and use it to teach your toddler how to tell time year-round.
- A Countdown ball: As long as you’re filching paper plates, grab one more. In the middle, cut two horizontal three-inch slits, one atop the other, about an inch apart. As your child decorates the plate, you’ll be busy making a number strip. For that, you’ll need a strip of construction paper a little under three inches wide and about 18 inches long. Write the numbers 1-12 on the strip and then, feed it through the two slits so that the numbers are visible. As the hours count down to the new year, instruct your toddler to pull the strip to subtract an hour.
- Party picture frames: Surely, you’ll take pictures during your New Year celebration, won’t you? How about making a few picture frames to show off the best ones? You might let your youngsters do the measuring and line drawing so they can get counting practice in. After cutting out the middle, have fun designing your frames!
- Fireworks rings: You only need three sparkly pipe cleaners to make one ring. Cut them in half and then, fold five of them in half yet again. Arrange the bent ends so that they form the ring; wrap the sixth segment around the stems, just above the ring loop. Now, you only need to bend the 10 loose ends so that they resemble a burst of fireworks. Note that, for larger fingers, the sixth stem can be used as the ring; the other five stems can simply be twisted around before forming the starburst.
- Make a wishing wall: You can replicate the Times Square activity at home. In the run-up to New Year, place a pad of paper and a supply of writing implements next to your chosen wishing-wall spot. Challenge family members to write their wishes down and post them; your littlest ones can draw pictures if they don’t yet know how to write. You may then cast those wishes to the heavens, along with your rockets.
- Melting lead: This fun German New Year tradition involves melting small bits of lead, pouring the molten metal into water, and deducing what lies in store for the person whose turn it was to melt lead by the shape that emerges from the water. You only need a spoon, a candle, a few fishing sinkers, and a bowl of cold water. Your toddlers can play along too; only you’ll be the one handling the hot lead.
Have fun and enjoy a happy and safe New Year!
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