3 Christmas Tree Learning Activites for 2-3 Year Olds

  

Tommy is a big fan of Christmas trees, but I didn’t want to bother with one this year knowing that we will be out of town for half the month of December and won’t even be home on Christmas Day. Instead, we hung Christmas lights around the house, are making frequent visits to the big lighted trees scattered around town, and have been doing a lot of Christmas tree crafts!

Here are some quick and easy Christmas tree projects that double as learning activities and cute decorations to hang up for the holidays:

1. Number Match Christmas Tree

For this number match activity, I cut a tree out of a green foam sheet and wrote numbers 1-20 scattered over it. Then, I numbered some foam stickers with numbers 1-20 and set them out for Tommy to match them to the numbers on the tree.

*To simplify this project, you could put the numbers on the tree in ascending or descending order rather than mixing them up like I did. And you could hand the stickers to your child one by one to match instead of laying them all out on the table.

**Also, you could do only numbers 1-10 to make it easier or up the challenge for older kids by making a larger tree with numbers 1-30, 1-50, or even 1-100!


2. Color Match Christmas Tree
 

For this color match activity, I drew a Christmas tree on a sheet of white paper and scattered dots in a few different colors all over the tree. (I used Do-a-Dot markers.) Then, I set out some pom poms in the same colors and let Tommy match them to the colored dots on the tree. When he found a match, I squeezed out a bit of Elmer’s glue and he glued the pom pom in place.

*For an even simpler variation on this activity, use colored stickers instead of pom poms.

3. ABC Match Christmas Tree

 For this ABC match activity, I cut a tree out of green construction paper and topped it with a star sticker. Then, I drew a few lines across the tree to be the strings for the Christmas lights and wrote lowercase letters a-z along the lines. Next, I cut small ovals out of colored paper to be the lights and wrote uppercase letters A-Z on them. I set them out on the table with a glue stick and let Tommy get to work matching the uppercase to the lowercase letters and sticking them in place.

*To simplify this project, match uppercase to uppercase letters or lowercase to lowercase. 

**To make it more challenging, mix up the letters on the lines so they are not in alphabetical order. 

***For older kids, you could even match short sight words instead of letters!

Now it’s your turn! 

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10 Must-Haves for a Road Trip with a Toddler

Roadtrip Essentials - Toddler

This past 4th of July weekend, we drove to Philadelphia to visit my sister and her family. This was our first major road trip with Tommy since our cross-country move from CA to NC when he was 4 months old. Road trips with an infant are no easy feat, but I was even more worried about attempting a long drive with a two-year-old. When T was an infant, we had to pull over often to nurse him and change his diaper, there were multiple changes of clothes for all of us, and we cleaned up a lot of messes that came out of both ends of the baby. But, he also slept more than he was awake, and while he was awake, he was content smiling at his reflection in the car seat mirror, sucking on a pacifier, or playing pat-a-cake with me. With a two-year-old, I faced the possibility of him throwing a tantrum through 5 different states and refusing to sleep for one minute of the 7 hour drive.

Luckily, we came prepared and the drive to Pennsylvania was a success… besides T shouting “I’m stuck!!” a few times at the top of his lungs (toddler translation: “Get me out of this car seat, now!”) and some serious screaming when he was jolted awake when Daddy had to brake suddenly while navigating some awful traffic (which added an extra couple hours to the drive). We drove home in the evening to avoid traffic, and Tommy actually stayed awake (and happy!) until 12:30 AM, which was amazing because then he slept in when we got home around 1:30 AM (so we could sleep in, too)!

For the details of how we survived our road trip with a 2-year-old, read on below for my list of 10 must-haves for a road trip with a toddler:

Roadtrip Essentials with numbers - Toddler

1. Laundry Basket: A small round laundry basket is the absolute best way to store items that I will need easy access to throughout the drive. Not only is it easy to transport, but it also allows me see all of the contents of the basket without having to dig to see the items at the bottom of the bin. We picked one up for $1 at Dollar Tree and packed it full of snacks and activities for the drive.

2. 13 x 9 in Cake Pan: Bringing a rectangular cake pan along for the road trip is a total game changer! It is the perfect size to serve as a little lap activity tray in the car seat, and the raised sides keep items from falling onto the car floor and getting lost under the seats.

Some of the items we brought to use in our cake pan/activity tray:

  • Toy cars & trains– I drew a little map with a road and train tracks and placed it in the bottom of the cake pan. Tommy LOVED it!

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  • Stickers, markers, crayons, & paper: The raised edges of the pan keep the art supplies from rolling onto the floor. Stickers keep a toddler’s attention for a long time, as they can be stuck not only to paper, but also to arms, clothing, and foreheads.
  • Play dough & tools: I rolled out some play dough in the bottom of the pan and threw in some cookie cutters and plastic utensils for easy entertainment!

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  • Building blocks: I brought along a small bag of LEGO® DUPLO® blocks and tossed them into the cake pan. T had fun building structures, and since the blocks click together, we didn’t have to worry about the block towers spilling all over the place when Daddy put on the brakes.
  • Puzzles: I brought along a small $1 foam alphabet puzzle from Dollar Tree. The cake pan gave him a flat surface to lay out the pieces and complete the puzzle while keeping it all neatly contained.

3. Sound Books: Books with sound buttons kept T entertained without me having to sit in the back seat and read to him. He had fun playing the songs in his Thomas the Train sound book, and we could turn on the radio in the front of the car so we didn’t have to listen to it.

4. Convertible car seat with a cup holder: Tommy quickly goes into a panic if he doesn’t have his sippy cup on hand the very moment he gets thirsty. A car seat with a cup holder ensures that he will have his drink close at hand when he needs it and it won’t roll onto the floor and under the seat. Tommy loves his Evenflo Symphony LX All-in-One Car Seat. Not only does it have two built-in cup holders, but it is super cozy with cushioning by the head perfect for dozing. The cover is also removable and machine washable, which makes it easy to keep clean.

He always uses a sippy cup with a straw and a lid that screws on to minimize the risk of spills in the car.

5. Snacks: Perhaps the most important thing to pack for a road trip is the snack bag!

Some good road trip snacks for toddlers:

  • Fruit snacks
  • Clif Kid Z Bars
  • Raw veggies- baby carrots, mini cucumbers & celery sticks (if your toddler will eat them)
  • Veggie straws
  • Fruit/veggie squeeze pouches
  • Pretzels
  • String cheese

Snacks to avoid in the car:

  • Crumbly crackers & cookies
  • Snacks with itty-bitty pieces (puffs, cereal)
  • Fruit that will mush (bananas, peaches, pears)
  • Fruit that will drip & stain (watermelon, oranges, berries)
  • Gum and sticky candies
  • Snacks covered in orange cheese powder (Cheetos, Doritos, cheese puffs)

Also, the cake pan came in handy as a serving tray for snacks throughout the drive!

6. Bib with a pocket: When it’s time to eat, I throw a bib my little road trip buddy! I love the silicone bibs by Ulubulu– there is a big pocket to catch falling crumbs and drips, and then I can easily wipe it clean when he’s done eating.

7. Garbage bags: I always keep a few tall kitchen bags rolled up in the back seat pocket. Besides the obvious use to hold food wrappers, wet diapers, and tissues, you can fold a garbage bag in half and lay it across your lap as a makeshift place mat. It can also save the upholstery to contain a mess in the instance that somebody gets carsick.

8. Smartphone with a data plan: This is a must-have for the grown-ups in the car! There are so many helpful apps out there that make the trip easier for everyone:

  • For navigation, Waze helps us anticipate traffic jams and accidents (and suggests alternate routes), as well as alerting us to upcoming stoplight cameras and police cars to help avoid tickets.
  • If we need to find a nearby place to stop to eat, the Yelp mobile app helps us find a restaurant that fits our budget and taste.
  • I use Road Ninja to find upcoming gas stations, fast food, and rest stops.
  • If we need to stop over somewhere for the night during a long drive, we use the Hotwire app to find a great deal on a hotel and book it right from my phone.

One of the very best uses for a data-enabled smartphone is the ability to set up a Wi-Fi hotspot. The iPad that Tommy uses is Wi-Fi only, but his tech-savvy Daddy taught me how to set up a hotspot to connect the tablet to my iPhone’s data plan. T having internet access in the back seat meant that he could watch endless kid-friendly videos using apps like PBS Kids and YouTube Kids so I didn’t have to fork over $20 for a single season of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

9. Tablet: In addition to movies, music, and e-books, my iPad is set with two screens full of apps just for Tommy that can keep him entertained for hours! For a full description of Tommy’s favorite apps (for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch) check out our Favorite Art, Shapes, and Colors Apps for Toddlers, our Favorite ABCs & 123s Apps for Toddlers, our Favorite Puzzle and Sorting Apps for Toddlers, and our Favorite Games & Video Apps for Toddlers.

10. Bedtime Items: So that Tommy had less of a chance of skipping naptime during the drive, I moved all of his comfort items out of his crib and into the back seat of the car. When it was time for him to sleep, I tucked him in with his favorite blanket, his little stuffed Elmo, and his “pup pup” lovey blanket that he always sleeps with in his crib. A small pillow is also helpful to prop up the drooping head.

Some other ways that I survive road trips with a toddler:

  • I keep wipes, diapers, a changing pad and a change of clothes in the back seat pocket directly in front of Tommy’s car seat for easy access.
  • I dress him in comfortable, easy-to-remove clothes and shoes. Pants with an elastic waist and no buckles or zippers are best for quick diaper changes, and slip-on shoes allow him to remove them himself and slide them back on easily when needed. I like to have him wear something that is cozy enough to sleep in, so that I can easily transfer him right to bed if he is asleep when we arrive at our destination.
  • I keep hand sanitizer in the center console at all times! Gas stations and rest stops are full of germs- I try to remember to use hand sanitizer on the whole family before returning to the car and digging our hands back into the tube of Pringles.
  • When he gets restless in the car, I move to the back seat and keep him company. He likes to talk about what he sees out the window (“blue car,” “big tree,” “airplane”), sing songs with hand motions (“Wheels on the Bus,” “Itsy Bitsy Spider”), and to have me read books to him.
  • If time allows, we try to stop at kid-friendly spots to stretch instead of just gas stations and restaurants. After being confined to a car seat for hours, moving straight into a high chair at a restaurant is not fun for the little guy. He is thrilled if we let him burn off some energy by running around a park while we eat lunch at a picnic bench instead. A plus if there is a scenic spot for a photo-op, like this park we found just minutes off the freeway in Richmond, VA.

11403400_1690763834488884_107700619930078715_nDo you do a lot of long-distance driving with little ones? What are your must-haves and tips for the road? Share in the comments!

And if you have any air travel plans coming up with little ones, check out our 10 Must-Haves for Flying with a One-Year-Old.

Hot Wheels Fireworks Painting

With the 4th of July just a few days away, I thought it would be fun to do a patriotic art project with Tommy.  The problem is, he has been so obsessed with playing with his toy cars lately that it is hard to get him to want to do anything else. The cars have been sitting next to his plate during meals, riding along with him in the car seat and stroller, going swimming in the bathtub… he even insisted on taking “green car” and “yellow car” to bed with him a couple nights ago and fell asleep clutching one in each hand.

So, I decided to let his cars come to the art table with us… and we ended up making fireworks painted with wheel tracks! We kept it patriotic and coordinated by using a red car for the red paint and a blue car for the blue paint. Fun, festive, and he didn’t throw any fits because he got to play with his cars throughout the entire project! Hooray!

Hot Wheels Fireworks Painting

For this project, you will need:

  • Large sheet of white paper
  • Blue and red water-based washable paint
  • Palette or plate (for paint)
  • Two Hot Wheels cars (or other small toy cars)

To make your Hot Wheels fireworks painting:

1. Grown-up: Lay the sheet of paper on a flat surface. Squeeze a bit of each color of paint onto your palette and wiggle the palette a bit so that the paint spreads out to form flat puddles rather than globs.

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2. Child:  Take one of the Hot Wheels cars and drive it right through the red paint puddle. Then, drive the car across the paper so that the paint transfers from the car wheels onto the paper. Drive the car through the paint again and then roll it onto the paper again, fanning the tire tracks out from a central point to make a fireworks shape.

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3. Child: Repeat step 2 with the other car in the blue paint and make as many fireworks as you wish.

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4. Grown-up & Child: Set the painting aside to dry, and be sure to rinse the paint thoroughly from the bottom of the cars so that you don’t end up with paint tracks on your carpet and furniture! (Just regular hand soap and water in the bathroom sink worked for us.)

OPTIONAL: Once the paint is dry, trace over some of the fireworks with glitter glue to add a little sparkle!

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Have fun with this project, and don’t forget to share your results with us for a chance to be featured on our Instagram and Facebook pages!

To submit a photo on Instagram, tag @makelearngo or send us a direct message.

On Facebook, send a message to Make Learn Go.

Or e-mail us at makelearngo@gmail.com.

Foam Flowers for Spring

Our latest spring craft was a quick little project that was made up of a few materials from Dollar Tree.  We found some pipe cleaners, colorful foam sheets shaped like flowers, and re-used the pop poms from our Easter Egg Color Sorting activity to make some festive Spring flowers to decorate the playroom!

Foam Flowers for Spring

For this project, you will need:

  • Crafters foam flowers (you can either buy them already in the flower shape like I did, or cut flowers from regular rectangular or square colorful crafters foam sheets)
  • Pipe cleaners (green ones will look best- these will be your flower stems)
  • Pom poms
  • Liquid glue
  • Tape
  • Paint (or glitter glue, stickers, or whatever else you’re feeling) to decorate

To make your flowers:

1. Grown-up: If you need to cut the flowers out of your crafters foam, do that first. Then, prepare your pipe cleaner flower stems. Fold a pipe cleaner in half, then bend one side of the “v” shape to make a leaf (as pictured below). Pinch the pipe cleaner together at the stem and then wrap the end of the leaf around the stem to hold the leaf shape. Make one stem for each flower you plan to make.

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2. Grown-up & Child: Squeeze a dot of glue in the middle of each flower. Let your little artist choose a color of pom pom to go in the center of each flower and place it on the glue dot.

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3. Grown-up & Child: Turn the flowers over and help your little one secure the stems in place with tape.

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4. Child: Turn the flowers over and decorate! T used pastel colored tempera paint to add some swirly strokes and texture to his flowers.

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T was so excited when he finished and was carrying his little “bouquet” all around the house. Then we hung them up on the wall with the other Easter crafts that he has made. (He got this little picture of Jesus at church on Sunday and it’s his favorite part of the Easter wall. 🙂 )

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Go ahead and make your own flowers, and comment below to let us know how it goes!

Or better yet, upload a picture to Instagram and tag @makelearngo, send a message to Make Learn Go on Facebook, or e-mail your photo to makelearngo@gmail.com for a chance for your child’s artwork to be featured on our Instagram and Facebook pages!

And don’t forget to check out our other fun Easter crafts and learning activities that you can do with your little one:

And if you’re still trying to figure out what the Easter Bunny is going to bring this year, here’s our helpful list of Easter Basket Ideas for Toddlers & Babies.

Play Dough Easter Eggs & Butterflies

Play Dough Easter Eggs & ButterfliesPlay dough is something we play with a lot. We love it because there are endless possibilities to the things you can create and different ways you can play with it. My little Tommy really likes to roll out his play dough and use cookie cutters to make different shapes. So when I saw some fun Easter-themed cookie cutters out at our local Kroger, I made sure to grab a couple! I picked out an egg shaped cookie cutter and let T choose one. He chose a butterfly.

When we got home, we picked out some some bright colors from our play dough stash and got to work rolling and cutting out our fun Easter shapes.

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We used some brightly colored pony beads (left over from our Easter Egg Color Sorting activity) to decorate the eggs and butterflies.

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He also liked using these little Crayola Model Magic Press N’ Pop Texture Tools to stamp shapes into the play dough.

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It was such a simple activity, but  and it kept the little guy entertained for a long time! He had lots of fun choosing which beads to use to decorate, and it was another opportunity to work on learning colors. Picking up and placing the little beads was a great activity to sharpen his fine motor skills, and trying to pick the beads out of the dough afterwards stepped it up to a bigger fine motor challenge.

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Next time we try this, I want to add pipe cleaners to make antennae for the butterflies. I also saw a cute cookie cutter shaped like a bunny’s head that could be fun, too- maybe with googly eyes, pipe cleaners or toothpicks for whiskers, and a bead or button for a nose).

Try it out, and let us know how you decorate your Easter play dough creations!

Take a minute to check out my simple solution for How to Fix Dried Play Dough.With a few minutes and one magic ingredient from your kitchen, play dough that was accidentally left out overnight will be as good as new!

Don’t forget to check out some of our other fun Easter crafts and learning activities that you can do with your little one:

And if you’re still trying to figure out what the Easter Bunny is going to bring this year, here’s our helpful list of Easter Basket Ideas for Toddlers & Babies.

Cotton Ball Bunny & Lamb

For those of you who didn’t know, I am a mama by day and a freelance illustrator by night (and nap time!). The other night as I was finishing up a project to send over to a client, I came across this little lamb sketch that I did a few years ago. With springtime and Easter on my mind, I instantly thought up an adorable craft that my little Tommy could make using this drawing as a base. Of course, no Easter craft involving fluffy white baby animals would be complete without a bunny, so I whipped up a little bunny drawing to go along with it!

Cotton Ball Bunny & Lamb

For this project, you will need:

  • Little Lamb & Little Bunny (<—click the links to download .pdf files)
  • Printer (with black ink or toner… no color printer necessary)
  • White 8.5 x 11″ printer paper (or card stock)
  • Cotton Balls
  • Liquid Glue
  • Stickers & markers (or whatever you want to use to decorate your picture)

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To make it:

  1. Grown-up: Print the Little Lamb and Little Bunny .pdf files. (I printed on white card stock to make this a little more sturdy to withstand the glue and weight of the cotton balls.)
  2. Grown-up & Child: Squiggle some glue onto the body of the little lamb and let your little one help place cotton ball “wool” all over to make the lamb cute and fluffy.
  3. Child: Decorate your picture with colorful stickers, color the background, and add words or designs to make it your own.
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 with the Little Bunny printout.

These printouts are free for personal use, but please remember that I am the artist and I retain the copyrights to the artwork. These art files (along with any other art or photography that I post on makelearngo.com) cannot be copied, reproduced, or sold without my permission. If you have any questions about this, please e-mail me at makelearngo@gmail.com. Thank you!

When you make this with your little artist, don’t forget to take a picture! Tag @makelearngo on Instagram, send a message to Make Learn Go on Facebook, or e-mail your photo to makelearngo@gmail.com for a chance for your child’s artwork to be featured on our Instagram and Facebook pages!

And don’t forget to check out some of our fun Easter crafts and learning activities that you can do with your little one:

And if you’re still trying to figure out what the Easter Bunny is going to bring this year, here’s our helpful list of Easter Basket Ideas for Toddlers & Babies.

Dot Art Rainbow

I featured this project on Instagram (@makelearngo) and Facebook (Make Learn Go) last week, but never got around to posting about it here on the blog. We did this project while learning about rainbows before St. Patrick’s Day, but this is a great project to do any time of the year! It’s a fun way for your child to work on color recognition and color matching as well as hand-eye coordination.

(For another fun St. Paddy’s Day craft your child will love, check out our Tissue Box Leprechaun Trap!)

Dot Art Rainbow1

For this project, you will need:

  • Plain white sheet of paper
  • Markers, crayons, or colored pencils (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, & purple)
  • Dot markers (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, & purple) – we love Do-A-Dot Art! Markersrainbowart2

To make the dot art rainbow:

  1. Grown-up: Draw a thin arc in each color of the rainbow to make the template for your child to stamp over.
  2. Child: Choose the correct color of dot marker to match the first arc of the rainbow.
  3. Child: Stamp over the arc with the coordinating color of dot marker, trying to keep the dots following along the line as closely as possible. Continue until the entire arc is covered in dots.
  4. Child: Continue steps 3 & 4 with each arc until your rainbow is complete!

So easy, fun, and educational! Go get to work with your little artist, and share a picture with us for a chance to be featured on our Instagram and Facebook pages!

To submit a photo on Instagram, tag @makelearngo or send us a direct message.

On Facebook, send a message to Make Learn Go.

Or e-mail us at makelearngo@gmail.com.

How to Fix Dried Play Dough

My little guy loves play dough! We have been using this awesome homemade play dough recipe (#1 on the list from We Love Being Moms). It’s so easy to make and has a great texture like the store-bought kind that is not too crumbly or sticky.

But T now knows how to open up the play dough by himself, and of course he doesn’t always remember to put it away when he’s done… this morning I found a bunch of play dough that he had rolled out to use with cookie cutters and left sitting out overnight. It had dried out a lot and was really crumbly with hardened bits all over the top. But, with just one magic ingredient plus water, and 3 simple steps, our dried-out play dough was as good as new!

Fix Dried Play Dough

The magic ingredient? Cream of tartar!

There were two different colors of play dough that were left out- I did one with the cream of tartar and one with only water. The one that I tried to revive with water only was so gooey and slimy afterwards that I had to toss it, but the one with the cream of tartar mixed in was perfect! You really would never know that it had ever dried out!

How to fix dried play dough:

1. Roll the dried play dough into a ball and knead it in your hands for a minute to break up the dried layer on top and soften it up a bit.

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2. In a bowl, mix together 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar with 1 tablespoon water.

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3. Add the ball of play dough to the bowl and roll it around, kneading the dough with your fingers so that you soak up all of the liquid into the dough.

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4. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead with your hands for a minute until it starts to feel softer and less wet.

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5. Pop it in the microwave for 20 seconds. Then just squish in your hands a couple times and it will feel soft and ready to play with again!

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No need to ever toss dried play dough again! Hooray!