There’s no denying, the excitement in December is completely infectious when you have little ones to share it with. Even if they are too young to understand the meaning of Christmas, they can still enjoy its magic. Christmas decorations, an increase in visitors, and mysterious parcels appearing around the house, are all indications to your toddler that something different is going on! However, if your child is anything like J, things can sometimes get a bit overwhelming. If we try to move him too far from his daily nap, or put him to bed late too many nights in a row, he can get a little stressed and unsettled.
Ensuring we still have plenty of one-on-one time with him, with lots of age-appropriate activities helps him to feel a sense of normality. We try to attend whatever groups he usually goes to through December, and make sure he has some down-time as well, away from too much stimulation. Try some of these winter music activities with your toddler this December:
1. Enjoy a carol service
Even if you are not especially religious, there is something very special about a candlelit carol service. Many family farms, parks and attractions will often hire small choirs at this time of year, to help the visitors to feel festive. Little voices from local schools and community choirs can often be heard in town centres and shopping parades. Local churches will all have several carol services, many of which are child-friendly.
You many think your toddler will struggle to sit still, but many will love the experience of watching and listening to people singing. If you are given hymn sheets, be sure to sing along loudly to show your little one that this is a lovely inclusive activity for everyone to enjoy. An evening service, with twinkling candlelight, will give them lots to look at as well!
2. Bring out the jingle bells
Give your percussion basket an upgrade this month with some jingle bells! They make a lovely accompaniment to all of the Christmas songs you’ll be playing at home, and add a real splash of excitement for your little ones in the run up to Christmas.
- Teach children the song ‘Jingle Bells’. Even if they cannot sing along with you, they can shake their bells as you sing
- Enjoy a simple version of hide-and-seek. Ask another adult to hide somewhere in the house, and tell them to ring the bells every minute or so. Your toddler will be so proud of themselves as they follow their ears to find them!
- Scroll down to the bottom of this post for a Christmas playlist that you can dance and play your jingle bells along to
- Tie bells to your. toddlers’s ankles, and let them jangle as they dance
3. Introduce children to The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker is a ballet most often seen at Christmas time. It features lots of very well-known pieces, such as:
- Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy
- March of the Toy Soldiers
- Waltz of the Snowflakes
- Waltz of the Flowers
The story begins in the home of the Stahlbaum family on Christmas Eve. Drosselmeyer gives Clara, one of the children, a nutcracker. She falls asleep holding him by the Christmas tree. She wakes at midnight – her toys have come to life! An army of mice appear, with the Mouse King in charge. The Nutcracker leads an army of toy soldiers into battle, but they are soon captured by the mice.
Clara throws a slipper at the Mouse King, killing him. A spell has been broken, and the Nutcracker transforms into a Prince, who leads Clara on a journey to the Land of Snow. They travel to the Land of Sweets, meeting the Sugar-Plum Fairy, and celebrating with a series of beautiful dances. Finally, Clara wakes up to find herself still under the Christmas tree, holding her nutcracker.
It’s a great story for children – full of magic and mystery, colour and imagination. I remember thinking longingly about all the lovely sweets they see! For story books suitable for toddlers, try the following:
Ballet is a beautiful way to introduce children to classical music. There is so much for them to look at, with exuberant set designs, enchanting costumes, and magical dancing. Little tots will enjoy copying the wonderful dancers they see on the screen, and will be absorbing some of the finest music ever written as they do so.
English National Ballet are hosting a performance suitable for under 5s! Try this if you really want your little ones to experience the magic.
English National Ballet – London Coliseum, 6th January
4. Involve kiddies in the wrapping
Everyone knows that toddlers are more interested in the box than the present inside, so why not involve them in the wrapping process for your gifts to family and friends? Keep them away from your neat wrapping, unless you want a completely dishevelled pile of presents, but set up their own little wrapping station. Include:
- Scraps of different coloured wrapping paper
- Gift tags and coloured pencils
- Bubble wrap
- Coloured pompoms for decorating
- Boxes (used delivery boxes are as good as any)
- A few of their own toys to ‘wrap’
The scrunch of wrapping paper, popping of bubble wrap, and opening and closing of present boxes will keep them entertained long enough to let you get down to business. Allowing them to be involved will help them to understand that you give presents at Christmas, and will let them take ownership over some of that enjoyment. They will love to give grandparents presents that they have been involved in wrapping up.
(Be sure to supervise this, as some of the materials could be choking hazards)
5. Make some new language connections
Christmastime is full of objects and ideas that we don’t tend to see or talk about for the rest of the year. Remember that your toddler was a whole year younger last December, and so all of these words are probably new to them. Help them to learn about all the new things they can see, by singing songs as you see something new. Language is learnt quicker when sung than when spoken, so you can help them to secure this new vocabulary by singing as much as possible during this festive season.
Try these examples:
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer:
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Had a very shiny nose
And if you ever saw it
You would even say it glows
All of the other reindeer
Used to laugh and call him names
They never let poor Rudolph
Join in any reindeer games.
Then one foggy Christmas Eve,
Santa came to say,
Rudolph with your nose so bright,
Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight Then how all the reindeer loved him,
As they shouted out with glee,
Rudolph the red-nose Reindeer
You’ll go down in history.
New vocab: Rudolph, reindeer, Christmas Eve, Santa, sleigh
Frosty The Snowman:
Frosty the Snowman, was a jolly happy soul,
With a corn cob pipe and a button nose, and two eyes made of coal.
Frosty the Snowman, is a fairy tale, they say.
He was made of snow, but the children know he came to life one day.
There must have been some magic in that old silk hat they found,
For when they placed it on his head, he began to dance around!
Oh, Frosty, the Snowman, was alive as he could be;
and the children say he could laugh and play,
just the same as you and me.
New vocab: Frosty, snowman, snow
Rocking Around The Christmas Tree
Rocking around the Christmas Tree
at the Christmas party hop
A mistletoe hung where you can see
Every couple tries to stop
Rocking around the Christmas Tree
Let the Christmas spirit ring
Later we’ll have some pumpkin pie
and we’ll do some caroling
You will get a sentimental feeling
When you hear, voices singing
“Let’s be jolly; Deck the halls with boughs of holly”
Rocking around the Christmas Tree
Have a happy holiday
Everyone dancing merrily
In a new old fashioned way
New vocab: Christmas tree, mistletoe, carolling, holly
Winter Music: December Playlist
Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links, which means I get paid a small percentage when you buy through these, at no extra cost to you. However, I would never recommend anything that we hadn’t tried and loved ourselves.