Happy First Day of Winter, everyone! To celebrate, I prepped this Winter Tree Sensory Bin for Mila to play with winter elements without the cold!
This sensory bin was such a hit, I’ll keep it set up all winter long.
Let me tell you a secret… of all the elements in this sensory play are reused from Christmas decor and past sensory bins.
My dogs told me… aggressively… that they didn’t like my new mini tree. I was so sad because it was cute and brand new! Instead of just throwing it all away, I cut what I could salvage off and gave it a new life.
I’m letting you on this little secret because I have NO idea where to find little tree branches like these normally. AND since Christmas season will be over soon, you definitely can reuse old decor items for play or other DIY’s. It’s always just a nice reminder.
Anyways, here’s what’s all in this sensory bin:
Reused pine branches
To set this up for Mila, I added fake snow from the other sensory bin this month at the bottom of a tray. At first, I put the tree together so she knew what she was going on.
Then I told her to decorate the tree with the ornaments and bells.
After, she had taken everything out of the bin and started making different trees! I wish I would have began the play this way. It made the bin much more creative and she ran to get other little characters to play in the snow.
I love watching her play and her ideas come to life.
If you’re looking for ways to celebrate winter or just want another sensory play idea for your child, this one was definitely a hit!
Let me know in the comments your favorite season and how you celebrate them.
Christmas is almost here and mom guilt is in full effect. There’s presents to be wrapped, the kids asked for a new toy from Santa, and the cookies haven’t been baked yet. All while you still have to parent, work, and everything else too.
Not thinking you can get everything off your Christmas Bucket List done or making the holiday season as magical as it can be, it makes you feel bad.
In efforts to be nice to myself, I wanted to share some ways to I decrease mom guilt during the holidays with you.
Take a Deep Breath
Whenever I feel myself spiraling into mom guilt, I try to calm myself. Usually, I just need to take a deep breath and realize my thoughts and emotions are getting the best of me.
Believe me, I get it. There’s a ton to do, but if you can calm yourself with a deep breath and taking things one step at a time, it will help. In that moment you can realize what’s really important and what you can handle in the next five minutes, hour, or day.
You are one person and it feels like the world is on your shoulders. Don’t forget to breathe and remember you’re doing your best.
Buy Premade Crafts/Baked Goods
I have a love/hate relationship with Instagram. It makes me feel creative and show other parents easy activities to do with your kids.
On the other hand, there are times I have NO idea how everyone’s getting things done… and so beautifully! It can make me feel guilty about where I am with the holidays or coming up with unique crafts or baking all kinds of cookies from scratch.
My big tip… buy premade crafts and baked goods. They don’t even need to be all the way done.
If you walk into Joann Fabrics or any craft store (even the dollar store), there are a ton of different fun Christmas crafts and activities. Mila and I have done quite a few this year and it was just as fun… with just as cute outcomes.
Plus, I am all for buying cake boxes so I don’t have to think about all the ingredients. Or they had premade cut outs that all you had to do was bake and decorate.
This is such a time saver for me while still giving me that feeling of doing jolly holiday activities.
Involve Your Child
Kids are seriously magical. They want to help whenever they can and what they do always turns out so precious… or hilarious.
Mila helps me out with so many different things during the holiday season:
The root of the holidays and making traditions are the kids… so make them the center of it.
Cookies, presents, and all the other home things do not have to be perfect; especially during the holidays. I think it’s more special knowing a child helped with all of these things. It teaches them and helps you out too.
Another part of mom guilt and worry during the holidays is money. Mila and I always try to make gifts and they’re usually the ones most loved.
Involving children in the holiday hustle can really help with mom guilt and making memories too.
Take Care of You
If you’re anything like me, I put myself on the back burner. I constantly try to put others ahead of me and make sure the ones I love have everything they need… even if I don’t.
Whenever I’m in a bad mental place, I feel like my mom guilt is worse. I’m not at my best (or nicest) to Mila. It makes stressful times like the holidays way more intense. Not only do I feel bad on the inside, everyone else can feel it too.
Even when you have a million things to do, make space for you.
I know it’s hard, but you need and deserve it.
Personally, I love wrapping presents. It’s really relaxing to me and I make sure to put one of my favorite movies on with a big cup of peppermint hot chocolate. Honestly, it’s not much, but it gives myself space and takes care of my needs.
I would also suggest trying to get a babysitter so you can do things like that OR a self care day during this time.
The biggest message I’m trying to convey is to not forget about yourself. You are important and need to be taken care of just like everyone else, no matter the time of year.
Live in the Moment
Through the craziness of the holidays and trying to plan everything out, try to live in the moment.
Whenever I get so busy and planned out, I feel myself slip into autopilot or going through the motions. Honestly, the best parts of this past month is the moments not planned.
Mila and I went to the Akron Zoo’s Wild Lights on a whim. It wasn’t planned and we had so much fun. Another time, we were asked to go watch a play of The Grinch a couple hours before it started. Again, it was so much fun.
It’s easy to fall into checking things off your list, b it you can’t forget to live either.
Whenever I feel guilty as Mila watches a show while I’m rushing around, we hop in the car and go look at Christmas decorations and lights. It’s simple, but puts a smile on both of our faces.
Life is way too short to feel guilt and not soak up all these moments.
No matter what you need to do during this holiday season, remember you are doing your best. There’s no need to feel guilty. You are the best mom and parent to your child.
I promise they see your hard work and love you so much for it and for you just being their parent.
What ways do you decrease mom guilt during the holidays? Let us know in the comments.
Looking for a different way to make your Christmas gifts even more special? Try this DIY Wrapping Paper. I promise your family and friends will love getting their gifts wrapped in paper that’s made with love. And… your kids will be really proud of themselves when they show it off to them too.
Making our own wrapping paper is a big Christmas Bucket List item for us. We did it her first Christmas and now it’s become a fun tradition. I know my parents always look forward to seeing her wrapping paper. This year, she made it for her friends at preschool. I’m sure we’ll be doing this Christmas Activity more than once this year.
Maybe this can become a fun tradition for your family too! Here’s what you’ll need to make your own wrapping paper:
Brown craft paper
This activity is super simple in the best way. You get to let your child be as creative as they want to be. PLUS, they get to be messy too! I think all kids like that aspect of that.
To set up, all I did was lay out brown kraft paper, pour paint on a separate paper plate, and laid out her tools (paint brushes, cookie cutters, bingo daubers). She did everything else all by herself. I would also suggest laying trash bags down if you want to keep your surface clean.
I played Christmas music and had Mila explain to me what she was drawing. The one section was a whole scene with people. It’s fun to hear their thought process.
After they’re done creating, just let your wrapping paper dry.
Then, just wrap your presents like normal. I tried to get Mila to paint more in the middle so you could see the design. We also love to add yarn and ribbon to make presents even more special.
Mila was super proud of her wrapping paper. It’s so unique. We’ve done it every year and each year it looks so different. It’s a great way to capture her growth. It also feels like a present within a present when you give to others. I love gifting her artwork and this is a fun way to do that while being useful too!
Even though we normally do this for Christmas, I’d love to do it for different birthdays or holidays.
Let me know in the comments…
Have you ever made your own wrapping paper? OR what recycled products do you use for wrapping paper?
Christmas and baking go hand-in-hand. Cookies are great, but these Reindeer Pretzel Bites are easy into make and oh so tasty!
You only need three ingredients and I’ll guarantee Santa will be happy on Christmas Eve.
I actually made these Reindeer Pretzel Bites for Mila’s preschool class. They’re a perfect snack! I only had three reindeer bites per student and filled the rest of the bag with pretzels. It’s great since the kids don’t get all the sugar if they had a bag full of these.
Anyways, here’s all you need for this recipe:
Red and brown m&m’s
These are a lot of fun to make and Mila got to help a lot!
First, preheat your oven to 250 F.
I would suggest taking the foil off of all the rollos before baking. When I was doing this, Mila picked out the red and brown m&m’s. This small activity that helped me was great for her motor skills and talking about all the colors.
Once the foil was off and colors were separated, we lined as many pretzels as we could on a lined baking sheet.
Then, put rollos on top of the pretzels and bake them for two minutes.
Once they’ve been in there for two minutes, press the m&m’s into them. This is a little tricky. I would suggest holding the pretzels while pushing them down.
Then, place the baking sheet in the freezer for 5 minutes to set them.
These were a lot of fun to make and were pretty tasty too. I stole a few of them after I knew her classmates were covered.
To make these super cute, I added a Christmas tag to the bag and sent them on their way.
I would definitely suggest making these and would be perfect for a holiday party. You could put them in a big bowl and they’d be a hit.
What do you leave out for Santa on Christmas Eve? Or what’s your favorite holiday dessert?
The Nativity is a story a lot of people know and learn about around Christmas time. If you’d like your toddler or preschool to know this story, doing this Nativity Popsicle Stick Craft is a way to help them remember it and make it fun too.
As you might know if you’ve been following along with our story is that Mila is in preschool. Her preschool talks a lot about Bible stories.
I don’t necessarily talk about one religion at home. We talk about how people believe in all kinds of different things and none of it is wrong. My personal beliefs stem from different religions and readings, I’ve written about them in previous posts.
No matter what I believe, I want Mila to be able to make her own decisions. Right now, she’s asked a lot of questions about Jesus and Bible stories. So, we’re reading and doing activities with what she’s curious about.
Mila loves baby Jesus. Every time she sees a Nativity set up she says, ‘awww. Look at the baby.’ Then she names everyone.
It definitely made me want to do this activity with her even more. After a trip to the store, we got everything to create our interpretation of her favorite scene.
Here’s what you’ll need to create this book and craft pairing.
To start this activity off, we read the book with each other. She let me know she knew all the characters and that Jesus was born in a manger.
After reading, it was time to start making the scene.
We first wanted to make the manger. All we used was popsicle sticks and glue. We ended up using big popsicle and it took five across for the base. We used a smaller popsicle stick to connect it together.
Then for the floor of the manger, we used one big popsicle stick across it on the bottom. For the roof, we just crisscrossed them on the top.
Next we made Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus.
Again, we used popsicle sticks. For Mary and Joseph we decided to use big ones and for Jesus we used a small one. To get the correct length, we just cut them with scissors.
To make them look like they had clothes, hair, and accessories, we used yarn. You could use any color, I think ours turned out really cute.
Then, glue them down on the manger.
After that, make a star out of pipe cleaner and attach with glue.
You could stop here, but we decided to make this an ornament. To do this, we just glued on another piece of yarn so we could hang it.
Mila was SO proud of her hard work on this piece. She loved seeing this family together and talking about what she learned at preschool. I am so happy she can always let me know what she’s learning about.
This craft is so much fun for kids of all ages. I hope if you make it, you have as much fun as we did!
What’s your favorite Christmas book or story to read? Let me know in the comments.
Also, if you make this craft/ornament, tag me on Instagram or Facebook (@greyskies.rainbowhighs).
We love fun traditions in our house. Any time I can be transformed back into childhood, I’m all for it. Especially when I get to pass it on to Mila. One of my favorites crafts in elementary school were Tissue Paper Lanterns, so we made a Christmas themed one.
There are a ton of different skills in this DIY for Mila and now we have another tradition we can do every year.
Another part of this DIY that I love is it’s an upcycle project! Here’s what you’ll need:
Mason Jar or Recycled Glass Jar
Modge Podge or DIY Modge Podge (Glue and Water)
Paint or Foam Brush
To start off, I had Mila cut pieces of tissue paper into squares or smaller pieces. We’re always trying to work on scissor skills and she really enjoys it too. With a little help from me, we had more than enough pieces of tissue paper.
Then, we took our DIY modge podge to put it all together. To make DIY modge podge, just use regular, white glue and add water into it. It should mix into a modge podge consistency. You can see a picture of it down below too. It’s just a more watered down glue consistency that’s easy to spread with a paintbrush.
Mila and I worked in sections. We’d put paint on, then put a layer of tissue paper over top. After it was glued down, we put another thin layer of DIY modge podge on top.
After you fill in all the sections, just let it fully dry. It doesn’t take too long at all.
Once it’s dried, you can put a small candle in it and the light shines through beautifully. I absolutely loved how it turned out and it was easy to do with Mila. Hopefully we can keep making them every year with different patterned tissue paper. Just make sure to add the year on the lantern somewhere.
I ended up putting it as a centerpiece on our dining room table. It looks so cute and I love showcasing all her DIYs and crafts.
Do you ever make a craft over snd over again? If so, what do you make?
It’s the season of giving! To give back to Mila’s teachers, we decided to do an easy DIY gift I think her teachers will love. Made with a lot of love and something to remember her when they bake, we came up with this ‘smart cookie’ bundle.
Since Mila is in preschool and has three classroom teachers, I needed a gift that was simple to put together and not super costly. Instead of just doing a mug with hot chocolate, I thought of what Mila and I love to do during Christmastime: make cookies!
A quick internet search led me to the little quote on the pot holder and it all came together!
All I needed for this Easy DIY Teacher Christmas Gift was:
Chocolate chip cookie mix
Sparkly iron on vinyl
The most tasking part of this DIY gift was making the pot holder. If you have a Cricut and know how to use it, you should be golden.
My friend made me the image and I did everything else. Thank goodness for friends who can help out (thanks Dana!). If you don’t know how to use a Cricut or don’t have one, I’m sure a friend or family member would be willing to help out. There’s also a ton of different pot holders on Etsy you could quickly order… but it’s seriously easy to DIY.
One issue with ironing this design on was all the stitching. I had to really maneuver it and press really hard for it to stay on. Once it got on there, I think it looked really cute. I’m so glad I had the glitter vinyl at home!
I bought the cookie mix and whisk, but I DIY’d the ornament.
All I used was cardboard, a hot glue gun, and fluffy yarn. I’m going to do another in-depth blog post in the next few days about these DIY ornaments. You could also purchase one or make another type of DIY one.
When we actually give these gifts to Mila’s teachers, it’ll be easy to wrap up and hand to them. I love how it all looks together and I just used an extra piece of yarn to complete it. This could also be done with an oven mit. The items would just sit in it instead.
Some extra things we’re going to add that aren’t pictured here are little paintings from Mila in a Christmas card. She is adamant about making them something, so that’ll be a fun project.
This Easy DIY Teacher Gift is perfect for busy parents who want to make their teacher gift special without breaking the bank or being SUPER creative. Hopefully this will give you some inspiration and take a little stress off of you this holiday season.
Wondering what to get other people in your life? Check out these two gift guides I made this year:
Let me know in the comments what your go-to teacher gift is. OR if you’re a preschool or elementary school teacher, let us know what you’d like to receive or what would be helpful. I’d love to know more things to get in the future for Mila’s educators.
Christmas crafts don’t always have to be ‘perfect’ to be adorable. Toddlers and preschoolers love to learn by using the things around them, especially through art. This Christmas Process Art Mila created was a great reminder of that!
There’s a huge pressure to have the most perfect crafts online. It seems kids have to follow instructions step-by-step to create the best craft. When you give them the power to create on their own, they can create something even more spectacular.
I’m not going to say Mila and I haven’t been doing specific crafts together, but she needed this free project to showcase her creativity.
All we used to create this beautiful piece of art was from other Christmas items we had at home:
Red and Green Washable Paint
Gold Acrylic Paint
To set up this activity, all I did was pour the paint and tell Mila to use these objects to paint.
She did ask for a paint brush and I did let her use it to push the bells around. Then she used it to paint after trying all the objects. She really went to work when she could use the brush at the end!
As much as it was a process art activity, I did not want to put a limit to her creativity. I think she had fun feeling the different textures and she loved shaking the bells too. It puzzles her why the items don’t paint as well as the brush… but that’s what it’s all about!
When she was finished, we talked about what her artwork symbolized and what we wanted to title it. She said it was just about Christmas and it didn’t need a name. So, it’s left untitled, but I did have her sign it and I dated it. I told her it reminded me of a Christmas tree, just REALLY close up. It honestly just makes me smile, like all of her artwork does.
We love making art as Christmas gifts… and will probably do it again this year! Let me know in the comments… What’s the best Christmas or holiday present you’ve received? Handmade or store bought?
DIY’ing and Christmas go hand-in-hand. So, we’re adding a little sparkle and pink to this season with this DIY Christmas Ornament Garland.
Mila and I love glitter and all things girly. This garland felt like it belonged in our home.
The best part of this DIY is you can personalize a DIY Christmas Ornament Garland to your style and it’ll be just as cute! Plus, I spent around $25 dollars for everything you see here. I think that’s a great deal for something that was easy to make and perfect for our family.
Everything you see here (minus the first ornament on the left) comes from Target. It consists of:
Tree Pick (Christmas Tree Filler)
On Black Friday, I found most of these items at Target. They had most of their ornaments for $3, which are so cute! We love pink and have a ton of it in our home, so I knew it was a good purchase. The selection Target had was perfect. There were inclusive pieces and different textures that had to go home with us.
The flocked garland is probably 5 foot long. I wrapped it through these hooks and folded it back to make it look thicker. Then I put in the metallic tree pick for a fuller look too.
After it was up and placed how I liked it, I just started adding ornaments. To make some of them look longer, I used ribbon or yarn.
I love the layered look and how everything meshes together.
Not only do I love how it turned out, it only took me twenty minutes to make. It’s a simple, statement piece that I’m proud to have in my home.
I know that any person can something similar with ornaments that they love.
How do you decorate for Christmas? Classic reds or green? Or do you have your own style with it?
A new month means there’s new things to explore and discover. This month, we’re doing a Christmas Sensory Play. The most fun part of this sensory bin is everything is bought from the dollar store!
We love Christmas and all the joy it brings to us. I think Mila is mostly excited for snow and Santa to bring presents. To combine that happiness and interest, I thought this Christmas Sensory Play idea was the best of both worlds!
This sensory bin is filled with:
Different types of fake snow
As I said before, I got this entire bin at the dollar store! Everything was pretty cheap and easy to put together. All I did was dump the three different types of fake snow in the refrigerator organizer.
If I could give one fake snow suggestion, I’d tell everyone not to get the small foam balls. They get EVERYWHERE and stick to everything. We could have done with just the glitter snow and the medium sized foam balls. It would have worked just as well.
Anyways, then I hid chocolate kisses underneath so Mila could find surprises.
The next things I added were the jingle bells. I had a ton of different sized and colored bells. This is important for one of the activities that I’ll explain.
To make it a little more festive, I added five, felt Santa stickers. They’re so cute!
There’s seriously a ton of activities you can do with this Christmas Sensory Bin.
The first is just letting your child explore the sensory bin. There they can find the chocolate kisses, feel the different types of snow, or use their imaginations. Mila loves when I don’t give her directions and she just does whatever.
One activity that I directed her in was sorting the bells. You could have them sort by color or size. This provide a ton of different skills.
I also had her count the Santas too. There’s a ton of math that kids can do that will help!
In all, this Christmas Sensory Bin is festive and educational. Kids will love it and you’ll love that they’re learning and having fun.
Do you have any suggestions of Christmas play? I have a few, but I’m definitely up for more ideas. Also, what are you most excited for this Christmas season?