Activities for toddlers and babies
A hanging branch
Find a large branch that isn't too heavy and hang it horizontally from the ceiling. Use several pieces of rope to secure it in place (if one piece of rope breaks, the others will hold the branch up). Hang light objects from the branch to decorate your daycare throughout the theme. You may choose to keep the branch long after your tree theme is over. By changing the hanging items, you can adapt it to your various themes, to different seasons, and for different celebrations.
ROUTINES AND TRANSITIONS
A pretty centerpiece
Deposit a large plastic bin containing a ball of modeling dough, salt dough, or sand in the centre of your table. Plant a branch that isn't too heavy in the dough or sand to represent a tree. Decorate your tree with colourful pieces of ribbon.
Print pictures of trees and glue them on children's plates using adhesive paper. Serve snacks and lunch on the plates. Children will love to discover the trees that are hiding under their food.
When you take a walk with your group, collect samaras (helicopters from maple trees). Have fun tossing them up in the air and watching them spin to the ground.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (touch)
Trees offer interesting textures for babies and toddlers to discover (with supervision). Invite children to touch a tree's bark, its branches, its leaves, its buds, and its fruit (samaras, apples, pinecones, etc.). You may also encourage them to touch pine needles.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (see and hear)
A different point of view
Arrange a heavy blanket or mattress under a beautiful tree. Lay on it with your group and watch the leaves move in the wind. Listen to the sounds of nature: the wind, birds, etc. Take deep breaths to show children how to relax.
ARTS & CRAFTS
Modeling dough and branches
On the way back from a walk, help toddlers collect tiny branches found on the ground. Offer modeling dough and show children how they can plant the tips of the branches in balls of modeling dough (supervision required).
Make a variety of decorations that you can later hang in a tree in your yard. Here are a few ideas:
- Birdhouses: Use empty milk cartons to make small birdhouses. Paint and decorate them and punch a hole in the top of each carton. Add a small branch to represent a perch. Glue a small plastic bird inside each birdhouse.
- Decorated plates: Use paint to decorate paper plates. Add stickers, feathers, felt, etc. Use string to hang the plates in a tree.
- Laminated drawings: In the educatall club, use the search engine to find bird, sun, and butterfly coloring pages. Let babies and toddlers color the drawings with crayons and laminate them when they are done. Make a hole at the top of each drawing and thread a string through the hole to make it possible to hang children's artwork in a tree.
Children will enjoy painting branches. Naturally, this activity requires close supervision (watch children's eyes) and it should be done only with older toddlers. It is best to choose tiny branches.
A few ideas for using the painted branches:
Use the branches to make a mobile or fishing rods. Add them to your sandbox; children will like to prick them in the sand. Attach a ribbon or streamer to one end of each branch to create special flags.
Collective project-Tree full of leaves
Cut a large tree trunk shape out of cardboard and display it on a wall. Encourage children to press their hands in poster paint and then on heavy cardboard. Cut out their handprints and glue them above your tree trunk to represent leaves.
For each child, print a tree trunk (without leaves). You will find a model in the educatall club. Purchase a large quantity of heart-shaped stickers and invite children to stick them on the tree's branches to represent leaves.
MORAL AND SOCIAL ACTIVITIES
Select a large tree and serve a picnic (or a snack) under it. If you wish, you can even invite another group to join you.
Christmas in July
With your group, decorate a small pine tree if you have one in your yard (or use an artificial Christmas tree). If you wish, purchase a new toy for your group and wrap it. Children will be excited to open their gift. Variation: Organize a special tree party. Simply decorate a tree in your backyard with balloons and streamers. Serve cake and play party games, just for the fun of it!
Print pictures of fruit trees: an apple tree, a pear tree, an orange tree, etc. Glue them on a table. At snack time, deposit a fruit next to the corresponding picture, an orange on the picture of the orange tree for example. Show children the picture and explain how the fruit grows. Cut the fruit into pieces and serve it as a snack.
If possible, find a budding apple tree branch. Deposit the branch in a vase and fill it with water. Watch the flowers bloom throughout the week.
Look closely at the trees in your yard with toddlers. Search for a spider weaving a web, an insect hiding under a leaf, a caterpillar climbing the tree trunk, or a butterfly foraging an apple tree bloom. Provide magnifying glasses. Children will love exploring insects, bark, and leaves.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND MOTOR SKILLS
The hula hoop
Use elastic fabric to hang a hula hoop from a tree branch in your yard. Provide several balls or balloons children can throw through the hoop.
Using elastic fabric, hang a large beach ball from a tree branch. Depending on the ages of the children in your group and their position (lying down, sitting, standing), adjust the height of the elastic so children can tap the ball.
Take a walk
Name the different types of trees you see when you take a walk with your group: pine tree, birch tree, apple tree, etc. Describe the trees: a flowering tree, a fruit tree, a tree with big leaves, a small tree, a tall tree, a bird on a branch, etc.
Cut circles out of construction paper. On each circle, glue a picture or drawing. Laminate them. Make a hole at the top of each circle and thread a string through. Hang the pictures from a tree's branches in your yard. Set a blanket under the tree and encourage children to admire the pictures. Name the objects.
Early childhood educator
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