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Christmas Sensory Matching for Toddlers

I love the holidays! And, I love sharing that joy with my children. Today, I'm joining an amazing group of 15+ bloggers from the Montessori Bloggers Network to share some holiday magic! Make sure to stop by MBN for all the  Montessori for the Holidays posts. 

One of the best parts, to me, about the holidays -- particularly Christmas -- is how it engages the senses. There are specific sights and sounds that instantly bring back memories from Christmas. I wanted to share these sensory experiences with Nora {16-months} in a Montessori inspired way that was safe for her and developmentally appropriate. 

Toddlers are right in the middle of the sensitive period for order and their language skills are exploding. This combination often makes matching work both popular and satisfying. One important matching skill for toddlers is matching an object to a picture. 

Since, these Christmas objects are on the small side, I put them in the ever-popular sensory bottle! This way, the sensory bottles with the objects could be matched to a small card with a picture of each object. For an older toddler, or preschooler, you could keep the objects in a small basket on their own without the bottles.

I choose common objects that reminded me of the holidays. One bottle contained small bells, one snowflake confetti, another tiny bows, one shiny red confetti, the fifth contained evergreen sprigs, and finally a cinnamon stick. 

Now, to really engage the senses, I didn't stop at just placing the objects in the sensory bottles. As must as was possible, I wanted each of the bottles to engage Nora in a unique way. The red confetti and bows, were both really shiny, and eye catching, for example. The bells obviously engaged the sense of sound as it was moved.

The others were a bit more unique. For the sensory bottle with the snowflake confetti, I placed the bottle in the freezer before presenting it to Nora. This way when Nora grabbed it, it was a bit wet (from the condensation) and cold. This made the snow a little more real, and made it an interesting sensorial experience. 

For the last two sensory bottles, the evergreen and the cinnamon, I had Morgan drill a small hole in the top of each bottle. This way, Nora could smell all the holiday wonderfulness for herself! This was really popular with Nora and she could not get enough of smelling each of the jars. It was just a tiny touch that made all the difference. 

When presenting the work to Nora, I first just let her explore the bottles. Once that initial exploration was over, I placed each card one by one, naming each as I went. Then, I matched its corresponding sensory bottle in place. 

I made it through three bottles before Nora was ready to jump back in -- which was just fine! At this age, I don't stress about the presentation as much as the exploration. She made a few attempts at matching, but this is still a tough skill for her. She mostly just enjoyed the bottles and placed on the nearest picture. 

To make this work for yourself, you'll need:
Just add the objects to the bottles. A small amount of hot glue can be used to glue the lids shut, if you are worried about a choking hazard. Again, the bottles wouldn't be necessary (although I still think they are lovely) for older less-oral children.

If you would like to recreate the work exactly -- FIND THE FREE PRINTABLE HERE.

I hope you enjoyed this taste of the holidays. This post was brought to you as part of the Montessori for the Holidays series. A new Montessori holiday themed blog post is published each day from October 25-November 11! And make sure to check out tomorrow's post from Age of Montessori

If you liked this post, you should check out: Mini Rainbow Sensory Bottles; Zoology Sensory Bottles for Montessori Babies


Marie Mack said…
I love this idea! So simple and entertaining. Thank you for joining us in the 15 Days of Montessori for the Holidays!
Yuliya Fruman said…
What a lovely idea! These are so pretty and so fun :)
Nduoma said…
This is so brilliant Nicole!
lindsay said…
Great idea to keep the little parts of Christmas accessible to little fingers.

Any recommendations on printing the cards? Regular card stock?
I printed on regular paper, glued to card stock and laminated.
This is priceless! Such an awesome way to keep little ones engaged.
The little bottles that you use for this sensory experience are darling! Your little one looks completely engaged. Beautiful post!
Kim said…
Nicole, thanks for this post. I'm finding your blog so helpful, as Wilson is just about the same age as Nora and 3-6 is really more my niche. I just put the bottles in my Amazon cart.. can't wait to give it a try!
bethany said…
I love love love this idea so much! And I love how you incorporated the senses by poking holes and putting the "snow" in the freezer. So clever. I don't know if my 2.5 year old would be into this particular one, but it's totally something I can put together and use a little this year and a lot more next year (with a new kiddo). Thanks for another great idea!

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