12 Christmas fine motor activities you can set up in under 3 minutes

For the 12 days of Christmas, I did these 12 Christmas fine motor activities that come from the dollar store or your kitchen, and can be set up in 3 minutes. I’ve also tried to avoid the more commercialised aspects of Christmas, so you won’t find Santa Claus here, just the colors, shapes and motifs (snowflakes, stockings etc) that allude to winter and Christmas!

1. Impressions with a paper tree

Remember this retro impression model that one could use to form your handprint? I offered the children a paper tree cutout so they could make shapes with it.

2. Jingle bell transferring with tongs

An auditory twist on a transferring activity. Tiny jingle bells which tinkle merrily when transferred, two shot glasses and these tongs which the children love abit too much, they are always taking them from the kitchen drawer and running off.

3. Pouring back and forth with fake snow

Okay. The children ADORE this $2 fake snow. I prefer using fillers like this rather than rice and pasta, so that they know that food is for eating, not playing.

This fake snow also lends itself to an extension activity: sweeping up the fake snow on the floor!

4. Stamping

So simple. This would be wonderful and authentic for gift wrapping, the way This Merry Montessori did.

But someone doesn’t seem to think so.

5. Pegging Christmas stockings

Ribbon, wooden pegs and the children’s tiny socks to form Christmas stockings over the fireplace.

Opening a peg was hard work for 2yo Emmy because of the strong pincer grasp needed and the understanding of where the fulcrum was. Even for Dylan, it was challenging securing the sock on the ribbon- look at his pincer grasp!

6. Sticking gingerbread man on a ten-frame

I found these 1GBP gingerbread man (gingerbread person?) sticker sheets. I drew up a ten-frame for Dylan, and because I had some leftover stickers, a five-frame for Emmy. This looks so simple but it teaches early math through one-to-one correspondence (putting one sticker in one box) and the child can feel the puffy raised surface of the stickers to get a tactile sense of quantity.

As you can see, this was Emmy’s first time so she was placing stickers randomly but one by one! Dylan was more sequential and he was so proud of his work that he asked to stick it above his bed.

Now, I used to prepare two identical sets for them to pre-empt snatching. But this time I gave them one sheet of stickers and let them work it out. Here, Emmy is peeling stickers off and handing them to Dylan.

7. Making snowglobes with plastic bottles and Blu-tack

I knew there was a reason why I saved those bottles.

Blu-tack is a great medium. It’s got a different elasticity and tackiness from playdough. The children had to spread the blu-tack on the bottle cap and secure the miniscule reindeer hooves- a task requiring good spatial approximation and dexterity!

Then pour water and fake snow in.

And shake!

8. Matching objects to winter-themed art cards

We received these incredible art cards from Learnthru’play, so I pulled out four that relate to winter and set up a matching/ associative activity with some phonetic objects (I am collecting phonetic objects from A-Z for sound games and word blending- that’s the fancy term but really they are just small items). 

For night, a sleeping infant. For snow, a crystal tray of fake snow. For lantern, a working miniature torchlight. And for tree, a leafy twig from our garden.

I then did a three-period lesson… in Mandarin.

9. Worldwide Christmas card swop

This is such a wonderful way to shift the focus from consumerism to diversity, and learn about the ways different cultures celebrate Christmas. REOLife Organised a Christmas card swop involving 300 children worldwide, with cards and handmade gifts.

(Image from REOLife)

10. Christmas tree ornament sensory play

I’m not sure what I was doing. Other than using all the cake decorations my mother had given me.

This was more Reggio than Montessori, with a triptych mirror, and berries plucked from a bush.

Then I thought, “go big or go home”, and poured in my remnant fake snow to make a winterscape, and the kids had so much fun exploring the textures of the berries, pearl clay and smashing it all together.

11. Nativity felt board

I had one of these as a child, and always wanted to get one for my children. I found one that had realistic rather than cartoony illustrations, and a good amount of felt details, like individual pieces for Joseph’s moustache and a shepherd’s staff! In my head I had envisioned me peacefully telling the Christmas story and laying the felt figures one by one on the board, but the children could not help themselves and went at it. They were particularly thrilled to disrobe Mary and Joseph. Erm..

It was meant to be assembled this way, actually, and I will be displaying it upright in future since the felt clings to the board:


The children wore Mary’s pink headscarf as a bib for Joseph.

12. Cookie cutters and glittery homemade dough  

Sensory dough homemade by my SIL which we carefully transported from Singapore. I then added edible glitter to it. 

We also attended a nativity play and a carol service put up by their cousins’ school, and are planning to take in a Christmas theatre show with the children in London, and bring Dylan for his first ice-sledding experience. How do you celebrate Christmas? Are there any traditions in London or UK?

Do visit our Facebook page to see children put on their coats in a few seconds or for something similar but portable: 21 busy bags for airplanes, restaurants or car rides! I am also adding parenting tips and other things learned from my AMI training!

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