25 Christmas Crafts and Activities for Children with Special Needs
Christmastime brings out the most merry and cheerful traits within us; it truly is the most wonderful time of the year. This holiday season also sparks a festive collection of crafts and activities. Whether it’s handcrafted gifts, refrigerator art, or ornaments, Christmas colors encourage even the most non-crafty person to jump on the sleigh (no wagons around here). We have compiled a collection of 25 Christmas crafts and activities that every child, regardless of ability, can enjoy creating and participating in. Don’t feel pressured to do these activities before Christmas, and instead keep them going throughout the Christmas break.
Sensory Christmas Crafts and Activities
Play in the Snow! Even if you don’t have snow on the ground, you can use this Super Snow Powder and enjoy 2 gallons of artificial snow! Grab a bin, throw the contents into the bin, add water and watch it erupt into snow within seconds! You can also make snow a few different ways using ingredients from your pantry; see here for details.
Christmas Sensory Rice: Make dyed rice using liquid watercolors to make red and green rice, throw it in a bin, add some scoopers, mini funnel, cookie cutter shapes, and let their little hands explore the Christmas rice! To make the dyed rice with liquid watercolors, check out the recipe here.
Christmas Tree Sensory Bags: Sensory bags, or squish bags, provide kids with a fun sensory experience with virtually no mess. For those that do not like getting sticky or messy hands, they also make for a great alternative to things like fake snow, play dough, slime, etc. To make these Christmas tree sensory bags, you will need a quart size Ziploc bag, permanent marker, duct tape, clear hair gel (can be purchased at the dollar store), green liquid watercolor, and “ornaments” (beads, buttons, sequins, and googly eyes). Read here for further details.
Gingerbread Playdough Recipe: This recipe is a no cook and no cream of tartar homemade playdough. Most of the ingredients can already be found in your kitchen pantry. Check out the full ingredients list and directions here.
Christmas Fine Motor Sensory Play: Grab a bin (or any container), container of water beads (vase filler in craft store), mini ornaments, and kid friendly tweezers or chopsticks. Fill the bin with the water beads and mini ornaments and let the festive sensory search and find begin. Watch as your child picks through the bin to pick up the mini ornaments and encourage them to count the ornaments as they find them.
Styrofoam Christmas Tree Decorating: Buy a styrofoam cone (usually in the floral section at Walmart or craft stores like Hobby Lobby and Michaels). You can use pushpins to add buttons, stickers, yarn, and other craft items to decorate your tree with. Another idea is to wrap the cone in felt or glitter paper and use glue to add your decorations.
Cotton Ball Snowman: Start with a piece of blue paper (or other non-white paper), piece of white paper, glue, cotton balls, Q-tips, and white paint (such as finger paint). Help your child cut out a small, medium, and large circle out of the white paper and let them glue the circles on the blue paper to make the outline of the snowman. Once the circles are glued in place, show your child how to pinch the edges of the cotton balls with their “pincher fingers” (thumb and pointer fingers), and gently pull on the cotton ball to make it grow. Once they’ve mastered this, instruct them to slightly turn the cotton ball until it has grown into a larger and flatter circle. Once the flattened cotton ball is large enough to cover the snowman’s head, help your child glue it onto the top circle. Repeat this process for the middle and bottom circles. After the snowman is done, finish off the picture by showing your child how to pinch the Q-tip using the same method as they did for the cotton balls. Dip the Q-tip in the white paint, and then dab it all around the paper to make snow in the sky. Let your child make as many or few snowflakes as they want. Once dry, display their handcrafted snowman on the fridge for everyone to see!
String of Lights Fingerprint Frame: This craft idea is so cute and would even make a great gift! All you need is a frame with a white mat border, colored ink pads, fine-tip sharpie, and little thumbs to help! Learn how to make one here.
Build a Snowman: You don’t have to worry about this snowman melting! You will need felt, googly eyes, buttons, velcro, mod podge or fabric paint, bowls (for tracing) and scissors! See how you make your very own snowman here.
Christmas Crafts and Activities in the Kitchen
Gingerbread Cookies: You can make homemade gingerbread cookies from scratch or use a packaged mix like Betty Crocker’s gingerbread cookie mix. For those with food allergies, here is a good allergy-free gingerbread cookie recipe. If you have extra cookies, or would like to make extra cookies, you could always add to this activity by delivering cookies to your neighbors.
Reindeer Snack: A cute and easy snack for the little ones to make, and then enjoy! To make these, grab some graham crackers, icing, pretzels, and M&M’s. Add some icing to the corner of a graham cracker for the antlers (pretzels), top center for eyes (M&M’s), and bottom corner for the nose (M&M).
Ice Cream Cone Christmas Trees: Make construction paper cone stands to place the ice cream cones on, and then let the decorating begin! You can add frosting to it, candies, sprinkles, peppermints, and whatever else you would like to decorate your edible christmas tree with.
Magic Reindeer Food: Let your child mix together oats, sprinkles, edible glitter (can be found near sprinkles in grocery stores), dried berries/raisins, or even fresh berries to make this magic reindeer food to sprinkle on the lawn for the reindeer to eat! Here’s a cute recipe here..
Santa’s Magic Milk Experiment: Santa won’t be drinking this milk, but it will be fun to make! You likely already have the supplies in your kitchen needed for this simple, yet fun experiment. Supplies needed include dawn dish soap, whole milk (you will need the higher fat content), shallow bowl or ramekins, food coloring, cotton swabs, and a Christmas cookie cutter. Check out the details on this simple Christmas STEM activity here.
Grinch Calming Jars: This activity reminds me of putting oil, water and food coloring in coke bottles when I was a kid to make a homemade lava “lamp” in a bottle. These Grinch calming jars are easy and fun to make for kids and adults. You will need a mason jar (or plastic bottle), green glitter glue, green glitter, clear glue, food coloring, hot water, a glue gun, and 1 red glitter heart! Full instructions can be found here.
Let’s Make Some Christmas Ornaments
Plastic Globe Kid Made Ornaments: Using a plastic globe ornament (can be purchased at craft stores or even Walmart), kids can fill these ornaments with glitter (I would recommend using a funnel if doing this), feathers, beads, sequins, small buttons, and other items the kids would like to fill the ornament with. They can then use paint markers, stickers, or even a sharpie (metallic colored sharpies work great for this, too) to decorate the outside of the ornament.
Cinnamon Ornaments: Did you know that you can make ornaments by mixing applesauce and cinnamon together? This combination creates a fragrant and moldable dough that you can roll out and shape with cookie cutters. Then you simply bake or dry the ornaments and hang them on your tree. Ta-da! Find the full “how-to” here, along with instructions to add braille to your ornaments!
Candy Cane Ornament: Using a pipe cleaner (you can cut 2-3 inches to make it shorter) and red and white beads, thread the first bead and bend over the bottom of the pipe cleaner so the bottom bead becomes a stopper. Let your child continue to thread red and white beads down the pipe cleaner until it fills up. Once filled up, repeat the process with the last bead as you did the first bead and then gently bend the pipe cleaner in the shape of a candy cane. You can watch a quick “how-to” video here to let your child see what this will look like once complete.
Homemade Clay Christmas Ornaments: With 4 simple ingredients, you and your child can make special Christmas ornaments to hang on the tree this year! Full instructions are listed here.
Scrap Ribbon Christmas Tree Ornament: Do you have random scrap pieces of ribbon? Don’t toss them! You can use a straight stick or cinnamon stick, scrap ribbons, hot glue gun, twine, and scissors to make your own Christmas ornament. You can read the instructions here.
Puzzle Piece Ornaments: I can’t speak for everyone, but I know I have random Ziploc bags of puzzle pieces that I keep hoping to find the missing pieces to. If you’re like me, you might find this craft to be just the creative use for those random puzzle pieces you’ve been looking for. You’ll need small puzzle pieces, paint, paint brushes, glue, twine, and a small jingle bell. Check out these candy cane and wreath ornaments made from puzzle pieces here.
Fine Motor or Just for FUN!
Make a Tactile Christmas Tree: This activity that will help your child develop their fine motor skills, while also being crafty. Adults, this will also take some prep on your end, but it will be well worth it. Supplies needed: scissors, hole punch, foam sheets, Velcro dots, felt shapes, and pipe cleaners. See here for further instructions.
Decorate a Stocking: Go to a craft store and have your child pick out stockings and art supplies to be used for decorating. Making your own personal stockings is not only a cute idea, but also a great way to get your child more included with the holiday decorations.
Christmas Tree Symmetry Painting: Cut several different sizes of large triangles and provide paint (Christmas colors). Use an eye dropper, suction dropper, or a syringe instead of a paint brush. Let your child drop different dots of paint, fold, smooth, and unfold to dry (you can use clothespins to hang dry). These paintings are very simple to create, but kids will love seeing the final product. You can also let them add sequins (or some other decorative item) to the painting before you hang/lay it out to dry.
Frozen Ice Balls: Grab some balloons (water balloons if available), fill them with water and food coloring, and freeze them! Once frozen, cut and tear the balloon from the frozen ice balls, and voila! Here’s a short “how to” video.
Ok! We are all crafted out! It is our wish that you all enjoy this special time of the year with your loved ones. Hopefully, you are also able to create a new assortment of ornaments and art to add to your child’s collection, or even to give as gifts to a loved one, therapist, or teacher. We know that some of these sensory crafts and activities will create a mess; may you all soak up the laughter they had while creating the mess before soaking up the mess!
Wishing a Merry Christmas to our beloved Specially Gifted community!
Don't forget...SGF knows Santa, and SGF Kiddos are always on the NICE list!
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