Now that my son is a little older, our art projects and quiet activities can be a little more complex, beyond sensory and exploration. As a former art teacher, this has been great fun for me to pull out some of the things I used to do with my students for my child.
Felt gingerbread men is a great activity for exploring emotions, through facial expressions, as well as lines and patterns, through the decorations. You can create any facial expressions and an endless selection of shapes and lines and colors for the decorations. You could even cut out clothing for the little gingerbread men as well.
All you need is an assortment of felt in whatever colors you like. Start by cutting out a large gingerbread man and setting aside a full sheet of felt for the background. Then cut out a variety of circles, lines, dots, and shapes that will fit your gingerbread man.
For a more permanent art project, do the same thing, except with paper and glue. Or, you could use a hot glue gun to make the felt gingerbread man creation something to keep.
I prefer to set out this project as an invitation to play. I simply set out the shapes and gingerbread man on a tray and leave it on a table until my son shows interest. At three and a half, he was able to figure out the gist of the project and came up with some fun and interesting designs. His favorite part was making different faces and facial expressions.
This would also make a fantastic activity for travel, as an airplane/airport project or as something to do on a train or in a car. Or as a no-mess activity if you plan on visiting a family member’s house for the holidays.
What a fun, open-ended project for a child to sit quietly with during the chaos of the holidays!