With the holidays coming up, you might start getting daily questions like:
"Is it tomorrow?"
"Is it when we wake up?"
Young children don’t fully understand the concept of days or weeks and these holidays can be so special and exciting for them.
A visual countdown can help them see and understand how many days are left until Christmas.
It'll also save you from answering the same questions every day for the next 6 weeks!
Here's a 6 easy ways to count down the days to Christmas (or any other special day) in a way that young children can understand:
1. Chain Garland
This is a fantastic idea that I first saw on the Busy Toddler Instagram account - @busytoddler.
It's really simple. Make a chain garland out of construction paper and tape one end to the wall (or wherever you like), allowing it to hang straight down.
Allow your child ato tear off one link each day so they can see the garland getting shorter and shorter.
The last link is the special day - a holiday, birthday, or special family event.
When making the garland, cut the construction paper length-wise so the links are longer, making them easier for your child to rip.
In total, we used 4 pieces of construction paper to make 25 links.
To develop creativity, your child could decorate the construction paper before cutting it into strips.
2. Clothespin Countdown
For this countdown, we used 25 clothes pins, placed around a cardboard wreath.
To make it festive, you can paint the cardboard and clothespins green, like a wreath.
Then, hang it at your child’s height like their very own Christmas decoration. Once a day, your child can either remove (easier) or place a clothespin around the wreath.
Just be mindful that if the clothespins come apart, the loose pieces could be a choking hazard so do not leave at child’s height if they are in a phase of exploring new things with their mouth.
If your child decides they want to further explore this, taking too many clothes pins off, you can always put them back on at night so that it’s accurate again in the morning.
Cut a circle out of cardboard approx. 26 cm (10") in diameter so that you have enough room for all the clothespins.
Optional: Cut out a smaller circle inside the bigger one approx. 15cm (6") in diameter, to make it a ring.
Paint is the easiest to use but you could also use markers, crayons or glue and construction paper or tissue paper to decorate it.
3. Decorate a Mini Christmas Tree (potted or artificial)
Set up a small basket of ornaments and show your child how to add an ornament to the tree every day, as you countdown to Christmas.
Children are often told to not play around or explore the main Christmas tree.
They often enjoy the freedom and sense of ownership over having full access to a tree their size.
Depending on the age of your child, it can be a good idea to choose unbreakable ornaments for their tree - felt, wood, plastic, etc.
4. Christmas Tree Dot Printable
If you already have our dot markers or some circle stickers at home, these Christmas tree countdown printables are a fun way to count down the days until Christmas.
If your child asks how many days left until Christmas, work together to count the blank dots.
There are two options:
Option 1 has the numbers in order from top to bottom, left to right. This is better for younger children that are new to numeracy because the numbers are in order. This option will be less confusing for them.
1. The Limited Edition Grapat Wood Advent Calendar is made up of 24 reusable boxes containing different, handmade surprises with invitations to play. In the end, you'll have a collection of beautiful loose parts that can be used throughout the year.
2. The Penguin Advent Calendar has 24 little pockets that you can fill with any little trinkets or treats that your child can open each day.
BONUS - Use a Simple Calendar
If you're not crafty and looking for a really simple, visual countdown, just print out a calendar like this one, tape it at your child's height, and cross off each day with a marker.
For children under three, you might just want to do the countdown the week of the special event. The concept of time is even harder to grasp for children two and under.