“You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen…” Maybe you don’t, but your preschooler is almost certain to know that reindeer mean Santa’s on his way. Making a reindeer ornament or two with your tot can help Christmas fly right in, as you share those fun — and messy — times together.
Lovin’ from the Oven
You can bake up some memories with play dough, cinnamon-applesauce dough or cookie ornaments. Roll out the ball, making sure to allow some extra for tasting, and let your preschooler cut Rudolph out using cookie cutters. Then let him add food color or candy eyes, and a red nose and pretzel antlers before baking the ornaments until they are dried or — for the cookies — until they are golden. Make a small hole in the top before you pop them into the oven. Thread a thin ribbon or cording through the cooled ornament, tie it up and hang it on the tree. For the sweet-smelling option, mix equal parts of ground cinnamon and applesauce to form stiff dough. Turn your baking into a keepsake by scratching the year into the back with a toothpick and then letting your child paint the piece with a mix of equal parts craft glue and water. You can also use an acrylic varnish, if you prefer.
Recycle and Upcycle
Redefine “Christmas green” when you reuse items you might otherwise discard to make Dasher and his pals. Grab that puzzle with the missing pieces and help your child glue three of them together to make the reindeer’s face and antlers. A low-temperature glue gun will stick them together well within a little one’s patience range, without burns and tears. After your child paints the ornament with tempera or acrylic craft paints, give her some wiggle eyes and red pompoms, along with a bottle of craft glue, and let her discover that reindeer’s unique personality.
Another recycling option is to make a reindeer head from half-pint milk cartons or small juice boxes. Your child can either paint the box or cover it with construction paper and then add ribbon, pipe cleaners, paper or other embellishments to make the face. Hang the ornament with cording or an unbent paperclip.
The outer ring of a paper dessert plate becomes a reindeer mobile ornament’s face when your child paints it and attaches construction paper tracings of his hands for antlers. Help him cut out eyes and a red nose and glue them to yarn. Dangle the facial features inside the ring by letting your preschooler glue the other end of the yarn to the back of the circle. Sneak in a little tying practice by letting him tie the yarn dangles around the circle, if you prefer.
For a quick project, let your preschooler wrap a brown pipe cleaner around the hook of a candy cane and shape it into antlers. Then, let him glue tiny wiggle eyes and a red pompom or felt circle for a nose.
Saved summertime ice pop sticks or newly purchased craft sticks also make a quick and easy reindeer ornament when your child glues the ends of two sticks together to form a V, then glues a third across the top, about 1/2 inch from the open ends. Add a red nose on the point of the V, eyes to the cross piece and a hanger to the top before displaying it on your tree.
Made From Me
Capture those child-sized memories with fingerprint reindeer. Using tempera paint or a water-based stamp pad, let your child make thumbprints and fingerprints on cardstock, which she then embellishes with penciled antlers and a face. Cut the paper into circles or other shapes, punch a hole in the top, and hang them on the tree with ribbon.
Let your child dip one foot and both hands in tempera paint before “stamping” them on stock, using her footprint for the reindeer’s head and her handprints for the antlers before cutting them out. After she adds the face with paper, paint, beads or buttons, write her name, the year and her age on the back before adding it to the tree. When the tree comes down for the year, tuck the cut-out into her scrapbook. Make it even more fun by helping write her Christmas wish list on the back, as well. If the squiggly antlers are too much for little hands, draw an oval around the whole picture and let her cut on that line.