My pick this Xmas is:
LeapFrog Peek-A-Shoe Talking Octopus
This is a great cause effect toy! The balls are placed in the hat or the tentacle and the roll down into one of the shoes at random. It has two modes, one that models colours and one that models numbers. The kids get a kick out of guessing where the ball has landed.
It is a very interactive toy that provides loads of opportunities for targets and requesting.
I love giving books at Christmas time. These four are some of my favourite Christmas books to get children talking and engaged in story time. The ‘That’s not my...’ is a great series to get children interested in stories and engaging with you, at story time as they are a ‘touch and feel’ style book. It’s also great for using naming words and describing words. Others I like are Dear Santa and Spot’s first Christmas. These are both flip books and again are great for using naming words, describing words and prepositions, such as, in, on and behind. If you aren’t after something Christmas specific, each of these books come in a series and are just as great for children and developing language, and engaging in books.
One thing that most definitely reminds me of Christmas is food. Food and baking is coincidentally an awesome activity to do with children. This is a great recipe for kids who won't like the intense spice of traditional recipes http://www.kidspot.com.au/kitchen/recipes/gingerbread-men-1487
It is the perfect time to introduce repetitive language into a child's vocabulary. "Add the flour" "Add the eggs" "Add the sugar" "Add the butter", "Stir the .....", "round and round and round". There are heaps of repetitive phrases you can come up with. Then once it is all baked, time for decorations. Talk about eyes, and mouths, and arms and legs. Make fun animals or different shapes. Remember to talk about what you are doing, not just naming or labeling the different items. With the festive season calling for many occasions to bake, or whip up a storm in the kitchen there are endless opportunities to boost and add language into routines.
I love decorating my house at Christmas time and ever since I was little I have loved making Christmas decorations. One of my favourite craft activities is to make Christmas trees out of pop sticks or paper pieces. I like to decorate the tree with sequins, buttons, pom poms and glitter. This is a great activity to do with your children as you can find the materials from around your house and you can talk about what you are doing as you make and decorate your Christmas tree. I really love this activity as it also provides a great opportunity to talk with your child/children and ask them questions about size, colour, use, materials, parts and shape. I always love to ask 'what else could this pop stick be used for?' and 'what shapes have you used to make this decoration?'.
Christmas time is the perfect opportunity to send Christmas cards! This is my favourite activity to do with school aged children. This activity involved so many important skills including, social skills (thinking of friends, handing the cards to friends at school, what to write in cards), literacy skills (spelling, grammar, reading), concentration and attention (sticking to the task, remembering who is next on the list). After the children have written in their cards they can then go to town and decorate! For kinder or prep children, parents might like to write the names of their friends on a separate piece of paper so that they can copy the text. If they have a lot of cards to do make sure you only do a couple a night so they don't become overwhelmed.