Before we recycle what wrapping paper we can and throw away all of the plastics and trash from holiday gift-giving, I usually set some of the good stuff aside for a little fun and sneaky fine motor work for my kiddos.
Gift wrap is expensive–and some of it is made well with great eye-catching graphics and colors–so why just use it to cover presents and then toss it without playing with it a little? And those glittery, shiny bows and ribbons? Little ones can hardly keep their hands off of them.
Hopefully it’s not too late to share this teeny Quick Trick of mine; and if it is, then there’s a year full of birthdays and holidays ahead to start saving!
- Fun (and sneaky learning) with Bows and Gift Wrap: Of course, gift-opening time is hardly the ideal opportunity to encourage your kiddos to ‘play’ with gift wrap, but I’m talking about while you’re busy trying to do some wrapping yourself or for one of those long winter mornings when the novelty of all the new holiday toys has worn off.
Cutting out the snowmen in the wrapping paper gave Cora something to do while we wrapped gifts.
Sometimes this little Quick Trick works well pre-holiday when I’m trying to occupy kids during gift-wrapping. Maddy and Owen, not so much anymore, but this year as we were wrapping gifts pre-holiday, my tiniest found more fun in playing with the supplies than actually helping with the wrapping, which was fine with me.
While Maddy, Owen, and I taped and wrapped and taped and cut and wrapped, Cora cut. And split. And cut and split.
So here are some ways we play with gift wrap and bows when the wrapping paper’s not covering gifts:
- Cutting Practice: Especially with holiday gift wrap, little ones can practice their fine motor skills by cutting out the pictures in gift wrap. Snowflakes, snowmen, packages, or trees–it doesn’t matter. While you’re busy wrapping, challenge your kiddo to cut out shapes to ‘decorate’ the gifts or to save in an envelope.
Cora peels a red bow. . .
- Tissue Paper Balls: Even the most gnarly piece of tissue paper can be saved and used to help little ones’ arm and hand muscles develop. Have them cut tissue paper into squares, then roll them into the teeniest-tiniest balls they can. The tighter the better, and when you accumulate enough, dot a piece of construction paper with glue and create a tissue paper ball masterpiece!
- Bow Peeling: I usually try to bag the pretty decent bows after presents are unwrapped, and I’ll use them for future gifts. But the ones that have seen better days, I put in a special bag for the kids. I pull out the staple for them, and then they peel the ribbon all the way down so that they have several long skinny strings instead of one thick one. Their challenge is to make as many skinny ribbons from the one big one as possible. The hand-eye coordination required to do this is not easy, so for the younger ones it helps to start some of the pulls by making tiny tears on the top of the string.
- Tying Practice: This year, because Owen is on the verge of learning how to tie, I punched some holes in a shoebox and tied ribbon in each hole. Big ones small ones, skinny, and fat. Silky and rough, the different textures will help him figure out the magic of tying. Like Maddy’s Braid Basket from a few years back, Owen just sits when he feels up for it and practices. No pressure, no stress, just tying when he’s up for it.
And that’s it–just a little Quick Trick for playing with gift wrap–in the name of learning and developing fine motor skills–before all the pretty stuff hits the recycle bin!