If your toddler is like mine, she has no idea XYZ is going to happen. You want her to be able to enjoy the anticipation of something fun coming up. Anticipation is half the fun! (unless you have a preschooler asking you how much longer over and over).
The countdown chain is your answer to both issues. It gives the preschooler something tangible to look at. It also helps him more concretely understand time. It gives the toddler a reminder that there is something to be excited about.
You can use the countdown chain for anything: birthdays, holidays, start of school, the next visit to grandma's...whatever you want to countdown to.
Last fall, my mother-in-law made a countdown chain with Brayden (then 3) for Halloween. She made it in black and orange. On the orange strips, she wrote things like "Hug your mom" and "tell your dad you love him." Over the weekend, Brayden and I made a countdown chain for Halloween, and I decided to take that concept one step further.
My guess is that your child needs to be at least 18 months old to enjoy this. Kaitlyn was 18 months old last year for Halloween and just didn't care. Even now at 2.5, she isn't terribly excited over it, so don't feel bad if your child isn't as excited as you envisioned. At 3, Brayden liked it and at 4, he absolutely loves it.
- Fine motor skills (if you let your child create the chains--you could also let your child cut out the strips of paper)
- Time concept
- Paper (whatever colors you want)
- Scissors (or some other tool for cutting)
- Stapler (or glue)
- Cut pieces of paper one inch wide by about 6 inches long. Cut one strip of paper for each day there is until your main event (what you are counting down to).
- Gather supplies
- Sort your paper into colors (I had Brayden sort them).
- Decide on a category for each color of paper for an activity. We did "fun chores" for Red, "Halloween activities" for Yellow, "loving acts" for Brown, and we left Green blank so we could decide something fun that day. Since we keep Sundays for worship in our family, I put green on each Sunday.
- Have your child help you decide things to do for each piece of paper. Write the activity on the piece of paper.
- Arrange your papers in the order you want them in.
- Staple or glue your first piece of paper into a circle.
- Hook your second piece of paper through your first circle and staple or glue it closed.
- Continue making this chain until you are done.
- Each day, have your child remove one chain. Perform the activity listed on the paper. This is a great way for your child to count down to an activity. You can channel the excited energy into chores :)
Papers sorted into color categories