The quintessential sounds of the winter holidays -- jingle bells -- are appropriate during this festive season, but you don’t have to limit their use to just one time of year. Your toddler will love to get inspired with jingle bell crafts or use the instrument as an accompaniment to his musical creations. Don't be afraid to incorporate jingle bell activities all year round.
Rhythm and Movement
According to early childhood music specialist Abigail Flesch Connors, “As caregivers, our goal must be to respect and satisfy children's need to make noise, while gently guiding them toward expressing themselves musically.” Connors suggests using rhythm instruments to reach that goal. Play a song and let your toddler march to the beat while shaking jingle bells. Play a freeze dance with your toddler, so when the music stops, he must freeze and be quiet -- when the music plays, he can dance and shake his jingle bells. Lace a single jingle bell on a pipe cleaner or ribbon and tie it around your toddler’s ankle or wrist; let him dance around to music.
Singing and Playing
Many toddlers love to sing, so combine jingle bells with your toddler’s favorite tune. During the holiday season, “Jingle Bells” is an obvious choice, but jingle bells can accompany any song. Encourage your toddler to sing and play the jingle bells above his head and down by his feet, or follow the loud and soft parts of a song by playing at different volumes. Practice listening and waiting skills by asking your toddler to play the bells only during particular parts of a song. Consider a jingle bell variation, the tambourine, for a slightly different jingle sound.
Many toddlers love making things, so combine music and art into one activity. Have your toddler decorate a coffee can with construction paper, non-toxic paint or other medium. Place several round jingle bells inside the can and cover the hole with a lid; you might want to glue on the lid to prevent your toddler from opening the can and attempting to “eat” one of the jingle bells. Let your toddler shake or roll the can across the floor. Make a jingle bell with a resonator by decorating a paper cup. Put a pipe cleaner through the top hook of a jingle bell, so the bell is in the middle of the pipe cleaner. Poke two holes in the paper cup and thread each end of the pipe cleaner through a hole; the jingle bell should be inside the cup. Combine the ends of the pipe cleaner to make a handle for your toddler. Let your toddler ring his jingle bell to his heart’s content.
Make a jingle bell garland by stringing jingle bells onto a ribbon or pipe cleaner; this activity works wonders for your toddler’s fine motor control. Add large beads in between the jingle bells to allow for more space or for added decoration. Create a holiday wreath and add jingle bells to make it more festive. Tie jingle bells to two ends of a piece of ribbon. Tie the ribbon into a bow and place at the top of the wreath.