Christmas is such a fun time of year! Even if you choose to do a simple holiday season like we do, there is something going on just about every day. And even on days when we’re not going somewhere, there are still things that we like doing. Christmas movies, stringing the popcorn garland, baking cookies and finally opening presents. This is a lot for any child to understand, but when you have a special needs child who, at five years old, still has no idea what “tomorrow” means, having a simple visual Christmas schedule is so helpful.
Tools you’ll need
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My daughter loves Christmas! But even at five years old, she still thinks that snow=Christmas. Fun when there is actually snow on Christmas day. Not fun when I have to convince her at the beginning of November that Christmas is still two months away. And convincing her not to open presents that have been set under the tree…. not a chance.
I made this visual Christmas schedule to help her understand what we will be doing each day and know when it is the right time to open her gifts.
Side note: We learned a long time ago not to actually put presents under the tree until the kids are sleeping on Christmas Eve. We don’t do Santa, but it makes a fun surprise on Christmas morning. Now we only have issues when we visit other people’s houses and they have gifts out…
To make the visual schedule, print the download below, laminate and cut apart the cards. We have a small magnet board in our creating space, so I opted to put the schedule there since we spend so much time there. (And our fridge is not actually magnetic.) I suggest putting the schedule someplace that you can point to often.
I put the extra cards around the edges of the board, so that we can talk about future activities that we will be doing. Such as my kids favorite tradition: decorating marshmallows! And I put the cards that didn’t fit into a small bucket for safe keeping.
You could also hang the cards in the order that you will be doing the activities on a string to make a garland that can be used for an Advent calendar.
Each day, put up the date and the main activity for the day. As most kids thrive on patterns & consistency, I would suggest doing the activities around the same time each day or as close as possible.
With my daughter, if I do one activity in the morning, she will expect future activities to happen in the morning. So doing them after supper or after all the kids get home from school is a better option for us.
What do you do to help your children understand the activities of the Christmas season? I’d love to hear your tips!
Our Favorite Christmas Books:
We can’t live without these!
Once your child’s creativity is sparked with this fun activity, take it a step further with these engaging resources:
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How to Catch an ElfChristmas FarmLittle Blue Truck’s ChristmasPete the Cat’s 12 Groovy Days of ChristmasHow to Catch a Gingerbread ManA Silly Milly ChristmasLittle Red Sleigh: A Heartwarming Christmas Book For ChildrenGrumpy Monkey Oh, No! ChristmasIt’s Christmas, David! (David Books [Shannon])
More tips for Surviving the Holidays with Special Needs Kids
- Surviving the Holidays with Special Needs
- Free Christmas Visual Schedule for Kids
- Navigating Trauma and PTSD Over The Holidays
- Holiday Myths & Autism
- Surviving the Holidays with a Child with Anxiety
- Questions Special Needs Parents Face During the Holidays
- 26 Holiday Survival Tips for Autism Families
- The Year That I Made Santa Claus Cry
- Conquering the Holidays: They Don’t Need to be Perfect
- Why I Canceled Christmas: What You Need to Know about Surviving Holidays