Hippity Hoppity, Easter is on its way! This holiday is so much fun for toddlers. What is not to love about staining your fingers with egg dye and seeing fluffy bunnies everywhere you look? My toddler does not yet fully understand the holiday and what it represents, but she sure does love all of the Spring Time fun!
I want my toddler to enjoy the celebration of Easter and have fun. However, the teacher in me wants her to learn something. The mom in me wants to hide all of the chocolate bunnies and multi-colored jelly beans! I also do not want to explain how or why a bunny rabbit lays eggs, but that is neither here nor there. How can a teacher-mom like me have the best of both worlds? By creating an Easter basket that incorporates plenty of fun and learning while limiting the sugar!
5 Perfect Ideas for Your Toddler’s Easter Basket
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1. A Book
There has to be a book! This just makes my teacher-mom heart smile. You have plenty of Easter-themed book options out there, but I like to choose books that teach an academic skill or include a message or moral. Bonus points if they include both!
Happy Easter, Mouse!
Happy Easter, Mouse! is by Laura Numeroff, one of my favorite authors. She is known for If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and her related “If You Give a” series that is great for teaching sequencing and cause and effect. However, this particular book is meant for an even younger reader. It is a board book and perfect for little toddler hands.e
Toddlers will learn about colors and counting. It has a simple structure but is a great way to reinforce color identification and counting skills. After reading, you can color and count your own Easter eggs! Taking a concept and making it real world applicable is always a perfect way to help your child learn!
My First Easter
Another one of my absolute favorite authors is Tomie dePaola. In this story, My First Easter, family traditions like hunting for eggs and planting flowers, are illustrated beautifully. It is a wonderful springboard to talk about your family traditions with your toddler and also discuss the importance of sharing. There is a sweetness to dePaola’s books that make it the perfect gift to add to an Easter basket.
The Berenstain Bears and the Real Easter Eggs
I love the Berenstain Bears so much that I have kept my books from this series since I was a kid! There is always a moral or lesson to be learned. In The Berenstain Bears and the Real Easter Eggs, the cubs get so wrapped up in the Easter Egg Hunt, that they miss all of the joy associated with Springtime. Mama Bear explains how wonderful the Spring is and the cubs learn some valuable lessons.
If you are looking for a story with a moral that also explains the history of the holiday, check out The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story. Brother and Sister Bear are candy-crazy and think that is what Easter is all about. They learn the true meaning of Easter and why it is celebrated. Depending on your faith, this is a nice way to explain the holiday in a kid-friendly manner.
2. A Toy
Yes, include a toy! I know, I know. Another toy? Kids love toys and they are great for pretend play. This year, I chose a plush version of Officer Judy Hopps from the movie Zootopia. First of all, I love this character because she is small, yet mighty and overcomes great odds despite her size and species. There is a great message here! Secondly, this is a plush toy and perfect for snuggling, a favorite toddler pastime.
You can choose this item or another favorite for your toddler. Choose something small and easy to cuddle. Use this toy to encourage your child’s imagination and engage in pretend play along with them. You can be Nick, the sly fox! He is the character I most want to act out!
3. A Craft
Dying and decorating your eggs will already get you and your toddler feeling crafty. I love to include a craft or art project that I can do with my toddler. Check out the dollar bins at Target for wooden Easter-themed ornaments. They come with four containers of paint and a brush. You can paint your own egg or Easter Bunny as a keepsake for just $1!
Or you can get a ready-made craft kit, good for multiple kids. This is good for the preschool classroom or if you are hosting all of the family, including nieces and nephews, at your house for Easter. Each set includes four different crafts. I personally love the bunny picture frame!
4. A Puzzle
I love puzzles! Puzzles build problem-solving skills and help your toddler develop fine motor skills. As your child matures, you can introduce more and more complex puzzles. However, at the toddler age, you want something that is going to get those cognitive wheels turning without too much frustration.
For this, I love Melissa & Doug Wooden Peg Puzzles. All of their products are so well made and can withstand plenty of toddler rough housing. These peg puzzles have pieces that are easily manipulated by small fingers. When you lift a piece, the corresponding picture is underneath. This is great for both matching and shape recognition. For more information on the awesomeness of puzzles for your toddler, check out this article.
5. Garden Kit
It’s Spring Time! ‘Tis the season to plant seeds and watch them grow. Last year, I placed a little gardening kit in my daughter’s Easter basket and we had a blast planting seeds. The seeds did not survive the brutal desert heat, but we did get to see the little sprouts grow.
This year, I thought it would be fun to include a kit like Toysmith Garden Root Viewer. I want my daughter to watch the roots grow while we wait for the seeds to sprout. This is a perfect opportunity to talk about the preciousness of life. It is also a wonderful way to teach patience which is something toddlers struggle with!
In the classroom, I like to soak lima bean seeds and allow the kids to “dissect” the seeds to find the sprout inside. This is an activity that your toddler would love! To accompany this activity, I like to read From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons. The vocabulary is advanced for a toddler, but the illustrations are fantastic. It’s never too early to learn a little science!
Other Items for a Toddler Easter Basket
Something to Wear
My daughter would be ecstatic to receive another tutu and tiara in her Easter basket. However, I realize that not all toddlers would find a fabulous outfit something to jump up and down about. If you choose to include an Easter outfit, I recommend choosing something that does not say “Easter” on it.
You simply must do the “My First Easter” outfit when your child is a baby, but after that these tykes grow so quickly that you need to get as much longevity as possible out of your clothing purchases! I chose a sundress for my daughter that she can hopefully wear more than one time before she grows out of it!
Something Sweet to Eat
I personally plan to forego any candy in the Easter basket. However, indulging in a little something sweet is not out of the question. One of my favorite things to do with my toddler is to cook or bake. You can include the ingredients to one of your favorite recipes to make with your toddler. Or go carrot themed for the big bunny, like the ingredients for carrot cake cupcakes, carrot muffins, or even carrot waffles! Making the experience sweet will satisfy those candy cravings!