Friday, December 14, 2012

The 12 Days of Christmas in Books

The 12 Days of Christmas in Books

At first, I had intended on presenting my children with a selection of 24 Christmas-related books leading all the way to Christmas but since we have only one local English library and currently still haven't won the lottery (how can you win without buying a ticket?), it makes it a bit difficult to find these materials. As such, I decided to do the 12 days of Christmas in books starting on Christmas day and ending on Epiphany (aka January 6). It will give us access to "more" Christmas books from our library and Santa has also given me a hint that the kids may be receiving some new Christmas books this year again (hush, hush on my private connection with the big man). In the meantime, here is our suggested reading list for the holidays:

The 12 Days of Christmas in Books (pre-approved by Adrian) 4.5 years old

- Merry Christmas, Splat by Rob Scotton
- The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
- The Twelve Days of Christmas by Jan Brett
- Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson
-If you Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff
- Fletcher andthe Snowflake Christmas by Julia Rawlinson
- Harold at the North Pole by Crockett Johnson
-Merry Christmas Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood
-How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
-The Night Before Christmas (Pop Up) by Clement Clark Moore
-Babushka and the Three Kings by Ruth Robbins
-Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by James Dean

The 12 Days of Christmas in Books (pre-approved by Zahavah) 2 years old

-Carl's Christmas by Alexandra Day
-Merry Christmas Ollie! by Oliver Dunrea
-Mouse's First Christmas by Lauren Thompson
-The Cheerios Christmas Play Book by Lee Wade
-Where is Baby's Christmas Present? (A Lift-the-Flap Book) by Karen Katz
-Maisy's Christmas Day by Lucy Cousins
-Tell me the Christmas Story by Joni Walker
-Christmas Peekaboo by Dawn Sirett
-Bunny's Fuzzy Christmas by Golden Books
-The Sweet Smell of Christmas (Scented Book) by Patricia Scarry
-The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood
-Charlie and the Christmas Kitty by Ree Drummond

What's on your Tot and Preschooler's Reading list this season?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Countdown to Christmas - How to Spread the Cheer

Christmas is once again on its way (yay) and I cannot help but smile. I've always loved Christmas. I've always looked forward to Christmas and always felt melancholic when it was over. A big part of me thinks that my Christmas appreciation is anchored somewhere in my childhood. I remember some specific smells that would come around the holidays, some special movies, jingly songs, sparkly decorations, cheerful family gatherings, and so on. My parents -whether they knew it or not- were spreading through the holiday season, some Christmas cheer that made me fall in love with Christmas and everything surrounding it. I want my children to feel this same excitement when it comes to the holidays so this year, I've compiled a list of activities that should build the anticipation and the Christmas spirit.

Adrian's way of spreading Christmas cheer back in 2008

Countdown to Christmas - How to Spread the Cheer

1. Open the first door of your advent calendar
2. Start the Elf on the Shelf tradition
3. Visit a Christmas tree farm and "adopt" a tree
4. Deck the Halls with all the family members
5. Send a letter to Santa; an old fashioned one that requires a stamp!
6. Make your own Christmas ornament
7. Play some Christmas music
8. Watch Christmas movies (The Polar Express anyone?)
9. Watch Santa's parade / Visit a Christmas market
10. Go see Santa...just in case he didn't get the memo! ;)
11. Drop some coins into a Salvation Army bucket and the spread the cheer even further
12. Go caroling...even if it's door to door in your own house
13. Read some Christmas books (more on that later)
14.Kiss under the Mistletoe (the perfect excuse to steal a kiss from your little one!)
15. Go ice skating (outdoors or indoors!)
16. Take a walk at night to see the Christmas lights of the neighborhood
17. Make a gingerbread house and gingerbread people
18. Make a dish/drink infused with cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg to perfume the house
19. Go sledding (weee!)
20. Bake some Christmas cookies only children are allowed to decorate
21. Drink eggnog (bonus point if you make your own with the kids)
22. Encourage the kids to Wish "Merry Christmas" to a neighbor they know
23. See snippets of the "Nutcracker" ballet / play (Thank you YouTube and school plays!)
24. Track Santa thanks to NORAD; leave cookies and milk for him
25. Open a present...or two and say "thank you"!

How do you spread the cheer? 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thanksgiving for Preschoolers - Part 3

Last Thanksgiving post...for the year at least! :) Or shall I say for Preschoolers? I should probably make at least one post regarding what little Z. did in Tot school for Thanksgiving... Anyhow, here are a few more activities Adrian did this Thanksgiving season.

Making a Pilgrim Hat with Beans

This is  long activity but look how beautiful it is! I strongly recommend doing the buckle of the hat first and then the rest. We did the buckle with yellow split peas and the rest with black beans. Using a brush and liquid glue, it went well for gluing. Then, Adrian spread a handful of beans at a time. Staying within the lines was the biggest challenge. Get your own template from LearnCreateLove.

Make your Own Cornucopia

This is a small cornucopia I found at Michael's. I have a big one for the family but figured Adrian could fill his own. He quite enjoyed it and loved picking his dessert from his own cornucopia.

Catch that Turkey Game

I originally saw this on Mrs. Lee's Kinder Kids, and just had to make it for Adrian. You can find the sheet on her class's blog but you'll have to make your own letter cards. I simply found a cute turkey clipart for mine, printed just enough of them, wrote the letters we needed, put a paperclip on each, provided a magnetic wand (from one of our puzzles) and set it out for Adrian with a brown dot marker. The goal is to "catch" the turkey. Adrian had to catch all the letters shown on the turkey in order to catch the turkey so with his wand, he had to catch ALL the letters and dot them as he went along. Sometimes, letters appeared more than once. Sometimes, letters were capital, sometimes not but those were considered different! It was a long game but he loved it and...caught the turkey.

Game in Progress

Napkin Folding and Inserting Napkins into their Rings

In preparation for the Thanksgiving dinner, we practiced folding cloth napkins and putting them into napkin rings. It is definitely not as easy as it seems. The less folds the better. A. was not particularly enamored with the folding. He thought it was too hard even as I was folding along. But he really liked putting the rings on.

Thanksgiving Patterning with Stampers

Stock on these at Oriental Trading Company. They have them under different themes and they always come in packages of like 4 so your kids can make presents to friends too yet they are still affordable. We did our usual patterning activities with them where Adrian has to complete What Comes Next? with the stampers.

Learning how to Set the Table - With Max & Ruby

Not a big hit. In fact, not a hit at all. Adrian didn't want to do this activity. I guess he knows how to set the table and so he didn't feel like this was a fun school activity at all. If you do wish to do it with your child (a younger one may appreciate the true value of this exercise), I found this practice place setting placemat on Nick Jr.'s Website.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Thanksgiving for Preschoolers - Part 2

Yeah, I know. It is December and I'm still posting about Thanksgiving. Eeek! I am way behind but to be honest, I had not expected to encounter any problems with picture posting! I am so glad it is behind me now (I literally obsessed over the problem!). Anyhow, here are some more Thanksgiving activities I put together for Adrian, 4.5 years old. I know it is "a bit" late for you guys to put them in action but there is always next year and besides, these are just way too cute not to be shared... :)

Handprint Thanksgiving Turkey - Make sure yours is spelled right! :)

Adrian is not a huge fan of the arts. Somehow, he doesn't mind when it involves paints though. For this, I used various earthy washable non-toxic colors. They can either be painted on your child's hand or you can paint them on yourself. In Adrian's case, I painted them on his hand, let him press it down firmly and on once it was dry, he drew on the legs with a marker, chose a goggly eye, glued it on and I finalized with the misspelled greeting! :) Gotta hand it to the mama to ruin the art project of her young one! :) The handprint turkey project was previously featured on Kaboose which is where I first saw this idea.

Turkey Feather Plucking

I thought this would be totally fun but I guess I needed more feathers or maybe the feathers needed to be contained or maybe it needed to be more like a race or festive or something? Adrian took this very seriously and tried his best to pluck only 1 feather at a time. I was simply asking him to pluck feathers knowing it is difficult to pluck feathers with tweezers. It became frustrating at one point for him. I showed him how to do it sideways since he insisted on picking one feather at a time and couldn't always pick it by the stem. Anyhow, next time, the timer will come in, a tiny bin, AND a load of feathers! LOL Idea...graciously taken from Mrs.Lee's Kinder Kids.

Make your Own Popcorn, Craft some and then Eat some

Ah...Fresh popcorn. There is nothing like the smell or taste of real, fresh, warm popcorn. With Adrian's help, I decided to pop some real popcorn in a pan with some canola oil. I let A. pour the oil and the corn and then we waited and listened. He didn't really care for the taste of popcorn but that's ok. We made it to taste it yes, but it was also for our craft. Adrian was actually quite concerned it wouldn't stick in our craft but it did. For our Indian Corn craft, we used liquid glue and pressed a bit and let dry and it worked. I pre-cut a template of green construction paper prior to school time.

Writing Practice

Confessions of a Homeschooler has a great Free package about Thanksgiving. I didn't use much of it but Adrian really need more writing practice so I printed out this sheet for him. The graphics were very cute.

Homemade Turkey Buttoning Practice

Buttoning practice idea found on Counting Coconuts. I'm not going to lie...My son is still having issues with getting dressed and buttoning this turkey's feather on was actually tough for him. I deliberately made the holes big but it still was difficult. I guess we'll have to do more of that, eh? 

A piece of Pumpkin Pie anyone?

I know this is not the prettiest pie to look at but I am a bit short on time during the holiday season (are we all not?) and so although I initially planned on making this pie out of felt and all fluffy and cute, it ended up being cut-up pieces of constructions pieces. It sadly was as boring as it looks but it still worked as a math activity. We successfully added and subtracted and counted. Prompts can be such as: Mama ate one piece, Adrian had one too. How many pieces are left? Daddy arrives. He wants pie too. He has one piece and then wants another. How many pieces did daddy have? How many pieces were eaten? How many are left? Etc.

Not picture but very fun? Your very own Turkey Trot!

Many cities organize their own annual turkey trot on Thanksgiving Day. Why not hold your own for your little ones? This way, there is no pressure if the weather is not clement! :) Just keep it short and fun. A small prize won't hurt either! :)