With Day 5 the craft came before the book. I was scouring pinterest one night, procrastinating of course, and came across a cute reindeer craft that I thought would be a good ‘weeknight’ craft. I then went through our books to find a reindeer book. In my school box I found Rudolph Shines Again. I think it was from a scholastic package I got last Christmas.
The book is not is no award winner but it is cute. The illustrations are very well done (except for some reason Michael kept trying to find ‘the mouse’), and it is written entirely in rhyme. After Christmas Rudolph returns to be mocked by the other reindeer and this leaves him feeling very sorry for himself and his nose loses it’s shine.
After reading the book we got right down to the craft. You can get complete instructions by following the links here. I found all of the things we needed at Michael’s and in our craft bins. If you want to try it make sure you have very small pom poms for the nose. This was one of those crafts that is was great to have a stocked craft centre. I brought out the bin of misc. google eyes and bells and they picked their favourite. Grandma is a knitter so we raided her stash of wool. The only thing I really had to buy was the plastic candy canes.
This was a perfect craft for Eileen. Easy enough for her to do most of it herself and quick enough to keep her attention. Michael even was able to do some of the wrapping himself.
The finished result. They are super cute and all unique!
Day 4 was all about Christmas carols. Last year we started a tradition where the kids gather around the piano and sing a Christmas carol while Daddy plays the piano, and Mommy tapes it as our Christmas message. This year we have decided to extend it a bit – both of the girls will play their Christmas pieces on the piano and then we will sing a carol. I picked up Curious George Christmas Carols to offer them some inspiration. Tonight we read through the book and sang a bit of each of the carols. The book also came with a CD so I have added it to my iPhone and showed them how to play the songs whenever they want.
And the winner is … Deck the Halls. Fortunately it was unanimous. Later this month, after lots of practice, we will record our message.
Last night’s book was Merry Christmas Splat.
In the story Splat writes his letter to Santa and then worries that he has not been good enough. We used this as an opportunity to write our letters to Santa. You can find many different templates online for letters to Santa. I let the girls pick one out and printed 3 copies. We talked about what you write in a good Santa letter. Kaitlyn wrote hers independently, I wrote for Eileen as she dictated to me, and we tried to get something out of Michael (without too many suggestions).
I wanted to start something a bit different this year so I combined two ideas on interest. I picked up some large clear plastic Christmas balls at Michaels and each child put their handprint on a ball. I then wrote their name on the ball and the year 2012. If you are doing this make sure to use permanent marker or it will wipe off (my scrapbooking markers wiped off too easily). Next was the tricky part. I folded and rolled up a copy of their letters to Santa and put it in each of their balls. Of course we made a copy to mail to Santa as well. All that was left was to add some ribbon so we can hang them on the tree. I am having trouble getting a good picture of them so these will have to do for now. Once our tree is up I will try and take better pictures with them hanging on the tree.
The Book for Day 2 was Scaredy Squirrel prepares for Christmas by Melanie Watt.
I was very excited to see that there is a Scaredy Squirrel christmas book so I had to pick it up. It is a bit advanced for Eileen and Michael but Kaitlyn loved it. It is quite a bit longer than the usual Scaredy Squirrel books so we didn’t read it all in one sitting.
It is divided into 8 ‘chapters’ and Chapter 1 is called “Christmas is Coming”. Scaredy has a list of 12 things to do do before Christmas so we decided to make our own list (well Kaitlyn did – the other two weren’t interested). She wanted boxes just like Scaredy’s list so I drew the lines for her but she did the rest herself. She did an awesome job!!
Our 24 books of Christmas was such a hit last year that it has become a must-do for our family this year. This year I feel it is even more important because it make me stop and do something fun with my children every day. Since I have gone back to teaching full time and my kids have such busy schedules our life has become a bit chaotic. All of our books and activities are strategically planned and scheduled this year – with larger more time consuming crafts on slower evenings and weekends.
We of course started off the countdown with The Elf on the Shelf. When the kids woke up on December 1st it didn’t take them long to find that Frankie (our elf) had returned for the holiday season. To celebrate his return our actvities for the day were all elf based. We re-read the book (well Grandma actually read it to them because I had an eye infection and reading was challenging). I was searching for elf related crafts and ended up on the official Elf on the Shelf website. If you go to “North Pole” and “Reindeer Stables” you will find a number of elf crafts. I have also pinned them on my Pinterest Page.
We started with the Elf Clock. I wanted to start the season off with a craft that we would add to our collection and would come out every year. We took a trip to Michael’s Arts and Crafts where we found the Clock Movement Package. It didn’t call for a specific size but we used 3/8″. Grandpa also helped out by making us a box out of plywood. This makes it more durable and more sturdy for saving for future years. The girls started by painting it with red acrylic paint and colouring the elf template (we used pencil crayons, markers and silver glitter).
We gave Granpa the job of attaching the clock parts – I didn’t want to mess it up!
After it was all done it was the first item put on our mantel for the holiday season.
For fun we also made the Elf table. This was pretty easy, but I did all the gluing with the hot glue gun. The instructions are very clear but make sure you get large tongue depressors for the large stick and mini sticks (smaller than popsicle sticks) for the small sticks.
Our elf table took it’s place on the mantel beside the clock – maybe Frankie will decide to sit on it one day!!
I mentioned in a previous post that the Show and Tell in my Kindergarten class for the month of December was to bring in a family holiday tradition. My teaching partner did the same thing and for her show and tell Kaitlyn took in Perogies. You may not think that Perogies are a Christmas tradition but in Gord’s family they definitely are. Every year on Christmas Eve morning all the grand-daughters (and great-granddaughters) go over to Baba’s house (Gord’s grandmother) to make perogies. My kids don’t get to see everyone that often as they are all living around North America finishing up university and staring jobs so it is great when everyone gets together! We make perogies all morning – potato, sauerkraut, and prune, and then at the big Christmas Eve dinner we eat them. The are suppose to be just a side dish but they are definitely what everyone looks forward to the most. It was quite the adventure for Kaitlyn and I to make them for her class but we managed. They tasted good but still not as good at Baba’s.
The other tradition that we have had in our house since Kaitlyn was book is book #24 – The Night Before Christmas.
This was the first Christmas Eve that we didn’t go to church. It is just too crazy to take three little kids to church at 7:00 at night when they are already exhausted -last year it ended up being a complete circus. Instead we stayed longer at the Malo Family Christmas and then we came home to do our Christmas Eve Traditions.
First the kids opened their Christmas Eve presents – matching Christmas pajamas. Every year I make them matching pyjamas and while I am frantically trying to get them done in time I wonder if it worth it – by when I see them all together in them it is totally worth the effort! After they get changed they hang their stockings, get Santa’s cookies ready and I read them The Night Before Christmas. Some years when they are little it seems like it is more for me than them but we have done it every year since Kaitlyn was born!
We read the traditional version but there was a great post at Reading Confetti on a number of other versions of The Night Before Christmas. I am considering using this as our theme next year at school but first have to build my library of different version. What is your favourite version?
Christmas Eve is a busy day in our family as we do our Christmas celebrations with Daddy’s side of the family so we have to bake our cookies for Santa on the 23rd.
First we read our book for the day: Max’s Christmas by Rosemary Wells.
The Max and Ruby chain is one of those great ones where the books came before the show. There is quite the online discussion about the absence of Max and Ruby’s parents and many parents have a strong dislike for the show but it doesn’t bother me that much. Maybe because I have kids that remind me of Max and Ruby.. At first it was Kaitlyn and eileen with the younger mischievous Eileen always ruining her best laid plans but now it is definitely Michael who is destroying the girls’ tea parties and other adventures. I purchased this book a couple of years ago for Eileen when she was the recreation of Max. Ruby describes the idea of Santa to Max who doesn’t understand why he can’t stay up to see Santa – as usual Max asks those incessant simple questions like every toddler. This is a great book to read a couple of days before Christmas.
Next we had to bake our cookies for Santa. We had done a lot of baking leading up to Christmas so I wanted to keep this simple. Eileen also reminded us that she told Santa in her letter that she was making him Chocolate cookies so I convinced her that chocolate chip would be a good idea.
To make it even easier we used the recipe on the back of the bag of chocolate chips for Chipits Chewy Milk Chocolate Cookies – a fail safe recipe that we had all the ingredients to in our pantry. Santa loved them!
My December 22nd school was done for myself and Kaitlyn and we were in full fledged Family Christmas mode. We had been doing Christmas things for a while but the load of work off my mind suddenly made everything much more fun! Our book for the 22nd was The Toys Night Before Christmas.
This version of the night before Christmas is not written in the familiar verse but instead tells of that special night from the point of view of the toys. Jack (in-the-box) brings up how he feels it is not fair that everyone gets Christmas presents except them, because they are toys. The other toys aren’t bothered but Jack makes it his mission to bring presents to all the toys on Christmas. He goes all out becoming his own version of Santa complete with presents, a sleigh, and reindeer – well he uses birds instead. All goes well until he gets stuck in the chimney. One cute feature of the book are the signs of the real Santa Claus on each page. A very cute tale that will really echo with the ‘Toy Story’ generation of kids.
Christmas was really close and I wanted to give the girls a chance to make their own wrapping paper to go with their gift tags we made on the 20th. I was unsure that type of paper to use but found newsprint really cheap at Staples and thought it would work perfect. Wether working with markers, paints or other materials this is definitely an activity where you want to put a drop sheet down. The first type we tried were with our Christmas stencils.
I picked these when I hosted an Usborne book party a number of years ago and the girls love them! They are great for working on pencil control with Eileen and Kaitlyn loves using them for an outline and then she adds her own patterns and colours. I would love to try and find some other cards with different themes.
Next I pulled out the tempura paints and my cookie cutters. It works well to pour some of the paint in to pie plates. This makes it easier to dip the cookie cutters in the paint and then stamp them on their paper. To make things easier I picked one colour for each cookie cutter – this kept things a bit neater and limited colour mixing. When we got close to being done I let Kaitlyn mix a few to see what colours she could come up with.
Each girl made a few sheets, enough to wrap their presents for each other, for Michael and for Daddy. I thought the paper may be to big while we were making them but we used it all when wrapping. Next year I may do a few smaller sheets also for those smaller presents.
Book 21 was another one from a popular character the girls love – My Little Pony. Holiday Talent Show was a book order selection of Kaitlyn’s from last year. At the time I didn’t realize how much My Little Pony stuff Eileen would be getting for Christmas, so now it is very popular at our house. She actually receive two Pinky-Pie ponies for Christmas who is the main character in the book.
Pinkie Pie decides that she wants to do something special for the holidays. After talking with all her friends she feels that she doesn’t have any special talent but decides to bring all her friends together for a talent show. Everyone uses their special talents to make the show a success, even Pinkie Pie. I am not usually a fan of trademark books based on toy characters or show but this one is written clearly with a good message. So often this style of book jumps around leaving out key plot features making them difficult to follow but this book does not do that. A pretty cute read.
The activity for this book wasn’t much of a stretch as my kids are ALWAYS putting on their own talent shows. I read this to them on Wednesday night after hockey and then challenged them to put together and practice a talent show that they would put on for Mommy and Daddy Thursday night after dinner. They had a blast. It was always decided that Michael would dance (as that is what he always does when you put music on). Eileen started by saying she was going to sing and Kaitlyn play the piano but in the end they all ended up dancing. Kaitlyn choreographed routines for both her and her sister. They made decorations and went through our dress-up box picking out matching costumes. It was pretty cute!
One of the book series that I love are the Olivia books. There are two types: the true Olivia books, and those based on the television series. The true books are much better. I couldn’t resist using Olivia helps with Christmas in our 24 books of Christmas. It was our book on Day 20.
I think the reason I love Olivia so much is that she reminds me of Kaitlyn. She is a precious young pig (that is where they differ), she thinks she is very proper and has the best of intentions, very creative and artistic but a bit of a drama queen. To top it off the last page is a picture of Olivia dreaming of dancing in the Nutracker and only a couple of days prior to reading this book my dad and I took Kaitlyn to see the Nutcracker, the third year in a row.
Our original plan was to make Christmas cards on the 2oth but I came across a post on Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas on gift tags and thought these would be fun – and they could make more of them then if we made Christmas cards. The 2oth was also the day of Kaitlyn’s mini recital in her piano class and the dress rehearsal for the school concert so we had Kaitlyn’s friend Maggie over for the afternoon. We had an hour break between the two events so this was a good time for all 3 girls to make their gift tags. I decided we would try 4 that were all painted: finger print Christmas trees, finger print Rudolph, finger print wreath and painted candy canes.
I set the girls up with one design at a time and gave them just a bit of instruction. They were very creative and I was amazed how determined Eileen was to do hers all by herself. I was bit nervous as I only had green acrylic paint but I have never seen her paint so neatly before. They were not quite dry in time so Kaitlyn finished Maggie’s for her but they all turned out pretty cute. These could easily be done with an entire Kindergarten class.