The 12 days of Christmas was a big theme for us this year, at school – and at home. It all started with last year for Christmas Eileen received a copy of A Porcupine in a Pine Tree from her Aunt and Uncle. This is a great Canadian 12 days of Christmas.
I had mad the decision to use this book at Christmas in my Kindergarten class a long time ago – but once we got started it took on a life of its own. I started at the beginning of December by reading them the book. Each child was given a large bristol board Christmas Tree and was told we were going to make the 12 days of Christmas. This activity has a lot of teacher prep but it was totally worth it. I had pre-printed and cut out all the gift for Christmas. On the JK pictures I had stencilled in the numbers and on the SK pictures I simply put and empty box for them to print in the numbers.
My teaching partner suggested doing something to make the porcupine stand out at the top of the tree so we painted small doilies and glued them on the very top, and then put the porcupine on top. We started with 3 ‘days’ a class but when we got to the higher days we only did 2 a class. For 11 and 12 I saved time by leaving them in a strip and they just glued on. It was a very time consuming activity and took us many classes but it was a perfect way to reinforce our numbers up to 12 that we had been working on in the month of November. Feel free to use the file I made for the activity: porcupine in a pine tree, you will need to print in the number stencils if you wish for JK students.
On the last day we sequenced the story on the back on the tree. This helped reinforce the idea of story sequencing and gave me an opportunity to introduce ordinal numbers. I had strips for each day and first they glued them in order. As this was a new concept I only gave one strip at a time (we had done the same thing with our numbers on the front). It was much easier to track everyone as a whole class this way. The same day we added the ordinal numbers before the sentences (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc). This I gave it them each in a pile and asked them to put in order themselves – it was a great way to see who had mastered their numbers and who still needed some help.
The best part was at the end when they took them home. As we were learning each day we were also singing the song – complete with actions. I found a youtube video from a class in Kitchener that I would definitely recommend checking out!!
To make some text to text connections I also read a few other versions of the 12 days of Christmas. I found a treaditional version on the discount shelves of our local bookstore. After reading it to them I played them the true classic 12 days of Christmas sung by John Denver and the Muppets!!
Next I read A Stork in A Baobab Tree: An African Twelve Days of Christmas. I would love to have done more time on this one in my class but we drew some great connections to what they do in African and how it is different and the same to what we do in North America. For example “On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four market traders” – we discussed how many of us to to the market in our own downtown to get fresh food.
One book I ran out of to do with my class was A Pinata for the Pinon Tree. This was our family book for December 15th!
This is the 12 days of Christmas in New Mexico. When I picked it up I thought it would be a Mexican Christmas but instead it is a Southwestern Christmas. The cool thing about this book is that on each page is shows one set of characters decorating for Christmas using the different items for the 12 days of Christmas but in the left hand part of the page is a grandmother character who is baking some sort of treat. The treat is never mentioned in the story but at the end of the book is a recipe for Bizcochitos – a traditional New Mexican Christmas cookie. It was very obvious that we had to make these cookies, but they called for a strange ingredient – aniseed. The next Thursday when we went to market I asked the spice lady and she had aniseed! We mixed up the batter and made a variety of Bizcochitos. I let the girls pick from all of my cookie cutters so we had a wide variety of shapes. These are a very different tasting Christmas cookie so not everyone may like them – but everyone we gave some to loved them!
I am looking for more great versions of The Twelve Days of Christmas to add to our library for future years. If you have a favourite let us know!