Posted in Books, Cooking with the Kiddies

Cookies for Santa

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!

Posted in Books, Craft Thursdays

The Toys Night Before Christmas

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.

Posted in Books

Holiday Talent Show

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!

 

Posted in Books, Craft Thursdays, Kindercrafts

Olivia Helps with Christmas

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Books

Christmas with You

The book for December 19th was Christmas with You by Julia Hubery and illustrated by Victoria Bell.

This simple story is Christmas day from the view of a little mouse from the time he wakes until he goes to sleep.  The simple yet descriptive rhyming text is paired nicely with vivid illustrations that awake a child’s senses.  On the different pages children can draw great connections between what the mouse does on Christmas day and what they might do (or feel).  My girls love seeing him play in the snow and were quiet disappointed we didn’t get snow in time for Christmas.  We finally got snow last night and they were outside today!

Gord and I went out for dinner on the 19th with friends so I left an easy activity for Gramma and Grampa to do with the girls.  Each girl was asked to draw a picture of what they were looking forward to most at Christmas.

Kaitlyn drew a picture of Baby Jesus (a pretty good one I think for a 5 year old) and said she was most looking forward to Jesus’ birthday.

Eileen drew a picture of Santa’s sack.  She is just starting to draw things that actually look like something and I think this one was pretty cool!

Posted in Books

The Story of Christmas

Our last Sunday before Christmas, December 18th, we read the Christmas Story.  I need to get a version with more detail but this year we read The Story of Christmas by Patricia Pingry and illustrated by Lorraine Wells.  Our  version is so old I couldn’t find a copy online but only a more recent version:

Eileen was uninterested in participating on this day and I didn’t want to push her too hard but Kaitlyn made a Birthday card for Baby Jesus.  This year she was very much into the real meaning of Christmas.

Posted in Books, Craft Thursdays

The Snow Bear

The one book that we missed before Christmas was The Snow Bear by Miriam Moss which was suppose to be on Saturday, December 17th. If we had to miss one this one was a good one as it is not specifically a Christmas book but more a winter book.

This is the story of a little bear who can not find his mommy.  He decides to make a Mommy Bear out of snow while he waits for his real mommy.  As he is building other young animals in the forest come out to help him build his snow bear.  A cute tale of compassion that would have worked nicely with my class in November (will keep it in mind for next year).

My initial plan was to build snowmen as an activity for this book but it has been a very warm winter so far.  We actually just got our first good snowfall today (and it wasn’t even that much snow).  I have been looking for a good craft to do with the girls and then came across pom pom snowmen on Mom on Timeout.  My mom was over yesterday so I thought it would be a good time to tackle this craft, as it required one on one attention with the girls.  We started by making our pom poms.  The key was to not have the girls cut off circulation in their fingers.

Since we were using little fingers we made 2, 3, and 4 finger pom poms. Then I trimmed them down to make them increasing in sizes.  We left enough wool to tie the three balls together.  I do not crochet so my mom made each of them a cute little hat.  We used goggly eyes for the eyes, foam for the nose and jewels from our craft box for the buttons.  I pulled out my Christmas ribbon and they each made a scarf.  I made sure to hot glue on the hats so they will stay on for when we put them on the tree next year (ours came down today).  I think they turned out pretty cute.  This was not a difficult craft to do but does need one on one attention if children are making their own pom poms.

Posted in Books, Cooking with the Kiddies, Kindercrafts

The many 12 Days of Christmas

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!

Posted in Books, Family Adventures, In the Community

The Grinch

It is officially boxing day and we are done our 24 books of Christmas (with the exception of 1 book we ran out of time for that we are doing today), but I did not have time to blog about all our books and activities.  Over the next couple of days I will be blogging about the rest of our books and a few other things from the last couple of months.

Friday nights are movie nights at our house so on December 16th we decided to make it Grinch Night.

 

I first read Kaitlyn our copy of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!  This is the first year she hasn’t been scared of the Grinch (Eileen still is).  My kindergartens for the month of December each brought in thier own holdiay traditions to share with class.  We had an awesome variety from: advent calendars, Christmas crackers, heirloom stockings, decorating Christmas cookies, and upside down Christmas trees.  One boy brought in a picture of his and his Grandparents houses decorated for Christmas – which would put the Grizwald’s to shame!  On the same day that I read “The Grinch” to my own children, a boy in my class brought in his copy of the Grinch DVD to share with the class, along with colouring pages for everyone.  His tradition is to watch the movie with his Dad at Christmas.  My class decided to invite the other Kindergarten class over to join them in watching the film, so Kaitlyn got to watch the movie at school.  This ended up being a very good thing because after we read the book at home I could not find the movie!  I have since found it and she has watched it a few times this season.

Posted in Books, Craft Thursdays

Candy Christmas Wreath

On Wedneday, December 14th our book was Dav Pilkey’s Dragon’s Merry Christmas.

This book has three short stories on Dragon’s Christmas adventures: The Perfect Christmas Tree, The Candy Wreath, Mittens and Merry Christmas, Dragon.  I read the girls the first two stories before craft and Daddy read them the last two before bed.  To be honest I picked this book because I thought it would be fun for us to try and make a candy wreath.

These proved to be a much more difficult venture than I had originally thought.  We live in a small town, without any big craft stores, so finding a wreath form took a bit of work.  I checked all the dollar stores along with Walmart and Zellers but ended up finding one, the very last one, at a flower shop. It was a 14″ inch green, hard, foam, wreath.  I had planned on making a smaller one but took what I could get.  I also purchased 5 bags of candy at the dollar store.  We never plan on eating our wreath so we picked based on the colour of wrapper.  I picked up a lot so I wouldn’t run out which was a wise decision as we used almost all of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We decided the girls would put the candy on the top flat part of the wreath, so they could use the normal craft glue and Mommy would be responsible for the sides (inside and outside) with the hot glue gun.  This worked pretty well, as the sides would not have stuck with white glue.  It would be interesting to try it with different types of wreath forms to see what would stick best.  After all the candy was glued on I made a bow and hot glued it on as well.

I think it turned out pretty cool.  Gord even liked it (sincerely) and that is unusually for our craft creations!