Easy Candy Cane Craft

candy cane craft for kids These tape candy canes are my Christmas version of our insanely popular Tape Mummy. After a long day at preschool my daughter still wanted to make some crafts but I didn’t want to set her up for a meltdown. Instead I grabbed a few simple things and let her create. There is no waiting for glue to dry so these easy candy cane crafts are a great choice for class parties on the last day of school or as a 2nd activity at a cookie decorating party. They are so simple you can do it anywhere.

Gather your materials. You will need some red paper ( card stock would be perfect but all we had was flimsy construction paper… still worked out fine!), some tape in whatever colors you have, a pencil, and scissors. That’s it!easy candy cane craft for kids

Start by drawing a candy cane on your red paper. My daughter wanted to make a bunch so we made them using only half a sheet per candy cane. As you can see my candy canes are far from perfect and I think that’s a good thing. If you want your kids to try to create you have to make it accessible. If we reject ourselves when we are less than perfect our kids will learn from our example. I don’t want to just be sloppy but I want to be accepting of my own efforts so they are not afraid to try.candy cane craft for children

Invite your candy cane creators to the table and let them loose with tape!candy cane craft for kids

Some of our tape ( ours is a mix of masking, washi, and foil tape) was really hard to tear off. I started to reach over and just do it for her and she very rightly told me to stop that she can do it. It’s funny I don’t intervene like that with students, I always wait to be asked for help ( unless there is a danger) but with my own kids I guess I go auto pilot. I need to remember not to.

Pop the tape on!candy cane crafts

And on.

candy cane craft for kids

Or not. If your child is happy with one piece that is rad. I will say ” Are you finished with this masterpiece?” to be sure but if your child is sure, resist the urge to add more on to their art.

When it’s all taped down, cut it out.

cut out candy cane craft

See how it magically turns into a candy cane? Well maybe not magic, but my daughter loved it!simple candy cane craft

I told you they are simple but I think this time of year this is what you need. Something festive but FAST that doesn’t really make any mess.

Need more fast activities for the holidays? Here are some toddler activities to keep them engaged for a few minutes at a time.

screen free holiday activities

Stocking Stuffers For Kids That Promote Literacy

educational stocking stuffersI love learning. I love teaching too but really that moment when a child has grasped a concept or mastered a new skill for the first time and they exclaim ” I did it!” is what keeps me planning lessons for my classroom and this blog. I hope that some of the activities I have shared have contributed to an ” I did it!” moment at your house. Part of supporting our children’s development is to provide the right environment and what better way to add bits and pieces of learning into their environment than with stocking stuffers. I fill my children’s stockings with a random assortment of things but I always squeak in some learning even if they just see the items as fun and new! This list of stocking stuffers for kids are all fun and promote literacy development.

This list contains affiliate links.

bath letters

Have fun in the bath practicing letter recognition with these Learning Resources Smart Splash Letter Link Crabs

toddler bath letters

We used these Little Tikes Bath Letters and Numbers in the bath but we also used them around the house for letter hunts!

best magnetic letters

All kids should have some Melissa & Doug Magnetic Wooden Alphabet they are great for all levels of learning from the earliest stages of letter recognition to spelling!

leapfrog fridge phonics

This LeapFrog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Letter Set is one of many Leap Frog phonics toys that I love.

nursery rhymes

Nursery rhymes are wonderful literacy tools but if you are like me you forget to grab books of them, Wee Sing Nursery Rhymes and Lullabies is perfect for car rides. Frankly I think I just need a break from listening to Frozen. I know I am not alone.

hangman game

This Hangman – Take ‘N’ Play Anywhere Game will fit into a purse well for road trips as well as a stocking! Hangman is a great vocabulary boosting game that sharpens spelling skills too.

mad libs jr

Did you know there are Super Silly Mad Libs Junior ? These are great for Kindergarten and up ( or a little younger with more help) while Christmas Fun Mad Libs makes the perfect stocking stuffer for those a little older. My kids get these in their stockings every year.

stocking stuff spelling

Have you ever played Bananagrams ? It’s a blast and perfect for kids from 6 or 7 and up. Pop it in their stocking and play all Christmas day!

apple stocking

For families with younger kiddos try Appletters but don’t worry older kids will still love it!

rhyming stocking

These Rhyming Words Dominoes Challenge Cards® are great for multiple ages. Older players can model the rhyming while younger children can feel great about making their matches!

story cubes stockig stuffers

Storytelling is a skill that will help your child understand all the elements of literature as well as work on vocabulary and my favorite thing, engage their imaginations! Rory’s Story Cubes is a great stocking stuffer!

stocking storytelling

Storytelling isn’t only for older kids. Children as young as 3 can get in on the fun with eeBoo Tell Me a Story Creative Story Cards – Mystery in the Forest. ( Shhh don’t tell her but my daughter is getting these in her stocking this year! )

stocking stuffers scene

Take storytelling with you ( maybe to visit Grandma for New Years?) with this Create A Scene Magnetic Enchanted Kingdom !

stocking stuffers spot it

Spot It is a great game for waiting at restaurants, on planes, or even around the dining room table. It focuses on visual perception which is important for reading, but don’t worry pre-readers can play no problem.

coloring stocking

Learning to write starts with making marks and coloring is a great way to prep for writing. This Crayola Hello Kitty Mini Coloring Pages will slide right into a stocking!

smelly pencils stocking

Make writing fun with these smelly pencils Original Smencils 5-Pack or if your child is all about glam try these Fiskars Gel Pens .

journal stocking

Journals are wonderful ways to get your not too keen to write kids writing. I like this Q&A a Day for Kids: A Three-Year Journal because it has prompts built right in! journal 2 stockingIf your child doesn’t need prompts but wants privacy pop one of these Top Secret Lock & Key Diary into their stocking.

bookworm stocking

This book is brilliant. Bookworm Journal: A Reading Log for Kids (and Their Parents) lets kids record the books they’ve read in one place. This is wonderful for kids who like to rank, rate, and compete with everything.

bookmarks stocking

Toss some Robots i-Clips Magnetic Bookmarks into the stocking and your kids won’t be able to wait to use them.

book light

A book light like this Energizer LED Book Light is perfect for independent readers. Letting kids stay up a little later to read is a great message to them that reading is worthwhile.

You might be wondering why I don’t have any books. The list would be very very long and instead of you picking out a book for your child why not pop a $10 Amazon Gift Card or  one for a local bookstore and take them to pick out their own. If that doesn’t promote reading I don’t know what will!


books for kids

If you need book suggestions we have a lot. Start here and our book gift guide here.

Link Up ! All Kid Related Activities & Parenting Advice!

rp_link-learn-2014-455x178111111111111.jpgI know a lot of you do activities with your kids but you also write wonderful articles with parenting advice and education articles. I think today in addition to the regular early learning activities we should dig through our archives to find some great posts that might be helpful to other parents.  The holidays can be overwhelming and many of us can use any help offered!

If you are looking for great parenting resources my Pinterest Parenting board as some great pins as well as one of my favorite blogs Not Just Cute. Best parenting blog hands down.

So link up and have a wonderful week!

Artificial DYE FREE Christmas Treats For Kids

dye free Christmas treats for kids When I was a teenager I remember rolling my eyes at the parents who would put ” DO NOT GIVE RED DYE” on the health forms for day camp. I thought it was hogwash. Funny how a few years of maturity, your own kids, and a big dose of respecting other people will change your attitude. My kids both react to red dye and I will never forget my parents ( who thought I was nuts restricting it) falling all over themselves when they saw first hand how my then 3 year old son reacted after ingesting it.

Do my kids get some food color? Yes, but it’s something I really try to avoid. Not all kids have the same reaction but if you read this post Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Artificial Food Coloring by Megan over at Sorta Crunchy even if your kids don’t react to dye you will want to limit it anyway!

Most of the year it’s not hard to avoid dye especially when red is the main culprit. Around Christmas I start hearing the whining. ” But mom just a little won’t hurt! ” It’s true my son at 8 is starting to outgrow the hyper irritability that it seemed to cause but it’s so easy to let a little become a lot and why take the chance. We don’t have to anymore because over the years I have found wonderful alternatives. Here are two fun and classic Christmas treats with no artificial food dyes!

Rudolf Candy Canes – with Naturally Colored Candy Canes

candy cane reindeer craft for kids now dye free

I think I first made these in Brownies in the early 80s. I have made them as small trinkets for classes I have taught for almost as long. 3 year olds at preschool and 14 year olds in my Babysitter Safety class all loved them. My kids do too. Now they can love them more because finding dye free candy canes isn’t as hard or as expensive as it used to be. I picked these up at Safeway but last year I bought these on amazon  Organic Candy Canes Peppermint  ( affiliate link)

If you aren’t sure how to make these candy cane reindeer here is a quick tutorial.

Gather your materials. You will need some candy canes, pipe cleaners, pom poms, googly eyes and a hot glue gun.reindeer candy cane craft

Add the pipe cleaners by wrapping it around the curved end of the candy cane twice and bending to make some antlers.reindeer candy canes with no dye candy canes

Add hot glue to the end and a pom pom on top.candy cane reindeer craft for children dye free

Add hot glue a little higher and pop on two googly eyes. Have a puppet show with them or, what we usually do with them, pop your reindeer on the Christmas tree.dye free candy cane rudolph crafts

Ice Cream Cone Christmas Trees with Naturally Dyed Candies and Icing.

dye free christmas treats no red food color

We did these ice cream cone Christmas Trees many years ago with artificial dye ( see how little my son is?) but it was before I discovered just how poorly my son reacted to all the artificial colors. I have been meaning to do it again with my daughter so this time we did it more naturally.

Gather your materials. You will need some sugar cones. I didn’t check the ingredient list on these because my kids won’t eat it. They will pick off the candy and leave the tree. There are lots of all natural options out there, check out the shopping list below. You will also need some icing Wilton was dye free , and I used India Tree colors which are all natural to make the green. You will also need candy and stars for the top, two paper plates, some knives for spreading and my favorite candy holders… an ice cube tray.dye free christmas treats

Start by spreading some white icing on the bottom and sticking the tree on top.ice cream cone christmas trees

Ice the tree in green ( now natural dye isn’t as bright but my kids didn’t say a word about it’s lack of vibrancy).cone trees dye free

Taste a little here and there.christmas tree treat dye free

Add the jelly beans, sprinkles and chocolate chips for ornaments.adding the ornaments candy tree dye free

When you are done add more icing for snow with coconut for flakes! Use as a centerpiece for a holiday cookie decorating party or just to add to your decor. My kids ate theirs which was quite the treat. edible christmas centerpiece for kids

Shopping list for Candy Christmas Trees
This list contains affiliate links.

White icing ( I can’t confirm this item as color free so check the ingredients on your icing or make your own to be sure! Ours was Wilton but I can’t find the exact item on line to provide a link)
Gourmet Jelly Beans

India Tree Natural Decorating Colors, 3 bottles(red,yellow,blue)

India Tree Jimmies – Carnival Mix – Natural Colour

Ghirardelli Baking Chips, Classic White, 11-Ounce Bags (Pack of 6)

Coconut Flakes Unsweetened

Trader Joe’s Mini Dark Chocolate Mint Stars

Trim A Tree Sticky Easel – Christmas Activity For Preschool

christmas free choice activity for preschool When we made our Create A Face Sticky Easel it was such a hit it stayed on our easel for AGES. For weeks it changed a little by little but I didn’t take it down for a long time. I knew then that I would be making a holiday version of a sticky easel . This is a great Christmas activity for preschool free choice time . The project can be a cooperative art project in class. With activities like this our role is to set it up and invite them to create. This isn’t a directed craft or step by step activity. It’s a creative buffet and kids can serve themselves. Let me show you how we set up this sticky easel and how my daughter created with it.

Gather your materials. The only thing you really need is contact paper. Good sticky contact paper. Everything else we used can be substituted with whatever you have on hand. Heck you don’t even need an easel, you can pop it up on the wall. We used green popsicle sticks, colored wooden shapes, and gems . I also used a dry erase marker to make an outline of a tree on the easel as a guide. Christmas Sticky Tree supplies

Start by drawing the outline of the tree. Peel the backing off the contact paper and secure it to the easel. christmas tree sticky easel set up

Place the bits and pieces into the easel and invite your tree trimmer to come trim the tree!

She started off with the shapes and gems. fine motor skills christmas tree activity

Then discovered she could make letters with the popcicle sticks. early literacy christmas tree sticky easelThis sticky easel is filled with tactile exploration. Since the items can be added then removed it’s a wonderful activity for those ” must be perfect” days that seem to crop up from time to time with preschoolers. This activity also works on so many skills like fine motor, shape recognition, and counting. Don’t force the skills or use the time to quiz your kids just be there to catch the opportunity to talk more about their observations if they make them.  For us the observation I jumped on was about how think the gems were vs. how thin the wooden shapes were.

She didn’t like that I used black for the outline so she covered it up with more sticks.
christmas tree sticky mural activity

I sat back in our book nook with my camera and listened to her chatter away ( which if you are a parent that has had a child in speech therapy chattering is music to your ears, especially when it’s perfectly easy to understand).

When she was done our playroom was ready for Christmas! Christmas tree sticky easels