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

Winter Play Dough Creation Station

winter play dough for preschool Play dough is my daughter’s favorite activity. It’s such a wonderful material whether you make your own your buy Play-Doh at the store like we did for this winter play dough creation station. I am not a pre-planner. It looks like I am because you see all the activities after I put them into neat tutorials but I plan as I go and it’s rare I remember to make the play dough, so I buy it. I also LOVE the smell of Play-doh. LOVE. That said if I need a lot of one color I will make it like I did for our Snowman Play Dough gifts. My daughter was so into this simple activity. I set it up for her while her lunch was cooking and by the time she was done I had to re-heat her lunch because nothing was tearing her away from this winter play dough ! I also want to encourage you to sit with your child at least for part of their play because play dough can be a great prompt for storytelling and my daughter proved that point by walking me through a whole story about her snowmen. You can read it below!

Gather your materials. You will need some white and blue play dough, embellishments like buttons, jewels, baker’s twine, yarn, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes. You will also need some cookie cutters. When I do this with a class I have 4-6 cutters but for one kid I offer 2. Too many can be overwhelming. winter play dough creation station

Dive in and play! With younger kids you might have to help them make the shapes, as you can see my daughter is a pro. snowman play dough for preschool winter play dough

She was so into this! winter play dough for preschool

Next up, snowflakes! snowflake play dough winterThese may or may not have been inspired by a certain animated movie…  I love all the fine motor work in this winter play dough! Kneading the dough, picking up the teeny tiny beads, working with the little pipe cleaners and baker’s twine… it’s all a great exercise for fine motor skills which will help them with other skills like cutting and writing. winter play dough for preschool fine motor pincer grasp

I get so excited about the discoveries that are made because of challenges. She was getting frustrated that the foil pipe cleaners weren’t sticking and instead of just throwing up her hands or omitting them, she tried and tried finally discovering that if he stick the pointy end into the play dough it would stay put where she wanted it. Way cool. best play dough activities

She wasn’t done still – one more snowman! My daughter wanted to be very clear that the snowman is not a cyclops, she is just wearing a cyclops hat. winter play dough for kids

Now time to talk about her creations. The snowmen are a family with a mom named Merritt who is a “cooker” , a dad named Judy who is a toy maker elf snowman, and a baby named England ” She’s a girl!” . winter play dough and storytelling

Books About Snow

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The lonesome  polar bear

The Lonesome Polar Bear by Jane Cabrera is a lovely book about a little polar bear who’s only friends are a snow cloud and snow animals and they all keep melting away. The book has an important  message about not giving up hope and to keep trying to make friends , a lesson that is worthwhile for everyone. The illustrations are very cute and my son (who was a toddler when we read it )loved it!

the snowy day

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is a classic. Some classics are the type of books that lose their relevance and leave readers wondering what the hype is about. This book is timeless. A little boy goes exploring in the snow and discovers his world in a new way. The illustrations are magical and the way that  they convey the emotions this little boy experiences throughout the day are nothing short of perfect.

jack frost snow

Here Comes Jack Frost by Kazuno Kohara is another fantastic book that will have you aching for snow. A little boy is lonely after his friends have all gone into hibernation for the winter when Jack Frost shows up. They frolic and play exploring all the fun that winter has to offer friends but when the first signs of spring arrive Jack is gone. The illustrations are perfectly simple and will suck you into a wintery world that you won’t want to leave. My kids love this book and after one reading at the library we bought our own copy.

Button Christmas Tree Crafts

 

christmas tree crafts It is the season of way too many boxes at our house.  I do most my shopping online and the boxes add up quickly this time of year. I don’t mind recycling most of them but I prefer to use some for crafts. This craft was spur of the moment. We’d received something from Amazon and decided to turn the box into trees! My daughter’s favorite craft EVER are these button letters and I suggested we make trees with the cardboard ( it’s easy to cut trees from cardboard), and she suggested the buttons. Here is how we made our button Christmas tree crafts.

Gather your materials. You will need some cardboard, buttons ( we love our star ones from craftprojectideas.com ) , some green paint, white glue, and scissors. christmas tree craft

Start by cutting out a tree and a small strip of cardboard to make the stand. Cut a small notch in the bottom of your tree long enough for the strip to fit in. cardboard Christmas Tree craft

Paint the tree with green paint. Or pink… whatever your child wants. I like using paint markers for this because they dry faster so we can make the whole craft in one sitting. Make sure to paint the strip as well as the tree. Christmas craft with buttons

Glue time! christmas craft button tree preschool

Find your favorite buttons. button christmas tree preschool craft

 

Pop the buttons onbutton tree craft for preschool and don’t worry if there is lots of glue, it will dry eventually. cardboard and button tree craft for christmas 2

When dry slide the strip and in and stand it up! button christmas tree

 

Books About Christmas

Why do I put books with the activities? I think books are the base for all learning and you can choose to read first them create something or create then read more about it but books offer you a chance to really cement the learning and exploration of the activity. All our book lists include affiliate links.

the_year_of_the_perfect_christmas_tree

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston made me cry. The story is about the hardships and love of one family torn apart by the First World War as they prepare for Christmas with no resources. I love how strong the mother is. She does the best he can with what she has, treks through snow to cut that big old Christmas tree down , and the part that made me cry uses her own wedding dress to make her daughter an angel costume for the Christmas pageant. Oh but that is not all she sacrificed, she  used the silk stockings her husband sent her from the war to make a doll for Santa to give to her daughter. The father coming home right as they were leaving the church service – once again starting my water works.  It’s an awesome story but probably too long for a group of kids , or toddlers , but perfect for a bedtime story for preschoolers on up. Also this book and the one previous were illustrated by Barbara Cooney , who captures such meaningful stories with her amazing work.

ho ho ho tucker

Ho, Ho, Ho, Tucker! by Leslie McGuirk is a cute story about an adorable little dog Tucker who is crazy about Christmas. While getting into the holiday spirit he burns his nose on a cookie pan . When Santa sees his bright red nose he asks him to come a long for the fun on Christmas Eve. There is a lot of good natured humor that any young child will giggle at , Tucker peeing on a Christmas tree got some good giggles at our house.  I doubt this will be a Christmas classic to read on Christmas Eve but it a cute book your kids will enjoy.

Mooseltoe

Mooseltoe by Margie Palantini is a funny holiday story with the characters from Moosestash , this time Moose is set on making Christmas perfectly perfect, only oops he forgot the tree!  I reviewed this a few years ago when my son was too little to really get the book or to sit long enough for me to finish but we re read it last night. He thought it was hilarious and by the time he was 5 he had fun repeating some of the great melodic text as we read it. The story is one kids and parents can relate to about trying so hard to make the holidays perfect that you forget something important like the tree!  It’s a silly story with a big heart.

 

Easy Angel Craft For Preschool

angel craft for kids My daughter loved making this angel. She likes to remind up that she was an angel in the Christmas pageant at church and that she got to hold the special star. When I asked her what sort of Christmas craft she felt like making she suggested we make an angel and so I started thinking about how we could do that. I settled on a sun catcher with glitter because I was thinking about how beautiful our nativity craft was last year. This is a great easy angel craft for preschool.

Gather your materials. You will need some contact paper, card stock, scissors, sequins, and glitter.angel craft

Start by folding your card stock in half and cutting out the outline of an angel. When I do this I will usually draw the item then cut it out, fold it around another piece of paper and cut the final version. I would be a big ‘ol liar if I said this angel was easy for me to draw. I think I did 5 before I had one I liked. The others ended up as scrap in our cutting station. angek craft for children

Cut out the middle. Peel the paper off the contact paper and lay the angel outline on top.

Trim the edges and prepare the materials for your artist. angel craft for christmas

Add a little glitter loving 4 year old and let her do her thing. angel craft for kids Or his thing, my glitter loving 4 year old just happens to be a girl although her brother LOVED glitter when he was her age ( here is some proof) .

TIP : When working with loose glitter give your child only a little in a small shaker to minimize the mess. There will still be some glitter on your floor, in their hair etc… but it won’t be a huge pile that ends up everywhere for 6 months.angel craft sun catcher

Add sequins too.angel craft for kids You could just do glitter but the real fine motor workout is in this step. It is VERY hard to pick sequins up and she has to coordinate a lot of muscles to do this. It also gives her patience a little exercise which was not required for the glitter.fine motor angel craft for kids

Give the whole angel a little shake over a garbage can to shake off any loose glitter. Hang it up. angel craft for preschool

 

After we were done my daughter asked to color the left over angel shape so don’t immediately recycle that. Offer it up for some less adult directed creativity. She drew a little but then asked if I would be a student and she could be the teacher and we ended up playing school. What I love about pretend play like this is how much she talks during it.angel craft and activity for preschool For some children my daughter included speech is not always a given and opportunities to work on oral language through play is always a gift. Find what gets them talking and run with it. For us that is by par pretend play. After the play was done  I trimmed the angel’s contact paper even more and we hung her angel up in the window to watch over us.

angel craft for preschool

 

Books About The Nativity

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only a star book

Only a Star by Margery Facklam is a calm beautiful book about the first Christmas. A little girl asks her dad about the decorations on that very first Christmas day and readers are reminded that the true origin of the holiday.  The illustrations by Nancy Carpenter are stunning, they vary in perspective and unlike so many manger scenes, this one looks like a mom and a baby. They gave me chills coupled with the simple but profound text. A great holiday read .

 who-is-coming-to-our-house

Who Is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate is a sweet look at the animals in the manger preparing for Baby Jesus’ arrival. The animals aren’t sure who is coming but at the insistence of the mouse, they clean and prepare the manger until finally a very pregnant Mary on a donkey with Joseph by her side. The next page is probably my favorite image of the Baby Jesus image in any children’s book. Mary’s hair is down, feet bare and Joseph is protective by, the animals are watching and alert.  Illustrator Ashley Wolff does a perfect job with this simple but fantastic book!

room for a little one

Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddel is another peaceful sweet book that gets to the heart of the nativity story. The story here is really about how the stable is a welcoming place to be and how Kind Ox shares his space with all who need refuge. The dog tells the cat that he won’t chase her, and the cat tells the mouse that he will be safe in the stable. It’s clear that this stable is a place for all no matter what. The symbolism is obvious but lovely and not sugary sweet. Kind Ox is showing us all how open doors and open hearts can change the world. I love this book and plan to buy it for my own bookshelf.

Alphabet Coloring Sheet – Free Printable

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alphabet coloring sheet A few weeks ago my son was home from school because of parent teacher conferences and I made him a Word Ladder Printable. While we were printing it out my daughter begged me to make her something special just for her. Time was short and I needed to start dinner but she was really sad that she didn’t have something. So I through this alphabet coloring sheet together. Matching upper and lowercase letters is still a fun activity for her and adding an element of secret code into it made it special. I didn’t plan this activity but she loved it! I wouldn’t call this a handwriting activity because the font used is anything but standard but coloring in the dots still takes good hand control and concentration.

Color coded alphabet

Gather your materials. You will need this printable ( click on the image above and print), crayons in the matching colors, and a clip board to hold everything still.secret code alphabet activity printable

Explain the sheet to your child by showing them the colorful lowercase alphabet on the bottom and telling them that they need to use the crayons to color in the uppercase alphabet in the same colors as the lowercase letters.color coded alphabet printable for preschool

That’s really it. So simple but not only are they working on the mechanics of writing they are working on letter recognition too! She dove right in and colored so carefully. color coded alphabet coloring sheet  for preschool

Lowercase p and q are still a little tricky but she figured it out. alphabet printable coloring sheet

When she was all done she recited the alphabet from A to Z. Then asked me for another sheet. I think 6 have been completed since in about 10 days which is usually just enough quiet time for me to answer a few emails that can’t be put off until after bedtime. color code letter recognition

Alphabet Books With Upper & Lowercase Letters

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eating the alphabet

Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert is an alphabet book extraordinaire and perfect for a letter F since it’s all about food!  Wonderful paintings of fruits and vegetables seem ultra simple and it is but somehow the way the author has pieced this simple book together is brilliant. Maybe it’s that children learn about food at the table multiple times a day and feel proud being able to identify not only some of the letters but some of the pictures too! From a teaching standpoint I love that there are both upper and lower case letters on each page. This book will grow with your child, and beware it will also make you hungry.

chica chica boom boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: Anniversary Edition by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault is one of my absolute favorite books ever. Many alphabet books are great tools but this one not only entertains it never gets old. Its text is musical , its premise is brilliant in its simplicity and kids love it. My favorite line is ” Skit skat scoodle doot. Flip flop flee. ” I hope I am conveying how much fun this book is to read out loud. I have never had a class who didn’t like it and if you don’t have it, you should!

Alphabet Books For Kids

The Sleepy Little Alphabet: A Bedtime Story from Alphabet Town by Judy Sierra is a great alphabet book. I couldn’t help myself, I read it to my son to the tune of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom . It is clearly its own book though. The alphabet is getting ready for bed and just like your little ones, these lowercase letters are pulling out all their tricks and antics to avoid bedtime. Well almost all of them, z is more than happy to go to bed!  It’s a sweet book that your kids can relate to and I like that it focuses on lowercase letters.