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

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.

 

Christmas Tree Pencil Toppers Craft { great class gift }

how to make a pencil topper christmas craft

These pencil toppers crafts are a cinch to make  but the glittery foam makes them look super festive. What makes me feel even more festive is to think about how hard my daughter worked on these pencil toppers which will be her little gift to PreK classmates for Christmas. She goes to a church affiliated school so everyone celebrates Christmas but you could adapt this idea for any occasion. The real awesome part of this craft is the use of sticky back glitter foam which is great for glitter-phobes because they are way way less mess than glitter and glue.

christmas pencil topper gifts for kids

Gather your materials. You will need some glitter sticky back foam , some pencils, and scissors.

christmas tree pencil toppers tutorial

Start by tracing your triangles on the back of the green foam. Cut out 2 per pencil.

Christmas Tree pencil toppers class gift

Cut the other colors into strips. This will make it easier for your little artists to handle it and make it small enough to fit on the mini trees.

Leaving the backing on the trees start decorating. She carefully cut, fine motor activity and christmas tree pencil toppers

peeled back the backing and placed the small pieces. pencil toppers for kids

We had a whole factory going! christmas craft pencil toppers for kids

Once we made enough for the whole class it was time to sandwich them. Christmas tree pencil toppers for class giftsPeel the backing off the decorated side ( we didn’t decorate the back), press the pencil in, and sandwich. If there are pieces hanging over the sides you can snip those off no problem.pencil toppers christmas gift kid made Press hard. This foam will stay stuck together if you press firmly and hold for 20-30 seconds. We had 2 of our 14 open the next day but I grabbed an alligator clip and popped it on them for a few minutes and they are back together. Christmas tree pencil toppers for school class gifts

Pop these babies in a little bag topped with bakers twine and you have the perfect sugar free gift for your child’s classmates! Christmas tree pencil toppers encourage writing

 

Books About Christmas

All our book lists contain affiliate links.

rp_stickman-248x300.jpg

Stick Man by Julia Donaldson tickles my funny bone and my son thought it was funny and full of adventure too.  Stick Man is a happy stick who loves with his stick family until a dog grabs him and he ends up far from his family but determined to get home.  As the seasons change he is used as many things from a sword, a bat and even an arm for a snowman. After that he ends up in a fireplace just as a certain jolly old guy gets stuck in the chimney. This is a unique story we both enjoyed , you will never look at another stick in your child’s hands without wondering what it’s been turned into .

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 World War 1 as they prepare for Christmas with no resources. I love how strong the mother in this book 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.

Bear-Stays-Up

Bear Stays Up for Christmasby Karma Wilson is such a heartwarming story about friendship. Bear is hibernating but his friends wake him up to celebrate Christmas. It’s not easy at first , Bear is super sleepy and wants nothing more than to cuddle back up and fall back to sleep.  They get a tree, decorate it, hang their stockings and sing carols. When all the other animals snuggle in and go to sleep Bear stays up. He is busily making gifts for all his friends, he is so busy he doesn’t even notice Santa coming and filling the stockings. He delights in the friendship and when his friends present him with a lovely quilt, he snuggles under and goes back to sleep happy and filled with friendship. This is such a wonderful book , I love it’s focus on friendship and the excitement of giving gifts!

Blotto Christmas Tree Craft For Kids

blotto christmas tree craft for kidsNow that my family has arrived for the holidays we have been watching Christmas movies, football, running out for errands and generally off our regular schedule. Sticking to a familiar routine helps my kids and stealing my daughter away from my mom for a few minutes to have some quiet time with me was just what we all needed. I got her up to the playroom with no plan at all. I looked at what we had and the time we had to do it in and this idea popped into my head. This is a simple Christmas tree craft but never seems to lose it’s magic even with older kids. Using the glitter glue was a perfect amount of shimmer without any mess.

Gather your materials. You will need some green paint, glitter glue in all sorts of colors, white construction paper and scissors if you want to cut it out.blotto Christmas tree craft

Start by folding your paper in half.Christmas tree blotto crafat for kids

Make an outline of half a Christmas tree in green paint.I did this step but older kids could absolutely do this. I asked my daughter but she wanted me to do this while she did the glitter.christmas tree blotto art project

Invite your little one to decorate the tree with glitter glue.Blotto Christmas tree craft for preschool

Fold and gently press. This is a great time to talk about what gentle means.christmas tree craft blotto painting

Open and be amazed christmas tree blotto pictures! I loved how amazed she was.Christmas tree blotto art project for kids and toddlers

Let dry and hang up with pride!blotto christmas tree activity