Sticky Wall Christmas Tree Mural

My kids love sticky murals and this one was a big hit with my toddler. This Christmas tree craft is fun to make and the best part is that you can keep adding to it for the days and weeks ahead.Also now our playroom has it’s very own Christmas tree that doesn’t need to be watered and is safe for kids too!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some green wrapping paper ( ours is glittery and awesome but messy when cut), contact paper, tissue paper in various colors , buttons ( optional) , a pencil, scissors and painter’s tape.
  2. Start by cutting out a Christmas tree from your wrapping paper.
  3. Trace onto the backing of the contact paper.
  4. Tape the tree to your wall using painter’s tape. Place the cut out contact paper on top and hold and peel. Tape it to the wall with more painter’s tape as your peel the backing off. The contact paper should be sticky side out.
  5. Invite your decorators. Give them the tissue paper and have them rip, crumple and stick it on.
  6. This was OK for my son but this activity really appealed to my 2 year old, she LOVED it.
  7. Add some buttons!
  8. Talk about colors and shapes while they work. She even found a googly eye in the button jar and added it on. She was so proud of her tree she wanted a picture with it.

Christmas Books

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 .

How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky is a fun and surprisingly practical story about Santa and how he developed the skills needed for his one of a kind job. It starts with Santa as a young man and as he keeps bouncing from job to job he acquires skills like going in and out of chimneys as a chimney sweep with ease and without getting dirty, develops a relationship with reindeer as a zoo worker and gets chubby eating all the food at a all night diner gig! There are more but i don’t want to spoil the story. My son loved it, especially once the elves showed up, which was when the toys did too! I know when i was a kid I wanted to know how Santa got his job, and there are movies dedicated to this so this book jumped on the bandwagon and did a great job , it’s very cute!

Bear Stays Up for Christmas by 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!

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Bubble Wrap Christmas Trees

This was supposed to be a craft just for my daughter, but when my son and his friend saw what we were doing they jumped in too.  I was not planning on 3 kids doing it all at once so it was a little chaotic but the playroom and all the kids survived… remember to use washable paint .  The kids have all used bubble wrap to print on things before so switching it so they painted the bubble wrap was new and a big hit.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some bubble wrap, paint, painter’s tape, paint brushes , heavy paper ( paper grocery bags are perfect), a pencil and scissors.
  2. Start by taping the bubble wrap to the work surface with the painter’s tape.
  3. Next paint the bubble wrap with green. For my toddler I gave her a big brush for the green to encourage coverage. She was encouraged …
  4. Next add the lights colors. Let kids decide which colors they want, this helps with color recognition too.
  5. Ok this is when the boys busted in pretending to be Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader ( I know impossible right… not for two imaginative 5 year olds! ) and grabbed some brushes.
  6. Keep painting the wrap.
  7. Draw some trees on the paper and cut out.
  8. Press the paper into the wrap and peel back carefully.
  9. For my toddler I left the paper big so she could do as much as possible herself , the small tree would have probably gotten ripped. Leaving it big let her do it herself feeling the wrap under the paper and “bang banging” her hand to make the print.
  10. Let dry and cut out the tree shape for the toddler. 
  11. Hang up and show off the fun ( and wee bit of chaos…) remember washable paints!

Craft by Numbers – Christmas Tree

Do you remember paint by numbers? I used to love doing them but mixing the numbers up ( yeah I was that kid) my son however is all about numbers and this was a fun way to make something festive but also let his interest in math be spotlighted. You could do this with shapes, or letters too.  I didn’t tell him that the final result was a Christmas tree so it was fun to have him “decode” the craft as we went.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some pom-poms in different colors, cups to sort them in,  construction paper, glue and a marker.
  2. Start by sorting your pom-poms by color into different cups, write different numbers on each cup. I wrote 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 on mine since we’d just been chatting about counting by 10s.  To have your child help sort the pom poms just put on of each color in one cup to use as a guide.
  3. Write out the numbers on the paper in a design. I did green outline, with random colors and green in the middle.
  4. Start gluing the pom poms on using the code.
  5. hmmmm what could it be?
  6. All done! Let dry.

Great Christmas Book!

a creature was stirring by Clement C. Moore and  Carter Goodrich  was a recent find at the library. Around the holidays ( any holiday) my son and I attack the stacks like soldiers on a mission and look for the sticker on the binding indicating it’s a Christmas themed book. This was one of the few we found yesterday , and what a find! The book is an adaptation of the classic ‘Twas a NIght Before Christmas with a little boy interupting the poem with his own rhyming story.  It’s an adorable story about a little boy who simply can’t sleep , wants to be good but is oh so worried Santa will think he is naughty. I adore this book, it’s simple and fun and a great addition to the classic that so many of us have been read and will read to our kids this Christmas.

Button and Nail Christmas Tree Craft

fine motor activity for kids One of the great challenges of mothering is trying to get my son to do things that are good for his development but all he thinks of them are that they are fun. This Christmas tree craft was a perfect example of when I succeed in this mission, which is not always the case.  There are versions of this craft for adults ( or very patient older kids) all over like this one from Better Homes and Gardens  all I did was make it easier for kids and more importantly add a hammer. For a 5 year old boy this craft was all about the hammer.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a foam cone, I used a green floral one because I knew my son would not have the patience to fill the whole thing up with buttons. Also some white tack nails, glitter buttons ( it’s Christmas time let them have glitter! ) and a toy hammer.
  2. Put the nail through the button hole.
  3. Push it gently into the foam.
  4. Hammer!
  5. He really loved this. He worked so clamly on this project and we took the time to talk about silver and gold. For whatever reason he’s always confused the two and while he worked away I sat accross from him taking pictures and brainstorming ways for him to remember which was which.
  6. I didn’t intervene at all and loved that he wanted to put a gold button on top for the star.
  7. The hammering is great hand eye coordination practice and as you have already noted putting the nails through the buttons is a great fine motor exercise. All this skill development AND a new holiday decoration for our mantle.

Books About Christmas Trees

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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.

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 ooops 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 ong enough for me to finish but we re read it last night. He thought it was hilarious and now at 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.

Little Tree by Chris Racshka is another awesome find. I love this book, it’s another visually amazing book and my son was much more into the pictures that are so packed full with fun details that they steal the show. The story inspired by the E.E. Cummings poem by the same name the story follows a little tree who has big dreams of becoming a Christmas tree . I think this book is great especially for children who want to know where the trees in the lots in a city come from. * This seems to be out of print but check your local library for it .

Handprint Christmas Tree {Baby’s 1st Christmas Craft}

hand print christmas tree

This handprint Christmas tree craft is a keeper. As you may imagine this was a very exciting day for us, the first time my daughter really got into the action with a project. Amazingly unlike her brother who ate the paint for over two years it didn’t even graze her lips. This kids craft can be done with any age with varying levels of adult involvement. I love how it turned out and this one will be packed away and saved for certain.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some heavy paper or paper grocery bag, a marker, green paint ( we added some glitter paint to ours too), construction paper, glue, scissors and paint tape.
  2. Start by cutting the bag  open and taping it down to the table. When you are crafting with a baby or toddler it’s going to be messy but you can take a few steps to help minimize it. By taping the paper you are using to the table as well as using a piece much larger than needed you avoid the paper and paint hitting the floor and protect your table.  Not to mention you also stop them from being able to grab the whole thing and trying to eat it.
  3. Trace their hand on a paper with the marker.
  4. Stack the other papers under and cut out.
  5. Draw the outline of a tree on the paper.  I did ours sideways so she could reach most of it for painting.
  6. Time to paint! Add the paint to the paper and let the baby spread it . What is this ?
  7. “Ooh I like it” Remember to narrate what they are doing. ” You are painting the tree, you are painting with green. Do you like it? Is it squishy?” Yes you might feel a little foolish but trust me it’s important.  You are teaching them even when they are too young to respond in ways we recognize.
  8. I had to take her out of her seat and dangle her over the table to reach the other side. She loved this. Obviously I have no picture …
  9. Clean baby up and place in the exersaucer. I had 2 baby wipes on hand to wipe her hands. I find they work on paint better than anything, then a wash cloth with warm water cleaned her right up.
  10. Add glue to the tree.
  11. Add the hand print cut outs. Let dry.
  12. Cut out .

Books


Ten on the Sled by Kim Norman arrived on my door step a few months ago sent to me by the publisher for review. It is a really fun and educational book. The book is a new spin on the old song ” Ten in A Bed” but instead of squeezing onto a bed these cold weather animals pile on and off the sled one at a time. What is wonderful from an educational sense is not just the obvious counting element but as each animal exists the sled the verb used for each animal begins with the same letter as the animal does. This was fantastic for my son who wanted to sound every animal and verb out.  Add a fun rhyming sing song text and this is a great option for a holiday gift.

SantaKid by James Patterson is a favorite library book in our house this year . My son inherited his love and curiosity of the inner workings of the North Pole from me and this book feeds that wonder. It also taps into something preschoolers are often seeking, power and a voice that gets heard. In the story Santa’s daughter saves the North Pole and Christmas from a corporate take over. I liked this book, and my son did too. It doesn’t focus on the religious celebration but rather on Santa and it doesn’t take a very sophisticated kid to know it’s make believe, 3 pages in my son said ” Mommy, this is a made up story right? Santa isn’t a regular Daddy, that’s silly!”  What it does is focuses on giving kids power to save something. Maybe it’s just my 4 year old but he spends all day pretending to save the day and this book spoke right to that desire to be powerful and good!

Olive, the Other Reindeer.by Vivian Walsh is probably familiar to you if not because of the book, maybe the TV special starring Drew Barrymore as the voice of Olive. If it’s new to you the story is simple, Olive is a little dog who after hearing a Christmas carol believes she is one of Santa’s reindeer . She journey’s to the North Pole and even though she can’t fly and is just a dog she saves the day . I love the vibrant and busy illustrations by J. Otto Seibold and Olive’s childlike innocence.  There is a reason this book has exploded into a character driven product, it’s cute and we can all relate to wanting to get to ride with Santa and his crew on Christmas Eve.