Holiday 5 Minute Sparklers

Quick Fixes !

I have been using my 5 minute sparklers a lot lately, between writing holiday cards, online shopping , wrapping presents and trying to keep all the ornaments on my tree, I need lots of short things for my son to do. Here is my holiday version!

  • Christmas Play Dough. All you need is some food coloring, sparkles and a few holiday shaped cookie cutters and you are good to go.
  • Button Counting. My son loved how the buttons sounded in my ramekins, we sorted them and then counted them.
  • “Snow” Bubbles. Playing in the sink is a favorite in our house . I used an upside down bowl and a 2nd on top to make a good and big target for my son to scoop into , it helps keep too much water off him and the floor. It looks oddly high in this picture, it’s actually lower in the sink.
  • Holiday Shape Drawings. This is so easy! Grab a few pieces of plain white paper, cut them in the shape of a Christmas tree, candy cane, ornament… anything! I pre cut 8 pages so I have some ready when I need them. When you need your little one to be busy for a few minutes grab the paper and markers and you are set!

Ice Cream Cone Christmas Trees

Ginger bread houses are great but they are a lot of possibly frustrating work for most toddlers and preschoolers. These ice cream cone Christmas trees are a great downsized activity that young kids can do with little help. We spent Saturday morning making these as a family, our trees turned out well and are displayed in our kitchen. You can totally tell which one was done by the man with an engineering degree can’t you?

  1. Gather your materials. You will need sugar cones, a tub of icing, green food coloring, a plate for displaying , candy and a foil Santa !
  2. Start by putting half the icing in a bowl and adding green food color to it.
  3. Spread the green icing on your sugar cone , I was shocked at how well my little man did. Ironically he didn’t eat the icing at all, it must not be as appealing as paint.
  4. Once it’s all over the cone, add the candy. Mini m&ms work the best! These my son did eat, but he managed to get some on the tree.
  5. While my boys were ading the last of the candy to their trees, I spread the other half of the white icing on a rectangular plate, and added some sanding sugar to make it look like snow.
  6. Add your trees to the snow and the foil Santa !
  7. Find a place out of reach of kids and pets and show off your handiwork!

Books!

“Din Dan Don It’s Christmas” by Janina Domanska is one of a kind. The books follows the pilgrimage to the manger to see the infant Jesus . It starts with a single duck playing bagpipes, but it builds on it self until they spot the manger and the infant Jesus wakes. The story is simple because there is no need for lots of text , the illustrations are amazing. Every page looks like a cross between a stained glass window and a ornate mosaic in a Orthodox church somewhere in Eastern Europe. My son exclaimed “WOW” many times as we turned the pages of this book, and I know I let out a gasp or two as well, simply beautiful! * When I did a search for a photo I could not find this book in print , so you may not be able to find it in store, try your library though!

“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.

 

What’s Next ?

Wrapping
Paper Patterning

This is an easy learning activity to do with something so many of us are up to our eyeballs in right now ! Most wrapping papers are on sale right now and it’s not hard to find one that would work for this project. I made this during nap time but you could easily have your child color the backing , help glue , cut or if they are old enough do it all with little help at all!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some wrapping paper, card stock( all the same color), scissors and/or a paper punch , and glue.
  2. Start by choosing what pictures from the wrapping paper you will be using. I am using the penguin, riendeer and snowman from mine.
  3. Cut out 3-5 of each picture. Generally the older and more able your child is the more you’ll need.
  4. Cut out one square of card stock for each picture.
  5. Glue the picture on the card stock. Let dry.
How To Use Them
  1. Start by sorting them and labeling them with your child. For them to grasp patterns they need to be able to tell all the pictures apart. If they have a hard time with this, flip the cards over and play a simple “Can you find the penguin…” until they know what all the pictures are. Some kids stay on this step for days or weeks- don’t worry and don’t push, just play and they’ll get it . My son also liked counting them after sorting them into piles.
  2. If they can identify all the pictures, try a simple pattern ABABA… and see if they know what comes next. I find with really little ones helping them with verbal queues is really important so saying “Snowman, Penguin, Snowman, Penguin…” out loud while they do it with you they will get it. Try another ABABA… pattern. This is the step we’re at.
  3. If they master that try harder patterns, like, ABCABC or ABBABBA but if they are too hard go back to the ABABA.
  4. Ask your child to make some patterns too!

Gift Bow Christmas Tree Craft

I was unpacking all my Christmas decorations and when I opened the box of used bows some were a little misshapen, which is perfect for this craft! So I gathered them and my son up and we made this tree that is now adding some shine to our foyer.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some strong paper my favorite choice are grocery bags, a marker, some green paint ( optional) , glue , a bunch of Christmas bows , some wax paper and heavy books!
  2. Start by drawing a large outline of a Christmas tree. As you can see there is no need for it to be perfect it’s just getting covered anyway!
  3. Paint the tree if you want, this fills in any gaps between bows and also adds some extra fun, but is totally optional.
  4. Add the glue , lots and lots of glue!
  5. Add your bows. Older children can try to make patterns , or stripes of different colors.I helped fill in the tree , after my son had done 5 or 6 by himself, I asked him which color he wanted and I found the right size in that color to fit. Older children can do it all by themselves though.
  6. Lay some wax paper on top of your tree and lay some heavy books on for about an hour, this will keep all the bouncy bows in place until the glue gets tacky.
  7. When the glue is dry cut the extra paper off and you have a fun and “Bow”tiful tree!
Additional Activities

Matching, Sorting and Counting Oh My !


All of these activities are crucial pre-math exercises, introducing your child to them with a novel manipulative like Christmas Bows is fun and memorable for little guys. We want to challenge children when they are learning so if 3 colors are too easy , add another, if they are struggling take one away. When kids are challenged the lesson will mean more and will sink in , however if it’s too hard, it will frustrate them and a frustrated toddler or preschooler is fun for no one!

  • There is no need for fancy containers , I just used matching construction paper but if you have something fun to pop the bows into go for it! Start with labeling the colors and matching them with the paper.

  • Next try counting them, each color, all together, whatever you want.
  • Find the largest bow and find the smallest.
  • With preschoolers you can play a guessing game , stuff all the bows in the bowl and ask them to make a prediction about how many bows are in the bowl, count and find out !

That’s French For Christmas !

Jingle Bell
Banner

I have been trying to work in some letter learning into our holiday crafts, this was today’s effort. This will work for any celebration , you can spell out Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Happy New Year… the sky is the limit. I chose to do Noel because 1. I want my son to understand that his mommy’s country speaks 2 languages and because 4 letters was the perfect amount for a 2 year old! In a class allowing each child to do one letter is a great option.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some cardboard, paint , a plain kitchen sponge, thin ribbon, scissors, a marker and a few jiggle bells.
  2. Write out the letters on the cardboard. Don’t cut them all the way out, this way your child especially if they are young will be more likely to paint to the edges of the letter. Ho Ho Ho is another great option for Santa fans!
  3. Time to paint. Sponge painting is a great way to encourage lots of paint , within a toddler or preschooler’s attention span. We added yellow sparkle paint to our green for some flair
  4. Alternate between the red and green paint.
  5. Let all the letters dry.
  6. When dry cut them out, older kids can do this, but cardboard is tricky for little hands.
  7. Poke tiny holes in the top of the letters and thread your ribbon through.
  8. After adding your first letter add a jingle bell and tie a knot, continue with the rest of the letters and jingle bells.
  9. Hang it up!
Books !

” Madeline’s Christmas” was published after Ludwig Bemelmans passed away, it had been published as a book insert in McCall’s magazine in 1956 and as a book in 1985. The story itself is a curious Christmas tale about a rug seller who brings a little magic to Madeline and her friends. My toddler say for the whole thing and laughed at many of the rhymes, which if you have read others in the Madeline series you will know are awesome. If you are working on rhyming words check this and the rest of the series out!


“Babar and Father Christmas” by Jean De Brunhoff was one of my very favorite Christmas stories as a child. As an adult i have had some great belly laughs at some of it’s writing which I still think is awesome. Babar goes looking for Father Christmas because he wants to ask him to visit Elephant country. He searches all over Paris and finally ends up in the north pole and finds after much effort Father Christmas. I love the details in this book, as a child I would lay looking at the pictures of Santa’s workshop and imagine what visiting it would be like. As an adult I appreciate the smallest details like how Father Christmas’s flying machine ( not a sled) has P.N #1 on it , meaning of course Pere Noel #1.