We like to tell stories at our house and one of the series we have created is based around Santa and his elves. Over the past three years we have created a complex north pole with a full community of elves . When I picked up a few birdhouses on clearance at a craft store I knew exactly what my plan was and how much my kids would be into it. What I love about this project is that these are great decorations to keep year after year and they will stand up to it too. We kept ours simple but you could add sequins, pompoms, jewels… your imagination is the limit.
- Gather your materials. You will need some unfinished wood birdhouses, acrylic paint made for wood ( I really love Martha Stewart Multi Surface Paint) , paint brushes , paper plates, table protection, painter’s tape and make sure your kids are in clothes that you do not care if it gets stained. These paints are not washable. I also has baby wipes on hand for quick clean up.
- Start by making a door and windows with your painter’s tape on the back of the birdhouse. Older kids can be encouraged to draw their own architectural details but using tape for a resist effect is such a fun way for kids who aren’t able to achieve the look they imagine but still want to create.
- Pour paint into paper plates. Since the paint was not at all washable I kept the bottles far out of reach and provided each kiddo with colors they helped me pick out.
- Invite your artists. Paint. A tip for choosing paint brushes for kids , give larger brushes for kids that are younger or have a harder time with fine motor control. They both loved this and I was so glad. Sometimes my son will just show his sister or else the activity will be so obviously past her ability that I will try to do it with him while she is napping . When I find something they both love I feel like I won the lottery.
- Let dry and peel off the tape.
- Display. Ours are prominently displayed in our family room – they look like little elf chalets and since they are turned around no one even knows they are birdhouses I grabbed on clearance!
Counting Christmas by Karen Katz is what you might expect from this awesome author. It’s sweet, cute and will get your littlest readers excited for Christmas. I like the sentiment that Christmas is a magical day to share with family . My daughter adores the illustrations of all the babies and the math element is a great bonus too.
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.
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!This post contains affiliate links
When I started as a Klutz Crew member I got to pick which Klutz Books I wanted to try out for my family and I was especially excited about this one. I don’t do a ton of crafts myself anymore because I just don’t have the time. I have never done a twirled paper craft before so I was glad there were instructions included.
This is a really fun book . Twirled Paper is definitely for older , I would put the age range at 8+ because it takes some real fine motor ability to twirl . I love this book because there is no one project , there are tons of ideas that you can follow or use as inspiration for your own like I did. It’s also a great one to have on hand for rainy days if you live near me or hot summer days when you have to stay in the air conditioning. My favorite thing about it is that the essential materials are all included and packs back into it’s original packaging easy peasy. I have so many disorganized craft supplies but these stay in the book and it pops right onto a shelf. Even when I was half way through a project I was able to pack it up away from my 2 year old when the toddler project she was working on was done. The one thing I do wish they had was a second twirling wand so you could work on it with a friend or have a back up if you lose it. Luckily they do sell them for under $2 here.
Here’s a little video I made to show you how I made this Christmas card but really it turned into showing you all how convenient these projects are to start and stop and pack away when an unexpected visitor wakes from her nap much much too soon!
Here is the full how to for the card .
- Gather your materials. You will need a plain card, some white card stock , double stick tape and Klutz Books Twirled Paper .
- Start by choosing your colors. For the tree you will need 8 strips in two shades of green ( or your choice of colors), one strip of yellow and 3 strips of red cut in half.
- Twirl your paper. For the green I made some tight and some looser. Remember like I said in the video add your dab of glue and sing the ABCs in your head then let go and the paper should be nice and snug. The red “ornaments” were twirled very tightly.
- Cut your card stock into a rectangle and using double stick tape stick it to your card.
- Glut the twirled paper on using the glue from the kit.
- Let dry.
Do you use craft kits? What do you love about them?
We are a church going family and even though I am quite private about our faith I wanted to share this simple nativity activity with you. Every year since my son was 1 we have put out our Little People Christmas Story Nativity Scene Playset and played with it. I have tried to teach my son and now my daughter about who everyone is in it but it didn’t really stick. My 2 year old refuses to call the angel Gabriel anything other than the Tooth fairy . I decided it was time to learn more about who these people were and the roles they played in the Christmas story. Kids play to learn so making it a game was just what we needed.
- Gather your materials. You will need some paper, pen , a basket, a nativity scene with figurines and a book about the Christmas story.
- Write out clues for each figure. Mine were super simple like ” I am the Son of God. I was born in a manger. Who am I? Find me in the dining room. ” Adjust the info about each person based on your child’s age and knowledge. I hand wrote mine because as always I decided to do this spur of the moment. My messy handwriting completely frustrated my son while he was reading . Type it out if you have the time.
- Read the story first ( see below for the story we read). I find that reading it first is the best way to create a connection with who each figure is. Let them identify the figures in the scene too.
- Next send the kids away and hide the figures. My favorite was the Angel on the soup can in the pantry.
- Put the basket of clues in the manger. Have your children tell you who is missing. Read the first clue.
- Find the missing pieces. Ask your kids who they are and why they are important.
- Place them back in the manger and pull the next clue. My son read the clues but my daughter mimicked him much to my total pleasure. It was adorable and really great early literacy learning!
- Keep going until the nativity scene is complete.
Books About Christmas
What Is Christmas? by Michelle Medlock Adams is a great board book for little children about Christmas. It touches on all the fun and cultural aspects of Christmas in a positive way but reminds the readers that really it’s about Jesus’ birth. I like the book because it doesn’t make the rest of the traditions out to be wrong or bad but explains that the holiday’s Christian origin in a simple matter of fact way.
The Christmas Story: The Brick Bible for Kids by Brendan Powell Smith is actually one of my favorite Christmas books this year. I grabbed it at Costco because my son is all about Lego but I have read it over and over to my kids because it is a great telling of the Christmas story. Now it doesn’t sugar coat much so if you don’t want to read about mean old King Herod and how he ordered babies to be killed then skip it. It really helped explain the story of Jesus’ birth to my 6 year old and the Lego photographs were a great novelty.This post contains affiliate links.
I love Christmas crafts and kids love making them. These Christmas tree crafts are all easy to do , inexpensive to make and educational too. Some make great add ons to Christmas gifts, can be used as gift tags or even ornaments. Many of these are the lucky crafts I actually keep and dig out every year to display and reminisce with my kids. Here are our favorites .
Recycled Christmas Tree Craft
Craft By Numbers – Pom Pom Tree
Salad Spinner Tree Ornament
Baby’s First Christmas Tree Craft
Fork Painted Christmas Tree
Shape Christmas Tree Craft
Button and Nail Christmas Tree
Hawaiian Christmas Tree
Bubble Wrap Christmas Tree
Ice Cream Cone and Candy Christmas Trees
Sticky Wall Christmas Tree
When I was asked to check out and create something festive with these Tulip Shimmer Sheets and Paints my first thought was a tree. Then this happened. My kids started playing cars together every day. I knew what I needed to make with all this glitterly goodness – a North Pole Play Mat ! This isn’t a kids craft but the end result is an awesome pretend play toy for your kids. Also who said that crafts need to be perfect? I am clearly no artists and my kids love this play mat. Here is how I did it.
- Gather your materials. You will need a sheet or pillow case if you want to make a smaller play mat. You will also need Tulip Shimmer Sheets, Tulip Shimmer Paints ,Stick on jewels, glue and glitter. You will also need a marker, scissors and an iron.
- Start by drawing out the layout of your North Pole. I did this on craft paper first then laid my sheet over the paper and traced with a permanent marker.
- Next start adding the shimmer! The easiest way to do this is to use the iron on shimmer sheets . Take them out of their plastic sleeves and use the sleeve as a tracing paper. Trace the outline off of the outline already on the sheet . Slip the shimmer sheet back in the sleeve and cut. It fits right on! Iron it on following the directions on the package. So easy!
- I also used the Shimmer Paint to make Santa’s house. I was amazed with how vibrant it was when it dried.
- After all the shimmer sheets were used for the toy shop, tree, elf houses and barn it was time to add some more sparkle! I used the stick on jewels for Christmas lights on Santa’s house, the toy shop and the tree as well as all over the reindeer barn. I also used the heat set jewels to make the wreath. They were so much easier than I expected them to be. I so rarely craft with adult tools, please no kids it gets HOT.
- For the final touch I used some of the glitter glue and glitter for snow on roof tops and some snow banks along the road. Let dry for 24 hours , trim the edges to make it small enough to play with and use no sew bond to hem it.
- And PLAY! I finished this last week and it’s been out in the center of the playroom floor since. The kids love it and have been playing North Pole daily.
I wrote this as part of a paid campaign with Tulip and Blueprint Social . The craft idea and opinions are all mine.