It’s Christmas, David! by David Shannon.
Being a kid is hard. Being a kid waiting for Christmas to come is even harder and David Shannon remembers what it was like. As parents we try so hard to teach appreciation, gratefulness and patience but it’s so hard to be any of those things when you are little and very very excited! In this book we follow David as he gets scolded for trying to grab Christmas cookies, for peeking at gifts, and my son’s favorite naughty behavior, writing his name in the snow…with pee. Over the years I have had readers say that they aren’t a fan of the original No! David because they worried it would spark naughty ideas but that is not what these books do. Young kids have a very natural sense of what is right and wrong and they are laughing because they know what he is doing is wrong and even David knows that he has messed up, as he fears Santa will leave him nothing but coal. Of course we all know that David is not a bad kid ( Are there bad kids? I don’t think so! ) and his heart is in the right place even if sometimes he makes bad choices. Both my kids loved this book and I loved the underlying message to parents that being a kid is tough especially when parents are busy.
Now here is the best part! This book was supplied to me by Scholastic Book Club to review and is featiured in their December Book Club fliers ( so if you get them look out for it! ) and they are also giving me one to give away. Hooray!
To enter for a chance to win your own copy of It’s Christmas, David! by David Shannon all you need to do is leave a comment on this post telling me the title of your all time favorite book.
The giveaway will close Sunday December 4th 2011 at 10pm PST. The winner will be chosen by random.org and please only one entry per person.
COMMENTS CLOSEDDisclosure : I was not paid for this review although I did get to choose the book I recieved free to keep and giveaway. All opinions are mine .
I love having a project set up for my son when he gets home from school before he gets involved in his own play . Yesterday he arrived home to this simple Santa’s Workshop set up. This wasn’t a long afternoon of play , but it was 30 minutes of smiles and giggles and pretending he was an elf! He also did some crafting, some deep thinking , reading, a little writing and of course imaginative play. Remember that your set up need not be worthy of a Broadway production, just good enough to support play.
- Gather your materials. I made 3 stations in this workshop a building station, a toy testing station and a wrap station. My materials included paper bag, glue ( I switched it to a glue stick), scissors, wrapping paper, construction paper, markers , plain paper , a clip board and some toys.
- For the Duplo Building Station I used black construction paper down the middle of the table to act as a conveyer belt, made simple buildings with the duplo and provided duplicate blocks in containers for my son to build. There is actually a really great lesson in duplication here. Following directions is an important skill and lego type toys are a great way to work on the skills non verbally.
- The Wrap Station is our craft component – I provided glue, scissors, markers , snowflake confetti, wraping paper scraps to cut and glue and paper bags.
- The Toy Testing Station had some reading for him to do , and questions to answer after he tested the toy. I snuck some circle drawing in too!
- Think he was excited to see it? He said to me ” Do I really get to pretend to be an elf? Really?”
- Getting into the elf character .Building the duplo !
- Making the gift bags.
- All wrapped up.
- Off to test a toy.
- Test results.
- Happy, busy and at the North Pole … at least in his imagination!
How Santa Really Works by Alan Snow is a great book to go along with this activity. The book is styled as an expose about how Santa and his many many elves get all the work for Christmas done. I will caution you now that this is a long book, with even longer asides. I made my son head up to bed with me and the book early inorder to get it read and still have time to chat about it after. I love the “insider” feel about this book and so did my son. There were many asides thta made both of us giggle especially the comment about how many requests Santa gets for ponies each year. I loved that it encouraged kids to write to Santa but I have to say I sorta miss that it didn’t include much about magic. Still I can’t tell you how much my son loved this book ( I knew he would) and how impressed I was when he asked me if I thought this was how it worked. That opened a great discussion about how we imagine the North Pole and how stories andmovies are just one person’s imagination and no one knows the truth . This is a completely secular view of Christmas too so if you are looking for a religious book this is not for you but you can try these ones.
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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.
- 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.
- Put the nail through the button hole.
- Push it gently into the foam.
- 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.
- I didn’t intervene at all and loved that he wanted to put a gold button on top for the star.
- 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
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 .
One of the things I love most about blogging is how one post will inspire another and not just on the same blog but from one blogger to another . I wasn’t going to post this yet but when Kristina from Toddler Approved posted this Corn Roll game that we inspired with our Candy Corn Counting I knew I needed to share this game. Also we have been playing it a lot, and not just because the tv is broken, because it’s fun!
- Gather your materials. You will need some paper, markers, marshmallows or even cotton balls, a die and someone to play against.
- Start by drawing Santa , I couldn’t find a good printable with a beard big enough for the numbers. Which was good since my printer is out of ink anyway. So I drew the santas.
- Add numbers.
- I put the sheets on clip board to keep them from blowing around, but you could laminated them or pop them on a cookie sheet with some magnets too.
- The objective is simple you want to fill up Santa’s beard first but covering all the numbers with marshmallows. The way you do that is to roll that number on the die.
- Add the marshmallow… oh and look who is getting a little fine motor practice too. I’m so sneaky.
- We ended up playing a few times and by request one was a boys against girls. My daughter even rolled the die for the girls’ team!
I love games like this because they use a few novelties like Santa and marshmallows but are still packed with learning not only math but about sportsmanship and good game play.
Books About Santa
Christmas Morning by Cheryl Ryan Harshman wasn’t what I expected , it was more. It’s written in the spirit of ” The House That Jack Built” and the text builds and builds starting with snow falling on a house as children sleep and ending with Christmas morning. What I wasn’t expecting is that the author tells the story of The Nutcracker , albeit a very simplistic version, in the rhyming text as well. The illustrations of the Rat King is a little frightening but nothing that will prevent you from reading it.
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!
McDuff’s New Friend by Rosemary Wells was a classroom classic in my last year teaching. I think I read it every day for 3 weeks straight and then a few weeks after Christmas too! In it McDuff the little Westie dog saves the day finding Santa stuck in the snow! I love Susan Jeffer’s retro illustrations and the little details like the dad feeding the baby, the doggy sweaters the McDuff wears in the snow, and how Santa gave them all gifts they needed in the story .
I love advent calendars and there are so many great ones out there. I have been dreaming of making this advent calendar since about February- and it took me about that long to get all the lids from baby wipe containers I needed. What I love about it is that I control what’s in it. As Halloween reminded me my kids and artificial flavors/ colors are just not a good mix. I love treats and enjoy sharing them with my kids but a calendar like this where you control the treat is the best way to go for us. Be sure not to miss my screw ups so you can learn from them!
- Gather your materials. You will need 24 or 25 ( depending on if you include 25 in your calendar – I do) flip top wipes lids. Lots of things have these lids all mine came from baby wipes. You will also need spray paint for the lids- Make sure it is for PLASTIC. I grabbed mine in a rush and the red was good for plastic the white…not so much. I had some flaking already. The paint made for plastic should be a ok. Also a drop cloth, canvas or a poster paper, ribbon, christmas themed card stock, glitter number stickers, white card stock, hot glue , fine tiped pen, pinking sheers, plain paper.
- Start by spray painting your lids, I did the inside then the outside. Let dry.
- Spray paint your poster if it’s not the color you want it to be or like me just want it to be extra pretty.
- Now make the numbers. I cut one piece of christmas themed card stock per flip top and one smaller piece of white card stock, and put the number stickers on. I used an extra lid to make sure it would cover the brand on the top.
- I laid the paper numbers out before gluing them on. You may notice I ran out of the number 2. I was so careful to make sure I had enough number 1s … so I ran back to the store. I wanted this to look whimsical and home made so I didn’t use a ruler, I just eyeballed everything.
- Some of the lids still had the sticky residue from where they were attached to their plastic container which was great for spacing them out. Many still needed to be hot glued on.
- I glued the paper on with hot glue, regular white glue just didn’t work.
- Make a bow by tying two loops together ( think tying your shoes with bunny ears) hot glue the ends to the back. Sorry about the dark photos I have a 16 month old who thinks we are 2 parts of one person and needs to be attached at all times, I had to maximize the happy seperation time to the fullest.
- Now time to write out all the activities I balanced them out with lots of activities like an indoor snowball fight, cutting our own Christmas Tree and setting out our nativity scene as well as a few candy canes, small toys and baking cookies. I also put some giving back like choosing a toy for toys for tots, and canned food for our local food bank.
- I cut each sentance out with pinking sheers and popped them in the doors.
- Hang Up. As you can see I have a 25 door on ours, many people do not add actual Christmas Day. I did because last year my son opened his 24th door and proclaimed it to be Christmas and while it didn’t take too long to explain the confusion he was genuinely disapointed. So I added one to open on Christmas Day too.
I hope you like this, even if you don’t please lie to me. I have been bursting at the seams to make this and share it with you all, and finally I had enough time to manage! Back to stuff for the kids to make and learn tomorrow !