North Pole Play Mat

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.

  1.  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.Shimmer Sheets
  2. 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.
  3. 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!shimmer sheets by tulip
  4. I also used the Shimmer Paint to make Santa’s house. I was amazed with how vibrant it was when it dried.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

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I wrote this as part of a paid campaign with Tulip and Blueprint Social . The craft idea and opinions are all mine.

Santa’s Workshop Pretend Play

christmas pretend play

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. The Wrap Station is our craft component – I provided glue, scissors, markers , snowflake confetti, wraping paper scraps to cut and glue and paper bags.
  4. 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!
  5. Think he was excited to see it? He said to me ” Do I really get to pretend to be an elf? Really?”
  6. Getting into the elf character .Building the duplo !
  7. Making the gift bags.
  8. All wrapped up.
  9. Off to test a toy.
  10. Test results.
  11. Happy, busy and at the North Pole … at least in his imagination!

Santa Book

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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Santa Themed Math Game

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!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper, markers, marshmallows or even cotton balls, a die and someone to play against.
  2. 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.
  3. Add numbers.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Roll.
  7. Add the marshmallow… oh and look who is getting a little fine motor practice too. I’m so sneaky.
  8. 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 .