Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Christmas Crafts for Toddlers

Christmas is a time for all the family to come together and share in the joy. Making the decorations is part of that, and there is no reason why toddler shouldn’t join in.
A toddler might be small, but he or she usually has bags of enthusiasm and energy. Channel this into making some great Christmas craft items that could become treasured family heirlooms in the future.

Christmas Cards
Christmas cards are a great toddler craft, as they give so much joy to the people who receive them. Fold pieces of card in half so that only the front of the card is showing and let your toddler go wild with glitter glue, Christmas stamps, metallic pens and self-adhesive shapes.

Christmas Angels
Cut out this basic angel shape on a piece of cardboard. Have fun painting the angel and adding all sequins, glitter and what ever else you have in your craft box. Perfect to sit proudly at the top of the family Christmas Tree.

Christmas Wreath
Cut a circle out of a paper plate and paint it with green paint. Then provide your little one with lots of Christmas sequins and glitter and let them have fun decorating it. The sequins should stick to the paint, if not brush with some PVA glue. The finished product is perfect to welcome family and friends at the front door during the holiday season.

Toilet Roll Nativity
A toddler can produce a great nativity using the inside rolls from toilet tissue. Cut out shapes from gummed coloured paper for cloaks, faces, eyes and hair. Allow your toddler to stick the shapes onto the tubes.

Dough Craft Shapes
Make some craft dough and offer it to your child. He or she can use
cookie cutters to make dough shapes to go onto the tree. Before the dough dries, add a hole to thread ribbon through, or press a paper clip into the top of the dough as a hanger. Once dried, allow your child to paint the shapes. If you like, you can make the shapes yourself and just let your child do the painting. Shapes can be varnished for extra durability.

  • Mix thoroughly 1/4 cup of salt, 1/4 cup of water, and 1 cup of flour. Work into a very smooth dough using a wooden spoon and then your hands.

Gingerbread shapes are easily cut from rolled out dough using Christmas-shaped cutters. It doesn’t matter if they come out a funny shape – they’ll taste just as good!

Crowns are a great Christmas craft as they fit in with the theme of Three Kings, and add extra sparkle to the festivities. Cut a crown shape from gold or silver card and let your toddler glue on plastic gems. Once dried, staple it to the size of your child’s head.

Pom-pom Christmas Tree
This Christmas tree gets its soft and fuzzy look thanks to a few handfuls of pom-poms. The fun comes from not having a pattern – kids are free to place pom-poms of different sizes and colors wherever they want!

Handprint Rudolph
This handprint Rudolph is a great keepsake craft to give as a Christmas gift to grandparents, aunts or uncles! Be sure to include child's name and the date on the back.

Craft Stick Christmas Tree Ornament
Use paint, craft sticks, and a few decorations to make this lovely craft stick Christmas ornament craft to hang on your tree this Christmas! This is a great project for a snowy day.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose.
And if you ever saw him, you would even say it glows.
All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.
Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say: "Rudolph with your nose so bright, won't you guide my sleigh tonight?"
Then all the reindeer loved him as they shouted out with glee,
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,
you'll go down in history!

I have kept this Golden book since I was a young child and now have so much pleasure in reading it to my two young boys. I try to do a craft activity each year around Rudolph, so this year is no different. Well slightly different... we were in Lincraft when Master 2 let out an almighty squeal of delight that he had found Rudolph from my book! It was a paper mache reindeer , which got me thinking.... so home we went with our paper mache reindeer and the boys got busy painting. We had Christmas songs in the background and they both really enjoyed this co-operative painting activity together. Rudolph is definitely going to take pride of place next to our Christmas Tree this year!

The Gingerbread Man

"Run, run as fast as you can! You can't catch me - I'm The Gingerbread Man!"Both boys were at home today so we spent the morning on the Gingerbread Man's Trail!

It just wouldn't be Christmas without the Gingerbread Man! What child will EVER forget the time spent with Mummy or Grandma creating a masterpiece of gingerbread and frosting. Be creative and treasure the time spent together - set the mood with Christmas music and a few lite snacks.

Cooking is a great opportunity to:

  • bring the language from the story alive

  • cooking vocabulary

  • fine motor skills, ... kneading, rolling, pinching the gingerbread.

  • numeracy concepts and maths vocabulary (measuring)

Before I start cooking with my 4 year old I make a set of cooking cards that he can sort and then following when he is baking. (These pictorial instructions are great for younger children unable to read yet but very interested in print and reading out the instructions to you!) It also demonstrates that we follow an order when cooking. I tend to number the cards so that he is also recognising numbers throughout the activity.

These pictorial instructions are great for younger children unable to read yet but very interested in print and reading out the instructions to you! It also demonstrates that we follow an order when cooking. I tend to number the cards so that he is also recognising numbers throughout the activity.

While The Gingerbread Men were cooking I took advantage of this time to read The Gingerbread Man's book of counting and then get Master 4 to sort the gingerbread men in order from 0 - 10.

I collected a whole lot of different coloured objects and had Master 4 sort them according to colour to match the Gingerbread Man.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Christmas Star

It is a silent night, and Little Owl is sitting in his tree with a waiting feeling when a star sparkles along. "Come with me", says the star, and Little Owl follows, as do three men on camels and shepherds with their sheep, until all who have followed the star find themselves part of a happy scene. I love reading this book to my boys in the lead up to Christmas, it is such a cute take on an important part of our Christmas Celebrations within the Church.

Every Christmas we read this story before we decorate our Christmas Tree. We then make a new star each year which is proudly placed at the top of our tree.

I spray painted a piece of foam that I had in the cupboard with Gold paint and then drew a star on it. We had picked up these cute Christmas beads at Spotlight on Saturday so Master 4 got busy decorating his star.

Master 4 was really proud of his star and has decided to hang it on his bedroom door come the 1st December.

Friday, November 12, 2010

TOP 10 Christmas Books

I have made it a Christmas tradition in our house that the boy's receive a Christmas Book each year in their Santa Sacks. We then keep these in a Christmas Box that we bring out on the 1st December and spend the month reading from. The boys really enjoy these books as they are not part of our regular book shelf throughout the year. Below are our Top 10 favourite Christmas Books to read in the lead up to Christmas. (In no particular Order!)

A photographic puzzle book features rhyming riddles that invite young readers to locate hidden objects--clocks, nickels, pickles, frogs, and others--among double-page spreads filled with holiday delights.

Little children will love learning their first Christmas words as they examine each delightful festive scene. Scenes include decorating the tree, getting ready for Santa, Santa on the roof and opening presents.

It's almost Christmas and it hasn't snowed yet. As the farmer naps on his small farm, he dreams of being covered in a gentle blanket of new snow. Then, one by one, he dreams of each of his five animals (aptly named One, Two, Three, Four, and Five) being covered as well. When he awakens, he discovers that real snow--not dream snow--has fallen. And "Oh my! Oh my! I almost forgot," the farmer shouts, and, bundling up, hurries out to his tree (named Tree) with a box and a sack, looking remarkably familiar in his white beard and red suit. After decorating Tree, the farmer shouts "Merry Christmas to all!" and pushes a button for a surprise Yuletide jingle.

Children love mail, packages and surprises. The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg has all of these, making this long-popular picture book a favorite with children. This book is the perfect take-along as you make the long drive to Grandma´s house on Christmas day. The Jolly Christmas Postman, told in rhyme, is of the popular postman who is featured in several picture books by the husband and wife team. The mail is being delivered to fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters. What makes this book so delightful, besides a fun story and great pictures, of course, is the added bonus of gifts.The pages are envelopes which contain extra activities that will keep a child busy for hours. What child doesn´t love to play with mail? The jolly Christmaspostman visits Little Red Riding Hood and the reader can see for herself just what that big bad wolf has sent the brave fairy tale heroine. A hazardous board game to play during her Christmas outing. Humpty Dumpty receives a board puzzle that allows a child to put the famous egg back together again.The Gingerbread man receives an activity book with stories, puzzles, riddles and more.The Big Bad Wolf´s envelope contains a guide to spotting wolves in disguise. Even the jolly Christmas postman gets a gift from Santa himself. A delightful peep show that allows the child to peek inside a multi-layered scene of the Postman. Opening the envelopes and playing with the special gifts will keep children occupied for hours during holiday travel or visits to dull relatives (even on visits to entertaining relatives.)

Father Christmas awoke from his dream of summer in the sun, and there it was on the calendar, December 24th, Christmas Eve, the start of his longest night's work of the year.

It's Christmas. Lift the flaps and join Spot as he finds out about presents, Christmas trees and all the excitement.

'Christmas was coming. Out came the tree, dressed up in finery, splendid to see. Trinkets and tinsel with baubles and bows, a mouse with a hat and a very red nose.' It's Christmas in Slinky Malinki's house and the rapscallion, mischievous cat is most curious about the Christmas tree. With its reindeer, ribbons, baubles and bells, it's too tempting a treat for Slinky not to investigate. So Slinky Malinki, with mischievous glee, creeps out from the shadows to climb up the tree...

Just because it's Christmas it doesn't mean Mrs Wishy-Washy's farm animals can go without a good scrub. In fact, she says, 'Scrub yourselves from foot to head...or there'll be no presents for you this year!' But it's so cold in the old read barn. They'll shiver and shake and turn to ice! Duck knows a better bath - where there's warm water, pink bubbles and fluffy towels - but if Mrs Wishy-Washy finds out, they can kiss their presents good-bye!

Splat the cat can't wait for Christmas and is SURE he's been good enough for Santa to bring him all the presents on his Christmas list. But just in case Santa needs reminding of what an exceptionally good cat he is, Splat makes himself EXTRA helpful around the house. It's tiring work being helpful, but when Splat goes to bed on Christmas Eve he's kept awake by a worrying thought...Just how good do you need to be for Santa to visit? A charming Christmas story perfect for any eager child awaiting Santa's arrival.

All the farmyard animals - the jersey cow, the collie, bantam hens, sheep and lambs, ducks, kune kune, and the ginger cat - come to the cowshed door. They all come mooing, baaing, clucking, barking, quacking and meowing and they all come bearing gifts, true kiwi gifts like a rugby ball, a pavlova, jandals, a kiwi toy. And who do you think they saw? Little Baby Jesus by the cowshed door. The classic Christmas story is given a New Zealand twist in this warm and evocative retelling, with gorgeous illustrations.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Memory Tree

Traditions are an enormous part of Christmas celebrations in this country. What we eat, how we decorate, and how we handle our gift exchanges all define our family values and traditions. Some of these traditions last a lifetime, and are passed on to future generations.

Photos are part of our lives, they keep a register of many of our best moments of the life since we are born. An excellent way to share the photos with our loved ones is making photo Christmas ornaments with them. I have decided to make a photo memory tree displaying a photo of the children each year on Christmas morning. I hope to one day have a collection of these to give to the boys when they start having their own tree with their own family.(Or maybe I won't want to part with them and will keep them!)

Making a memory tree is easy and fun. I purchased this wooden tree and sprayed it with gold paint. The ornaments are made from http://www.snapfish.com.au/snapfishau/store/cat=ornaments
Memory Trees can also be used throughout the year and changed for different occasions and celebrations. I'm going to start using this tree as a Birthday Tree and display it on the day of the boy's birthdays with a decoration of them from past years.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Finger Puppet Play

Finger Plays with Nursery Rhymes are valuable activities that help children acquire skills that are essential to their development and learning. They help improve and advance memory and language skills, while also aiding in the development of eye-hand coordination and enhancing their gross and fine motor skills.

Mesmerized by movement and enhanced by animal toys, babies are natural audiences for a miniature puppet show. Lay your baby on his back or put him in a reclining bouncy seat. Just slip a finger puppet or two onto your fingers and let them bob, dance, kiss, tickle, sing and talk to your littlest spectator. At this age, he’s likely to reach out, grab a puppet, and start to mouth it, which is fine. (Just be sure the puppets have no small parts that can be pulled off and swallowed.) He’s equally likely to babble, gurgle, and blow raspberries at the animated actors. Find a song to go with your puppet and make it a musical show!

Listening to the puppet talk and sing will help him learn the art of conversation – that is, that first one person (or puppet, as the case may be) talks, and then the other person responds. Being tickled and nuzzled by his little friends provides both entertaining tactile stimulation and fun, positive interaction with you.

Some Examples of rhymes you could use a finger puppet with are:
Baa Black Sheep/Little Bo Peep – Black sheep
Five Little Ducks – Duck
Five Speckled Frogs – Green Frog
Hickory Dickory Dock/ Three Blind Mice – Mouse
Incy Wincy Spider/ Little Miss Muffet – Spider
One, Two, Three, Four, Five - Fish

Simple Paper Finger Puppets
To make paper finger puppets use stiff paper, such as coloured construction paper. Cut out small rectangles and make simple cylinders the size of your fingertips, taping, gluing, or stapling the paper together around your finger. Paste on ears, whiskers, or a hat for the animal or character you want to create. A man in a top hat is fairly simple, as is a cat with pointy ears.
Finally, draw faces with a felt pen, keeping the features fairly plain: Babies react most directly and dramatically to simple, graphic faces.

Felt Finger Puppets
Felt scraps
Craft scissors
Craft glue
Sewing notions
Permanent colored markers
Cotton balls

For each puppet, first cut out a pair of 1 5/8- x 3-inch felt rectangles to serve as the front and back of the animal.

MR HORSE: For ears, cut out a pair of felt ovals (about 1 1/2 inches long). Fold them in half lengthwise and glue together the lower edges. Glue the bases of the ears to the back of the puppet. Add a fringed forelock, white mane and rounded muzzle. Use a marker to draw jawlines and nostrils.
BABY BIRD: Cut out a triangular felt bird beak and glue it in place. Add plumage.
SPOTTED HEIFER: Make cow ears following the same steps used for the horse. Glue on a pink muzzle. Colour bold black spots on the ears and face.
PINK PIGGY: For floppy pig ears, use 2-inch felt circles. Attach them as previously described for the horse. For pig cheeks and a snout, glue on 1-inch felt circles.
WOOLLY LAMB: Attach ears horizontally to the front of the lamb. Glue a bit of cotton "wool" to the top of its head and draw on the face.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tunnel Time

Ever wondered why your baby is so intent on wriggling under the bed, squeezing behind the couch, or curling up on the floor of your chest? Children this age are naturally intrigued with spaces – especially when it’s just their size. You can cater to this fascination by providing a commercially-made or cardboard tunnel for the baby to crawl through. Roll a ball down the tunnel and encourage her to go after it. Or put yourself, or small toys such as beanbags or plush toys, at the other end and coax her through.

Crawling through small places helps your baby learn just how big her body is in relation to other objects, which helps her develop both spatial and body awareness. This game also helps develop visual skills such as depth perception and builds her self-confidence as she maneuvers through the tunnel without the benefit of peripheral vision.

If you don't want to buy this toy but would like to have a child play tunnel, you can always make your own tunnel. Get 6 big boxes which have the same dimension. Remove the top and bottom of the boxes. Connect one end of the box to the other using duct tapes. Now you have a tunnel your kids will love to crawl in.