The Mitten

To finish off the winter season, we focused on Jan Brett’s The Mitten, based on the Ukranian folktale.  In the story Nikki wants his Babba to make him white mittens even though they could be lost in the snow.  He then loses a mitten and all different animals crawl into the mitten to stay warm.  It’s a sweet story with cute pictures!

Skills: fine motor skills, art, shapes, counting, color recognition
Supplies: stiff white felt, yarn, one pipe cleaner, single hole punch, scissors, felt with a sticky back or other decorations, file folder, buttons,

The mittens we made turned out really well and the girls LOVED “sewing” them!

To make the mittens, fold a sheet of the stiff, white felt in half and cut out two mittens.  (I started with a mitten template from Jan Brett’s website here but ended up adapting it to a size and shape that worked better for me.)  Then punch holes all around the edges of one of the mittens.  Place one mitten over the other and mark a dot through each hole.  Punch holes out on the second mitten.

Next cut the yarn to be your “thread.”  I measured the yarn twice around the mitten to know where to cut.  Then cut about 1 1/2 inches from the pipe cleaner to be your needle.  Tie the yarn to the end of the pipe cleaner and then fold the tip over the knot.  I usually give the pipe cleaner a twist to hold on the yarn.  Tie the other end of the yarn to one of the holes at the bottom of the mitten.  I found it was easier to have all of this done ahead of time.

This was one project where we really had to work one at a time.  The girls would take turns playing with the mitten pieces and practicing poking the thread through the holes while I helped one with the actually stitching.

Afterwards we decorated the mittens using shapes I cut out of the sticky-back felt.  We talked about why Babba didn’t want Nikki to have white mittens in the snow and how our decorations would help Nikki find his mitten sooner.  Originally my plan was for the girls to glue on bits of felt, ribbon, and pom poms.  I then remembered I had the felt with the sticker backing and that was sooooo much easier and cleaner.

Later the girls colored the animals from the story on this printable from Jan Brett’s website.  I then cut out the animals they colored.  With the animal pieces we re-read the story, putting them in their mittens as we went.

To practice our colors and counting, we also played a file folder game that I got here.  Since we’ve done a few color matching games in the past, this time we matched colored buttons to the mittens in the folder.  I had gotten a bag of multicolor buttons from the fabric store to use on projects like this.  We then counted the buttons on each mitten, since each had a different amounts including zero.

We also read the nursery rhyme, “Three Little Kittens.”  Then we colored the picture I found here while practicing the number three.


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Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree

The girls love Christmas trees so much this holiday season that I decided to do a little mini-theme on them, inspired by the classic Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert E. Barry.  In the story wealthy Mr. Willowby gets a huge tree that doesn’t fit in his house so he cuts off the top.  The top is passed along where once again it is too big and the top gets chopped.  Mr. Willowby ends up providing many with a Christmas tree, including the maid, the bears, and the mice.

We did felt board stories, learned about the life cycle of a tree, sang songs, and even made our own little trees, all leading up to decorating our family Christmas tree. We actually spread the everything out over two days, setting up the tree the first day and actually decorating it the second after all of our activities..

Skills: counting, science, math concepts (classification),fine motor, art, music, letter recognition
Prep: medium (if you have the supplies it really is a low prep time)

 Felt Board Christmas Trees

Supplies: felt board, green felt (I used two pieces of green felt from the craft store)

I cut out 10 fir trees out of green felt with the trees starting small and getting progressively bigger. I then layered the trees on the felt board to make one big tree.  As we read the following poem, we would take a tree off of the big one and add it to the board so that the number of trees would grow out of the bits of one tree just like in Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree.

One Christmas tree big and strong
Two Christmas trees, one short, one long

There are three trees so cute and green
One big, one small, one in between

Counting trees, one, two, three, four
I wonder if I’ll see some more

On the board now there are five
Those trees are doing a Christmas jive

All different trees are in the mix
So now our trees will number six

If I add yet another tree
Then seven trees stand before me

Oh wow isn’t it so great
All our trees add up to eight

In front of me I see a line
Of Christmas trees that number nine

A forest now we do see
A forest full of ten fir trees

While the trees were all out we looked at which one were bigger and smaller and counted them again on the board.  Then we sang the following song based on 10 Little Indians:

One merry, two merry, three merry Christmas trees, Four merry, five merry, six merry Christmas trees, Seven merry, eight merry, nine merry Christmas trees, Ten merry Christmas trees there.

Ten merry, nine merry, eight merry Christmas trees, Seven merry, six merry, five merry Christmas trees, Four merry, three merry, two merry Christmas trees, One merry Christmas tree there.

Life Cycle of a Fir Tree

Ahead of time, I printed out pictures of the different stages for a fir tree–seeds, sprouting, seedling, full grown, pine cone–and mounted them on construction paper.  The girls and I went through each card talking about what a tree was doing, really focusing on seeds and pine cones.  The second day we actually pretended to be trees, starting curled up in a ball as a seed and then growing big and tall.  It was a little silly but the girls thought it was funny.

Tree Cycle Pictures #1                       Tree Cycle Pictures #2

Pine Cone Christmas Trees

Supplies: Pine cones, green paint, pom pom balls, glitter, glue

We also made our own little Christmas trees out of pine cones (I remember doing this myself when I was little).  First the girls painted the pine cones green, next sprinkled them with glitter, and then glued pom poms on as ornaments.

As we live in the desert, pine cones are hard to come by.  I just picked some up at Michael’s.  They are the scented ones but that just added some extra Christmas cheer to the house. 

Other Activities

When starting our activities we talked about where Christmas trees first started, looking at Germany on the map.  If you don’t have a globe or map, you can find great maps here. We also colored sheets on T is for Tree and practiced the letter T using some of the worksheets found here.  And we sang the song “Oh Christmas Tree.”  To round off our theme, we cut our peanut butter sandwiches in the shape of a Christmas tree with a cookie cutter.

Finally, we were ready to decorate the tree!


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