Chinese New Year

I’m just now realizing the problem with a blog like this is that I really need to do activities with the girls before the holiday.  Oh well, I’m learning.  Luckily Chinese New Year, which started last night at midnight, lasts for 15 days.

Skills: geography, social studies, art,
Prep: low

To start we looked at picture from our trip to Virginia to visit family recently and reminisced about our New Year’s Eve celebration with my awesome sister and her family.  The girls had a great time dancing and playing with their cousins and still talk about it.  Then we looked at China on the map and talk about how this is when they celebrate the New Year.  My main goal is just to start exposing them to the idea that people live all over the world with all different ways of living.  You can find great maps through World Atlas.

We made paper lanterns to decorate the house.  The girls painted colored construction paper and then, since they are still too little, I put them together during nap time.  We kept ours very simple, but they could certainly be much more elaborate.  The girls thought they were cool and I think they are so festive that we’ll probably leave them up for the girls’ half-birthday (yes we celebrate those).

Another fun craft project was making dragon masks with the template I got here.

And of course we had Chinese food.  Since we are really focusing on eating healthy food at home (as opposed to going out, take out, or quick to make but bad for you meals) I am making stir-fry from Cook This, Not That–which I love!  I know that it is not the most authentic of meals but maybe next year when the girls are more involved.


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!

 

Christmas Colors Felt Board Story

I came up with this felt board activity based on the classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.  It follows the same rhythm but uses colors and images from the holiday season.

Skills: Color recognition, language development
Prep: Medium (drawing/decorating the pieces did take some time, but if you use solid pieces of felt it goes much quicker)

 

White Snowman, White Snowman, what do you see?
I see a green tree looking at me.

Green Tree, Green Tree, what do you see?
I see a red hat looking at me.

Red Hat, Red Hat, what do you see?
I see a blue present looking at me.

Blue Present, Blue Present, what do you see?
I see a yellow star looking at me.

Yellow Star, Yellow Star, what do you see?
I see a purple stocking looking at me.

Purple Stocking, Purple Stocking, what do you see?
I see a brown reindeer looking at me.

Brown Reindeer, Brown Reindeer, what do you see?
I see an orange light looking at me.

Orange Light, Orange Light, what do you see?
I see _(Child’s Name)_ looking at me.

_(Child’s Name)_, _(Child’s Name)_, what do you see?
I see a white snowman, a green tree, a red hat, a blue present, a yellow star, a purple stocking, a brown reindeer, and an orange light looking at me.

Like most of our felt board activities, the first time we did this, I recited the poem and placed the pieces on the board.  When we went through it a second time, I tried to get the girls to say it with me as we pulled out pieces and put them on the board.

Ed drew the images for me, which I have included below.  You can cut silhouettes from colored felt or draw/trace images on  pellon to color in with oil pastel crayons.

Tree and Reindeer Images
Snowman and Stocking Images
Present and Hat Images
Star and Light Images

 

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