Friday, December 13, 2013

Countdown to Christmas

Who's excited for Christmas!? We are!! Last year, when M was 2, we had a great Christmas. She was just starting to understand the idea of Christmas and really enjoyed spending time with family and opening presents. This year is even more exciting. M is loving all of the Christmas decorations, reading Christmas books, watching Christmas movies, and making lots of Christmas crafts. There's nothing like a 3 year old to get you in the Christmas spirit! She wants to "play Christmas" every day, so we have been on the lookout for lots of fun activities!

Christmas Festivals and Events

We have started attending local Christmas events, and have plans to go to several more. We drove to Asheville, NC for a tree lighting and parade, and my parents took M to a live nativity. We also loved Rudolph at Greenville Little Theater. We are looking forward to some great light displays, a visit with Santa, and other fun events as Christmas approaches. If you're in the Greenville area, check out The Ultimate 2013 Holiday Guide from Kidding Around Greenville.

Christmas Crafts

Origami Christmas Tree
We got a library book with directions for Christmas origami crafts. She enjoyed helping me follow the directions to make the tree, and then she decorated the tree with buttons and sequins. You can find the directions I used here, and another 3D origami tree here.

Christmas Ornaments

M is a big fan of stringing beads. I put out different kinds of beading activities on a regular basis, so it was an easy choice when I was coming up with ideas for homemade ornaments. I put out a variety of pipe cleaners, different types of beads, and small glass ornaments. I showed her how to bend the pipe cleaners into different shapes (snowflakes, triangles for trees, circles, etc.) after she had threaded the beads. She also started making her own designs with short pieces of pipe cleaners threaded through the top of the glass ball ornaments. She probably spent close to two hours making ornaments that day.

Paper Christmas Trees
We go to a regular art program at Creating Artists for Tomorrow, and were excited to find some Christmas projects at the latest Table Time.  Aside from other great projects, M completed this Christmas Tree project two different ways!

First, she glued a pre-cut brown rectangle to the background sheet. I helped her rip some green construction paper into strips, and she glued the ripped paper onto her tree trunk. Finally, she painted some gold glitter onto the tree, which was her favorite part!

Later, she found some green paper and scissors on a table and wanted to cut it into small pieces. She sat at the table for close to 10 minutes cutting the paper. She worked so hard cutting the paper, so I didn't want to throw it away. I suggested that she glue the cut pieces onto another tree trunk to make a second tree, and she liked that idea. After she glued all of the pieces, she asked if she could put it up on the easel and paint some ornaments onto her tree. I love how it turned out!

Christmas Tags
M also made some gift tags at Table Time. She used Christmas stamps to decorate the front of the cards, and sprayed and dripped paint on the back to make fun designs. She was really proud of these cards. I'm planning to write names on the backs of the cards, hole punch the corner and attach them to the gifts she makes for family.

Marshmallow Snowman

I pulled together a couple of easy craft projects to take with us to visit my parents for the day. I knew they would be in and out during the early afternoon, so I wanted to have a few things to keep her busy until they were home. We had already done Christmas trees, so I decided a snowman and Santa would be perfect.

The snowman was really easy. I just drew a snowman (3 circles with a top hat) on a sheet of construction paper, then outlined the circles with glue. I gave M a bag of mini marshmallows and she took it from there. There were quite a few marshmallows going into her mouth along the way, but she managed to outline the snowman too. We decided to color the top of a few marshmallows black for the eyes and mouth, and one orange marshmallow for the nose. She glued some buttons down the middle as well, then went outside to find a couple of small twigs to glue on for the arms. She filled in the rest of the body with the remaining marshmallows. It was pretty heavy when she was finished - we probably should have done it on a small piece of poster board or cardstock - but she liked how it turned out.

Santa's Beard
I meant to grab a paper plate to take with us for this classic Santa craft, but I forgot, so we made it on construction paper. I used this Santa from Mama Bear's World as a guide. I cut out the shapes for Santa's face and hat, then M glued them in place and added cotton balls for the beard. We found that stretching the cotton balls apart a little before gluing them helped them blend together and looked a little more realistic.

Christmas Decorations

M had a blast helping to decorate the house this year. She helped us pick out our tree, put the ornaments on the lower branches, and put the angel on the top. She also helped my husband decorate the outside of the house, and rushed in when they were finished to tell me that I needed to add more decorations on the stairs. She was so excited about decorating that we bought a small table top tree for her playroom (which is where she hung all of her homemade ornaments).

We also do a modified version of Elf on the Shelf. M's elf is named Puck (she chose it from a list of names last year, which is pretty cool because we can use that as a jumping off point in the future to learn more about mythology or Shakespeare). I'm not a fan of the whole Santa is watching you and you only get presents if you're a "good girl" thing, so we don't play up the elf-is-watching-you theme. I'm actually hoping to make a new book for her for next year to replace the book that came with her elf - something specific to her elf with more of a fun spirit.

Puck made his appearance on December 1st, which was also the first day that our advent calendar was filled. We told her that Puck returned from the North Pole with treats for our family to help us count down to Christmas. She loves finding Puck in different places each morning, although she doesn't really believe in the "magic" component. In fact, when I tried to explain that she could talk to Puck and Puck would listen but couldn't talk back, she replied, "Yeah Mommy. That's because he's a stuffed animal. You know he's not real." We still have fun with it :)

Sometimes Puck can be found in silly places, and sometimes he takes out supplies for projects or suggests nice things to do. Have you seen the Kindness Elf from Imagination Tree? Love it!

I hope you're enjoying the Christmas Season as much as we are! Merry Christmas!

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