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November 29, 2012

Holiday Celebrations

It is that time of year when we celebrate each family’s special Holiday Traditions and share special memories, recipes, rituals, events, decorations, and create new traditions with the ones we love. Today’s post, contributed by Stephanie Fuqua (Preschool teacher, West Amherst), shares some terrific suggestions for supplementing December’s “Traditions & Celebrations’ curriculum. Enjoy!

Celebrating Christmas

Handprint Santa: This Santa ornament would make a great keepsake for families and can be done with any age group. To start, trace your child’s hand onto cardboard or poster board  paper. Then make your salt dough by mixing the following ingredients:

2 cups of flour

1/2 cup of salt

1/2 cup or less of water

For best results, roll the dough out to about 1.5 inches thick. Place the child’s traced cardboard handprint on top of the dough. Use a knife to carefully trace the handprint out. Use a straw to create a hole at the top. Bake the handprints in an oven at 220 degrees for one hour. Let the hands cool before painting them. To add a special touch to these ornaments, you can either attach a poem to the back of the ornament or to the inside of the gift box.

(Child’s Name)


“This is to remind you

When I have grown so tall,

That once I was quite little

And my hands were very small.”

Photo Credit: www.forums.canadianbride.com


These snowmen ornaments below can be made using large craft sticks, ribbon, felt, craft foam, buttons, and a marker. This would be a cute craft/keepsake to make after reading Snowmen at Night by Caralyn and Mark Buehner.

Photo Credit: www.adayofwonders.blogspot.com

Literacy Based Christmas Activities

Maryann Cusimano Love’s beautiful Christmas story, You Are My Miracle, is a wonderful animated children’s story that depicts pictures of a mom and a little bear enjoying traditional Christmas activities together. It is a great book to utilize during circle time and bring the pages to life during free play and centers within the classroom!


Sensory Bin and Block Area

Consider making a Christmas sensory bin that includes tinsel, plastic ornaments, sensory bottles with glitter or bells, gift boxes of assorted sizes with lids to fill and match, wrapping paper, and bows. Have boxes that are already wrapped (and contact papered) with different items in each to produce a different sound when shook by the children. These could even be added to the block area.

Circle Time: “I am your caroling; you are my jingle bell.”  Excerpt from You Are My Miracle.

After reading the book, give each child a jingle bell to hold while singing and dancing to some favorite songs such as Jingle Bells, Rudolph, We wish you a Merry Christmas, and Shake Your Sillies Out.

Art: “I am your gingerbread.” Excerpt from You Are My Miracle.

Children can create life-size gingerbread boys and girls by tracing each child’s body outline onto bulletin board paper with crayons. They can then decorate with materials of their choice such as pom poms, stickers, bingo dabbers, foil, tissue paper, felt, ribbon, paper, crayons, streamers paint, etc. This can also be done on a small scale at the table by using a variety of shapes to create a body, and then add details of choice to keep the project open-ended and process based.

Photo Credit: www.toddlerapproved.com

Gross Motor Activity: “I am your fortress; you are my snowball fight.” Excerpt from You Are My Miracle.

Have some fun with an indoor snowball fight using polyfill or cotton balls. Turn on some festive music and see how many snowballs you can keep in the air!

To tie in match and literacy, consider writing letters, names, shapes, or numbers onto newsprint. Have the children crumple each paper up and toss it to another friend. Each child can take turns opening their “snowball” and tell another friend what they have. Repeat and have fun!

Fine Motor Activity and Dramatic Play: “I am your wrapping; you are my surprise.” Excerpt from You Are My Miracle.

Have boxes wrapped up for each child to open. Consider wrapping legos in one box for children to open and then explore with; or a box filled with pom poms to fill and dump. How about a box wrapped with a new book to add to the library center?

Boxes, festive gift bags, tissue paper, and bows are also great additions to the dramatic play center for the children to wrap each other presents and deliver around the classroom. Placing stuffed toys, books, dolls, cars, etc. are all items that the children can put into boxes and “wrap.” Add toy catalogs for the children to look at along with paper and crayons for children to make their own wish lists.

Another fun interactive fine motor center that infants can partake in is decorating a felt Christmas tree. The tree could even be made 3D by cutting felt to a go around a Styrofoam cone or by using cotton filling to stuff the tree. Then, cut a variety of different colored felt shapes for the children to take on and off the tree. This is a great game to teach colors and shapes!

Snack: “You are my frosting goo.” Excerpt from You Are My Miracle.

Make decorative edible trees for snack time using sugar cones, sprinkles, frosting, marshmallows, and large Popsicle sticks for spreading the frosting. Enjoy!

Photo Credit: www.toddlerapproved.com

Celebrating Hanukkah:


To make this crafty menorah, prep a simple outline of a menorah using a market onto white paper. Ahead of time, have children paint craft sticks a variety of colors. They will use these to glue onto the lines. Cut red tissue paper into squares for the children to scrunch into flames. You could even use pom poms instead of tissue paper.

Photo Credit: www.preschoolcreations.blogspot.com

Children can make a unique Menorah using their handprints, some paint, and glitter! Children could glue on yellow pom poms instead of using glitter. This can be used as a beautiful card to send home to families by personalizing it with a message.

Photo Credit: www.blogs.babble.com

Gross Motor

Try playing a game of “flip your latkes” using simple materials found in the classroom. To make this game, cover a large paper plate with foil. Then attach a large Popsicle to the plate. Use yellow poster board to make three latkes and glue two of them to the plate covered in foil. Attach the third latke to a piece of string to the plate. The children can take turns “flipping” their latkes and trying to make it land on the frying pan!

Photo Credit: jewishhomeschool.blogspot.com


Children can play this fun light matching game using pom poms. You can find the printable at


Another fun math game that involves problem solving is this star puzzle game below using a cookie sheet or magnetic board. Simply cut out different colored stars and cut in half (or sections). Laminate for durability, and tape a magnetic strip to the back.

Photo Credit: www.jewishhomeschool.blogspot.com

To make a star counting game, cut out similar stars as above and place a number onto each star. Give a child star stickers and have them place the correct number of star stickers onto the corresponding numbered stars.

Suggested Books

By the Hanukkah Light by Sheldon Oberman

Latkes, Latkes, Good to Eat by Naomi Howland

Light The Light! A Story About Celebrating Hanukah and Christmas by Margaret Moorman

The Magic Dreidels: A Hanukkah Story by Eric A. Kimmel

Runaway Dreidal! By Leslea Newman

When Mindy Saved Hanukkah by Eric Kimmel

Hanukkah Hop by Erica Silverman

Fine Motor

Create a felt board Menorah activity for children to light the candles. To make, cut out 8 candles (4.5’H X 1’W) and 1 Shammash (7″H X 1″W) out of dark blue felt. Then cut out 2 long rectangles (1 Light Blue, 1 White), 1.5″H X 11.5″L. Next, cut out 9 flames (1.5″H X 1’W) out of yellow felt. Put together the Menorah “base” and candles. The children can then light each candle one at a time for each day of Hanukah!

Photo Credit: developingmelodies.com


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