Thursday, December 3, 2009

Santa's Little Helpers

Well, Santa's Little Helpers are diving into some of the new Christmas work we have on our shelves.

Have tried to give you a description, as well as the directions for these, in case you want to make them with your children.***

***Note: If you do some of these in a classroom setting, you may want to have one or two parent helpers on hand, as some of these may require a little assistance from an adult, especially the "Gingerbread Pillow Doll" craft.
When I was in the classroom, we made gingerbread dolls.
We had a table set up in the hallway, right outside of our classroom, so that the adult could give assistance to the child without interrupting others.

Will post more work and craft ideas later today...this is just what the boys have selected and I have photographed so far:

Christmas Puppets Work
Small Christmas finger puppets
Other finger puppets, such as animal ones
Small puppet theater (optional)
Paper and Pencil, or alphabet stamps, if they wish to "write their script" for their puppet show
***Note: This work can be done on three levels:
1. For very young ones, it is excellent fine motor practice getting them to take the puppets off of the rack and then, having them return each puppet to a peg on the rack.
2. For a child who is a little older, he or she will enjoy acting out a familiar story or their own story with the puppets.
He or she may also want to "read to their puppet". I have found that finger puppets work great with struggling readers. They can put a puppet on their finger, use it as a guide as they read, and then, they can "read their story to their puppet". If you have a child who is a struggling reader, try this and you will be amazed at the results. It builds their confidence level! You may have to model for them how to use the finger puppets in this manner...
3. Finally, for a more confident writer and / or reader, he or she might actually enjoy writing out a script and then, performing their puppet show. Since this is usually something appealing to an older child, if you separate out your kindergarten aged students in the afternoon, or if you are homeschooling a couple of child, say age 5 1/2 to about age 7, they may want to do this either with a partner or else by themselves.
If you have parents who want to help out this month, you could have them sit with a child to help a child flesh out their puppet show script. You could even have a younger child dictate his script to an adult...

Make Your Own Stamped Books
Small, pre-filled Christmas stamps
Mini books made out of a single sheet of paper*
(* I will post photos of how to fold these later today...)
Colored pencils
Tray (I used a small ceramic candy dish as a tray for this.)
***Note: If you have some parents who want to help, you can send home a stack of paper and have them prepare all of the little books for your children.
Work For Little Bro:
Holiday Bows on a Number Line
(1-1 Correspondence, Numbers 1-10 and then 10-20)
Tiny bows, number line (in increments of 5s), tongs, tray.
For the number line, it works well if you break them up into strips 1-5, 6-10,11-15, and 16-20.
Thanks to Ashlee B., who made these number lines for us. We get so much use out of them!!!

I have found that giving each child a small amount of paint and corresponding Q-tips seems to really cut back on the mess and clean up time, as you just throw the Q-tips out when finished.
They also seem to work well for these projects, as the tip of the Q-tip makes a nice dot for snowflakes, etc...
For Both Boys:
Big, Bigger, Biggest Trees Work:
On a tray:
3 trees, cut out of green pattered fabric, giftwrap, or craft paper.
(Trees should be in three distinct sizes: Big, Bigger, Biggest)
Brown grosgrain ribbon for the tree stems:
(If your child is old enough to understand how to increase proportionately, then have your child cut out appropriate trunks for their three trees. If this is too big of a challenge, then you can just cut the ribbon strips yourself.)
One strip for the big tree, two for the bigger tree, and three strips for the biggest tree.
Attach ribbon trunks to back sides of the trees w/ tape.

Then, have your child sort buttons for their trees into 3 piles:
Big buttons, Bigger buttons, and Biggest buttons.
***Note: You may wish to initially help them start their sort so that they will have a reference for the button sizes.

Then, once buttons have been sorted, have your child glue them onto the trees.

Let trees dry a bit.

While trees are drying, have your child dip a Q-tip into white paint.
Then, have them paint snow onto a sheet of blue cardstock paper.
***You will need to use card stock for this, as thinner paper will crumble due to the weight of the buttons...

Once the snow is on the blue card stock sheet, glue the trees onto the sheet.

If your child wants to add a little snow to their trees, have them take their Q-tip and dab a bit of white paint onto the trees and the buttons.

This is a good activity if you want to jump into talking about size...big, bigger, biggest, small, smaller, smallest, and so on...

For Big Bro Only***:
Make a Gingerbread "Pillow" Doll Decoration
Cardboard gingerbread template
pencil or marker
Foam felt in dark brown (for gingerbread body)
paper clips
Foam felt in red (for accessories, such as bows)
Hole puncher
White yarn (red or green would also be fine for this...)
Clear tape
Googly eyes (or buttons for eyes)
White or red rick rack
Buttons, in various sizes, in Christmas colors
Beads, in Christmas colors
clear Tacky Glue
Plastic mat
Stuffing for pillow effect
*** If you don't have cotton batting, you can use paper towels, or newspaper, etc. Anything you have laying around the house that will help to stuff the pillow...

Also, I had intended for this gingerbread doll work to be for both boys, but it was too complicated for Little Bro.

Again, if you have parents who wish to help you, this is a great project to get them involved.
You could even have a parent pre-cut the body pieces and pre-hole punch and paper clip the pieces together, as well as make the "yarn needles" by having them tape the ends of the yarn so that a child can just jump right into sewing their dolls.
I am going to come up with some other sort of gingerbread craft for Little Bro...if you are thinking of doing this, I would say it works best for children ages 4 and up...

Depending on the age and cutting abilities of your children, either give them a cardboard gingerbread boy template and let them trace the template onto two pieces of brown foam felt.

They will need two foam felt pieces, one for the front of the pillow doll and one for the back.

Once the brown pieces have been cut out, then line up the pieces, clip together with paper clips, and hole punch all the way around the outline of the body.
You can either eyeball it or else you can take a ruler and measure the spaces between the holes.

On your child's work tray, first just lay out the brown body pieces that are paper clipped correctly together, and are already hole punched, along with a long piece of yarn with tape wrapped at the end to be the needle.
Demonstrate the different ways to sew the pieces together, either "in and out" or "around and around".
Start the first loop for your child.
Then, let your child stitch up all of the holes except for about three or four...leave this space open so that your child can then stuff the gingerbread boy or girl to their liking.
For this next step, just have a tray with the stuffing on it, along with the partially stitched gingerbread doll.
Then, once the doll is stuffed, have them finish off their stitching. They may need help at the end to knot the end and to cut the yarn...

Then, have your child take a tray filled with parts and accessories:
Googly eyes or button eyes
Rick rack for mouth
Button if your child wants a nose
Christmas colored buttons and foam felt pieces for decorations on the doll...
Pour a little clear Tacky glue into a bowl or onto a plate.
Have your child use q-tips as their glue brush
Have your child decorate his or her gingerbread doll...Allow doll to dry overnight before moving anywhere.

This doll can also be a great inspiration for writing stories or acting out a puppet show.
If you are doing activities for Around the World in December, you could talk about gingerbread as decorations on trees in Germany and how this tradition was carried into Colonial American times.

You may want to pull up photos of German decorations for Christmas or of photos of Colonial Williamsburg at Christmas.

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