Sunday, December 20, 2009

3rd and 4th Weeks of Advent Activities

15-Pick out Daddy's Christmas Gift (at Dollar Store)

16-Make Model Magic Ornaments

17-Exchange Gifts and Make Cookies with Ally

18-School Christmas Party and Mail Letter to Santa

19-Various Paper Christmas Crafts

20- Sunday School Birthday Party for Jesus and Watch Polar Express

21- Go See Santa and Play with Friends at the Mall

22-Get ready for Gammi and Grandad and Wrap presents, foam Christmas lacing cards

23- Gammi and Grandad arrive! Look at lights!

24- Christmas Eve- make Santa cookies and reindeer food

25- CHRISTMAS DAY!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Advent Calendar Crazy

Our original felt Advent Calendar
The Chairbacker Present we use for books
The Magnetic Cookie Tray Calendar

In addition to our Activity Advent Calendar (scroll down a few posts) we have several special ways to count-down to Christmas. We have a fairly elaborate first-thing-in-the-morning routine. As soon as Brady wakes up we walk through the house searching for Ernie, our Elf-on- the- Shelf. Then she heads over to the felt and magnetic Advent Calendars. She loves finding the little felt ornament to add to the tree. Adam was first to notice her linear arrangement. I wondered if she would stick with that and thus far, she has. Then she chooses a magnet cookie to place on the magnetic cookie sheet calendar (Thanks, Grams!) She often has a plan here, too- note the mittens placed side by side. Next up is our Activity Advent Calendar. She has to remember what date it is or go back to the "cookie sheet" and look under the last cookie. This has been a great and fun way to work on her number recognition for numbers higher than 10. I read her the activity. Finally, she heads to her dining room chair and grabs the book (or books) out of it. Last year I saw that several smart bloggy moms were wrapping their Christmas books and letting their children open one a day leading up to Christmas. I liked the idea, but didn't really like the labor or waste of wrapping that many books. So, I was hoping to find an alternate way to do this. Luckily, I found this little present chairbacker on clearance after Christmas at Pottery Barn Kids. This has been really fun. We have so many Christmas books that there are many days when she finds 2 or 3 books inside the present. Our little morning ritual has been a lot fun! And I'm already thinking we'll have to have some sort of countdown to Brady's Birthday (exactly one month after Christmas day) after Christmas.

Monday, December 14, 2009

2nd week of Advent Activities

Our (graham cracker) Gingerbread House
Christmas Sensory Tub- white rice- snow, dyed green pasta- holly leaves, dyed red pasta- berries?, beads- ornaments

8-M/ Moose Day (see post below)

9-Make and Play with Christmas Sensory Tub

10-Go to Gingerbread House Party (our friends had a gingerbread house open house)

11-Go to Parents' Night Off (hosted at Brady's school- full of snacks and Christmas movies)

12-Go to Advent Party (at Brady's school) and make Gingerbread Play dough

13-Write Letter to Santa and Make Draw and Cut Crafts

14-make Grams' Famous Sugar Cookies and Hot Chocolate

Friday, December 11, 2009

M is for Moose, Muffins, and Museum

One of our Advent Activities was an M Day. We recently checked out a few moose themed books so I decided we should have an M/moose day. And then this little "letter M antler moose" came to my mind.

1) Materials: regular yellow construction paper and large brown and blue (or color of choice) construction paper , googly eyes (you may be tempted to use big eyes, but as we learned in our moose research, moose actually have tiny eyes on the side of their head and rely largely on their senses of smell and hearing), black marker and glue stick

2)I simply drew a free hand a moose head shape, ears and a capital M. Here's a quick trip- I folded a piece of construction paper in half and drew a large capital M on it, so that when I went to cut it out I had 2 identical M's!

3) Cut it out! We shared in this duty.

4) Glue the head onto the background, glue ears, eyes, and M antlers. (You'll see below that initially our eyes were too close together.)

5) Have your kiddo draw large nostrils (remember they have a great sense of smell) and mouth.

Isn't this guy adorable? I'm pretty crazy about him!

To go along with our M theme and If You Give a Moose a Muffin book by Laura Numeroff we made and ate blueberry muffins for breakfast. We went to the Museum with some friends (this was already on our agenda).

We read several fantastic moose books!

1)The Elusive Moose by Joan Gannij and Clare Beaton is a hide -and -seek -book where you find a moose on each page spread. At the end of the book there is a section titled "Animals of the Northern Lands" which gives a quick factual blurb about each animal featured in the book. This book is put out by Barefoot Books, which I think are great. The illustrations are photos of embroidery and other embellishments.

2)If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff is one in the great If You Give a... series. We love everyone we've ever read. I won't go into a detailed description because I'm guessing you know about these.

3) Moose Tracks by Karma Wilson and Jack E. Davis is a fun silly book. The narrator tries to figure out why there are moose tracks throughout his house and in the end the narrator is revealed to be a moose himself.

4) Mooseltoe by Margie Palatini is a fun Christmas book. The main character is a moose father who has a huge mustache who is going to extremes to ensure the perfect Christmas for his family. It seems everything is going to be just right until they realize he's forgotten the Christmas tree. It's Christmas Eve and there are no trees to be found, so they twirl his mustache around him and decorate him!

I attempted to make "chocolate moose tracks". They were yummy, but awfully messy and difficult to work with, oh well, sometimes that's what you get when you cook on the fly.
We also made this cute moose puppet out of a lunch sack, googly eyes, a yogurt cup, glue, and construction paper. The antlers are Brady's hand prints. I got the idea and instructions here.

It was a fun, or maybe I should say a Marvelous M Moose Day!

1st Week of Advent Activities

Brady and her pal Ally enjoy ice cream as a tribute to Uncle Andrew.
Dad and Brady put the last touch on the tree.
B stirs the cereal for Snickerdoodle Chex Mix
1- make Snickerdoodle Chex Mix -get the yummy recipe here
2-make Christmas Wooden Spoon Puppets
3-celebrate "Uncle Andrew Day" and watch "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (more on this later)
4-go get Christmas tree
5-decorate Christmas tree and watch lots of Christmas shows
6-Make Felt Christmas Tree Ornaments (we simply cut out basic tree shapes and adorned with foam stickers on some, glued "jewels" on others)
7-Paint Christmas Crafts (Store-bought wooden Santa and Snowman frame)

Christmas Themed Wooden Spoon Puppets

One of our first Advent Activities was to make wooden spoon puppets. We brainstormed about Christmasy characters , then B quickly decided on Santa, Mrs. Claus, and Olive, the other reindeer. (Brady is pretty crazy about the book and movie Olive the Other Reindeer. If you haven't read it/seen it I recommend it.) Making the puppets was fun and easy! And you could do this a million other ways. It is so simple and straight-forward and adaptable that I feel silly posting steps, but here they are anyhow.
1) Gather your materials. We used googly eyes, felt, pom-poms, beads, pipe cleaners, cotton balls, markers, glue*, and scissors. And of course, wooden spoons- I found mine on clearance at A. C. Moore for 35cents! (Why is there no key for the cents sign?) *I'm fond of Beacon's Felt Glue. I think it's easy to use and has a strong hold.
2) Then just get to it. Cut felt and glue materials where you deem necessary.
3)Draw mouths and other small details with markers. Let it dry and have fun playing with your adorable puppets! We sure did.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Activity Advent Calendar

Last year for Advent Brady pulled a little treat attached to a ribbon out of her stocking each day leading up to Christmas. This was a tradition started in my family and boy do I love it. But, this year I really wanted to focus on activities rather than fun doo-dads and yummy candy. I have seen many a fun, cute, holidayrific advent calendar out there on the worldwide web. None seemed to fit my needs (use materials I already own, be changeable or add activities one at a time, fit in our space, be 3 yr old friendly) quite right, so On November 30th I stayed up half the night creating one. (That's classic me, in case you didn't know.) Good news is it was pretty simple.

First, I painted a tree on a foam core board. You could easily cut one out of scrapbook or construction paper if painting isn't your thing. Then I punched 24 circles out of various scrapbook papers that I had lying around, although I've never done any scrapbooking. I then placed the circles which are serving as ornaments around the tree until I came up with a layout I liked. Then I wrote, painted, or stickered the numbers 1-24 on the ornament circles in all sorts of ways. I used what I had within reach (paint, brushes, some # stickers, and an ebony pencil). I thought about getting up to get a sharpie, but at 1 am that just sounded like too much work. The last step was to hot glue tiny clothespins onto the tree to hold the ornaments and then, of course place the ornaments onto the clothespins. If I were to do this again I would either use larger clothespins or another means of attachment, those tiny ones are hard to open if the board isn't flat; ours is propped up or frame it somehow so that it was flat and a little fancier. Next year I'll probably stick with the same idea, but might change the whole shebang- who knows?!

Each night I write our activity on the back of the ornament. Every morning Brady pushes the clothespin top to open it and hands me the ornament to read the activity to her. Our "activities" are sometimes somewhat elaborate, other times it is something that is already on our agenda like decorating our Christmas trees, and sometimes they'll be downright simple such as watching a Christmas movie. It really doesn't real have to be that big of a deal, it just makes the "activities" that much more fun and festive and it takes the focus off of material things a little (maybe). Each week or so I'll post our activities.