We have kept things festive this month with lots of fun activities that children enjoy around the holidays. Of course I am always trying to find ways to sneak in some fine motor practice, or numbers and counting without them even realizing it! I set up a mini tree for the class (above). I think it has been decorated and taken down over 10 times so far this month. It was a Table Invitation the first week of December and now I have moved it to the book shelf so children can visit it whenever they want! Sometimes ornaments with hooks came be tricky for little fingers, so I have half of the ornaments attached to circle pipe cleaners. They are easier to take on and off the tree because they hold their shape.
Another fun table invitation was called “Decorate the Tree.” Children simply rolled the dice, counted the dots and added gems or counters to their tree until it was filled up. Simple math and number practice with a twist! This activity was out on the tables for one week and then I added it to the learning trays for further exploration.
Another fun idea I got from a great website, Buggy and Buddy, was this felt cone Christmas tree. I simply hot glued felt to a Styrofoam cone shape and then cut out small felt pieces as ornaments for the tree. They also have visited this tree again and again. I placed it on the book shelf too for easy access to be decorated any time during the morning. Team work!
This table invitation was more sensory inspired! I brought out my playmobil Santa set and a few extras (red gems, artic animals, and people) and added some white navy beans for some great imaginative play. This invitation was visited by both groups and very popular. Playmobil is so easy to manipulate and the children like all of the little parts and pieces to add to the story lines during imaginative play.
Santa’s Workshop was just a little brainstorm idea I had last week for the tables. I cut out smaller rectangles and squares of paper, added rolls of tape, mini boxes, and small pom poms and bendable people for gifts. They spent the morning, cutting, using the tape, and wrapping “presents” for their classmates. It was so much fun to see them working like little elves. They always want to help with Christmas wrapping, but if you are like me I often time do it myself.
Their wrapping paper was all rumpled, twisted, and covered with tape, but they were proud of their wrapping jobs! This station will be coming out again this week while we wrap presents for our parents!
This month I made the children a Christmas themed play dough tray. I had little bulb gems, craft rhinestones, red and green gems, red bead cut into smaller strips, and Santa and Elf cupcake toppers. The possibilities were endless!
This snow themed Christmas tub was one of my favorite sensory tables I have made this year. We often times tell our kids at Christmas, “watch out, don’t touch, that’s fragile!” to all of the special holiday decorations around the house. What better way to make the holidays more accessible to them than creating a sensory tub with all special Christmas items that they CAN touch!
I searched the stores high and low and found, little mini nutcrackers, bristle trees, holiday finger puppets, mini reindeer ornaments, soft gnome ornaments, and snowmen ornaments. I filled up an entire table with fake snow that I found at Target and cut up a few strings of read beading to lay in the snow. This table was so inviting! The children used the little boxes to make presents for each other, the snowman and Santa’s came to life! It just went on and on. I also think it is easier to ask them not to touch things when they have their own place to play with the holiday décor without getting in trouble!
Before I put the playmobil Santa set on the tables, I had it in the Sensory room first! I put the lid on one of our large sensory tables and put a large white tray on top. Then I put glittery white “cloud dough” on the tray and added the Santa set. Playmobil is great too because most of the pieces can get a little dirty and wet, but will wash up just fine.
The second week of December I opened up the tray and we made “Snow Dough.” This was my first time making this type of dough with the class and it was really fun. You combine equal parts cornstarch and shaving cream to create a fluffy dough. It will form into balls, but once it begins to dry it will start to flake apart. I added some bowls, buttons, and some foam shapes cut up to look like carrot noses, hats, and scarves. I thought they would like to make snowmen, but they mostly enjoyed moving the dough all around and scooping it. It was very light and fluffy, who can blame them?
In art we have been very busy! I think the children have taken home a new ornament for the tree almost every time they visit school. We have been busy making some surprises for the parents too! Shhhh! The first week in December we made Salt Dough Ornaments! This might be something fun to do over the Winter Break next week!
2 cups flour, 2 cups salt, 1 cup warm water.
Knead into a dough, roll out and cut out shapes. Color your dough with food coloring or paint after it has baked in the oven. Just be sure to poke a hole into the dough with a straw if you want to hang it on the tree!
Bake @250 for two hours. Flip over half way through!
I like to paint a coat of Modge Podge on top of my ornaments for a more shiny look!
We have been slowly adding items to our group effort Christmas Tree sun catcher.
We also made this simple toilet paper roll Christmas tree. They dipped the roll into green paint to stamp out the shape of a tree. Then they covered the tree with gems and glitter!
We tried out hand at another puffy paint project! It was a great success! This was brown puffy paint (glue and shaving cream and powdered paint mixed together). It dries fluffy and it is a lot of fun to paint with! They added buttons and smiles to their gingerbread men too!
I need to get more pictures of our Learning trays this month, but here are a few that have been really popular with the kids.
Squeezing Christmas erasers:
Make your own candy cane ornament:
Some new items out in the classroom are:
My cousins’ vintage Fisher Price Dollhouse. The people are precious, there is even a little art easel for the kids room inside. It has been visited every day by just about every child!
Magnatiles on the light table! These have been extremely popular in the classroom. A lot of toys and manipulatives only come out for short periods of time and then are switched for another item after a few weeks. There are a few items that have a permanent home in the classroom: blocks, cars, books, kitchen, and now magnatiles! I even gave the tiles a permanent home one on our shelves!