Thursday, December 22, 2011

Some Fun Holiday Ideas

It's that time of year when adults are busy making preparations, and children are excited about the upcoming holidays.  Here are a few cute, fun, and educational ideas we found that would be great to do in the next couple of days with the children in your care.

One of our accreditation facilitation programs was making these ornaments as gifts for families this month.  Instructions are also available at All Free Crafts.  This dough is non-toxic, and it smells wonderful!

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

apple sauce
craft glue
cookie cutters (or cut by hand using plastic knives if you like)
ribbon or yarn
plastic drinking straw
Additional materials for decorations such as glue, paint, pipe cleaners, buttons, beads, etc...

Mix equal amounts of apple sauce and cinnamon and add 1 teaspoon of craft glue for every cup of applesauce.  Nutmeg or ground cloves can also be added if desired.  Let the children take turns measuring and stirring the ingredients.  Note that the dough may be too sticky, and you may need to add more cinnamon until the dough is easy to work with by hand.

Give each child a lump of dough to work with.  Roll or press dough to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut shapes with cookie cutters or shape freehand. Use the straw to poke a hole at the top of each ornament. (Adult may have to help with this.)  Place ornaments on a cooling rack or tray to dry completely. Depending on how large your ornaments are, drying could take a couple of days.  You can also put the ornaments on a cookie sheet and place in a 200 degree oven until dry.
Once your ornaments are dry, tie a ribbon or yarn through the hole and, if you like, you can paint these ornaments or add other decorations.

These fun and educational snowmen are from Teach Preschool.  Check out the site for lots of great photos and details about how they did the project.

Five Senses Snowmen

construction paper
wiggle eyes
small candy canes
jingle bells

During group time, discuss the five senses, sharing materials as examples of things that use each sense.  We can see the paper and wiggle eyes.  We can taste the candy canes (though these aren't for eating!  Consider having some the children may eat on hand.)  We can smell the cinnamon, hear the bells, and feel the sandpaper.  Share some photos of snowmen as well, and place the materials in the art center, encouraging children to create a snowman using the materials.  Let them be creative!  The idea is to use the materials as they wish and to stimulate the five senses.  The goal is not to have a classroom full of identical snowmen.

For a tasty, healthy snack the children can help prepare, this cute idea from Little Wonders Days is fabulous.

Christmas Tree Fruit Salad

green grapes
other small fruits such as red grapes, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, mandarin oranges, star fruit, or cut up kiwi.

This program used a tree-shaped tray, filled it with grapes, then used the other fruits to "decorate" the tree, placing a slice of star fruit at the top.  Look at this great photo!  Other ideas, in case you don't have such a tray, include using icing or cream cheese to stick fruits in a tree shape on a cookie sheet or plate, or simply allowing kids to enjoy the festive holiday colors as they create and eat their fruit salad.

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