Tuesday, December 30, 2014

25 Nights of Christmas Books: Nights Thirteen Through Eighteen

For today's Slice of Life, I want to share six mini-slices:

As a child, I always felt that the holiday season flew by. I remember waking up every December 26th under a blanket of sadness, knowing that my favorite season had come and gone. Even as a young child, it wasn't about the promise of presents and new toys, though we always enjoyed a bountiful booty on Christmas morning, because toys are temporary. The excitement of opening up gifts and the novelty of playing with a new toy last only a moment, whereas, the magic of the season lives on in memory. 

For as long as I can remember, I craved the magic and nostalgia that the holiday season brings: family get togethers, where all us kids would dance and sing while our uncles strummed their banjos; gathering around the table on Christmas day to make tamales; and long drives in search of Christmas lights. 

Now that I am a mother, the holidays seem to speed past even quicker! In an effort to slow things down so my son could enjoy the magic of this season, I began our "25 Nights of Christmas Books", where each night we read a different holiday-related story. 

I've already posted about nights 1-6 and nights 7-12, so here are nights 13-18 ~

Night 13: King of the North Pole and Frosty the Snowman

We read two books tonight because, between you and me, I am not a huge fan of "King of the North Pole", but it's one of my son's favorites so we read it every year. As a preschooler, I understand its value, the simple verbiage and repetition help develop my young son's literacy, but as far as Christmas stories go, bah humbug :-) 

I chose Frosty the Snowman to read after because I thought it would be a quick and easy read, or "sing". However, my son insisted that I don't sing the story but rather read it. Have you ever tried to read a well-known Christmas carol? It was very difficult! After I finished reading the book, we then had to sing it...twice!

Night 14Thomas' Christmas Delivery

Not so much a fan of Thomas the train anymore, my son is still a fan of this Christmas story because it amazes him that the trains actually enjoy the coal Santa leaves in their stockings! Ha Ha! He's very concerned that Santa might leave him coal!

Night 15Who's That Knocking on Christmas Eve

As I've shared in previous posts, Jan Brett is one of my favorite children's book authors! Her ability to review, preview, and present new content in stunning illustrations on every page is astounding! "Who's That Knocking on Christmas Eve" combines tradition, drama, and friendship. There's even a "little kitty" in this story ;-) I have to set aside a large chunk of time for this book because my son loves to take himself on a picture walk, before and after I read the story! He discovers something new in the illustrations every year.

Night 16Pocket's Christmas Wish

Pocket's Christmas Wish presents the meaning of Christmas through the eyes of a little snow bunny. While his siblings are out skating on the frozen pond, Pockets searches the forest for the true meaning of Christmas, and finds it, in all things, a carrot!

Night 17The Legend of the Candy Cane

This book is just full of magic and wonder! Opening up a candy shop, the store's proprietor shares the meaning of Christmas through the story of the candy cane! Another one of my favorites for the sheer pleasure of taking a visual walk through its pages.

Night 18A Chipmunk Christmas

For some reason, this was the year my son developed an interest in the Chipmunks. Every time I asked him what he would like to listen to, it was one of the Chipmunks' carols, so my mom bought him this book. In true Chipmunk fashion, there is misunderstanding that leads to a heartwarming ending :-)

Tomorrow, just in time for the end of the year, I will share our final seven Christmas books. In the meantime, if there are any Christmas books or traditions you would like to share, please do :-) 

You can also make your way over to Two Writing Teachers and share your own Slice of Life:

Monday, December 29, 2014

25 Nights of Christmas Books: Books Seven Through Twelve

My second installment celebrating mine and my son's 25 Nights of Christmas Books ~

Night 7: Biscuit's Christmas Eve

Every year, we add new Christmas books to our growing collection. This year, my son picked out a Christmas book with the endearing dog Biscuit. In this picture book, we learned the true meaning of Christmas through Biscuit's eyes.

Night 8: Jan Brett's stunningly illustrated "The Night Before Christmas"

As you will see, Jan Brett is one of my favorite children's book authors, as she illustrates her books with the most intricately stunning pictures! Accompanying this Christmas classes, Jan Brett's art captures the magic and whimsy of "The Night Before Christmas".

Night 9: All You Need for a Snowman

My son loves when we read this book, as we have done year after year. He enjoys the magic of turning one tiny snowflake into a larger-than-life snowman! It's a fun way to show children a multi-step process. 

Night 10: Yes, Virginia! There is a Santa Claus

This classic tale is another new addition to our repertoire. We purchased it at Macy's when I took my son to deliver his letter to Santa Claus. It's the classic story of a young girl, Virginia, who writes a letter to Santa Claus because her faith has been questioned. It closes with a heart-warming message for the ages!

Night 11: The Spirit of Christmas

In her unique prose, Nancy Tillman delivers another heart-warming story of love, magic, and warmth. In "The Spirit of Christmas", Tillman recounts all the things that make this season so wonderful, saving the best for last: you! Another beautifully illustrated picture book that inspires.

Night 12: Santa's On His Way

This is a fun, interactive book that keeps my son engaged. With pictures that transform, we spend more time on our picture walk than we do actually reading :-)

I'm a bit late in posting these, as my son and I moved a mere week before Christmas, but if you come back tomorrow, I will have posted books thirteen through eighteen.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

25 Nights of Christmas Books: Nights One Through Six

Holiday traditions: Mistletoe, Christmas carols, Santa Claus.

My sisters and I grew up with our own special holiday traditions: opening up one present on Christmas eve, having hot cocoa while my mom read "Twas the Night Before Christmas", and making tamales on Christmas day.

When my son was born, I wanted to create a special holiday tradition just for the two of us; one that would allow us to celebrate the season every singe day! But, what could we do that would stretch twenty-five days?

I contemplated this in the months leading up to our first Christmas. One evening, as I was reading my son a bedtime story, I remembered all the Christmas books I had from my teaching days. After he fell asleep, I rummaged through boxes of books and papers, until I found them! With books in hand, I married my love of Christmas and literature and created our very first holiday tradition: 25 Nights of Christmas Books.

Here are nights one through six for this year's 25 Nights of Christmas Books ~

Night 1: Little Critter Merry Christmas

For our first night, I asked my son to peruse our basket of holiday books and choose one he would like me to read. Of course, he chose Little Critter! He loves this book series, though we often have heated discussions over what type of critter these books are about. I say Little Critter is a porcupine, but my son insists he is a hedgehog :-) No matter on this night because my son delighted in Little Critter's mishaps, especially when he wraps himself up in tape!

Night 2: The Christmas Ship

The illustrations in this book, alone, make it a magical holiday treasure! The stunning light-infused illustrations take you back to a more simpler time. Then, there's the story...it's a story of Christmas magic and how even the grinchiest of people deserve kindness. Having been asked to help deliver presents by Santa Claus himself, the town's toy maker discovers a little stowaway on his ship as it takes flight on the wings of Santa's magic.

Night 3: The Christmas Lizard

The Christmas Lizard takes us on a wondrous journey through a Christmas Tree, meeting a variety of ornaments along the way! Each ornament shares with the lizard their interpretation of the meaning of Christmas. It isn't until he makes his way all the way to the top that he discovers the true meaning of this holiday :-)

Night 4: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

I try to weave poetry into my son's repertoire every chance I get, and one of my favorite poets is Robert Frost, so it's only fitting that I work Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening into our 25 Nights of Christmas Books. The illustrations accompanying this poem paint a beautiful picture for my son's first encounter with Frost's prose.

 Night 5: Dollar Store Board Books - The Christmas Mouse and Holly Jolly Christmas

Picking up supplies to mail overseas to soldiers, my son found these Dollar Store board books and insisted on taking them home for our sixth night of 25 Nights of Christmas Books.

Night 6: The Animals' Christmas Eve

This Little Golden Book is a holiday treasure. In rhythmic prose, it tells the story of Baby Jesus through the perspective of a stable full of animals. My son loves helping me read this book, as it has a counting element, presenting each animal in ascending numerical order. Gotta' love a book that multi-tasks :-) By the way, the ending will tug at your tear ducts!

Since that first Christmas, we have created more of our own special holiday traditions. Every year, I take my son to the store to pick out a new snow globe and another Nutcracker to add to our growing collection. We also embark on a special holiday-related activity every day. Each morning, my son opens an envelope on our Advent Calendar to reveal that day's event, ranging from donating food to our local food bank to driving around town looking for Christmas lights.

I would love to hear some of your special holiday traditions and how they have brought meaning to the holiday season! Please share in the comments below!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Preschool Science Curriculum: Library Day

After our visit to the Reptile Room at CD's Pet Emporium, my son and I made a trip to the library, where we researched books on reptiles.

I don't have to tell you, but the library is one of the most magical places! Just stepping inside transports me to my youth, when my biggest worry was if my pigtails were too tight. As a child, I spent countless hours reading, getting lost in the places my books took me, and befriending the characters I so longed to meet; and I want to provide these special memories for my young son.

Walking into our local library, we first see the Children's and Young Adult sections. Giant stuffed animals, like flamingos and lions, tower over us as we make our way through the children's stacks. I sometimes have to hold my son's hand to help him navigate as his eyes are cast upwards taking in the sites. In addition, the Children's section has computers for the kids to use...

...a puzzle table...

...story time...

...and a very kid-friendly, comfy corner:

Here he is perusing the adult library stacks back when he could barely walk:

Now that he is a little bit older, I was able to teach him how to research books and find those specific to reptiles:

He was quite amazed that all the reptile books were in one corner of the library :-) We sat in this corner for most of our visit on this day!

Our library even has one lower check-out desk that is the perfect height for my son to check out his own books :-)

Once we got our books home, we spent the next couple of days perusing, picture-walking, and reading each one. There is no end to the number of hours we will spend with literature:

* I posted this so far apart from my first Preschool Science Curriculum post because I could not find my pictures! Look for my third post in this series in a couple of days :-)

Monday, November 10, 2014

"Giving Thanks" Turkey Box

I found this fabulous little "Give Thanks" box idea from i heart crafty things and decided to give it a try with my son.

First, I collected all the materials:

  1. Tissue box 
  2. Acrylic paint in orange, red, and yellow
  3. Glow-in-the-dark paint in orange and yellow
  4. Paintbrushes
  5. Three sheets of white card stock
  6. One sheet of brown card stock (or you can get one more piece of white card stock and paint it brown)
  7. Construction paper scraps in red and yellow
  8. Google eyes
  9. Feathers for adornment

Then, we sat down to create our very own "I am thankful for.." turkey box!

In the original project, the tissue box was painted brown, but I happened to like the colors on my tissue box, so I left it as is. Instead, we skipped straight to painting the three sheets of card stock: one yellow, one orange, and one red. After painting the base colors, my son and I had some fun splatter painting the alternating colors. For example, on the red painted sheet, we splatter-painted orange and yellow. To put my own little twist on this project, I also splatter-painted glow-in-the-dark paint (I haven't yet tested the glow-in-the-dark effect, but will post a picture once I do :-):

From each sheet, I cut three "feathers". To help them lay straight, I placed all nine "feathers" underneath a heavy book while we worked on the rest of the project. I cut a peanut shape from the brown card stock for the turkey head and body. My son cut out a folded triangle, that he observed made a diamond when opened, for the beak, while I cut out another peanut shape from the red construction paper scrap. My son picked out colored googly eyes, and then we glued everything on.

Once the face features dried, we glued our turkey onto the tissue box:

By this time, the "feathers" were nice and flat, ready for gluing. Before we glued, though, I had my son create a pattern out of the colored "feathers":

To add some pizzazz, and another little personal touch to our project, I used craft feathers, in the same colors as the paint, to adorn our turkey:

We had to let each row of "feathers" dry completely before applying the next row, so in between "feather" installation, we read some Thanksgiving books we got from our local library:

After applying the final set of "feathers", I went to work on making "I am thankful for..." business cards on which to write our daily thanksgivings. I waiting until our project was completed, snapped a photo of my son with our "give thanks" turkey box, and used it to decorate our cards. Here are some of the pictures I had to choose from...

...and, here's the one I used:

This morning, we wrote our first thanksgivings and placed them in the turkey box. My son said he was thankful for his baby cousin, Nahla, and wrote her name on his card:

And, of course, I wrote that I am thankful for my children, my son and our two dogs :-)