Christmas And Its Glory
This month's theme is teaching children about the magic of the holidays.
When it comes to looking for ways to teach the children the real story about Christmas, the evolution of Santa Claus, the history of the Christmas tree, and Christmas traditions around the world, there is no better place to start than the HistoryChannel.com.
But this wonderful season offers child care providers and parents ample ideas for teaching arts, language skills, math concepts, and so on, as you'll see below.
Using a simple map, the holiday season is a great time to teach the children about the world they live in. Point out that the native habitat of the reindeer is around the Arctic Circle, which includes Lapland. Help the children locate this area and label the geographic names of surrounding countries, oceans, and continents. Or you can look at the history of toys, and use a map to locate where certain toys are made around the world. Reading stories about how other people celebrate holidays around the world provides another opportunity to point out where the different countries are. Holiday greeting cards and stamps sent from various parts of the world present another opportunity to teach geography. Ask the children if they have relatives in other parts of the world. Talk with parents to see if they can provide stories from their culture, stamps from mail sent to them, etc. The opportunities are endless.
This holiday season is a great time to teach children the value of giving, even when they think they don't have anything to give. Looking for simple gift ideas the children can make for their parents, a seniors group, or to be donated to the food bank Talk with the children about how they don't have to have money to give nice gifts; they can give of themselves! you can use your arts and crafts time to create "Gift Coupons" the children could give such as shoveling snow from the sidewalk, washing the car, helping with the dishes, or some other task that might be appreciated. Start a can or penny drive, then plan a special filed trip so the children can see first hand where their donation goes and how it will help those less fortunate.
Talk to your librarian about unique books on the holidays that the children may not have read before. Conduct a simple letter writing session to Santa. Make Christmas cards with simple poems. Learn the words to new Christmas carols. Talk about the origins of Santa, Christmas trees, etc.
Arts & Crafts
Make hand/foot reindeer faces. Trace each child's foot on brown construction paper. Trace their hands on red construction paper. Glue the hands (antlers) to the foot and help the children make a reindeer face on the brown paper.
Create a holiday riddle book. Ask the children if they know any holiday riddles or jokes. Write these down and copy one set of jokes for each child so they can put them in a book and decorate the book. Here are a few holiday riddles: What does Santa say when he works in his garden? (Hoe, hoe, hoe!) Why did the woman put bells on her scale? (She wanted to jingle all the weigh!) What song did the Christmas tree sing when Santa arrived? (Fir He's a Jolly Good Fellow) What did the musical dog get for Christmas? (A trom-bone!)
Music, Drama and Creative Movement
Have the children pretend they are Christmas trees, first standing still as if frozen in the forest, then as a fully decorated tree with branches sagging from the weight of lights, ornaments, etc. Play songs like Oh Christmas Tree in the background.
Let the children take on the different characters of the season, Santa, an elf, a reindeer. Give them the space to pretend they are pulling a sleigh, climbing down a chimney, busy making toys, learning to laugh a Ho Ho Ho from their gut.
Play musical gift by having the children sitting in a circle with holiday music in the background. As the children pass the pretend gift around the circle, the child who is holding the gift when the music stops can tell everyone one nice gift they can give/do for someone else.
Cooking: Christmas-cookies.com offers a great selection of cookie and desert recipes for Christmas. The children could use their baking for gifts, donations, or special deliveries to Women's' shelters, etc..
Science: Teach the children about holiday weather. Will it be a white Christmas? What cities in the United States stand the best chance of having a white Christmas? How snowflakes are made. The properties of ice. Your librarian can help you find books to help you with these projects.
Talk about the different foods reindeer would eat. Look outside at the animals that live in the cold outdoors. Talk about how they stay warm. Make a gift for the birds by tying a ribbon on a pine cone, wrapping the cone in peanutbutter and bird seed, then help the children hand the gifts(s) in the trees. Throw out some peanuts for the squirrels, etc.
Math: Set up a Christmas card center and count the number of cards you receive every day then display the new card number. Then count the total number of cards on the display and show this number as well. You could even introduce the concept of a simple graph adding a new section for the number of cards received.
Count the number of ornaments on the tree. Separate this into the number of each kind of ornament.
Start a can or penny drive and set the contributions up in rows of ten to help the children keep track of their work.
Compare the height and weight of reindeer to that of more common deer, horses, and cows.