Bright eyes shining excitedly at the cluster of colorfully wrapped gifts beneath the tree, a plump stocking, and the faint scent of pine needles are the magic of Christmas morning. Add a little snow to that and you’ve got one amazing day! Regardless of whether or not you actually have a white Christmas on Tuesday, you can still give a delightful “snowy” surprise by making these delicious, fun (and healthy!) Christmas Oat Pancakes.
3 cups oat flour (you can use white or wheat if you prefer)
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 c. milk (we often use soy milk)
6 tablespoons canola oil
Maple Syrup (We place syrup in a recycled babyfood jar so L. & B. don’t use too, too much. They think it’s fancy, which is an added bonus.)
Mix the above ingredients together in a bowl. Take out a small amount and place in two different bowls. Add green food coloring to one and red to the other. Cook the colored pancakes first and cut out shapes using cookie cutters. Next, make plain pancakes. Cut the corresponding shape (see pictures) into the pancake and place the colored shape inside. Sprinkle each with a little “snow” (powdered sugar!) and enjoy!
Want even more “snow?” Hang snowflakes in your child’s room on Christmas Eve while they’re asleep as we did last year, and you’ll be sure to get off to a beautiful start to the holiday.
Unlike the rainy day finger paintings, jack-o-lanterns and pilgrim hats that our children make throughout the year, ornaments created by their little fingers during the holidays have a way of staying with us. The other projects may be nostalgically stored away, but these handmade ornaments carry an extra something special and are thus carefully packed up with the rest of the decorations, and are enjoyed every year for generations. That’s what I love about spending time making them with the kiddos in our family during the holiday season. Each slightly misplaced Rudolph nose or over-glittered star that hangs from the tree tells the story of where we are (or were) in our lives. So here are five ideas for ornaments you and your child can make as you celebrate the rest of the season and years ahead!
1. Festive Clay Ornaments
2 cup bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cup water
(optional) green food coloring
Additional Items for Decoration:
Mod Podge (if desired)
string (to hang)
pencil…(to poke a hole in top)
* Mix all 3 ingredients together in a pot and stir over medium heat until as thick play dough and it has formed one large ball in the pan. * Knead together to make smooth. * Roll or simply flatten with hand and cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters. * Poke a hole for hanging with a pencil, pen or back of paintbrush.
* Push in beads and glitter for decorations. (The sooner you do this the better, so the clay isn’t too dry and more likely to crack.)
* I decided to use Mod Podge to seal and strengthen the ornament. It made a world of difference. We used the matte version, but shiny would be nice as well. I put two coats on and it filled in all the cracks nicely. Then we signed and dated the back of the ornaments with a sharpie.
2. Christmas Trees for the Deer (Rudolph Included!)
* Cut bread with various cookie cutters—the kiddos loved this part (we made stars, angels, Christmas trees, hearts, and candy canes).
* Use a needle and thread (or fishing line) to make a long strand using 5-10 consecutive cranberries and/or Brussels sprouts followed by one of the breaded shapes. Although it’s probably safest for adults or older children (L. who is almost 5 did well with the cranberries and bread) to do the stringing, younger kiddos can decide in what order the various components should be strung. * Hang on a tree outdoors.
Inspired by a triangle tree ornament I saw on Happy Hooligans!
Small foam stickers
String (to hang)
* Glue together three green popsicle sticks into the shape of a triangle. (I used a glue gun and it took seconds to make each one).
* Glue decorations around the “tree.” We made two different versions; the first, we glued on pompoms and sparkly ribbon pieces, and the second, we stuck on foam sticker shapes. The latter works better for the toddlers—stickers instead of glue, promotes independence and allows children to practice fine motor skills.
4. Paper Towel Stars
We found this idea here and they are truly beautiful!
White, child-safe paint (I am not a big fan of using spray paint with little ones, as the original craft calls for, so I let them paint themselves.)
Cardboard from empty paper towel roll
Glittery string (to hang)
* Flatten the paper towel roll.
* Cut straight across the paper towel roll (all the way down) to make petal-shaped rings about an inch thick.
* Paint strips white, roll in glitter and let dry
* Glue 6 pieces together at the center to create snowflake. If you use a hot glue gun it is easy, but if not, you can hold the pieces together with clothespins until they dry (glue 2 together at a time).
I just LOVE this Rudolph my grandmother made for me, so I wanted to make it with my kids too. I know they will treasure Rudolph!
Felt (light brown, white, red and black)
Two twigs (for antlers)
String (to hang)
* Use thin sharpie to draw out shapes on felt (deer head and ears on brown, small two white ears, white eyes and black eyes, red circle nose, white and black for mouth as shown below)
* Cut out all shapes
* Glue shapes in appropriate spots and attach string.
And if you’re still searching for meaningful yet affordable gifts for friends and family, personalizing any of the above ornaments with initials or names and packaging them up nicely certainly does the trick.
On the cusp of 2013, good, old-fashioned hand written communication is hard to come by. But as educators and parents who truly value the sentiment of putting pen to paper, we try to engage our little ones in it from an early age so they’ll appreciate—as we do—what it means to express oneself through this non-electronic medium. What better way to motivate the process than having your child write a letter to Santa Claus?
We created this free Santa printout for you to download, with prompts to guide your child. This was B’s very first “letter” to Santa. Granted, she’s not the biggest Santa fan yet (saying “No, no, no!” and holding her little hand up any time she’s in the same room as him!) but it gives her exposure to how thoughts can be expressed in words on paper and simultaneously makes a sweet baby/scrap book addition! L. has already written many letters to Santa throughout the years, but she still enjoyed this activity. It was also nice for Gregg and me to see what items still make the top of her list! And a perfect follow up “lesson” to Santa’s letter is writing thank-you notes for gifts received (our Easy to Write Cards are creative and practical stocking stuffers!)
We truly hope you and your little ones enjoy this activity and have a wonderful holiday! Please come back and share all of the funny and cute responses you get in the comments section below or on our Facebook page!
Although everyone seems to love Angry Birds lately–we like to keep our birds happy! In fact, after Christmas each year my grandparents always let their 10 kids transfer the popcorn decorations from the Christmas tree to a tree outside for the birds to snack on.
So to carry on this family tradition we’ve taken to creating bird feeders with our children. Here are two we’ve tried out so far:
FRUIT FEEDER: We made this bird feeder with oranges, limes & grapefruits. I simply cut them in half and scooped out the inside. Then my daughter poked a wire through the top and twisted it to make a loop for hanging it. My daughter filled all three fruits up half way with peanut butter and then filled them with birdseed. We then found “perfect” trees to attach the feeder to for the birds.
PINECONE FEEDER: My daughter and her friends really enjoyed making this simple bird feeder. They took a large pinecone and smothered the outside with peanut butter. Then they rolled the cone in birdseed so it covered the outside. Lastly we tied yarn around the middle so they could hang it on a tree outside.
We’re eager to try something new, are you? Here are some other wonderful bird feeder ideas we found:
String of Fruit & Nuts shared by Natural Kids
Cheerio Hearts shared by Under the Table and Dreaming
Water Bottle & Wooden Spoons shared by Family Fun
Have more great bird feeder craft ideas? Comment or share your links below!
We’ve found we just can’t get enough of learning about new activities and crafts to do with our kids—especially during the winter months when it can sometimes be a challenge. In addition to sharing some we find while searching through some of our favorite blogs and websites, we’re also excited to share some of our own ideas.
The play options for kids when it comes to snow are endless, but sometimes there just isn’t enough snow to create a snowman or fort. When that’s the case in our New England town, we bring painting outside. What you’ll need:
?Paint [we use water mixed with food coloring so it is non-toxic/safe for the environment]
?Mixing tools such as spatula, sand shovel…
There is something magical about the bright colors decorating the white snow-covered ground. Let your child’s imagination take over and enjoy!
Amanda and Sarah
It has finally started snowing—albeit just a bit so far—here in Boston, which has us very excited! The snow not only adds to the options of outdoor winter activities with our kids, it also gives us a great opportunity to read some of our favorite snow-themed children’s books.
Here are five of our favorites:
Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner is a fun, magical book about what snowmen do at night when no one is watching. Mark Buehner’s illustrations are amazing and there’s a fun little game you can play on each page. Be on the look out for hidden images in the snow!
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is a wonderful book written in 1962 about a boy waking up to discover that snow has fallen during the night. It follows him in all his adventures. Again, illustrations are wonderful in this book!
Frosty the Snowman by Steve Nelson & Jack Rollins is not only a classic story, but it’s available in a Hallmark recordable version. It adds a special extra something to have relatives that live far away or a traveling parent “read” your child a bedtime story.
Stranger in the Woods by Carl Sams and Jean Stoick is a photographic fantasy story about animals discovering a snowman in the woods. At the end of the book you discover that two young children have been replenishing the snowman’s features as the animals eat them.
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs is a great book that even very young children can “read” because it only features pictures. Guide your child through each page while telling or prompting their imagination of a corresponding story—a wonderful pre-literacy skill. There is no right or wrong way to tell this story about a child becoming friends with a snowman.
Amanda and Sarah