Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Evergreen Trees for Kids: Explore Christmas Trees

Evergreen Exploration: Preschool Nature Science

Save some samples from the Christmas trees and decorations for fun explorations at the preschool nature science corner. That is a quick set up that would help discovering many fascinating facts about trees!

Our activities were the extension of the Christmas Trees Nature Hunt in the neighborhood: Evergreen Trees: Nature Walk Activities for Kids.

Explore Christmas Trees

Our simple set up is pictured below:
  • sample brunches and cones with a variety of sizes and shapes,
  • a large tray for samples and a tray with compartments for sorting,
  • play dough and a roller,
  • baby wipes to wipe off hands as needed,
  • tools: a magnifying glass, a ruler, tweezers, scissors, a marker,
  • (optional) plastic bottles, water, pom poms, colored sand/glitter, grow your own crystal tree kit.

First, we explored a branch with the longest needles. We picked several needles off the branch - discovered they are growing in clusters of 4. We talked about the colors and scents; the sticky sap; discovered that the baby wipe is useful to wipe sap off as needed.

My Firefly had fun measuring and comparing the length of the needles. We measured a few and collected them into the first compartment of the tray.

Observing, measuring, and sorting needles and scales: there are many discoveries to make! We didn't try to identify the tree at this time. But we tried to notice the important details:
  • needles or scales,
  • if needles grew in clusters, how many needles in the cluster,
  • if they are long or short, 
  • if a needle feels round or have ribs when rolled between two fingers.

Evergreen Trees for Kids

Needles in play dough: this activity helped us to discover if the needles poke and if they are flexible or stiff. This activity is fun and great for fine motor skills!

Evergreen discovery bottles: they draw attention to detail and allowed us to review our previous discoveries in a fun way. The bottles look beautiful and so fun for kids to make!

The bigger soda bottle: My Firefly put a branch inside and filled the bottle with water. She could stop there - it was looking great already, but she wanted to put some colored sand and glitter inside too. That's such a beautiful sensory play!

Cones and pom poms: the goal is to observe if the cone is open or closed (wet or dry) and to find the seeds inside. By inserting pom poms, My Firefly noticed the spaces inside, and made a pretty decoration in the process.

Preschool Nature Science

I love the tree growing activity we had! It is a crystal growing experiment, but we used it to observe how the tree gets water and nutrients through the roots and up to the brunches - to grow leaves.

A store bought little box, very easy, but exciting to watch the tree growing: the paper tree is inserted into the slots of the included plastic tray. The tiny package with the solution is poured into the tray. Done - observe the tree growing in 24 hours. Amazon affiliate links:

Science for Kids Activities: Grow Your Own Crystal Tree Science for Kids Thinking Cap Activities ~ Grow Your Own Crystal Tree (Ages 12+)

Bundle (four items): Grow Your Own Gel Balls, Crystals, Snow, and Crystal Tree Kits: Bundle: 4 Items- Science for Kids Thinking Cap Activities Grow Your Own Gel Balls, Crystals, Snow, and Crystal Tree Kits

More Nature Exploration Ideas from My Bright Firefly

Invitation to Explore Land, Air, and Water
Evergreen Trees: Nature Walk Activities for Kids
STEM Gift Ideas for Preschoolers

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Christmas Trees Construction Site Sensory Bin

Christmas Sensory Bin

Our Christmas trees construction site bin was all about building trees from supplies of different shapes and sizes. It turned out as fun discovering of different ways of building a Christmas tree and creative approaches to stacking and decorating.

Christmas Trees Construction Site

For the base, we used a mix of rice (white and colored), shredded tinsel, confetti, jingle bells.

Rainbow confetti:
It was fun to play! Kids love filling bottles and cups with the amazing colors. They made "relaxation bottles" without knowing any fancy terms for this. I can't find the exact match for the confetti we used, but here are a couple of options. Amazon affiliate links:

Polkadots Confetti: Beistle CN122 Party Polkadots Confetti, 1/2-Ounce

Flower Garden Confetti: Beistle CN139 Flower Garden Confetti

New Year's Party Confetti: Beistle CN177 1-Pack Decorative New Year's Party Confetti

Different ways to build a tree:
  • Stacking cups, blocks, or just the plastic cups from the kitchen.
  • Pegs with the peg boards with shatterproof mini Christmas ball ornaments.
  • The spoon stuck in rice and decorated with stickers.
  • A "sensory bottle" filled with confetti and tinsel.
  • Stacking leads from jars and tubes.
  • Stacking up baby food cups filled with brightly colored supplies. Smash down your tree to hear the fun sounds!

Pegs and peg boards:
Our pegs and peg board sets and Gingerbread house bags are from Oriental Trading. Here are a couple of options for pegs and peg board sets from Amazon:

Lauri Tall-Stacker Pegs & Pegboard Set: Lauri Tall-Stacker Pegs & Pegboard Set

Stack It Peg Game With Board Occupational Therapy Autism Fine Motor Skills: Stack It Peg Game With Board Occupational Therapy Autism Fine Motor Skills

Learning Resources Stacking Shapes Peg Board: Learning Resources Stacking Shapes Peg Board

It was an amazing Christmas Trees Construction Site!

More Building and Construction Activity Ideas from My Bright Firefly

Problem Solving with Cubes and Craft Sticks
No-Glue Cupcake Unicorn Christmas Ornament
15 Ways to Engineer a Fun Christmas

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

15 Ways to Engineer a Fun Christmas: STEM Activities for Kids

Building and constructing activities: these 15 Christmas project ideas for kids can lead to fun discoveries and cool creations for the holiday season!

You can also find a collection of Christmas art ideas here: 30+ Merry and Bright Paintings and Paints.

Engineering Christmas

Pictured above:
Candy Cane Jingle Bell Tree from Play Trains. Build a magical musical winter tree using bells, white and red stems, and more!

Polymer Clay Snowmen from Mama Smiles. Build happy snowmen, then add some creative details to keep them busy this Christmas season. You can find some fun ideas in this article.

Painting with Yarn. Easy Christmas Pop-up Card. from My Bright Firefly. It was a simple and fun activity. My Firefly loved building (and playing with) a manger.

Gingerbread Man Shape Matching from Powerful Mothering. Gingerbread man template and copy cards are provided. Can kids also create their own Shapes Gingerbread Man and a copy card?

A Christmas Catapult and Pom Pom Snowballs from Little Bins for Little Hands.

STEM Christmas Activities for Kids

Pictured above:

Jingle Bell Tree Ornament from Mosswood Connections. Create this fun and musical ornament using small disposable cups, yarn, and bells.

Cool Christmas Circles from Fantastic Fun and Learning. Kids can apply their measuring skills while engineering these fun circles. Can they let the circles rotate inside each other?

Free Polar Express Pack from 3 Dinosaurs. The Polar Express free printables contain many beautiful Christmas activities. We printed the first page on a cardstock paper, cut the pictures out and bent to make fun Polar Express manipulatives for creating our Christmas railroad small world.

Creative Lego Santa from Brain Power Boy. Follow instructions provided or engineer your own Santa from the parts at hand, and more!

Hole Punch Christmas Trees from Sugar Aunts. So much fun with building and counting! Can kids also make the lights shine?

Pictured above:

Jingle Bells Dancing in a Jar from Modern Preschool. Kids will love making bells dancing and jingling with this fun simple set up.

No-Glue Cupcake Unicorn from My Bright Firefly. Our favorite engineering for girls activity. But we are biased: we love unicorns!

Amazing Christmas Cutting Tray from Cutting Tiny Bites. Let them cut, and then create something new from the bright bits and pieces!

Light Up Rudolph from Left Brain Craft Brain. No batteries required!

Lego Nativity Scene from Frugal Fun for Boys. Use the parts at hand to engineer the small world Nativity scene. More simple Lego projects and instructions are provided in this article.

You can also find:
Christmas Craft Stick Task Cards and more from Childhood 101.

More Winter Play Activities from My Bright Firefly

No-Glue Musical Reindeer
Chinese New Year Sensory Bin
Polar Bears and Lullabies

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Monday, December 7, 2015

Paper Bead Angel Christmas Ornament. The Christmas Story.

Homemade Christmas Ornaments Idea Inspired by the Book

The Christmas Story is an all time favorite Christmas book. We made special, colored with love, paper beads for our Angels Christmas ornaments. Such a beautiful and special project we had!

The Christmas Story

"The Christmas Story" by Jane Werner Watson is a classic Little Golden Book first published in 1952. I can see us reading it again and again. Our special Christmas ornament Angel was made with love and creativity: My Firefly loved coloring her paper bead and threading while talking about the story behind it.

Amazon affiliate link: The Christmas Story.


Paper Bead Angle Christmas Ornament

For this craft, we used:
  • Printer paper, markers, glitter, white glue for the paper bead
  • Beads from this set (Amazon affiliate link): Melissa & Doug Bead Bouquet . But beads of any shapes and colors would work perfectly here: the more love and creativity is in this project, the better!
  • Chenille stem, any additional decorative supplies.
Paper bead: color about 2 inches along the longer side of the printer paper, using several of the favorite colors. Draw a line to create a long triangle: 2 inches on one side of paper to the corner on the other side. Cut out a triangle. Apply white glue to the colored side. Roll the paper over the chenille stem forming a bead.
We put some colored glitter sand on paper and rolled the paper bead around covering the bead in glitter. After several seconds, the bead is not sticky and ready for beading.
Angel's wings: thread several beads for the first wing. Bend the stem, bring it to the center, and twist to form the first wing (pictured above). Do the same for the second wing.
My Firefly wanted to decorate her Angel more: she drew the details on the face with the oil pastels and added a strip of glitter tape to the skirt. I helped her with twisting the stem and forming a top hook for hanging.

More Christmas Crafts Ideas from My Bright Firefly

Little Blue Truck's Christmas
Painting with Yarn. Easy Christmas Pop-up Card.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
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Adorable Christmas Ornaments Inspired by Books

10 Days of a Kid-Made Christmas

How to Make Paper Angel Christmas Ornaments from Artsy Craftsy Mom. Angels by Alexis York Lumbard.
Pink Pinecone Ornaments from Cutting Tiny Bites. Pinkalicious: Merry Pinkmas! by Victoria Kann.
Star Photo Frame Ornament from Messy Little Monster. How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers.
Tin Foil Bell Christmas Ornament from Little Bins for Little Hands. Polar Express by Chris Vans Allsburg.
DIY Russian Doll Christmas Ornament from Planet Smarty Pants. How The Russian Snow Maiden Helped Santa Claus by Gail Buyske and Natasha Voronina.
Kid Made Felt Mouse Ornament from Kitchen Counter Chronicles. Santa Mouse by Michael Brown and Elfrieda De Witt.
Play Dough and Paper Plate Wreath from Creative World of Varya. Christmas in the New House.
Coco and the Little Black Dress, A Kid-Made Ornament from Flash Bugs Studio. Coco and the Little Black Dress by Annmarie Van Haeringen.
Sparkly Craft-Stick Christmas Tree Ornament {Montessori-Inspired Learning Activity Included} from Living Montessori Now. The Very Hungry Caterpillar's Christmas 123 by Eric Carle.

All the wonderful books chosen and all the beautiful Christmas ornaments inspired by the books can be found here:

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Sunday, December 6, 2015

Handmade Christmas Card Holder Idea: Little Blue Truck

Kid-Made Little Blue for Christmas Cards and Toy Trees

Little Blue Truck never fails to be an exciting craft project for kids! We made Little Blue Christmas card holder. Our first experience with hammering nails into the board went well. According to the book, Little Blue delivers Christmas trees to all his animal friends. Ours is also handy for displaying Christmas cards.

Little Blue Truck's Christmas

"Little Blue Truck's Christmas" by Alice Schertle is one of our favorite Christmas books now and an inspiration for this craft project. It is a fun rhyme and a beautiful sturdy book. There are flashing colorful Christmas lights (battery is included) on the last page. Amazon affiliate link: Little Blue Truck's Christmas

All children are different and accidents happen. As usual, please consider safety first when choosing activities for your child.

For this craft we used:
  • a board (ours is 9 by 3 inches),
  • a hammer and 6 long nails,
  • blue, white, and red Tempera paint,
  • caps from baby food pouches,
  • chenille stems,
  • a Christmas garland,
  • egg carton for the cab.

The first real hammering experience for a 4 years old: I was holding a nail - she was scared. We held the hammer together, but I tried to let her apply the force. Review the safety rules before this activity, and consider your child's skill level when offering assistance.

Pictured above, mark the spots for nails with a pencil, drive 6 nails into the board, cut a side off the egg carton, paint everything blue, let the paint dry.

Pictured below, make wheels. Thread chenille stems through the holes in the caps as pictured, connect the ends and twist them together. We used 2 stems per a pair of wheels.

Christmas Card Display Craft for Kids

When the paint is dry, assemble the truck. Thread the wheels through the board. Wrap the Christmas garland around the nails to form the truck's bed. Glue the cab onto the board. Paint white windows and red lights. We used oil pastels for coloring the details.

Little Blue Delivers Christmas trees

My Firefly also made Christmas trees (there should be five according to the book). She simply stuck green caps with the red on top for the star and thread a chenille stem through them. I bent the stem and thread the caps in the opposite direction, twisted the ends together.

Dramatic play: the trees are of different sizes for different animals. We played with the rhymes while delivering trees to Little Blue's friends. It was a nice practice for counting the caps and comparing the lengths of the trees.

More Christmas Craft Ideas from My Bright Firefly

21 Gorgeous Snowflake Ideas
No-Glue Musical Reindeer Craft
Quiet Bunny and Noisy Puppy

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Wonderful Christmas Decorating Ideas!

Glitter Glue Gingerbread Man Decoration from Adventures of Adam. Merry and bright: this gingerbread man looks so happy - we will have to make this Christmas decoration!

Gingerbread House Photo Frame Ornament from Teach Me Mommy. The tradition of adding a new photo frame Christmas decoration each year is lovely! Such a wonderful way to collect family memories!

Crystal Snowballs from Rainy Day Mum. These white sparkly balls are so neat!

Kid Made Pom Pom Garland from Spark and Pook. That's a lovely Christmas garland a 3 year old can make - a great idea for the homemade holiday décor!

Easy Cinnamon Scented Sled For Winter Décor from Play Dough and Popsicles. Can you smell Christmas in the air? This simple sled craft will add a scent of cinnamon sticks, and looks cute!

Tissue Paper Christmas Wreath from 3 Dinosaurs. Kids can complete (and enjoy) this simple, but festive Christmas decoration all by themselves.

Jolly Kid Made Salt Dough Christmas Ornament Garland from Crafty Mama in Me. The perfect idea of displaying fragile kid-made ornaments.

Fine Motor Egg Carton Snowman Craft from Sugar Aunts. Poke holes in the Styrofoam egg carton and stack the snowballs together. Such a fun and pretty Christmas decoration!

Simple Bubble Wrap Holly Wreath Decorations from Crafty Kids at Home. Paint a Christmas wreath using a piece of bubble wrap: a neat effect of evergreens kids will love!

Gingerbread Man Paper Doll Decorations from Creative Family Fun. Lots of fun with paper dolls with the Christmas twist.

Kids’ Art into Christmas Decoration from Non Toy Gifts. A wonderful festive way to preserve and display the precious art.

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