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Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Countdown With Books and Activities

OK, so I have been AWOL since July. Sorry to anyone still reading our blog. I know whoever you are that I owe you an update but if we wait until then I will never get to this post. This is an important post to me because I have working on it for about two months now and it involves one of my favorite Christmas traditions, a tradition that started nineteen years ago. Shortly after I met my darling husband, we shared our first Christmas together before he left for his LDS mission to England. He gave me an adorable book called, "Then the Troll Heard the Squeak." I have loved and reread this book over and over again through the nineteen years since receiving it. I have shared it with many that I have loved and also in the anticipation that one day I would get to share it with our children. What Bill started with me that first Christmas is a tradition that we have kept all these years later. We give and receive a book to one another each Christmas. In the past it was usually a book that we both were wanting desperately such as Harry Potter. However,  once we became parents, I decided that I would start collecting Christmas books for our Christmas tradition. If I found a book at a garage sale, thrift store or on sale I would add it to our collection. We now have about 30 Christmas/Winter books. Last year on pinterest I saw something similar to this pin that revolutionized how I could share these beloved books with my children in a fun and meaningful way.

I wrap each book and then label each from 1-24. I include an activity for us to do as well. This acts as a countdown to Christmas for my kiddos. They look forward to opening a present and seeing what fun thing we will be doing that day.  Don't be discouraged if you don't have 24 books, you can borrow from the library, from friends, look at thrift stores, garage sales, buy some after Christmas on clearance. Whatever you find works for you. Last year I was not as coordinated as I am this year and I would have us reading a long book on a night that had us out of town or supposed to be finishing homework. I felt frustrated that we were not always able to read our books for the day and would have to catch up on the weekend. I also found that I was scheduling activities that were perhaps lengthy when again we had places to be those nights. I also realized later that I could have included some of the things we were already doing such as our family Christmas party and going to Temple Square to see the lights. Last year I felt overwhelmed and uncoordinated as we struggled to make this tradition work. I therefore took the time this year to look through our calendar and schedule the books and activities according to what is going on in our lives. For example, Liam has a school concert and so for our activity that night we are going to attend his concert. The book I chose for that activity is about Christmas caroling. Hooray, no doubling up on activities or over scheduling us! I also love that the book gives us something to discuss as we prepare him for his concert. I love that each book now has a tie in with the activities I have chosen. I know that other women have created similar tutorials out there that incorporate books and activities. However, I don't own most of these books. So, I decided that I would make use of what books I do have and take the time to find activities that coordinate with our beloved books. It took me a lot of time and it would not have been possible without all the amazingly talented people out there that I have been pinning on my pintrest boards over the past twelve months.  However, even after all of my careful planning, I just barely realized as I wrote this post that I had forgotten to incorporate our DVD Christmas movies into the mix. So, I will be shoving them in where we have open times if we have any of those at all this next month.

I will have to improve on that plan for next year as I learn from my mistakes and oversights. Because I spent so much time working on this project, I thought it made sense to make a very long blog post of this so that I can reference it all month long as well as for future reference. OK, so whoever is still reading this blog also deserves to benefit by having access to this post as well. I have included a picture of the book, a link to where you can buy the book if you are interested in the book or would like a book description. I have also included the links for any activities we will be doing as well. For my children, I have included the significance of each book so that one day if they are interested they will know where these books came from and specifically why mom chose these particular books. Another note, after purchasing a new book for our collection, I include the date we purchased the book and I include a copy of that years family photo, that years Christmas card and a few thoughts. This is so that one day, my children and grandchildren can read these books and will know of the happy memories and times that these books represented in our lives. They will know that this book, for example, was bought when their daddy was one years old and was just barely walking. I guess its my way of reaching out to my future posterity and letting them have a peek into our lives and to know the lives we lived before they were here.

Pre-December Book: We read this book before setting up our tree as an homage to our Germanic ancestry.
Book: The Miracle of the Wooden Shoes by Deborah Pace Rowley
Activity: Set up the Christmas tree as a family. We have a special tradition where we make or purchase an ornament each year to signify what has happened in our lives that year. Our children love to hear the stories that each ornament lovingly represents.
Special Dinner: We make Christmas Pizza similar to these ones here. We will also have a Cocoa bar set up similar to this one that we can sip on while setting up the tree.
Books Significants: This book takes place in Germany. Bills family orginates from Germany. After reading this book we discuss our Germany ancestors and how they celerated Christmas.
Its a way for us to reconnect with our heritage and discuss why we have a Christmas tree and what it represents.
Song: O Tannebaum, a German carol about the Christmas tree. We will watch this you tube video.




December 1: 
Because its the weekend and we have enough books, we are going to be reading two books and doing two activities.

Book: Christmas Penguin
Activity: Write a letter to Santa and send it to this address.

Books Significants: This book was purchased while Liam was in Kindergarten. He enjoys reading this book aloud.







Book: Merry Christmas Mom and Dad

Activity: Go to Dollar Store and do Christmas shopping. We give our children the task of buying for mom, dad, and brother each. We then use these gifts for our stocking stuffers. This tradition is one of my favorites. I LOVE to see what my seven year old comes up with. He does a really great job and usually has a theme! Last year it was baking items for me. I use them and smile each time thinking of my sincere little man picking these gifts out for me. He knows I love to bake and that my favorite color is red and so for him it was a no brainer when he found red measuring cups and oven mitts.

Books Significance: I purchased this book for Bill while he was at the end of his mission. I wrote William Jr for the little critter in this book and Liam LOVES to see that we were thinking of him all those years ago.


December 2:
Since its the weekend, we are going to be doing two books  and two activities.
Book: Can You See What I see? Christmas Read and Seek
Activity: Make Graham Cracker Gingerbread houses like these ones here.
Activity: Play the board game Candy Land.

Books Significance: Liam loves to do word finds, Where is Waldo, and picture find books. I loved that this one was filled with Christmas items. We enjoy looking and reading this book together.





Book: A Pirates Night Before Christmas
Activity: Decorate dollar store white plates with sharpies and bake them in the oven to set them. You can see a tutorial here for this activity.

Books Significance: I knew that my Liam boy would love the creative and funny take on the classic story of the Night Before Christmas. He laughs and stares at the amazing detail of each picture and likes to listen to the rhythm of this book.




December 3:
Back to the normal weekly grind!
Book: Winter Wonderland. Sleigh Bells Ring Are You Listening?
Activity: Cut out snowflakes similar to these  for the kids and these ones for our Star Wars loving daddy. We will then hang them all from the ceiling.
Special treat: Make tortilla snowflakes like these ones.

Book Significance: I love this Christmas carol so much! I sang it in many concerts in my youth and I even learned a hulu in Hawaii that went with this song. Liam loves to sing the words to this song and act out some of the scenes.



December 4:
Daddy's Birthday!
Book: My Birthday, Jesus' Birthday
Activity: Make a birthday card for daddy and Jesus like in the book. Also, decorate the house with streamers, balloons and our traditional birthday decorations.
Special Dinner: Breakfast Waffles like these ones to celebrate.

Books Significance: I found this book at a thrift store when Liam was about three years old. He loves to read this book on his birthday and again at Christmas time. I love the parallel that the book draws so that young children can understand that Christmas is a celebration about the birth of Christ. We love this book so much!




December 5:
Book: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Activity: Watch this movie from 1964 of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

Books Signifcance: I found this book at a garage sale years ago. I jumped for joy when I found it since it was the exact same one that I had as a young child. I love that I can share with my children a beloved book from my childhood. I believe that many of us can relate to Rudolph at some point in our lives. I think its a great story and I love sharing it with my kiddos.



December 6:
Book: Snowmen at Night
Activity: Make this snowmen craft.
Song: Once There Was A Snowman
Special Treat: Make snowmen ice cream as seen here.

Books Significance: This book was gifted to Liam from his Kindergarten teacher. It is a treasured book and we love reading it over and over again.





December 7:
Book:The Sweetest Christmas
Activity: Make Honey-Nut Cheerio Christmas trees like these ones and secretly deliver some to our neighbors. These cookies are similar to ones my mom would make every year. My favorite part was being allowed to decorate the trees with sprinkles, cut up gum drops, and red hots. When I was old enough, I continued the tradition by making these with my younger siblings. For me, its not Christmas without these traditional treats.

Books Significance: I bought this book the year before I got married in hopes that I would shortly be reading it to my little brood of children. Sadly, it took many years for us to have children and my little brood is really just two amazing little boys. But we love this book nonetheless and love reading it together.

December 8: Its weekend time and so we will be doing two books and activities.

Book 1: If You Take A Mouse To A Movie
Activity: Go see a movie or watch one of our Christmas DVD's at home.

Books Significance: We LOVE this series of books and have the entire collection.





Book 2: The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa
Activity: Go see Santa at the Mall.

Books Significance: This book is another from my childhood and I love to share it with my children!









December 9:
Book: Follow the Star
Activity: Make stars similar to these and these

Books Significance: This was purchased from a school book order while Liam was in Kindergarten. I love the artwork and the story of Little Camel.







December 10:
Book: The Tale Of The Three Trees
Activity: Liam desperately wants to learn to sew. I saw these neat kid friendly sewn tree ornaments and I thought that he and I could enjoy making these together.

Books Significance: I tear up and cry my way through this book each year! I love the wording and symbolism of this book. Its a classic and I am grateful I have it to share with my children.






December 11:
Book: Oh What a Christmas
Activity: Play the board game Uno Moo

Books Significance: This book is silly! That is probably why Liam loves it so much and looks forward to reading it each year.








December 12:
Book: The Twelve Days of Christmas
Activity: Watch this clip on you tube with the lyrics.

Books Significance: Another garage sale find years ago. Its a book from my childhood that I remember reading from many times over. Liam also loves this book and enjoys seeing the Christmas carol over and over and over....again.

December 13:
Book: I Spy A Candy Cane
Activity: Make this cute and simple candy cane craft and then "grow" our very own candy canes with this super fun printable and tutorial.
Treat: Make candy cane cocoa recipe here.

Book Significance: We enjoy looking for the hidden items in this book!





December 14: Two books for us today but only one activity.
Book: The Christmas Cub
Book: I love Christmas
Activity: Make these colorful ornaments

Books Significance: I purchased these books for Liam to read aloud. He is such a great little reader!


















December 15: Our busy Christmas party day! Family and work parties today.
Book: The Littles Have A Merry Christmas
Activity: Party it up with family and daddy's co-workers.

Books Significance: I was obsessed with the Little's when I was a kid. I love that I get to share this with my children. Liam seems to enjoy them as well.







December 16:
Book: Santa's Favorite Story
Activity: Make this simple but cute nativity craft. Also we will go and see a life sized nativity scene.
Watch:  Away In A Manger

Books Significance: I found this book at a local thrift store and fell in love with the amazing illustrations. I also love the way this story is told and the tie in with Santa. 




December 17:
Book: Christmas in the Manger
Activity: Another super cute and easy craft found here.

Books Significance: I bought this book years ago from a thrift store. At the time, Liam was a little toddler and loved to look at the pictures and turn the pages. This year, its Kennan who is loving this book and is eager to turn the pages.





December 18:
Book: ABC is for Christmas
Activity: Attend Liam's School Christmas Sing

Books Significance: I found this book many years ago at a garage sale and I did a dance of joy that I had found a book that I had as a child. Liam and Kennan both love this book and we enjoy reading it together snuggled up in a warm and cozy blanket on the couch.





December 19: School parties, last day of school!
Book: Henry and Mudge and a Very Merry Christmas
Activity: Bake some easy Pillsbury Christmas cookies.











December 20:
Book: Clifford Helps Santa
Activity: Gather and deliver some food to the food bank. Clean out and donate some gently used toys.










December 21:
Book: The Polar Express
Activity: The Minivan express as detailed here and here. Go and see the lights driving around in our minivan in our pj's and sipping cocoa and munching on popcorn.
Special Treat: Polar Express hot cocoa and popcorn




December 22:
Book: God Bless Your Way A Christmas Journey
Activity: Go to see the lights on Temple Square

Books Significance: I love the illustrations and story line of this book. It also includes a CD with recorded music that we enjoy listening to after we have have read the book.








December 23: Two books and activities today!
Book 1: A Candle In The Window
Activity 1: Dress up in our church clothes and have a Christmas dance in our living room. Discuss that the main characters mama had passed away and how Grandpa Bill is also in heaven. Because of Christ, we will all be together again.

Books Significance: Today is the day that Grandpa Bill passed away 15 years ago. Its important for us to remember those that have passed on and that because of the Savior we will be together again.




Book 2: No Room At The Inn
Activity 2:Watch our Liken Christmas Story DVD











December 24: Christmas Eve
Book: Memories of the Manger
Activity: We will be opening a large box that will have several smaller gifts in it I got the idea for this from here. I am going to include two books in the box to go with two of the presents in the box.







Book 1: Humphrey's First Christmas
Gift to go with it: Homemade blanket

Significance: When I was a child my parents would often give us homemade quilts for gifts. I later found out that it was a tradition from my amazing grandmother. Her mother and hers before her were great quilters. Sadly, I am not a quilter. But my love for traditions helps me to over come this by creating a blanket each year out of fleece. It was an easy project and they are snugly soft! I love sharing family traditions with my children in hopes that one day they will look back with fondness and share the same traditions with their children.

Book 2: Little Critter's The Night Before Christmas
Gift to go with it: PJ's

Significance: As children, both Bill and I received pj's on Christmas eve. I love this long standing tradition. I look forward to getting new pj's and snuggling with my family! I purchased this book during our first year of marriage for our first Christmas. I love the Little Critters books so much and love to collect them. I read them as a child and enjoy sharing them with my kids. Liam especially loves to find the spiders and little critters on each page.

Book 3: There Was No Snow On Christmas Eve

Significance: I love that this book focuses on what it was like when Jesus was born.

Book 4: As per our tradition, I will be adding a new Christmas book to our collection. I have been getting an LDS Christmas books that are avaliable each year. I am uncertain what it will be this year but I look forward to adding yet another great book to our amazing Christmas book collection.

I am also going to include a box of hot cocoa, some popcorn, and the movie "Brave." After reading the books the kids will get into PJ's snuggle with their blankets and we will watch the movie Brave as a family while snacking on the popcorn and cocoa. After the movie we will read the Christmas story from the scriptures. Lay out our cookies for Santa and then put the boys to bed.

Decemember 25: Merry Christmas!
Book 1: A Christmas Dress For Ellen
Book 2: A Christmas Bell For Anya
Activitity: Play with our Christmas presents, watch some Christmas movies and enjoy the day!















3 comments:

Samantha said...

You are amazing! I love this tradition and I'm sure all the hard work you have put in will pay off! We are also reading Christmas books each day. Its our first year so we'll see how it goes. :-) Im sorry I haven't written you back on fb yet. I will!!

Jana Perkins said...

I am Pinning this! What a great resource. We already have some of those books and I can't wait to get the others. And acitivites too! Moana, Thank YOU!

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