Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Polar Express

Special Note: Have the children wear pajamas and prepare tickets for the train ride during circle time.

Gathering Activity:
Jingle Bells Bracelets 
Supplies Needed: loose assortment of jingle bells of various sizes and colors, 1 pipe cleaner per child
Directions: Allow the children to string several jingle bells on to a pipe cleaner.   Parents will twist the ends to make a bracelet when finished.

Circle Time:  We read the book The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.  This is a magical story of a young boy who travels aboard a train bound for the North Pole on Christmas Eve.  He is selected to receive the first gift of Christmas from Santa.  He selects a bell from Santa's reindeer, that only those who believe in Santa can hear.   (Which is why all of our activities have to do with trains and jingle bells this week).  :)

After we read the story, each of the children were given a ticket to board our own Polar Express.  We lined up chairs and created our own train.  Each child took turns sitting in the first seat and "driving" the train.  Whoever was seated in the "engine" selected a favorite Christmas song that we sang together.   We rang our jingle bell bracelets as we sang our songs.

Polar Express Jingle Bell Shoebox Train Art
Supplies Needed:  1 train cut out per child, 1 shoe box per child, red, green and white paint, jingle bells, spoons, glue, black paper, tape, and q-tips
Directions: 1-Tape the train cut out in the bottom of a shoebox.  2-Using a spoon, dip a jingle bell into a paint color and then place bell in the box.  3-Shut lid and shake.  4-Repeat steps 2 &3 with additional colors. 5-Glue train shape onto a black sheet of construction paper.  5-Use white paint and a q-tip to add snow to your  Polar Express landscape.

Train Cake, Hot Cocoa, and Marshmallows
I have a great train shaped cake pan that we used to make pound cake  We enjoyed it with warm cocoa and yummy marshmallows.  (Just like the kids in the story).  I would also suggest finding candy with white nougat centers, but I was unable to find any before our party.  (I found lots afterwards).

1-Present Toss: Place jingle bells inside of an open gift box.  Allow the children to toss bean bag "presents" into the box.  When they hit the sides of the box they get a musical surprise.

2-Jingle Bell Blanket Toss: Place jingle bells in the middle of a blanket.  Sing "Jingle Bells" together as you shake the edges of the sheet like a parachute.  When you say "Hey!", toss the bells into the air.  I think we could have played this game the entire hour and a half and the kids would have been thrilled!

3-Present Pass: We wrapped identical train puzzle presents for each of the children, with his/her own magical sleigh bell on top.  We played Christmas music and passed the packages around in a circle.  We started with one present and added one at a time until we were passing one per child.  The children had to use a great deal of coordination to pass so that they each only had one present.   When the music stopped, they opened their presents and did the puzzles.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Santa's Noisy Night

 Gathering Activity We made Reindeer Food together.  The children each measured their own ingredients into their own bags and shook them up.  We placed the poem inside.  I have done this for several years as a teacher and with my own children.  I am not sure where I originally found the poem and recipe, but I am sharing a link in case you need one.
Circle Time We read Santa's Noisy Night by Julie Sykes.  This is a funny story, perfect for a read aloud to 3 year olds!  It follows Santa along his Christmas Eve journey as he tries unsuccessfully to remember to be quiet and not wake up the children.  It is perfect for a read aloud.  There is repetition which the children can join in on, yelling and whispering, which makes it easy to be silly with, and familiar characters like reindeer, snowmen, elves, and of course, the Big Man himself.  After sharing the story, we sang "Up on the Housetop," "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer."  We also did the following Finger plays.  (You can click on the links to find the complete words).  We did "Call Rudolph", and each child helped take away a reindeer figure during the finger play.  We did "Here is the Chimney" and "There's A Little Reindeer."  The last one was originally about an elf, but we changed it, and I gave each child a Little People Reindeer to use to act out the song with me.  This one was by far their favorite.  We sang it several times.  

Art We made these adorable Paper plate Santas.  You can find directions here at No Time For Flashcards.  This was a wonderful fine motor activity that the children could do without much help. 

Pin the Nose on Rudolph: One of our talented moms made these super cute Pin the Nose on the Reindeer Game.  She drew a noseless reindeer on poster board and cut out enough red noses for each child to have to turns.  We covered the children's eyes with our own hands, so it wouldn't be as frightening as a blindfold.  

 Quiet Santa Says Played like Simon Says, but whisper all of the directions. 

Snack Reindeer Sandwiches:  These fun sandwiches have been around forever.  Another one of our fantastic moms made these from peanut butter triangle sandwiches, pretzels for antlers, cherry noses, and marshmallow eyes with mini chocolate chips.  I had to take a picture fast, because these disappeared quickly!