Category Archives: Christmas

Our Santa Day Adventures

Last week we celebrated Saint Nicholas Day (December 6th). I thought I would share some of the ups and downs of our holiday adventure. Because believe me- while we did have fun during the day we had a lot of “blessings in disguises” (aka trials of patience).

I was super excited to celebrate Santa day with my Boo! I spent the day before combing through Pinterest and drooling all over the cute Santa crafts and treats. I picked some of my favorites, mingled in some learning stuff that I needed to work on with my daughter, and I proceeded to plan away! I jotted down a quick agenda of everything we were going to do.

Our first activity was to learn about Sinter Klaas (tying in some world geography and customs) and to leave out shoes on the night of December 5th for Santa to fill with treats or coins. However that night we made the mistake of turning on The Sound of Music (Carrie Underwood edition) and we couldn’t pull away (was it the anticipation/fear of someone messing up on live TV? Perhaps….) When the show was over my daughter was so exhausted that she told me she didn’t want to leave out her shoes- she just wanted to go to bed. But dang it I was so determined to include this activity in our day of learning that I found her shoes and set them by her door. No big deal- I just told her the next day that Rudy (our reindeer version of Elf on the Shelf) set them out. But Boo also was certain that Rudy was the one that put coins in her shoes instead of Santa.

Earlier that morning I blindly grabbed some coins from my dresser to put in her shoes. I thought I grabbed 2 quarters. Instead I accidentally took a gold dollar coin and didn’t realize it until after Boo looked in her shoes. Which probably sounds like no big deal EXCEPT we were going to have the gold dollars be a special thing that just the tooth fairy did. Yes I tried to sneak away the dollar and change it for a quarter. But my gal was well aware of my plan and insisted she keep her golden coin. Haha I ended up making up some story that Rudy must have somehow gotten one of the tooth fairy’s coins(reindeer do lose teeth too, right?) and wanted to give it to her. The things we do to keep the magic alive for our kids!!

Since my daughter had no school Friday, we enjoyed a late breakfast of Santa pancakes: these were super easy and perfect for the occasion.  As a special treat I also let her watch a movie while we ate- Santa Claus is Coming to Town seemed like a good fit… but my daughter didn’t like it at all. She refuses to watch any movies with bad guys but will pretend to be a ferocious carnivore on a daily basis. Go figure.

I saw some cute ideas of playing Santa’s workshop either by making homemade gifts or wrapping presents but I somehow thought I would be clever and have my six year old help me try to fix our vacuum. While wearing Santa hats of course. After 2 hours of intense mechanical labor (aka pulling out gobs of hair and searching on our hands and knees for a dime sized vacuum wheel that mysteriously disappeared) we both decided to take a snack break. At this point I am thinking that our Santa Day has been disappointing (other than our cute pancakes). I messed up with the Sinter Klaas coins, watched a horrifying Santa Claus cartoon, and lost a vacuum wheel. Still, i was determined to follow my itinerary for the day. So we headed to the kitchen to make a Santa snack.

What could be more Santa-ish than a snack of homemade milk and cookies? Even if the cookies got burned, right? I am sure Santa has consumed plenty of overcooked cookies.

I made the executive decision to take a Santa break and go upstairs and play dinosaurs. We had fun and there was no mention of the old man in a red suit for a good hour.

Later in the day we did do some fun Santa stuff. We played a sight word game with words my daughter is working on in school, a super fun game called “Don’t Eat Santa”, and a money dice activity where my daughter “shopped” for Santa’s suit. I would recommend all three of these activities!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For dinner I decided I wanted to make a Santa hat pizza. I saw the idea on Pinterest from Family Fresh Meals and it seemed easy enough. And surprisingly- it was pretty simple! We bought homemade pizza crust and cut up string cheese instead of using fresh mozzarella- other than that we followed the recipe. And although the green pepper had gone moldy so we couldn’t use it- I would still call our dinner a success!

With our dinner we made Santa Punch. I modified the recipe a bit by adding strawberry kool-aid instead of lime, and Sprite instead of ginger ale. It was tasty! We watched Miracle on 34th Street- black and white version- and was totally expecting my daughter to get bored but she actually really enjoyed it.

After dinner I wanted my daughter to write an official Santa letter. One that I could keep in the scrapbook I will make for her one day. She has written quick little notes of what she wants for Christmas, but I thought this would be a great time to teach her proper letter writing skills.  However Boo decided she was going to write to Mrs Claus instead and ask how her life was. I absolutely love this letter and how thoughtful my girl was to check up on Santa’s wife.

We read a few Santa books before bed. There are so many- but here are some of our favorites:
Guess Who’s Coming to Santa’s for Dinner? By Tomie de Paola
How Santa Really Works by Alan Snow
Presents for Santa by Harriet Ziefert
Priscilla and the Great Santa Search by Nathaniel Hobbie
Dora’s Starry Christmas by Christine Ricci

Despite the ups and downs of holiday planning- I really enjoy the magic of the season. We had a fun Santa day and now I am off to plan a more spiritual day learning about the Nativity and the true meaning of Christmas.

Happy Teaching!

8 Family Friendly Black Friday Activities

Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade with my family and I thought I would quickly post some of our non-shopping ideas for Black Friday tomorrow. I know most people love the bargains and the mad rush of running from store to store… but our little family plans on staying in our nice quiet home and will try to avoid the stores for the next few days :).  So for the past few days I have been brainstorming some different activities we could do that would not only officially kick off the Christmas season but also have fun with the “black” theme.

This is what I have come up with so far:

  1. Black Jack Friday: Instead of rolling the dice with what good deals you might be lucky enough to grab, have a game day with the family instead. Pull out all the card games/ board games, pop some popcorn, and just enjoy being together!  
  2. Black Board Friday: Take advantage of this day off from school to play school together. Have little lessons on the value of a dollar, advertising, etc for older kids- or for the little kids have a day celebrating the color black. And of course you don’t have to focus on Black Friday for your learning day- you can also use this time to reinforce/review/enhance skills your child is learning at school.
  3. Black Bag Donations: Grab a black sack (or cardboard boxes) and clean out your house with toys and clothes in good condition your children have outgrown that could be donated to those in need. I love the idea of totally switching gears and turning the shopping madness into a day of giving to others. 
  4. Black Bites: Create a menu of black foods to nibble on throughout Friday. Black licorice, black velvet cake, black berries, olives, and black rice just to name a few!
  5. Play Store: Have your kiddos set up some merchandise (aka run through the house and grab toys, books, etc), find or make some play money, grab a toy shopping cart or basket and a cash register and you are ready to go! For an extra twist have your kids make their own ads- this would be a great writing and art activity. 
  6. North Pole Breakfast: This idea has been floating around the internet for awhile. Have a special breakfast with the family to kick off the holiday season. This is the time we bring back our Elf on the Shelf (although ours is a reindeer).
  7. Decorate for Christmas! For those that decorate for Thanksgiving, Black Friday is the perfect day to set up the tree and enjoy Christmas decorations after the famous day of gratitude.
  8. Black Friday Math: Toddler Approved came up with this WONDERFUL math activity you can do with your kids using your stack of Black Friday ads. Check out her site for more information!
If you do decide to go shopping on Black Friday- be safe! And if you plan on staying home I hope this list helps you to plan a fun family day.
Happy Teaching!

20 Super Fun Holiday Events for Northern Utah

Christmas is on its way! While this is the most wonderful time of the year, it can also be very stressful. I have spent many hours scouring the web not only for good bargains on gifts but also for some fun local holiday events. As I am typing this post I have 10 tabs open with different holiday calendars. I was hoping someone else would make a great condensed list for me but alas I feel this is my Christmas responsibility to make this for you all!(Although this list from Enjoy Utah was VERY informative) And if you don’t happen to live in Northern Utah- don’t worry, maybe this list will guide you in finding activities in your community.
I am including a few Salt Lake County events that I thought some of you might enjoy!

  1. Layton City Christmas Lights starting November 25. Enjoy a free hay ride through the lights Wednesday December 11 from 6pm to 8pm.
  2. Temple Square Not only can you go see the lights, but there are several events such as Savior of the World, Mormon Tabernacle Christmas Concert, and the Christmas Devotional. Consider yourself blessed if you are able to get tickets to any of those events! November 29- December 31.
  3. North Pole Express at Heber Valley A pricey train ride but might be worth the trip if you have a train lover in your family! November 29-December 24
  4. Ogden Christmas Village Enjoy a holiday parade/opening ceremonies November 30 at 5:30 pm. If you can’t make it Saturday- don’t worry, this event is up until January 1. And visit Santa at the village Monday-Saturday nights!
  5. Weber County Winter Holiday Festival November 30 from 11am to 8pm. Enjoy holiday displays, a live nativity, music, treats, and more!
  6. Zoo Lights Visit Hogle Zoo at night for a spectacular light display! November 30- December 31
  7. Live Nativity I have never been to one before- I think this is a great way to bring in the Christmas spirit! The one I linked is December 4 from 6:00pm to 9:00pm but you can find them in most any community.
  8. Festival of Trees December 4-7 from 10:00am to 10:00pm.
  9. Holiday Open House at the Ogden Nature Center December 7, 9:00am to 4:00pm. Free admission as well as local crafts/bake sale and activities for the kids. There is also a fun educational program called Snow, Snow, Snow at the Ogden Nature Center where you can learn how animals adapt, travel, and hide in the snow on December 18 from 3:45pm to 4:15pm.
  10. French Toast with Santa on Monday December 9 from 5pm to 7pm at all Utah Kneaders. Proceeds go to Primary Children’s Hospital. (If you don’t mind spending more money Layton has a Breakfast with Santa on December 14.)
  11. Candlelight Christmas at This is The Place State Park December 9-23 Monday-Saturday evenings.
  12. Dickens Christmas Festival December 11- December 14.
  13. An Old Fashioned Family Holiday in South Ogden Chili dinner, tree lighting with the Mayor, and pics with Santa.  December 14 from 6:00pm-8:00pm.
  14. Here Comes Santa Claus Christmas concert performed by the Utah Symphony. December 17th at 7:00 pm.
  15. Santa on a Firetruck: A few cities have the privilege of watching Santa drive down the street on a firetruck. We happen to live in one of those lucky cities!
  16. Holiday TV Shows Planning on staying at home most of the holiday season? This is the list for you!
  17. Nutcracker This is put on by several ballet companies. While I plan on one day taking my daughter to the Ballet West production, we will settle for the Julie Moffitt Ballet School. We went last year and loved it.
  18. Community Plays: White Christmas, Christmas Carol, Littlest Angel at Centerville Theater, Twas the Night Before Christmas at the Ziegfeld Theater in Ogden, Forgotten Carols shown all over Utah and surrounding states, Babes in Toyland put on by the Utah Children’s Theater, and the 12 Days of Christmas at the Empress Theater in Magna just to name a few.
  19. Carriage Ride in Salt Lake or a Horse Drawn Sleigh Ride in Cache County.
  20. Peery’s Egyptian Theater So many fun events- like Brenn Hill’s Cowboy Christmas.
  21. If you are a member of the Treehouse Museum in Ogden, then you can attend the Santa’s Cookies and Milk party on December 7th or 9th.
  22. Centerville City has their Festival of Lights at Founders Park Monday December 2 with a special visit from St Nick himself!
  23. Bountiful has a Holiday Light Parade on Saturday December 7 starting at 6:00pm.
  24. Breakfast with Santa at the Clearfield Aquatic Center- fun activities for kids including an open plunge in their pools!
  25. Kaysville City has their Holiday Lighting and Electric Parade Monday December 2 at 6:00pm.
  26. Come see Santa light up the night at Farmington Station December 29 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. Or have breakfast with Santa December 7 from 9:00am to 11:00am at the Harmons located at the Station.
Have fun planning your holiday activities this year.
As always- Happy Teaching!

Little People Nativity Scavenger Hunt

I bought this darling Little People Nativity on sale last October (as in over a year ago) and completely forgot about it. So of course when I pulled it out this year I knew I had to do something special with it. This is what I came up with:
Little People Nativity Scavenger Hunt

We started our FHE by recalling prior knowledge about why we celebrate Christmas. My daughter’s response was along the lines of “so we don’t get bored”. Yes, we needed a nativity lesson!!! After talking about why we celebrate Christmas, I told her we were going to go on a scavenger hunt to find different things that will tell us more about the story of Jesus’ birth. I had her captivated. Mission accomplished.

Each object had a corresponding scripture, song, or poem on a strip of paper. On the back of the paper I wrote where to go to find the next object. (if you want to see what I wrote click here– nothing fancy, but it worked well)

We used the piano bench as our “base”- each time we found a piece to the Nativity we ran it there so we could act out that part in the story.

The objects were hidden in the order they appear in the story of the birth of Christ or where I thought they would appear. I loved the idea of starting at the beginning and acting out the story with the Little People.

don’t forget to have your kiddos have Mary, Joseph, and the donkey walking to Bethlehem before finding the next clue!
the Little People nativity is perfect for this- if you press on the stable it plays Away in a Manger- then you can just sing along!
so our nativity didn’t come with a shepherd, hence the cowboy playing the part. do i get points for creativity?

it just so happened that we ended our story with an animal my daughter has always wanted. it was perfect!

My daughter is absolutely, without a doubt IN LOVE with the Nativity story. Sure, a big part of that is because animals were involved.

She calls Bethlehem her “world” and had to take it to bed with her. I knew it was a victory when she later told me she wanted to play with her nativity instead of going to the dinosaur park ( a place that she loves very much).

I hope this helps you make the story of the nativity come alive for your kids! And of course, if you don’t have a Little People nativity, you could use one that you already have…. or print the pics on this post.
Happy Teaching and Merry Christmas!

Christmas Advent Ideas

I love love LOVE Christmas. Everything about it- the touching story of our Savior’s birth, the bright lights shining in the night sky, the smell of freshly cut pine trees, Bing Crosby and Johnny Mathis singing good old fashioned Christmas songs…. I just love it all! So of course I love acknowledging each and every day as we count down to Christmas!
I thought I would share the advent ideas that we are doing this year. I know it’s already the 4th of December, but maybe they will give you ideas for next year- or of course you can always start late 🙂

Christmas Keepsake mini books/ornaments. I found this gem while I was teaching school and have thoroughly loved it- I would recommend this to anyone who loves books, learning about Christmas, and ornaments. After we read the book for the day, we hang it on a little tree next to our fireplace.

Christmas Countdown Blocks
Made these awhile ago with my friends and I love it!

Advent House
I bought this at Target several years ago. I believe it was our first advent calendar. The last two years I filled it with treats and a small activity for us to do together. I even put in money when we worked on coin recognition. This year we went strictly for the treat.

Service Tree
Found this at SugarDoodle and love the idea of getting service into this season. It’s too easy to get caught up in the greed of wanting things- a step back always leads to a greater appreciation for what we do have and a more compassionate and empathetic heart for others.

Last, but certainly not least, the ever talented Shirley at Silly Bean’s Idea Space (we lovingly call her grandma) made this BEAUTIFUL advent box for my daughter. I am absolutely in love with everything about it-  the fun Christmas paper, the pink sparkly vinyl, and the thoughtful little gifts inside that my daughter just TREASURES.  Grandma Shirley, if you are reading this…. we love and appreciate all that you do for our little family. You are SO talented and we are just plain lucky to have you in our lives.

Hope you all have a great holiday season! Happy Teaching!

North Pole Breakfast & Reindeer Report

I found this DARLING idea on Pinterest to have a special North Pole breakfast each year to introduce Elf on the Shelf and just get in the spirit of Christmas (thank you Little Pumpkin Grace!). 
North Pole Breakfast complete with a special letter from Rudolph
Well we did it and it was fun! However, I am too cheap to buy an elf, so we customized it with something I had bought back in November for $5…. a reindeer.
Introducing the Reindeer Report. Each night Rudolph magically flies to the North Pole and gives Santa a report on if Boo is being nice or naughty. And she (I was informed it’s a girl) hides when she come back from the great white north, so we have fun searching for her in the morning. It works for us- it gives us the magic I love plus it incorporates an animal my daughter LOVES!
Letter to Boo from Rudolph
I also made a little reindeer book with a two sided nose- it stays red if Boo is being nice, but it quickly flips over to a black nose if she is making bad choices. 
I hope you are all enjoying the MAGIC of the season! Merry Christmas!

Peppermint Bark

Merry Christmas! We are just settling into our new home and starting some fun new traditions. One new tradition will be this extremely simple yet so DIVINE recipe for peppermint bark by Taste of Home. I am in Christmas heaven every time I take a bite! And my little Boo can help me with the recipe- YAY!

Ingredients:
6 squares (1 ounce each) white baking chocolate
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup crushed peppermint candies

1. In a microwave safe bowl, melt white chocolate at 70% power; stir until smooth. Repeat with chocolate chips.

2. Stir 6 tablespoons of crushed candies into each bowl.

Boo unwrapping and crushing peppermint candies.

3. Drop white chocolate and semisweet chocolate in alternating spoonfuls onto a waxed paper-lined baking sheet.

4. With a metal spatula, cut through the chocolate to a swirl.

5. Sprinkle with remaining crushed candies.

6. Chill until firm. Break into pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator (if there is any left! ha!)

They are as tasty as they look! And SO super simple! Enjoy!
Happy Teaching and Merry Christmas!

Gift Opening Practice

Like many of you, I want my daughter to be gracious and kind. Especially when given a gift. To avoid any potential acts of ingratitude during her birthday party, we practiced opening presents. It was a totally fun game and it provided my kiddo with the learning experience I desired! This would be a fun activity to do with your kids right before a birthday, Christmas, or other times of gift exchanging!

My daughter had a surprise party with some of her stuffed animals in attendance. Each animal brought a gift (misc toys found in her playroom).

Some gifts were good- like her favorite dinosaurs or pillow pet.

the “good” gifts

Others were not so good- rolls of toilet paper and random food storage items from our pantry.

the “not so good” gifts

We sat in a circle and one at a time each animal would give their gift. Boo would open the present, say one thing she liked about the gift, and “thank you”. Even when the gift was not so good.

I love Boo’s facial expression when she received dry soup mix from her unicorn!

The day of the birthday party came- and my daughter got lost in the excitement of all the presents- but I think she was as gracious as a 4 year old could be with a stack of so many fun toys to play with! This is one reason I LOVE opening gifts throughout the entire day instead of one fast paced session. 🙂

This unhappy tiger was tuckered out from opening gifts.

Happy Teaching!

DIY Christmas Ideas: Reposts

As I am starting to compile my list of homemade Christmas gifts to make this year, I thought I would share some of our favorite gifts we have made from the past. Just click on the name of each item to be redirected to the instructional post! Have fun!

We LOVE these blocks!
 Second set had the bible and book of mormon nativity blocks
Enjoy!

Montessori Christmas Ideas

What is one of the first things you think about when you hear the word “Montessori”? For me- it’s the learning area known as “practical life.” Maybe it is because my daughter and I focus most of our Montessori time on this subject. Or maybe because it is the most,..well…, practical!

I created a list of different practical-life Montessori activities you can do with your child during this fun time of year.

  1. Teach your child how to wrap presents. Provide them with several small boxes, wrapping paper, scissors, tape, and technical skill to get the job done.
  2. Using a small set of Christmas lights (found at Dollar Tree!) and a mini tree, teach your child how to wrap lights around a Christmas tree. (And if they bunch them all up and carefully smush them on the tree, praise them for trying 🙂 )
  3. I am not sure if this is considered practical life, but talk about the concept of charity and giving to others. Come up with a plan with your child to GIVE this holiday season.
  4. Write a polite letter to Santa and follow that up with a thank you card. Teaching manners is part of the Self Development category of Practical Life.
  5. Have your child help you hang the Christmas stockings on hooks.
  6. Use a holiday nutcracker to crack open nuts. My nutcrackers are strictly for decorative purposes, but it would be cute if you are brave enough to try!
  7. Prior to meeting Santa at the mall, be sure to teach your child how to introduce him/herself.
  8. And let’s hope this doesn’t happen, but if an ornament happens to fall and shatter, this would be a great time to carefully show your older child how to sweep up the fragments.
The list could go on and on- there are so many different practical life activities you could tweak for the holiday season!
Happy Teaching!
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