Sunday, November 13, 2011

Favorite Christmas Activities

One more week until Thanksgiving... we all know what that means... almost time to start Christmas activities!  As I try to decide what I want to do this year, I think back over some of our past Christmastime favorites:

Sugar Cookies:  The week before Christmas is a great time to lighten up on the drills and do some experiential based speech/language/communication work.  The kids love to make and eat sugar cookies.  The process lends itself to lots of communication opportunities. At our office, we do not have a fully functional kitchen, but we do have a toaster oven.  I purchase the sugar cookie rolls and cut off a chunk big enough for a cookie or two.  I allow the child to roll out the dough, choose a shape, cut, bake, and decorate their cookie.  The more kids you will do this the more you need to KISS (Keep It Super Simple).  A sequencing event made on Boardmaker can be sent home with the child for re-telling the process.  If you want to add a book to support this task you could choose If You Give a Mouse a Cookie or The Gingerbread Baby.  The children could even create a narrative about the adventures of their Christmas cookie.

Gingerbread House:  Ms. Debbie taught us a simple and fun way for making a gingerbread house by using graham crackers.  If the house is just for fun and not to eat, you can hot glue the crackers to form a house shape.  If you want it edible, you will need to make royal icing to "glue" the house together. We usually pre-assemble the houses and let the children decorate them.  They can earn items for working on their goals. Be sure to have lots of candy available: m&m's, gumdrops, mini candy canes, sprinkles, etc. (you can use some of that leftover Halloween candy). 

Gingerbread Christmas Trees:  Using the same principle as above, use store bought sugar cones inverted on a paper plate.  Simply ice with white or green icing and attach candy decorations.  If you are really industrious you can make a scene using the graham cracker gingerbread houses, cone trees, and teddy graham occupants.

Tree Ornaments: Ideas for homemade ornaments abound.  One of my favorites is to use the Shrinky Dinks sheets available from most craft stores.  I then allow the children to either free hand draw a Christmas item (my favorites) or I will supply templates to trace and then color the drawings.  I have the kids use permanent markers or map colors to apply color, then I trace the design and any features with a black sharpie.  We bake them in the toaster oven and the kids get to watch as their art shrinks and thickens into a cute ornament.  Be sure to punch a hole with a hole bunch before baking so that you can insert a hanger or string.  I made these with my own boys when they were little and they are some of my most treasured ornaments to this day.  Nothing is more special than things handmade by your child. Also be sure to add the year to the ornament.   (photo borrowed from this blog)

Beaded Candy Canes and Wreaths: These may not have a big WOW factor, but they are super easy, quick, and the kids seem to enjoy them.  Simply bead a pipe cleaner and then twist into candy canes or wreaths.  Earn beads for targets. Can work on patterning, following directions, if-then (if Rudolph has a red nose, then use a red bead, if not use a green bead), etc.

Here are some of my Christmas Favorites links:

Christmas Book List on my Facebook Page