Monday, December 14, 2009

Homemade Baby Food Jar Snow Globes and Christmas Goody Bag Ideas

I'm a Kindergarten room mom this year and I'm in charge of party planning. I have a small budget to work with and I was trying to think of some inexpensive but cool gifts to put in goody bags for the children. I was able to "go green" a bit by recycling some baby food jars that were given to me. The friend who gave me the jars also gave me the idea to make snow globes with them (thanks Carrie!). To prep the jars, I soaked them in hot soapy water and the labels came off quite easily. I dried each jar and lid and then got to work on my project.

I bought some small evergreen trees to stick in each jar. I had envisioned using snowmen but the craft store didn't have any on the day I went so I went with the trees as they were only $1.99 for 12 count packages. I used floral clay to stick the trees to the inside of each lid. The finished snow globes will sit lid side down. Next, I filled the jars with about two teaspoons of glitter. Then I filled the jars with cold tap water stopping about a 1/2 inch from the top. I used a hot glue gun to seal the lids. I put the glue around the inside rim of the lid and then twisted it back onto the jar. Once this is done, let the jars dry lid side up overnight. Resist the urge to shake them or turn them over before they are dry. I did not resist the urge (I'm very impatient sometimes!) and as a result I ended up having to redo the seals on about 75% of my jars due to leakage. Not fun and quite messy! The finished product turned out cute and I think the kids are really going to enjoy these. I will wrap them in newspaper (another "green" move) to help prevent breakage.

I will be putting the snow globes and Reindeer Food from my previous post in the goody bags along with a few dollar store finds (Christmas Pencils and Christmas Erasers), a candy cane and homemade cookie treats. I'm pleased with my budget friendly goody bags. The goody bags themselves are also going to be homemade. The kids will each decorate their own goody bags ahead of time using a plain paper lunch bag and some Christmas cut-outs, crayons, markers and glue.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Magic Reindeer Food!

I was busy last night assembling 21 reclosable bags of Magic Reindeer Food for a classroom full of Kindergartners. It's an easy and fun little project that I thought you might enjoy doing for your children or classroom too. It's perfect for preschoolers and early elementary children who have fun believing in Santa and the reindeer.

To make the Magic Reindeer Food I used about 4 tablespoons of dry oatmeal per reclosable bag and then mixed in about 2 teaspoons full of glitter. I mixed a few colors of the glitter together for extra color. I then attached a note to each bag telling the children to sprinkle the magic reindeer food on their lawn on Christmas Eve night. The smell of the food will help guide the reindeer to their house. Be sure to verbally explain to the children not to eat the food themselves as it does have glitter in it! Last year on Christmas Eve just before bedtime, my husband took our kids outside all bundled up in their PJ's and they sprinkled the mixture onto our snow covered lawn. We're looking forward to doing it again this year.

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas Books for Preschoolers

I want to share with you a list of Christmas books that I enjoy reading to my kids year after year. For your convenience, I will make two lists. One list will be the traditional Christmas books and the other list will be Christian / Religious or have mention of religious material. Also be sure to check out our Christmas lesson plan (on sale now for only 99 cents) for some fun arts, crafts and activities and crafts.

Traditional Christmas Book List
(Hover your mouse over the title to see a preview from

Clifford's Christmas (Clifford, the Big Red Dog)
by Norman Bridwell

The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy'>The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy by Jane Thayer

Who's That Knocking on Christmas Eve?
by Jan Brett (*Note, this may not be appropriate for younger preschoolers as it is a Norwegian legend with trolls and a bear.)

Christmas Stories and Poems'>Christmas Stories and Poems by Lisa McCue

Twelve Days Of Christmas - Pbk'>The Twelve Days of Christmas Illustrated by Susan Swan

Merry Christmas Mom and Dad (A Golden Look-Look Book)'>Merry Christmas Mom And Dad by Mercer Mayer

The Dog Who Found Christmas (Picture Puffins)'>The Dog Who Found Christmas by Linda Jennings

The Polar Express'>The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Bear Stays Up for Christmas'>Bear Stays Up For Christmas by Karma Wilson

If You Take a Mouse to the Movies (A Special Christmas Edition) (If You Give...)'>If You Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Joffe Numeroff

Oliver All Alone'>Oliver All Alone by Christine Harris

Corduroy's Christmas (Lift-the-Flap)
by B.G. Hennessy

Frosty the Snowman'>Frosty the Snowman by Jack Rollin's

Christian / Religious Christmas Book List

amy and the special snowflakes'>Amy and the Special Snowflakes by Grandreams Books Limited

The Littlest Christmas Tree: A Tale of Growing and Becoming'>The Littlest Christmas Tree (A tale of growing and becoming) by Janie Jasin

The Tiny Star'>The Tiny Star by Arthur Ginolfi

The Christmas Story with Ruth J. Morehead's Holly Babes (Pictureback(R))
by Ruth J. Morehead


The Stable Where Jesus Was Born'>The Stable Where Jesus Was Born by Rhonda Gowler Greene

The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale'>The Tale of Three Trees (A Traditional Folktale) Retold by Angela Elwell Hunt

This Is the Star'>This is the Star by Joyce Dunbar

Legend of the Candy Cane, The'>The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg

Legend of the Christmas Tree, The'>The Legend of the Christmas Tree by Rick Osborne

The Parable Series: The Pine Tree Parable'>The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Winter field trips and Christmas outings.

Continuing the Christmas theme I want to share with you some ideas for fun field trips and family outings. These are things that should be available in most regions without too much of a drive. Even if all of the ideas are not available in your area, I hope they will give you some inspiration to find something fun for you to do with your children. Most of our links are around the Midwestern United States but most areas will have similar attractions within a days drive. If you have any great Christmas or winter field trip ideas please comment below and share them with the rest of us.


Live Nativity Scene. These include live animals that the children may be able to pet afterwards. Many times churches and farms will offer this during the holiday season. It is often free or fairly inexpensive. Below is a link to one of these types of events.

Christmas Tree Farm. This is a fun field trip for students looking to get a tree for the classroom. We also enjoy doing this trip with our family. Some farms offer wagon rides and even meals or snacks (hot cider and doughnuts, etc.).

Botanical Garden. They may decorate for the holidays. The garden in the link below has an amazing display of "Christmas Traditions Around the World". They have many trees representing various countries. Frederik Meijer Gardens.

Ballet Production. Of course there is the large ballet that is offered in the bigger cities but often you can find ballet schools/organizations offering less expensive ballet performances designed for children and families. We attended "Twas the Night Before Christmas" last weekend and it was wonderful. My kids were even able to go on stage after the play to meet the cast and sit on Santa's lap!

Christmas Train. These trains go by many names but are almost always a magical experience that shouldn't be missed. They vary by price and length of ride so be sure to look around. If you are near the Midwest our favorite is Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad. It is amazing!

Carriage/Sleigh Ride. Whether in a city or out in the countryside these are fun for the whole family and create memories that last a lifetime.

School/Church/Theatre Productions. Opportunities abound to find inexpensive, child-friendly plays and musicals.

Bookstore / Library. In addition to the library, I know that large bookstores such as Barnes and Noble also offer storytime and crafts. I'll bet some smaller local bookstores do this too. They usually have holiday themes this time of the year. It's free and fun.

Malls. Take your children to walk through the mall. Malls, especially larger ones usually have many Christmas decorations up and it's fun to walk through and look at the displays. Bring a camera becasue if Santa is there, the kids can sit on his lap and you can take a picture.

Drive Through Light Displays. Look in your local newspaper to see if a ballpark, stadium or neighborhood is advertising drive through light displays. Sometimes you pay a fee per car load and sometimes you are asked to give a donation to help offset the expenses.

Bakery Tour. Check with your local bakery to see if they are offering holiday baked goods. I know that Krispy Kreme usually has holiday doughnuts. This is a fun fieldtrip year round but extra fun to watch holiday treats being made. Even more fun to sample them!

Zoo. You may not typically think of going to the zoo in the winter but it's actually a really fun time to go. The rates are usually reduced or even free. It's a gret chance to see how the animals react to the cooler weather and the zoo is less crowded. Some zoos even decorate for Christmas and offer special holiday hours.

Nature Centers. Learn about wildlife in winter, get a local history lesson and take part in fun activities such as candle dipping.

Craft Fairs. Craft Fairs can be a lot of fun for little ones. I give my kids each a couple of dollars to bring to the craft fair. They enjoy being responsible for their own money and I encourage them to look at the things at all of the booths before buying. They can "booth shop" without buying and then go back once they have seen everything and made a decision. This also gives me a chance to look around without hearing "mommy, I'm bored, can we go now".

If you live in the United States, I found another great resource for great winter field trips. You can find your state and then look for places to go in your area. They also offer recipes.

Happy Holidays! Enjoy!

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Making Easy Advent Calendars for Kids

I remember having fun with an Advent calendar when I was a little girl. I can't remember exactly what the calendar looked like but I do remember that each day we opened a little numbered door on our "calendar" and found a small surprise hiding in there. We received something little (like a sticker or piece of candy) each day until Christmas.

If you are looking for an advent calendar to do with your kids, I found a few that you could easily make or print. My favorite is the baby sock advent calendar because it's absolutely adorable.

Bubble Wrap Advent Calendar from Family Fun

Printable Advent Calendar from The Toymaker

Christmas Tree Advent Calendar from DLTK

Baby Sock Advent Calendar from Martha Stewart

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Kids Countdown to Christmas Activity

We put our Christmas tree up over the weekend and now each day my kids ask me "mom, how many more days until Christmas?" They are so excited! Does this sound familiar to you too? I've decided that we need a fun and easy way to count down to Christmas. I'm going to cut strips from red and green construction paper and have my kids help me make a festive paper chain. The chain will have one link for each day until Christmas. Each day they can remove a link and count down the days left until Christmas.

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