Saturday, December 31, 2016

"Stories of Jesus Advent Tree"



One of my focus' as a mom at Christmas time is to teach my children of the true meaning of Christmas, which is Jesus Christ. One of my friends, Annie, told me about this advent idea - from Housewife Eclectic - last year and I've been waiting the past year to do it with my children (ages 3, 1). Starting December 1, and each night until Christmas, children learn a new story of Jesus through:
  • A PICTURE - I love that the majority of the pictures were in our Gospel Art Book, although some nights I pulled them up online on my laptop for my kids to look at. We pointed out different details in the pictures before reading the scripture selection OR simply summarizing the verses for their attention spans. My kids also loved watching a few video clips of the stories, so I will include links to this option as well.
  • SHORT SCRIPTURE SELECTION - these verses go along with the picture/video each night. 
  • A SIMPLE ORNAMENT - the ornaments also go along with the picture and scripture selection. I love that these are made from common household items and require very little time to put together. There were only a few supplies I didn't have, which I found at the Dollar Tree. After crafting the ornament, my kids would choose where to hang it on our special "Jesus Tree".
Before December, I purchased a three-foot Christmas tree for my children to decorate throughout the month with their easily crafted ornaments, each reminding them of a different story of Jesus. The key to making this work for us was by preparing the ornament supplies in baggies beforehand. I spent a couple hours one night (probably November 30) putting each of the ornament supplies into 24 individual baggies - pictured below. I also labeled each baggie with which day it was to be used along with the picture, verses and ornament to make that day. I loved preparing beforehand. Each night, I'd simply grab a baggie and be ready to go. There were a few nights we were busy with other things, so we'd catch up the following night. Both kids looked forward to making the ornaments and this was a great (and fun!) way for our family to remember The Savior throughout the holiday. I hope your family enjoys this as much as we did!



DECEMBER 1: THE BIRTH OF CHRIST

Ornament Supplies & Directions:

five popsicle sticks
glitter glue (Dollar Tree)
hot glue
optional: ornament hook

Use hot glue to form the popsicle sticks into a star. If desired, hot glue an ornament hook onto the top of the star. Have your children decorate the stars with glitter glue. *The star ornament reminds us of the new star in the sky when Jesus was born.


DECEMBER 2: ANNOUNCEMENT TO THE SHEPHERDS

Ornament Supplies & Directions:

pipe cleaner
beads
hot glue

Cut pipe cleaner in half and have your child string on beads. Help if needed. I knew my children would play with the ornament, so I placed a dot of hot glue before the first bead and at the end of the last bead, so the beads wouldn't fall off. Form the pipe cleaner into a shepherd's hook. *The shepherd's hook ornament reminds us when the angels appeared to the shepherd's and told them Jesus was born. The shepherd's visited baby Jesus.


DECEMBER 3: THE THREE WISE MEN

Ornament Supplies & Directions:

Toilet Paper Roll
Rhinestone Stickers

Cut across the bottom portion of a  toilet paper roll with small jagged lines to make a small crown. Have your child decorate the crown with rhinestone stickers. *The wisemen crown ornament reminds us of when the wisemen visited Jesus and brought him gifts.


DECEMBER 4: BAPTISM OF JESUS

Ornament Supplies & Directions:

white foam sheet
googly eye
ornament hook

Cut out a dove template from a white foam sheet. Have your child help stick or glue on a googly eye. *The dove ornament reminds us of the dove that appeared when Jesus was baptized.


DECEMBER 5: FISHERS OF MEN

Ornament Supplies & Directions:

white card stock
office stickers
googly eye
ornament hook

Cut a fish out of white card stock. Have your child decorate the fish with office stickers (fish scales) and glue on a googly eye. Place an ornament hook in the top of the fish. *The fish ornament reminds us of when his disciples were fishing all day, but didn't catch any fish. Jesus came and told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. The disciples caught so many fish, the nets broke. This was a sign of Jesus' power.


DECEMBER 6: SERMON ON THE MOUNT

Ornament Supplies & Directions:

red, orange and yellow felt
clothespin
hot glue (we found out elmer's glue doesn't work with felt)

Cut out the felt pieces and glue them together (as shown below). *The candle ornament reminds us to be like Jesus and to be a good example to others.


DECEMBER 7: STILLING THE STORM

Ornament Supplies & Directions:

styrofoam ball (a sponge would work, too)
toothpick
duct tape
ornament hook

Cut a styrofoam ball in half and place a toothpick in the middle. Use duct tape to make a sail. Cut the duct tape on an angle to make a triangle sail. Cut a small hole in the top of the sail to string an ornament hook through. *The boat ornament reminds us of when Jesus and his disciples were out on a boat. A big storm arose and Jesus calmed the seas. This was another sign of Jesus' power.


DECEMBER 8: JESUS FEEDS THE 5,000

Ornament Supplies & Directions:

blue, brown and white felt
googly eye
2 ornament hooks

Cut a fish from the blue felt and bread from the white and brown felt. Glue the pieces in place (as shown below). Cut a small incision in the fish and bread to string ornament hooks through. *The fish and bread ornaments remind us of when a large group of people were following after Jesus. Jesus wanted to feed the people, but only had five loaves and five fish. Jesus blessed the food and it fed 5,000 people. This was another sign of Jesus' power.


DECEMBER 9: JESUS WALKING ON THE WATER

Ornament Supplies & Directions:

paper
crayons
ornament hook

Trace around your child's foot on a piece of paper. Have your child decorate the footprint with crayons. Cut out the footprint and string an ornament through the top. *The footprint ornament reminds us of when Jesus walked on water.


DECEMBER 10: PARABLE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN

Ornament Supplies & Directions:

clothespin
paper towel, cut into strips
marker

Glue and wrap paper towel strips around the clothespin (as shown below). Make two eyes with a black marker. *The good samaritan ornament reminds us when a man helped another in need. We should be like the good samaritan and always help others.


DECEMBER 11: TEN LEPERS
  • Picture: The Leper
  • Video: (none)
  • Scripture Reading: Luke 17:11-19
  • Ornament: Leper Man

Ornament Supplies & Directions:

green foam sheet
10 buttons (9 of one color, 1 of another color)

Cut a man out of green foam. Have your child glue on all the buttons - notice we have nine green buttons and one blue button. The blue button represents the one man that came back and said thank you. *The leper ornament reminds us of the one man that came and said thank you to Jesus after healing him. We should always remember to say thank you.


DECEMBER 12: WOMAN AT THE WELL

Ornament Supplies & Directions:

white card stock
hot glue
pipe cleaner
do-a-dot markers (represent rocks on the well)

Cut a strip of white card stock (the outer area of the well) and have your child decorate it with do-a-dot markers. Hot glue the ends of the card stock together to form the outer area of the well. We also measured and glued a card stock circle to the bottom of our well. Glue on a pipe cleaner as the handle. *The well ornament reminds us of when Jesus asked a woman for a drink, even though she was different from him. We should always be kind and include others.


DECEMBER 13: THE PARABLE OF THE LOST SHEEP

Ornament Supplies & Directions:

white card stock
black paper
cotton balls
googly eyes
ornament hook

Cut a circle out of white card stock and a sheep head from black construction paper. Cut a small slit in the top of the circle to hang the ornament hook through. Have your child glue cotton balls to the circle and googly eyes to the black head. Glue the head onto a cotton ball. *The sheep ornament reminds us that Jesus is our shepherd and of His love for us. Jesus will always guide us back to Heavenly Father.


DECEMBER 14: TAKE UP THY BED

Ornament Supplies & Directions:

green felt
cotton balls
hot glue
ornament hook

Cut out two small rectangles from green felt. Glue three of the sides together, leaving one side open. Have your child place the cotton ball inside the pillow and glue the final side together. Make a small slit in the top of the pillow to place an ornament hook. *The pillow ornament reminds us of when Jesus healed a man with palsy. There were so many people around, the man couldn't come through the door, he had to be lowered from the roof.


DECEMBER 15: WIDOW'S MITE

Ornament Supplies & Directions:

white paper
quarter
crayons

Place a small piece of white paper over a quarter. Help your child color over the coin to make a coin rubbing. My three year old wanted to make three of them. *The coin rubbing ornament reminds us to always pay our tithing.


DECEMBER 16: MARY AND MARTHA
  • Picture: Mary and Martha
  • Video: (none)
  • Scripture Reading: Luke 10:38-42
  • Ornament: Ear

Ornament Supplies & Directions:

paper ear (print here)
crayons
ornament hook

Print an ear template and let your child color the ear with crayons. Cut the ear out and poke an ornament hook through. *The ear ornament reminds us to always listen to Jesus and focus on things that are most important.


DECEMBER 17: TRIUMPHAL ENTRY

Ornament Supplies & Directions:

toilet paper roll, cut in half
green foam sheet

Cut five slits around the top of the toilet paper roll. Cut five leaves out of a green foam sheet. Have your child help place the leaves in the slits of the toilet paper roll. *The palm branch ornament reminds us of when people waved palm branches when Jesus entered Jerusalem.


DECEMBER 18: LAST SUPPER

Ornament Supplies & Directions:

sacrament cup
hot glue
ornament hook

Hot glue an ornament hook onto a sacrament cup. I saved two of our cups from church last week. *The sacrament cup reminds us of when Jesus taught his disciples about the sacrament.


DECEMBER 19: GETHSEMANE

Ornament Supplies & Directions:

square box template - print on card stock
hot glue
ribbon
ornament hook

Cut out the square box, fold on the lines and glue as instructed. Glue and tie on a short ribbon. Hook one side of the ornament hook onto the ribbon and the other end hook onto the tree. *The gift ornament reminds us of Jesus' greatest gift he gave to us. We can always be forgiven when we make mistakes and can live with Heavenly Father and our families after we die.


DECEMBER 20: BETRAYAL AND DENIAL

Ornament Supplies & Directions:

white, red, and orange felt
two googly eyes
clothespin
hot glue

Cut out the rooster pieces from felt as shown below. Glue the pieces into place and glue on googly eyes. Glue the rooster onto a clothespin. *The rooster ornament reminds us of when Peter said he didn't know Jesus three times before a rooster crowed. Jesus told Peter this would happen - another sign of His powers.


DECEMBER 21: CRUCIFIXION AND BURIAL
  • Picture: Crucifixion
  • Scripture Reading: Luke 23:33-46, 50-56
  • Ornament: Cross

Ornament Supplies & Directions:

2 popsicle sticks
ribbon
glue

Break one of the popsicle sticks in half (disregard the other half) and glue it onto the full popsicle stick as shown below. Help your child tie a ribbon around the cross. *The cross reminds us of when Jesus died and his love for us individually.


DECEMBER 22: THE RESURRECTION

Ornament Supplies & Directions:

white paper
pencil
ornament hook

Trace your child's hand on a piece of white paper. Cut out the hand and place an ornament hook in the middle finger. Optional: Make a mark in the middle of the hand to resemble the mark in Christ's resurrected hand. *The hand ornament reminds us that Jesus lives again and was resurrected (body and spirit reunite after death). Jesus made it possible for us all to be resurrected.


DECEMBER 23: APPEARNACE & MINISTRY TO THE NEPHITES 

Ornament Supplies & Directions:

white paper
cotton balls
elmer's glue
ornament hook

Cut a cloud out of white paper. Place small globs of glue on the cloud and have your child place the cotton balls on the glue. Stick an ornament hook into the top of the cloud. *The cloud ornament reminds us of when Jesus ascended from heaven to visit the Nephites. Jesus loves all people, no matter where they live.


DECEMBER 24: JESUS LOVES YOU

Ornament Supplies & Directions:

2 pieces of red felt
toilet paper roll
hot glue

Cut out two large hearts and hot glue them together, leaving an opening in the bottom. Place the toilet paper roll into the bottom of the heart. Place the heart on the top of the tree. *The heart ornament reminds us of how much Jesus loves us individually. After talking about the heart, we reviewed the other ornaments of Jesus' life and love for us. This was such a fun review activity for us to do on Christmas Eve. The ornaments really helped my children remember the stories of Jesus. I held each one up individually, and my three year old remembered every story, but one. That's amazing. This activity really brought learning and the spirit of Christ during Christmas. I hope your family enjoys it as much as we do!


Friday, December 16, 2016

Tutorial: Icy Insect Eggs


I want to start by saying how much fun my boys (ages 3, 1) had playing with icy insect eggs! NOTE: You'll need to prepare these a day in advance as it takes time for the eggs to freeze. It's snowy and cold outside, so we decided to do this activity in the bath tub. I placed all the eggs in a plastic bin and my boys tried to get the insects out with their hammers and tools, salt and warm water. The colored eggs colored our tub water, which just added to the fun. Don't forget to check out our other Letter I Activities!  


Supplies: 
  • 12 Plastic Insects (I found ours from The Dollar Tree). 
  • 12 large water balloons
  • Food Coloring (optional)
  • Salt (optional)


Directions:

1) Place the insect and a drop of food coloring, if desired, inside the water balloon. I found it was easiest to put my index and middle fingers inside the balloon and slide them down until I reached the bottom portion of the balloon - which is much wider than the neck of the balloon. 


2) Fill the balloon with water and tie close. 


3) Place the filled balloons in the freezer to freeze overnight. My balloons were in the freezer for a full 24-hours before playing with them. 


4) When you're ready to use the eggs, cut the top of the balloon off with scissors. Pull the remainder of the balloon off the egg (this is fairly easy) and set them in a bin to play!



5) Use tools, salt and warm water to get the insects out. My boys played for about an hour!



Letter I: Letter of the Week (age 3)

Here's what our week looked like for Letter I: 

Read, Read, Read. I love reading to my kids on a daily basis. I checked out our Letter I Booklist at the library a week in advance. The picture above were our very favorite books, but you view more great Letter I books by clicking on the booklist link. 

Read Letter I Book. We also love to read these Little Letter Books from The Measured Mom. There are only eight or so pictures in each booklet. I pointed out the uppercase and lowercase I's (since we are focusing on both this year) and we talked about the pictures. 

Letter I Songs & Rhymes. This year, I'm putting together an interactive set of songs & rhymes for each letter of the alphabet. I know this series is focused on my almost three, but my one year old had so much fun doing the Letter I Songs & Rhymes with us this week. If you're looking for something more simple without props, take a look at this printable set of songs and rhymes from The Measured Mom.


Writing Practice. Every child is different, but my three loves writing letters! We practiced writing the Letter I's with "I's of All Sizes" from The Measured Mom. I decided to laminate them, so we can use them over and over again. Because my three loves writing so much, we practiced more with our ABC Write & Wipe.


Craft #1: Ice Painting. I made a bunch of colored ice this week for this craft and a color mixing activity below. All you do is fill an ice container with water and squeeze one drop of food coloring into each cube. I mixed the color around with a half a popsicle stick and left the stick in the container to freeze. My three really enjoyed painting with colored ice cubes!

Craft #2: Puffy Paint Ice Cream Craft from Preschool Alphabet. This craft was one of my three's favorites of the series. My three glued the ice cream cone (made from brown construction paper) and got to work painting his ice cream with mostly his hands. I had a large popsicle stick for him to paint with, but his hands were a lot more fun. You can make puffy paint by mixing 3T shaving cream + 1T elmer's glue + food coloring of choice in a bowl. After he was done painting, my three shook sprinkles for a finishing touch. 



Craft #3: Inchworm Craft. One of my goals this year is to teach my three how to use scissors. My three used these very toddler friends scissors to cut grass, while I helped hold a piece of green construction paper. My three glued the grass onto our paper and stamped an end of a zucchini (I used the rest to make this amazing zucchini bread) to make the inchworm. 

Color Review - Color Mixing with Ice Cubes. To make the ice cubes, I filled an ice container full of water and added one drop of food coloring to each cube. I mixed the color with a popsicle stick, so it was distributed evenly. My three loved this activity! We had extra colored ice cubes we added to the tub later that evening, and that was also a lot of fun. 

Math - Insect Shape Match. My three used these magnetic foam shapes to fill in these insect pattern blocks. I put the pattern card on a magnetic cookie sheet, so the foam shapes would stick. He did a bumble bee (pictured above), butterfly and dragonfly. We talked about the names and colors of the shapes.

Math - Inchworm Counting. My three drew a number (1-10) and placed the same amount in inchworms (cut straws) into their home (empty parmesan cheese container). 


Sensory Play - Ice Cream Play Dough from Smart School House. This ended pretty messy, but was so much fun! My three (and one!) loved scooping ice cream and making ice cream cones. To make the ice cream you mix one 15.6 oz can of frosting and 3-4 cups of powdered sugar (enough that the frosting is no longer sticky). Click the link above to view a full tutorial. 


Letter Ii Activity #1 - My three drew an insect (bought from the Dollar Tree) and I asked him if the insect liked big or little I's. Then, he placed them on the correct one. 


Letter Ii Activity #2 - Igloo Letter Ii Match. We didn't end up doing this, but I had planned to draw two igloos - one with an uppercase I and one with a lowercase i (as shown above). Cut out ten squares of white paper (ice) and draw uppercase I's on five of them and lowercase i's on the other five. Mix them up. Have your child draw a piece of "ice" and match it to the correct igloo. 




Beginning Sounds: My three is doing really well with letter sounds and can recognize the majority of uppercase and lowercase letters. He knows all the letter sounds and has shown a lot of interest in reading. I was so excited to find a perfect (and free!) reading series for very beginner readers that know their letters and sounds. It's called "Reading the Alphabet" from This Reading Mama. It's a 31-week program that has lesson plans for each day of the week. The lessons take up around ten minutes of our day and I have been so impressed with the program and how well my three is grasping a very early start to reading. It's a perfect fit for us. Click the link to find out more.


Letter I Science - Icy Insect Eggs. Because it's cold outside, we decided to do this activity in the tub. I placed our icy insect eggs in a plastic container and my three chose how to get the insects out. He tried a hammer and tools, salt and warm water from the tub. We talked about how salt melts the ice, but the quickest way to melt ice is with warm water. By the end, we had colored tub water! You can view a tutorial of Icy Insect Eggs by clicking the link.

Alphabet as a Whole - Inchworm Alphabet. My three loved this activity. He drew an alphabet card, identified the letter and sound, and placed it into the letter home (parmesan cheese container). If he drew an inchworm we had to stand up and wiggle around. Print the letter and inchworm cards from Nuttin but Preschool.


Name Review - Ice Cream Name Match from Preschool Alphabet. My three added scoops of ice cream onto a cone (brown construction paper) to spell his name. I laminated the ice cream, and used a dry erase marker to write the letters, so I can use this activity again with other names. Print this activity from the link above.


And that's it!