Editor's note: This post was originally published on December 13, 2013.
The holiday season can be a wonderful time to get together with friends and family for special celebrations. We can also weave literacy and learning activities into our children's lives, ones that emphasize creativity and fun. Here are some ideas to make the holiday season even more special for you and your kids.
Why not find some special holiday-themed books to share via your book store or local library? Tapping in to our youngsters' interests is a great way to go. For instance, if you have a dinosaur fan, you might try How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague.
Books make great gifts, but, like us, children love to choose what they want to read. That's where book vouchers or a book IOU can be handy. Getting the very best value for each dollar available is also a useful life lesson.
Reading online together with your kids can be one way to introduce them to the classics. There are great online resources with audio recordings and videos of tales like A Christmas Carol and The Night Before Christmas.
A special family get-together during the holidays is a fantastic time to start creating a family book. With younger children, it might be as simple as a photograph on each page with the name of the family member underneath. Older kids might like to interview family members about special memories, and take photographs or sketch them. Other writing activities that lend themselves to celebrations:
• Write a letter to Santa.
• Write a thank-you letter to a relative.
• Write a list of ingredients you need to buy at the store.
Making time in busy schedules for children to be able to express themselves and create is always worthwhile. I love to emphasize giving and thinking of others, especially at Christmas. Even preschoolers can paint a picture for Grandma or use glue and paper to create hats for the party table. Combine creativity with the family book, above, and kids could collect and illustrate special family recipes. Other creative ideas:
• Create a brand new Christmas recipe.
• Create some new tree decorations.
• Make a special gift for a teacher.
• Make thoughtful gifts for others or invent some gift promises to write and decorate, e.g. “I promise you a ten-minute foot rub" or "I promise you a trip to the park."
When we think of the holiday season, it seems to be accompanied by a soundtrack, doesn't it? Music gladdens our hearts and helps us relate to others. Children might like to learn the words of some special songs to sing to while visiting friends and relations. They could make some instruments to accompany the songs, and even get together with friends to put on a concert.
Investigating holiday traditions in other countries is a great way for children to learn about other cultures. Your local or school librarian will be only too pleased to help you find books on this theme. An online resource you might like is Mr. Donn's Holidays, including Christmas.
You might also like to check out these holiday season resources here at Scholastic: Caroling With Kids, Christmas Tree Puppet, Handling the Holidays With Care, and A World to Celebrate.
How do you mix learning into your holiday fun? Let us know on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page.