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December 5, 2013 25 Days of Christmas Book-Inspired Ornaments By Meghan Everette
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    Deck the halls, the holidays are here! Holiday ornaments I crafted in elementary school are hanging on my parent’s tree to this day. My own boys add new treasures they have created in the classroom to our tree every year, and they love being able to hang “their” ornament.

    My sister was given the task in high school to create an ornament to commemorate a book. The resulting Wizard of Oz picnic basket lined with blue gingham, loaded with shoes, apples, and a witch’s hat, hung proudly for years. It got me thinking; what book-themed ornaments could I bring to my classroom that could be displayed in homes for years to come? The result is 25 book-inspired ornaments that would be at home on a mantle, tree, or any holiday display.

    Disclaimer: No books were harmed in the making of these projects. Discards with ripped pages, molded covers, or that are otherwise unusable are my main sources for images. When in doubt, a quick online search can give you the paper prints you need for any book project!

    12 Days of Christmas Ornament

    The 12 Days of Christmas Pop Up Book

    The 12 Days of Christmas Pop-Up Celebration by Robert Sabuda

    Beautiful white pop-ups for each of the 12 Days of Christmas come to life when students cut paper-doll style decorations from simple white paper. Advanced scissor users can try for complicated designs or replicating the song’s characters, such as seven swans a-swimming. Simple shapes are made elegant by putting them in sections of a clear plastic bottle that has been cut into short cylinders.

    Mini Book Ornaments

    Mini Book Christmas Ornament

    Any Book!

    Use prints from the Internet or extra reading club order flyers to get mini covers of any favorite or holiday book. A few simple snips and folds and you have mini books. They are perfect for book lovers or that mini-classroom tree.

    Bear Ornaments

    Bialosky's Christmas Book

    Bialosky’s Christmas by Leslie McGuire

    Some simple Printable directions for creating a bear is all students need to draw adorable Bialosky bears. Add a little Santa hat and your bear is ready for his tree debut.

    Snowball Ornament

    The Biggest Snowball Ever

    The Biggest Snowball Ever! by John Rogan

    Paul gets wrapped up in a huge snowball. Make your students into snowballs of their own. Cut a picture out to show just the head. Then students can fold white paper into arms and legs. Attach cutout mittens, boots, and a hat to the arms and legs. A white circle covered in cotton balls makes the snowman body.

    Christmas Tree Ornament

    Charlie Brown Christmas

    A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz

    A Christmas tree would work for a variety of books, but what is more fun than Charlie’s little tree? I’ve given students little felt cutout trees with bags of tinsel, sequins, stars, and other fun decorations rolled inside a felt piece. Mini glue sticks mean students can decorate their tree at home as a fun project.

    Paper Cone Wreath Ornament

    Single Cone Ornament

    A Christmas Carol Book

    Bernstain Bears Ornament

    A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (or any book)

    A classic book demands a classic ornament. Roll paper cones from inspiring pages cut into small squares. I used pages from a discarded hymnal, but you can use any decorative paper or book. Glue the points of each cone until a full circle is made. Add a vintage sticker, or book cutout, to the center to cover the points and you have a classic look. My stickers are from K&Company through a local craft store. Feeling less classic? Any book, such as a ripped Bernstein Bear book, can become an ornament. Even novice crafters can make a single classic cone.

    Accordian Song Ornament

    The Little Drummer Boy

    Christmas Songs

    There are endless renditions of Christmas songs and lyrics turned into books. One 2″x12″ strip of music folded into a mini accordion can be manipulated into a circle. I glued two hymnal pages together to make the length needed. Add a sticker or embellishment to the center and you have an ornament worth singing about. (Not into Christmas? Print lyrics to any holiday celebration and apply a coordinating sticker, such as a dreidel, to customize a pretty decoration.)

    Funky Stocking Ornaments

    How the Grinch Stole Christmas

    How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

    Whether you love the classic, or picture Jim Carrey, The Grinch is a holiday favorite of all ages. Take Dr. Seuss’s whimsical illustrations as your cue to make fun and funky stockings fit for any Whoville Who. Cut wonky stocking shapes from brightly colored paper and decorate with old holiday cards, scrap wrapping papers, and even gift tags for a hodge-podged and quirky look.

    Harry Potter Ornaments

    Harry Potter Ornaments

    Harry Potter Ornament

    Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

    I know Harry Potter isn’t exactly a Christmas tale, but the first Christmas Harry spends at Hogwarts mixed with the late-fall movie releases have embedded Potter in my Christmas memory. I spied one idea online, taking cardboard scraps and pasting a page from a chapter on them. Over that I laid the chapter art and an important sentence from the chapter. I took it further with a plastic ornament. I shredded and curled book pages with glitter for the inside, and kept the quote and chapter art for the outside. ( I found half of a book in a discard bin at the thrift store; I could never cut up my books!)

    I Spy Ornament Collage

    I Spy Christmas

    I Spy Christmas

    I Spy Christmas was the first I Spy book I had as a kid. My parents still pull it out with their Christmas books and my children search each year like it is the first time they’ve seen the book. Channel your inner collage maker and use old cards, stickers, or paper to make a holiday collage. Frame it with craft sticks and you have a unique addition to the tree or mantle. A quick writing idea: get your students to make a rhyme about the picture they created and challenge others to find the images.

    Imogene's Antlers Ornament

    Imogene's Antlers

    Imogene’s Antlers by David Small

    Though Imogene isn’t really a Christmas tale, the book is fun and antlers at this time of year bring Santa’s team to mind. Cut out a picture of each child’s head and put it on a paper backing. I used red and green for Christmas, but any color would work. Have students cut antlers from brown paper and attach. Layer the paper again for a boarder and you have a playful reindeer for your tree. Have students write about the day they awoke with antlers as a fun winter-friendly hall display.

    Paint Stirrer Santas

    The Legend of Saint Nicholas

    The Legend of Saint Nicholas by Demi

    One of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read, The Legend of Saint Nicholas details the true life of Nicholas and his ascension into sainthood in the Catholic Church. Pictures of his every-changing image into the modern-day Santa are illustrated. Gather images of Santas from different times or countries and paint their likeness on simple paint stirrers, which are free at most home improvement stores.

    Candle Wreath Ornament

    Light the Candle! Bang the Drum!

    Light the Candle! Bang the Drum! by Ann Morris

    Celebrate winter holidays throughout the world. Each page features a different location and their traditions. Make a St. Lucia’s Day crown by cutting a donut shape out of heavy paper or a plate. Glue greenery to look like a wreath and add clothespins beneath so the wreath can clip on a tree branch. Paper rolls and cutout flames become the candles on this celebratory wreath.

    Ms. Frizzle Ornament

    The Magic School Bus Holiday Special

    Magic School Bus Holiday Special or Any Favorite Book!

    Bring characters to life by having students create gingerbread to replicate main characters. I used Ms. Frizzle from the holiday special movie, but students could imagine their gingerbread as any main character. Simply cut a gingerbread shape from cardboard or purchase a craft paper version and let students imaginations run wild!

    Mouse Ornament

    The Night Before Christmas

    The Night before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore

     “Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse!” There are so many takes on this timeless tale, but I love the original the best. As a child, I made a small mouse ornament out of a pecan, pink mini-pom, and some whiskers cut from black paper. I traded out the mini-pom for a bead on this mouse, but the idea is the same. It’s a sweet little nod to a sweet little tale.

    Owl Ornament

    Owl Moon

    Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

    This wintery story about a late night hike for owls always makes me feel chilly, like I’ve been in the snow myself. Create a simple owl with a paper tube, strips of scalloped paper, and oversized eyes. Bend the top of the tube together to create owl-like ears. Who-who will you treat with this adorable friend for Christmas?

    Pinecone Ornament

    Penguin and Pinecone

    Penguin and Pinecone: A Friendship Story by Salina Yoon

    A friendly little story, this book is the chance for my Kindergarten self to break free. As a five-year-old, I decorated the branches of a pinecone with dyed corn in many shades. It was on my family tree until the last dab of glue lost hold many years later. Adorn a simple found pinecone with any bead or sequin for an instant classic.

    Shell Ornaments

    A Pirate's Night Before Christmas

    A Pirate’s Night Before Christmas by Phillip Yates

    No pirate scene is complete without a beach full of shells. Paint a simple Santa face onto plain shells with a few simple steps. I collect mine at the beach, but most craft stores carry inexpensive plain shells that can be used. Check with local seafood establishments and see if they will save oyster shells for you, which can be painted on the inside.

    First Gift of Christmas Bell

    The Polar Express

    The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

    The Polar Express is a common celebration at many schools these days. Add a little jingle to your reading by creating the first gift of Christmas. Younger students can cut out the basic design, fold the tips together, and add glitter. Older students can stretch their geometry understanding and make their own shapes for a 3D fold.

    Snowman Craft Ornament

    Snowballs by Elhert

    Snowballs by Lois Ehlert

    Jennifer Solis, a first grade teacher, offers an easy craft stick snowman that fits the craft creation. Want a little more Ehlert inspiration? Allow students to add their own embellishments for the facial features and hat.

    Snow Dream Ornaments

    Snow Dream Book

    Snow Dream by Eric Carle

    The snowy overlays in Snow Dream make reading Eric Carle’s work even more fun than usual. Use an empty box or lid and create a tree image. Then cut a clear plastic, such as overhead film, and draw glue or put glittered dots on the plastic. Attach to the top for a snowy shadow box that mimics the book.

    Snowflake Bentley Borax Ornaments

    Snowflake Bentley

    Snowflake Bentley by Jaqueline Briggs Martin

    Recreate the magic of photographic snowflakes with a quick science experiment. Bend pipe cleaners into the desired shape and then suspend the flake in a jar. Mix 1 cup boiling water to 3 tablespoons Borax, dissolve the Borax, then fill the jar until the snowflake is covered. Let sit overnight and dazzling hard crystals will form. Remove from the water and hang on the tree. Crystals will keep, but may become cloudy over years.

    The Snowy Day City Ornaments

    The Snowy Day

    The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

    Cut and torn paper scenes have always reminded me of Keats' book. For a snowy city scene, take empty and clean milk cartons and cover the outside. Use a variety of papers to make buildings. Once finished, drip white and glitter paint over the top for “snow” that hangs on everything.

    Pinata Ornament

    Too Many Tamales

    Too Many Tamales! by Gary Soto

    A good book for teaching traditions, cultures, and Christmas spirit, Too Many Tamales! brings Mexican spirit to life. Continue the learning with mini piñatas made from fringe-cut tissue paper on classic shapes.

    Fish Ornament

    Welcome Comfort Book

    Welcome Comfort by Patricia Polacco

    A heart-felt bonding story complete with foster homes and Santa, Polacco crafts a touching story. Bring the gift of a carved wooden fish to life by cutting a fish shape and then gluing strips of scalloped gift wrap. Add a sequin or bead for an eye and use twine hanging for a genuine looking lure.


    Whether you make an ornament a day, or pick just one, crafting along with reading makes the magic of books and the holidays come alive. What are your favorite ornaments to make in the classroom?



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