The Night Before Christmas: When You Run Out of Wrapping Paper

diy-christmas-gift-wrap-2015-homeschool-crafts

Twas the night before Christmas, when the children were nestled all snug in their beds;

it’s only mamma frantically wrapping the presents while papa has settled his brains for a long winter’s nap…

What to do when you run out of wrapping papers then?

We, mothers do what we do best…improvise!

Here’s how to create your DIY Christmas Gift Wrap: Continue reading The Night Before Christmas: When You Run Out of Wrapping Paper

DIY Sock Snowman

DIY Sock Snowman

It doesn’t snow in Singapore, but that doesn’t stop us from making a sock snowman. 🙂 This easy-peasy craft takes only minutes to complete, yet allows the children to have fun decorating.

Materials

  • Newspaper
  • 1 men’s sock in white
  • 1 rubber band
  • Cellophane tape
  • Coloured paper
  • Adhesive felt material
  • Crepe paper

Instructions

Unlike other sock snowman tutorials that use rice or styrofoam balls as the filling, ours is stuffed with newspapers.  Scrunch a few pages of newspaper into balls.  A big one for the body and a smaller one for the snowman’s head.

To assemble, push the big newspaper ball into the sock, followed by the smaller one. Tie the top of the sock with a rubber band.

Fold the top of the sock (the “tail” that sticks out after tying), over your snowman.  Depending how big your sock snowman is, you may be able to cover the entire snowman with another layer; like ours.  If you have made a big snowman, then the layer of sock might be the cap for your snowman.

Using the coloured paper, fold a paper hat for your snowman.  Secure the hat on your sock snowman with cellophane tape. If the extra layer of sock cover your sock snowman’s head, then you could skip this step.

Twirl crepe paper around your snowman’s neck.  Tape it down with cellophane tape.

Use the adhesive felt to decorate your sock snowman. We used the felt material to decorate our snowman’s eyes, mouth, buttons and hat.

Have fun making your sock snowman with or without the snow!

DIY Reindeer Antlers Headband

DIY reindeer antlers headband

It’s that time of the year again! As we count down to Christmas, we made a reindeer antlers headband to add the festive cheer. Plus, it keeps the children busy on a rainy day. 🙂

This is a really simple activity and it’s easy to clean up afterwards.  Here’s how to make the reindeer antlers headband:

You’ll need:

  • A4 cardboard
  • 1 sturdy hairband
  • 2 pipe cleaners
  • Tape
  • Glitter glue and any other decorations

Method:

  1. Draw reindeer antlers on the cardboard.
  2. Cut out the reindeer antlers.
  3. Decorate your reindeer antlers in any way you wish.  We decorated ours with red glitter glue.
  4. Tape the reindeer antlers to the pipe cleaners. Add more tape to the back of the antlers so that it doesn’t droop.
  5. Secure the pipe cleaners to the hairband.
  6. Parade your reindeer antlers headband!

DIY Reindeer Antlers Headband

Apart from the reindeer craft, why not try some of our last-minute Christmas decorations?

Our family have been counting down the days to Christmas with our Jesse Tree calendar, making gift tags for friends and families, and reading the nativity story.

What have your family been doing this advent?

Amidst the craziness and to-dos, let’s not forget what Christmas is all about.

Jesus is the saviour God promised.

From our family to yours, have a blessed Christmas! 😀

Our Last Minute DIY Christmas Decorations!

Can’t you believe it?  Christmas is only 2 days away!  I’ve been busy cleaning the house, traveling around Singapore with the family and just cuddling a lot with Hannah as we read our Christmas books.

I’ve only started decorating the house just a two days ago!  With little time on hand, here’s what we came up with:

DIY_Christmas_Decor_HomeschoolCrafts

Paper Snowflakes

I was inspired by Christy of “Kids ‘R’ Simple” and her paper snowflakes and decided to try out the tutorial by Martha Stewart.  Then, Hannah helped display the snowflakes on our windows.  I would very much like to try decorating with these stiffened doilies too!  Sadly, I don’t seem to find textile doilies around.

Handprint Gift Tags

Both my husband I wanted Hannah to understand that Christmas isn’t just a time of receiving presents but also a time of giving.  Giving can come in various forms like spending quality time with people you care, showing acts of service, and gifts.

As shared previously, year-end is usually the wet season.  While waiting for the rain to stop, we did lots of painting.  One of which was finger painting – amounting to several sheets of handprints.

Rather than shelving them aside or throwing them away, we recycled our art as gift tags for friends and family.  I cut out the handprints and stuck them on colored Mala Paper (from Ikea).  Hannah used self-inking stamps to decorate the inside of the tags too.

I thought it’ll be sweet to give them to Hannah’s Sunday School teachers who cared for her for the past year.  It’s been a significant year for us.  From a toddler who ran all over the classroom to a preschooler who now colors, listens to stories (still working on this aspect) and sings along.  Every week, Hannah looks forward to Sunday and seeing her teachers.

Felt Christmas Tree

My initial plan was to get a Christmas tree but there wasn’t much space around our house, and my husband wasn’t a fan of one.  His theory was “Why spend so much money on a tree when you only get to see it for only a month?  Where will the tree be after December? In the storeroom.”

I hate to admit this but he was right.  We don’t have the luxury of space.  Our storeroom is packed to the brim too.  So for this year, I improvised.  We have a felt Christmas tree that’s stuck on our wall!

We made our Christmas tree only this evening.  It took us no more than 20 minutes to get the cutting and pasting done.  Hannah happily peeled the adhesive backing of the decorations and stuck those felt decors on the tree. Leftover felt was used to form the tree.  Then, I made the decorations with a pack of adhesive felt (comes in 3 colored sheets) from Daiso.

I’m very pleased with our decorations because we made them together.  The joy on Hannah’s face every time she accomplished her task was priceless.

And to you who’s reading this…

christmas_HomeschoolCrafts

My First Taste of Dole Whip – A Disney Treat!

Dole_Whip_HomeschoolCrafts

My special thanks to Cristina, from A Homeschool Mom, for introducing Dole Whip to me and my friends!

Our friend was organizing a Christmas party over the weekend, and I wanted to give them a special treat for the season.  When I read the recipe, I figured that if her students could make them, it should be simple enough for a klutz like me who doesn’t bake or own a whisk.

So I’m off to Daiso to get my first whisk that cost only $2.  Then, my husband helped gather the ingredients at Sheng Siong Supermarket.  Then, he realized  there were more than one kind of cream – heavy cream, whipping cream…but no heavy whipping cream!  After a quick google on his phone and he bought whipping cream.

Although, later I found out online that we should have bought heavy cream as it contains more milk fat so it will whip better and hold its shape longer.  Heavy whipping cream contains 36% or more milk fat, while whipping cream is a bit lighter with only 30% fat.

I varied my method slightly – froze the pineapple slush for an hour plus before proceeding to whip the cream.  The party was in the evening and Hannah’s terrified of the whirling sound of the blender.  So, I had to blend the pineapples while Daddy brings her out for a walk.

Back at my friend’s house, I made a mistake of leaving the Dole Whip in the fridge and not the freezer.  The whip was much softer and doesn’t hold its shape when we scooped it into ice cream cones.

Dole_Whip_2_HomeschoolCrafts

The Dole Whip certainly looked and tasted better after an hour plus of freezing!

You could even bring the festive cheer to your Dole Whip by adding green and red food coloring to your dessert. 🙂

 

 

Counting Down to Christmas with Jesse Tree

Jesse_Tree_HomeschoolCrafts

I’m terribly late in posting this since we are already in the second week of December!  I’ve seen so many postings on Advent Calendars (way back in November) that I was inspired to create one.  I kept thinking I had the luxury of time, only to realize that I procrastinated and it was on the last day of November that I scrambled to get my materials.  Phew!

While trying to get ideas on the Advent Calendar, I stumbled upon the Jesse Tree.  I didn’t know what it was about and decided to do a quick check.  Then, fickle me, decided to create a Jesse Tree instead.  For one, I wasn’t sure how to fill all 25 days of the Advent Calendar with activities.  A better reason would be, I wanted to revisit all the Bible stories we’ve read, and to follow through how each person played a part in God’s plan.

These were some of the sites I’ve visited:

I decided to use the calendar connections from 1+1+1=1 as it provided a concise summary for each scripture reading, and it included days for the entire month.  As I was printing it, silly me, didn’t read the instructions and clicked “duplex printing”. Sigh…

The print outs weren’t in order and eventually I drew my own symbols instead.  Halfway through, I’m glad I drew them instead of re-printing.  Now, I can proudly tell Hannah, “Mama drew these.”

We’re into Day 11 of our calendar.  Every morning, Hannah would ask for “Jesse Tree” as she puts blu-tack behind the card after we’ve read the scripture and summary.  The little girl would always say “Christmas is coming soon!” after sticking the card on the wall.

How have you been counting down your days to Christmas?

Christmas Books for 2 and 3 Year Olds

Christmas_Books_HomeschoolCrafts

I realized that there are tons of Christmas book reviews and recommendations for children.  I went crazy  spent much time scouring the NLB Catalogue for the book titles.  Most of the books were pretty much snapped up.  It was already the end of November (then) so I guess every other parent, like myself, were frantically trying to borrow Christmas books for their kids.

I managed to get hold some of the Christmas books from the library.  Thought I’d share them with you.  Not all of them were Hannah’s favorite (will highlight those) though.

  1. The Great Christmas Crisis by Kim NormanNorth Pole’s in trouble and Santa’s going to find out the reason why.  The story is told in a rhyme and the embossed illustrations attracted Hannah to touch them.  It reminds us not to lose sight of the joy of the season.
  2. Can’t Wait Till Christmas by Mike HuckabeeThis is a wonderful story (I love the illustrations too!) about two siblings who can’t wait until Christmas to open their presents.  After they did a sneaky act to open them before Christmas, they realized that Christmas morning wasn’t the same anymore.  It’s a heartwarming, simple story for young children to learn the benefits of patience.
  3. Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem by Maya AngelouIt’s a beautiful poem that prompts readers about the real meaning behind Christmas – Jesus.  Christmas isn’t meant for Christians to celebrate.  It is meant for everyone.  People from every tribe, tongue and nation come together to find peace.  An added bonus: accompanying CD of the poem read by the author herself!
  4. The Carpenter’s Gift: A Christmas Tale about the Rockefeller Center Tree by David RubelIt was the illustrations that first got my attention.  Set in the depression era in the year 1931, it tells the story of how the kindness received by one boy’s family was passed on to another.  Through this story, we learned about the tradition of the Christmas tree lighting at the Rockefeller Center, and the neighbor-helping-neighbor program of Habitat for Humanity.
  5. The Best Christmas Ever! by Marni McGeeThis story somehow reminded me about Mary and Martha (Luke 10, John 12).  The story talks about a mouse, Millicent, who scrubbed, dusted, baked and did everything to usher in Christmas.  But when her friends needed help, this little mouse offered her help, only to find that all her plans were ruined! Have been we a “Martha” or “Mary” this season?
  6. The Animals’ Christmas by Elena PasqualiThe story retells the nativity scene while interweaving the Bible prophecy from Isaiah 11.  After reading the book, I somehow feel it’s left me hanging.  It doesn’t say much about Isaiah 11, but I guess the author doesn’t want to overwhelm the little ones with all the information.  Nevertheless, it’s a good bedtime read.
  7. Brian Saves Christmas by Yvonne MorrisonThe story shares a story about Brian a lamb who isn’t anything like his father.  He didn’t like the things his father wished he would.  As he grew up, he realized he wasn’t as strong as the other sheep, and felt small and useless.  Then on Christmas Eve, something terrible happened to Santa’s flying tractor (yes, it was a tractor).  And here comes little Brian to save the day!
  8. The Bloomsbury Christmas Treasury by Sally GrindleyEight stories in one book!  It’s a good mix of both traditional and contemporary Christmas stories.  Titles like, “Good News”, “Snowy Snowy Night”, “The Christmas Mouse” and “Jesus is Born”.  We haven’t managed to read all of the stories yet but Hannah liked what she has read so far.
  9. 哈利和恐龙的圣诞愿望 - 伊恩威伯This is a Mandarin translation of “Harry and the Dinosaurs make a Christmas Wish” by Ian Whybrow.  It’s about Harry and his dinosaurs who wanted a duckling for Christmas but gets a baby Pterodactyl instead.  I didn’t get what the author was trying to convey. Hannah simply enjoyed looking that the adorable dinosaurs. Oh well…sometimes it’s ok to just admire the cute illustrations. 🙂
  10. Christmas by M.C HallThis isn’t a story book.  Rather it’s a general information book by Rourke Publishing to allow young readers learn about Christmas through simple text and photos.
  11. Usborne Very First Christmas Carols
    Like the title says, it’s a collection of Christmas carols – some of which I’ve never heard of!  But it has the all-time favorites like “O little town of Bethlehem”, “Silent Night”, and “O Come All Ye Faithful”.

Hannah’s Top 3 Picks (in no order of merit):

  1. The Great Christmas Crisis
  2. Can’t Wait Till Christmas
  3. The Carpenter’s Gift: A Christmas Tale about the Rockefeller Center Tree

We have read these three stories over and over.  She would pick out one of these stories (sometimes all three!) for her bedtime read.

At the end, I come to realize that most of the time, we parents, try to get the “best” or “most-loved” books for our children. Yet often, it isn’t all about the story but the time spent sitting on our laps and hearing us read, that they come to enjoy.

P/s: While these stories were borrowed for my two (going on three) year old, I believe it would be just as enjoyable for older children too.

Celebrating Jesus’s birthday and mine

20130523-141737.jpg

The ABCJLM curriculum is set to begin by end August and finish by first of May. Since we embarked the curriculum around Nov-Dec 2012, and took slightly longer than a week to learn some of the lessons, we came to the week’s theme, “birth of Jesus”, in May.

At first, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue with the theme since it may seem funny to do Christmas related activities right in the middle of the year. But on second thought, it might work after all. Hannah’s birthday falls in May and I could work around a birthday theme.

I started to look for books relating to birthdays and the birth of Jesus. The good news was all the Christmas stories were available in the library for our browsing!

Hannah enjoyed reading “Listen to the Silent Night” by Dandi Daley Mackall, and “It’s My Birthday” by Helen Oxenbury.

She would make the sounds mentioned in “Listen to the Silent Night”; like the “rap tap tap” on the innkeeper’s door and the “moo moo moo” of the cows.

As for “It’s My Birthday”, Hannah likes to list the ingredients required to make a cake, and the names of the animals that helped made the cake.

We talked about the birth of Jesus and Hannah’s birth: when it took place, where it took place and who was around. Generally, it was to share both the differences and similarities.

I showed pictures of Hannah when she was just a few days old, right up to her first birthday. We talked about how she has grown and how it would be similar for Jesus e.g. learning to crawl, walk and talk.

We also did a simple countdown to Hannah’s birthday by marking out the calendar every morning. That has gotten Hannah excited about her party! (in two days time)

All in all, I guess it was a good idea to go ahead with the theme after all! Have you encountered a similar situation in your curriculum?