Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Legends - And A Christmas Rose Craft

Santa Who? by Gail Gibbons is not a book you want to read to a child who still believes in Santa Claus. If however, they know the truth, it's a very nice book for explaining the origins, and rise of the Santa legend. I thought at first it might be too wordy for my younger children, but even C (age 4), sat happily, while I read through it, and it certainly could be read in pieces, as each page takes on a different step in Santa's journey.

Gibbons also describes the other Santa like gift givers, such as La Befana, Christkindl, and Father Christmas, from around the world. The only page that caused me pause, was the one dealing with the wise men, the original Christmas gift givers. It has them arriving in Bethlehem, at the stable, and shows Christ as a baby, still in the manger.

Tomie DePaola's The Story of the Three Wise Kings, has the wise men journeying to Bethlehem, as well, after a short stop in Jerusalem, and it does mention a babe, but the Christ pictured in the illustrations appears to be a toddler, so I liked that better. I liked the overall story, too. DePaola sticks very close to the scriptural, and historical (for their names, and places of origin) account. It actually reminds me a lot of our favorite Christmas animated movie...

...I could almost hear Andy Griffith reading the text. Oh, and the text is short, and flows nicely, and the illustrations are very captivating, making it an excellent story for younger children to enjoy.

The Legend of the Christmas Rose by William H. Hooks, also deals with the Nativity, but from the shepherds' point of view. Or rather, the point of view of the shepherds younger sister, who follows her older brothers to Bethlehem, to see the Baby, but then realizes she has nothing to give Him.

An angel pays her a visit, and when he leaves, she finds herself in the middle of a patch of beautiful, blooming, flowers - Christmas roses, perfect to take to the new King.

Hooks story is pure legend, and while including an angel in it made me uncomfortable, I appreciated the Author's Note, at the back of the book, giving the scientific name, Helleborus niger, for the winter blooming flower, and explaining some of the myths, legends, and truths about it.

The younger girls were inspired to make some Christmas Roses of their own. I loosely followed instructions from Moms and Kids, for their crepe paper daffodil (which looks similar to a Christmas rose).

First the girls cut a sheet of green scrap paper in half.

They rolled the halves, tightly, from corner to corner, to make stems, taping them in place.

I had them make a bend in the top, like a shepherds crook.

They opened a napkin, and after I prefolded it, they folded it up five times (or rather six, because I wasn't paying attention, so we had to cut the extra bit off, before we used it).

Then, they cut it in half.

I drew a petal shape, leaving the bottom of the edges attached, for girls to try to cut (they ended up needing help).

When we unfolded it, and cut off the extra bit, we had 5 petals.

We also folded up a three inch piece of yellow streamer, and cut it with a squiggly cut, so we had two wavy lengths, one for each flower.

They taped those to the top of the stems, and wrapped them, loosely around, to make the middle of the flower, securing the loose end with tape.

Then, they taped on the white petals.

I pinched each petal into place, and taped them, around the bottom.

Finally, we made a few cuts into the yellow center, and spread out the pieces. E, posed with her flowers, for a Christmas picture for the grandparents.

I tried to get a shot of C too, but what can I say? She's four.

For more children's book reviews and recommendations, check out this week's What My Child is Reading blog-hop, hosted by Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


  1. Okay, how old was Jesus when the wise men came to visit? I learn new things every time I come here. From little that I know, the Bible doesn't specify the number of wise men.

  2. Those pictures of C are great! E's picture came out very nice.

    We own The Very First Noel movie. I think we are going to watch it tonight.

    Thanks for the book reviews. I like Tomie Depaola; I'll have to look for that one.

  3. Joyful Learner - I think we get the number of wisemen from historical legend, the Bible just says wise men from the east. But, in Matthew's account, they come to the "house" where the "child" was, and when they leave, without returning to Herod, he has all the boys ages 2 and under killed - so it's generally assumed Jesus was a toddler by the time the wise men found him.

  4. The Santa who sounds like the perfect book for my kids. We have never done the Santa thing, and they like to hear how he came to be such a big thing around here.

  5. I had no idea either. Thanks for the clarification.

  6. It's an interesting explanation of The Three Wise Men story. I always thought that they came shortly after the birth of Jesus. It just shows how many things of the past turn into legends and get distorted as time goes on.

  7. She is so cute with those flowers!

  8. I think we'd like the DePaola book (I appreciate that it is set later than the actual birth of Jesus too).

    The Legend of the Christmas Rose sounds lovely. And the flowers remind me of Daffodils - my favorite! They really turned out so pretty!

  9. That's a nice idea with the flower craft.

  10. I go back and forth on him being a toddler. He probably was, but there's something magical about scenes like you see in "The Nativity Story" where they all converge there as if God orchestrated this great meeting up. It may not be strictly speaking Biblical, but since the age isn't specifically mentioned I'll give it a little leeway if done in the right spirit.

    My understanding is the number is based on the number of gifts given, because it never specifically says 3 wise men.

    I'll have to see if I can find those books, and probably preview the first one to see how my kids would do.

  11. I love the flower craft. Thanks for including information on the historical accuracy of the Nativity stories. We celebrate the arrival of the wise men separate from the Nativity since Jesus was close to 2 when they arrived, and it's frustrating to see so many incorrect scenes in children's books.

  12. I love the Christmas Rose. I am going to have to look for many of the books that you have read, they all sound good.