Monday, November 28, 2011

Counting Down to Christmas with Picture Books, Recipes, and Crafts - Day 1 (Cup and Ball Game)

Annette at Live, Learn, Love mentioned her family would be reading one Christmas themed children's book, each day in December, as a way to count down to Christmas.

I thought that was a terrific idea, and decided to try something similar, but with a little twist. I've spent the last week searching through the library catalogue looking for Christmas themed books with recipes, or crafts included at the back, or somewhere in the story.

I actually managed to come up with enough, if they all come in in time, to start a few days early.

Yesterday afternoon I pulled out A Pioneer Christmas by Barbara Greenwood, and supplies for making a cup and ball toy described in the book.

The book is divided into six short chapters, blending a fictional story of a pioneer family, with short non-fiction excerpts to explain life, and more specifically Christmas traditions, in the backwoods of North America, in 1841. As I said, the chapters are short, but a little wordy for younger children. Older children will have no problem reading the entire book in one setting, though.

Each chapter is followed by a craft, recipe and/or game suggestion, describing the pioneer methods, and then suggesting modern equivalents for children to use. It would be fun to read the book over the course of a week, as part of pioneer study, and work on one or two of the projects each day. The cup and ball game we chose to try is from the end of the second chapter, with an excerpt on "Pioneer Christmas Gifts".

The girls weren't sure they believed we could turn a toilet paper tube, a piece of yarn, a couple of cups cut from an egg carton (our substitution for the plastic bottle caps called for in the book), a small paper cup, and some tape, into a toy...

...but they were willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, and follow the instructions. You can see the steps below, or find Greenwood's instructions in her book.

I worked with one girl at a time, so E (age 7) was already playing away, trying to catch the "ball" in the cup, while I worked with C (age 6), putting her's together. It took E a little practice...

...but she got the hang of it, much to her delight...

...and quickly drew her brother's attention, who stood impatiently watching, pleading and demanding for a turn.

Can I try?

Can I try it, once?

I want a turn!

Needless to say, he made one too.

After that, the evening passed by in a blur. Especially once the older children returned from youth group and wanted to join in the fun. Even the Man of the House and I, had a hard time resisting snatching the toys from time to time, for a turn ourselves.

We have a fair share of mechanized bling and electronic entertainment at our house, but fun is fun, and there's nothing like the simple enjoyment of a classic toy, no matter how simple or inexpensively created.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Phyllis said...

Those are some sweet pictures of them playing by the tree. Sweet!

Thank You Gifts said...

What a fab idea...My children always play with the things that cost next to nothing over any expensive toys! I will definitely give the cup and ball ago! Thanks for the idea.

Annette W. said...

Oh, you are clever to create more fun for the kids with the recipes and crafts! I'm hoping to do a couple crafts...but I'm not so sure!

cookmomster said...

Thanks for sharing! I cannot wait to see what else you come up with. I found your blog by doing a search for discussion questions on that exact book today. Thank God for his perfect timing.
P.S. If you want to stray away from just books you have at home, I can share our Christmas Book List with you.

Ticia said...

I love that idea. I look forward to seeing what books you're able to get. I have limited luck with getting Christmas books, but I have a huge stash of them, so we're pretty good on that front.

Christy Killoran said...

I love the idea of using books with recipes and crafts.

I want a turn too - that is a fun toy!

Scarlet Bluefield said...

We read Christmas books to count down also, but I love your idea to read books with recipes or craft ideas and then try them.

My question: what search terms did you use in the catalog to come up with appropriate books to request (and will you share your list ahead of time or do we just have to wait and read the blog, and remember for next year ;-)?

Tracey said...

I've been enjoying your blog. We are almost unschoolers, too! I especially like how you take step-by-step pics of crafts. I will have to check out that book.

Scarlet Bluefield said...

Oh, and I can totally see Hubby and me taking a turn with the cup and ball toys, too!

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Bluefield - I had the best results by typing "recipe" or "includes instructions" into the search box, and then limiting the results to "children's literature". It gives you more than just Christmas books that way, but a small enough list to sort through.

I do plan on typing up a list of all the books, hopefully with a list of the type of recipes or crafts they contain, but I'm still waiting for a few to arrive in from partner libraries, so it might be a while yet.

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

Wow - Christmas countdown will be a lot of fun in your house and on your blog. I had a similar toy as a kid and loved it.