Making Sense out of the Holiday Season

Sense of Touch-webDo you ever feel like this time of year goes by too quickly? Maybe you feel that you aren’t giving your child enough time. The one-on-one time you would normally have with your child too often gets put on hold during this busy time of year.

With all the extra preparation to be done, parents often feel exhausted and stretched thin. Throw in a few extra festive gatherings, and some sleepless nights as small children battle minor sniffles, coughs and ear aches (ouch). Any parent, even with the best of intentions, can easily feel like skipping the bedtime story, craft, or activity they had planned to share with their child.

Don’t worry, that’s okay! Sometimes you need a break too! It’s okay to just spend time together, chilling out. Maybe you just get to sit next to your child and watch her play while you enjoy a coffee and your own “time out.” Maybe you cuddle up together with blankets and watch a favourite holiday show. Maybe you get to squeeze in a nap with your baby or toddler. That’s all okay. Its okay to turn down an expected appearance when you or your child are feeling unwell. Remember to take time for yourself and your child.

Don’t stress about ensuring that you’re providing your little one with learning. You are providing her with learning whenever you do things together! Or you can simply talk to your child about what is around her, remembering the five senses. There are plenty of learning opportunities that happen naturally.

  1. What do they see? Snow, Santa, nativity scenes, trees with lights, white rabbits, birds, inflatable characters decorating the front lawns in every neighbourhood, etc.
  2. What do they hear? Bells, music, noisy crowds, carollers, birds, etc.
  3. What can they feel? Tree branches, snow, some decorations, gifts, hugs, snowflakes, etc.
  4. What can they taste? Trying new foods is often part of any holiday celebration, candies, popcorn, etc.
  5. What can they smell? Cookies, trees, candles, etc.

It is easy to relate any of the senses to numeracy as well. For example, try asking how many, what colour, what shape, what size, what pattern your child can see, or hear, or feel etc. In our 3,2,1, FUN! program, we support parents by celebrating what they do with their children, and offer more ideas to extend each family’s learning journey.

Enjoy your little ones in their moments of discovery and exploration, and you will be making memorable moments with little effort.

 

A Tip to Help Get Ready for the Holidays with Kids

Singing-webIt’s December already! Do you feel a little frazzled, the way I do? I’m rushing around and running out of time to get things done before the holidays. During this time, it’s easy to lose track of what the season is really all about. To me, it’s a time to spend with family and friends that I don’t see often, and to think of others less fortunate than myself.

With this in mind, I was thinking of the parents who are struggling with the same holiday tasks as myself and have infants and toddlers to take care of at the same time. Preparing for the holidays often means cooking or baking, cleaning the house, decorating, shopping, and wrapping presents, and doing all of this while keeping your child happy can be a challenge.

Rhymes can help make these tasks easier. A child can often be distracted and calmed when they are fussy, and rhymes and songs are a quick, hands free (mostly) way to do that.

Singing your child’s favourite rhymes when they seem about to have a meltdown in a store, or while you are cooking, is not only playful and fun, it also engages your child in literacy. Sing, even when the in-laws are around. They will likely join in, or at the very least they’ll think it’s adorable to see their grandchild singing and even dancing. Here’s one of our favourite winter rhymes to try:

Snowflakes Falling
(Tune of Jingle Bells) 

Snowflakes falling, snowflakes falling
One fell on my toes
Snowflakes falling, snowflakes falling
One fell on my nose
Snowflakes falling, snowflakes falling
One fell on my head
Snowflakes falling, snowflakes falling
Now it’s time to sled!

You can also use rhymes like this while you are doing any activity, such as sledding or building a snowman. I find rhymes and songs make any activity more fun!

What are your favourite holiday rhymes or carols?

In our Rhymes that Bind program, parents enjoy rhymes, finger plays, songs, and simple movement games with their infants and toddlers in a supportive group. If you would like to join us for some rhyming fun, visit the Centre for Family Literacy website to find a program near you in Edmonton!

Celebrate the Joy of the Season on the C.O.W. Bus

During the week of December 12, the C.O.W. (Classroom on Wheels) bus will be hosting a cozy Christmas pyjama party at each of our locations. We have a great selection of winter holiday-themed books for you to borrow for your family story time, AND, don’t miss out on the annual book giveaway; all children will go home with their own book to keep!

Pete the cat XmasAs always, story time on the bus will be loads of fun as the children help bring the books to life. One of our favourites is a New York Times bestseller, Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by Eric Litwin and James Dean.

“In this rockin’ spin on the traditional tale The Night Before Christmas, Pete the Cat proves that giving your all in the spirit of Christmas is the totally groovy thing to do.”

“ ‘Twas the day before
Christmas and Santa was ill.
In the cold winter wind he
had caught a bad chill.
Will Christmas be canceled?
Will it come to that?
‘Never!’ cried Santa.
‘Let’s call Pete the Cat!’ ”

And don’t forget to give yourself a little gift too – download Flit, our free app which has over 100 fun activities, crafts, and rhymes you can do with your little ones, and four more activities are added each season. For example, try the Letters in the Snow activity by filling a spray bottle with coloured water and decorating some fresh white snow! You’ll find the link for both Apple and Android versions on the Centre for Family Literacy website, or on your device’s app store.

So grab your coziest pajamas and join us as we read, sing, and play during this special time of year on the bus.

Do you have a favourite holiday song or rhyme? Please share it with us in the comments, because we love to learn and share new things!

See you soon!

 

Countdown to Christmas with 3,2,1, Fun!

The countdown to Christmas will be starting soon! Many of us have seen or even used the traditional Advent calendar, which houses a delicious chocolate behind each of the 25 doors leading up to Christmas. Children love these calendars and the excitement that comes with the Christmas countdown. At 3,2,1, Fun! we have compiled a fun list of Advent ideas and Christmas activities to share with you. These ideas combine fun and learning into creative Christmas experiences and potentially new traditions that your children and family will love.

ADVENT CALENDARS

25 Books for Advent

DSC00200-2

Unwrap one book a day to read as a family.

Some of our favourite numeracy-themed books to share are:

  • 12 Days of Christmas – Rachel Isodora
  • The Doorbell Rang – Pat Hutchins
  • Bedtime Math – Laura Overdeck
  • Christmas Activities MATHS – Irene Yates
  • A Frog in the Bog – Karma Wilson and Joan Rankin
  • Ten Apples Up On Top – Dr. Seuss

Advent Activity Envelopes

Advent-Envelopes

Choose 25 fun family activities and secure each one in an envelope. Choose one envelope to open each day and enjoy!

Some of the numeracy activity ideas we share in 3,2,1, Fun! are:

  • Baking
  • Holiday theme BINGO
  • Make paper snowflakes and explore their unique shapes
  • Craft Christmas cards or write your wish list
  • Build a snowman
  • Go for a walk and count how many houses are decorated, predict how many Christmas trees you will see, or collect pine cones along the way to turn into Christmas crafts later

 Make Your Own Advent Calendar

AdventCalendar

A fun idea we shared at 3,2,1, Fun! is how to make your own advent calendar using  recycled paper towel tubes, cardboard and craft supplies!

In addition to Advent calendars, there are many fun ways to bring numeracy into your Christmas activities. Some of our favourites at 3,2,1, Fun! are:

  • Wrapping gifts – a fun way for children to utilize their measuring and estimation skills
  • Christmas baking – a delicious way for children to follow a recipe and practice their ordering, number sense, and prediction skills
  • Decorating the house – gives your children the perfect opportunity to use their pattern, shape, and sorting skills
  • Making Christmas wish lists and shopping for gifts – offers a great chance for children to discover counting, money sense, and emergent budgeting skills

We hope you enjoy these Christmas activity ideas from 3,2,1, Fun! Do you have a favourite countdown to Christmas tradition that you’d like to share?

Visit our website for more information about this program.

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Advent Calendars for Kids

As December quickly creeps up on us, our kids’ minds turn to Advent calendars. The anticipation the calendars build with each day is a fun part of the season.

The Wikipedia definition of an Advent calendar is a special calendar used to count or celebrate the days in anticipation of Christmas. The Advent calendar was first used by German Lutherans in the 19th and 20th centuries but is now found everywhere.

If you go into any large chain store you will find an array of Advent calendar choices. Traditional Advent calendars conceal 24 small chocolates to be opened one a day until December 24th, but more and more choices are becoming available every year. Lindt has a full chocolate every day, and Lego has 2 or 3 different calendars to choose from every year. Toy or candy calendars, ranging from Disney, Crayola, Playmobil, Hot Wheels, Kinder surprise, Jelly Belly and more, can also be found.

But ever since my kids were born, I have been interested in making my own Advent calendars. They are more personal than the bought versions and I can add anything I want, from toys or books to candy. You can find many Advent calendars to make with your kids at Growing A Jewelled Rose.

One of our yearly traditions is a Book Tree Advent Calendar. I love it because it combines my love of reading with my kids and a surprise for the kids each day.

I found the following Book Tree Advent Calendar at Reading Confetti. Every year we enjoy opening up some of our favourite Christmas classics and a few new ones.

book-tree-advent-4

 

Merry Christmas from Learn Together – Grow Together

Christmas-dad-kids-baking

With Christmas right around the corner, the team at Learn Together, Grow Together wanted to emphasize family literacy opportunities through the holiday season. Our focus was on identifying everyday occasions to learn while participating in holiday activities. These were some of the ideas shared by our program families.

–   Sharing a children’s book. Some of our family’s favourites were:

  • Pete the Cat Saves Christmas – Eric Litwin
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Dr. Seuss
  • Santa’s Noisy Night – Julie Sykes and Tim Warnes
  • A Porcupine in a Pine Tree: A Canadian 12 Days of Christmas – Helaine Becker and Werner Zimmerman
  • The Penguin who Wanted to be Different: A Christmas Wish – Maria O’Neill

–   Singing together as a family. Some of our family’s favourites were:

  • Jingle Bells
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer
  • Deck the Halls

–   Cooking and baking together for family and friends. Some of the favourite recipes shared were:

  • Gingerbread
  • Sugar Cookies
  • Egg Nog
  • Spicy cheese ball

–   Spending time with family. Some of the favourite holiday activities were:

  • Writing letters to Santa
  • Tobogganing
  • Decorating the house
  • Building a snowman

As you can see from our list, there are many opportunities for you and your children to foster literacy during the holidays when activities are done together as a family. Have fun creating holiday memories this season!

More about Learn Together, Grow Together

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‘Tis the Season for Lifelong Learning!

Winter holidays provide an excellent opportunity for families and friends to spend time together. There are many fun learning activities that families can do.

Literacy is one of the greatest gifts that adults can share and benefit from with their families.

Mother and daughter baking cookies

Try the following activities to encourage family literacy over the holidays:

  1. Make a list, check it twice: As a family, write out lists together – wish lists to Santa, shopping lists, or even New Year’s resolutions!
  2. Watch a book: Many classic holiday stories have been adapted for the big screen. Read these stories with your kids first, then watch the movie; Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas are classic favourites.
  3. Signed, sealed, delivered: Do you have a stack of holiday cards that need to be prepared? Ask your family to help you write out greetings and addresses, or stamp envelopes.
  4. How many shopping days left? When shopping for gifts or holiday party supplies, ask your kids to count out the change required to make your purchase. You can practice numeracy skills by keeping track of spending before you reach the cash register.
  5. Dear Grandma: The holidays are a great time to write a letter or email to a loved one. Have everyone in your family contribute at least one paragraph on what they have accomplished over the last year.
  6. Holiday scavenger hunt: Create a list of holiday and winter-related items around your home. Give the list to your family and have them find all the items on the list.
  7. Jack Frost nipping at your nose: On cold winter days, snuggle by the fire with a good holiday book and a cup of hot chocolate. Don’t forget the marshmallows!
  8. Make reading a key ingredient: Following a recipe is a great way to practice reading, comprehension and math skills. By baking holiday cookies or cakes, you can get the whole family involved.
  9. Sing Christmas carols: Get together with your neighbours and go door-to-door singing carols. Singing encourages learning patterns of words, rhymes and rhythms, and is strongly connected to language skills.
  10. Play for Literacy! Put on your pajamas and have a family game night. Each family member chooses a game, such as a board game or card game, then have fun playing all night long!