Monday, November 30, 2015

Mama May I Book A Day Countdown to Christmas Day 2

Day 2

The Joy of Giving

We used this book to talk about what it FEELS like to GIVE. 

Is Giving Happy or Sad?

Warm or Cold?

How does it make you feel?


Then we used this printable from Tatertots & Jello to add to care packages we made for our friends. We attach them to neighbor's doors, ring the doorbell, and run away! The kids are so incredibly happy and giddy when we do this. We have done it several times throughout the year (not just snowballing!) they like it so much! And I like to help them focus on making other people smile every now and then!

Writing Practice : List Making 

I used this book to inspire list-making. But not the traditional "What I Want" List. We sit down to think of all the special people in our lives and try to think of what THEY would like most. Empathy can be a difficult concept! Start by brainstorming a list of people they want on their list. Then ask questions like :

  • What does so and so like to do in his/her free time
  • What does he/she do at work?
  • What does he/she like to play?
  • What do you and so and so end up playing/doing together the most?
  • Does your friend have any Needs? (a great conversation about needs/wants)
  • What would make your friend smile?

  • You can print this Christmas Writing Paper at Activity Village

    More Ways to Share the Joy of Giving

    • After we read this book we cleaned out our toy closet in search of gently used toys we could donate to other little ones in our community for Christmas. We also took a trip to the Toy Store where they each got $20 (in single $1 bills) to spend on gifts for a family in our neighborhood. I used $1 bills as a way to build a Math lesson into our shopping for our younger shoppers.

    • We also keep this Christmas Kindness Calendar from Coffee Cups and Crayons hanging up on our fridge to find inspiration for little ways to be kind throughout our days together. We don't do ALL the acts of kindness but we fit in as many as we can....I like having a visual reminder focused on doing kind things for others and these are fun ways to incorporate some spontaneous holly jolly spirit while out and about (even running to the grocery store!)

    • Find a charity your little ones seem interested in. Research how you can help and build a plan to follow through. This year, Layla has decided she wants to donate food to Philabundance.  We have done Toys for Tots before. And helping local families with Wish Lists but this idea just kind of happened in our home today and I encourage her to run with it. And she did.

    As I was thinking about the Season ahead. The chaos. The busyness. The "My Christmas List" attitude. Trying hard to think of ways to fill the Season with the Attitude of Gratitude, love, and giving. Our Book A Day Christmas Countdown is a great start - connecting through play with our little ones (especially today's theme, focused on the Joy of Giving!)- sharing our presence above presents. 

    As I was thinking about ways to incorporate more kindness into our countdown - ways to teach friendship and love and mindfulness - during a trip through our local grocery store, my 7 year old told me she wanted to give food to people in our neighborhood who may need some this Holiday. When we got home we logged onto Philabundance to find out what KINDS of food are really needed right now. She wrote down the list. Then she decided she wanted to ask our friends, neighbors, Daddy's coworkers, and community to help collect food donations. My little Brave Writer wrote a letter to our friends asking for help. We sent some to work with Daddy. We are going to put one in each preschool cubby. I am so inspired by her willingness to take on a project and get the ball rolling on this and ... I am blown away by the care and compassion she expressed today.

    As we head into the month of December I am so grateful to pause and breathe this in. Fully. And truly. So grateful for these moments of presence ... As she shares the real gifts of the Season. 

    Sunday, November 29, 2015

    Mama May I Book A Day Countdown to Christmas Day 1

    Our Christmas Countdown is begins with ... Christmas Countdown books!

    Curious George has been a favorite character in our house since my oldest (now 7.5) was a baby. We are all very curious, like George, so the stories have always been relatable!

    The Curious George Christmas Countdown board book is an easy read (and now Layla reads it TOO her younger siblings!) but I like how it shows a way to countdown. Use it as inspiration for your own countdown project, or use our Pinterest Board to choose one you like, or use the project we chose! 

    A simple chain link countdown. I like that it looks like garland to hang and enjoy. I also like how easy this project is for little hands. We marked lines with a ruler on Holiday Themed paper and the kids just cut the strips - it doesn't have to be perfect! Which is ANOTHER reason I love this traditional project!

    Here are some other Christmas Countdown Craft Ideas:

    I'm loving using regular notebook paper for this craft by La Classe Della Maestra Valentina

    And this Free Printable by Tomfo is so cute with the jar full of Santa's fluffy white beard.

    We used Snowbear's Christmas Countdown as a conversation starter for all the Holiday things we wanted to do together as a family. A Holiday Season Bucket List.

    • Christmas Tree made of green construction paper. 
    • Use Large Circle Hole Punch to cut out circles (work fine motor skills) for ornaments. 
    • Write one Holiday Season Bucket List item on each ornament.

    One of our FAVORITE things to do during this cold season is cuddle up on the couch or in a makeshift bed on the floor in the living room and enjoy a movie. There will be movies throughout the Mama May i Countdown to Christmas Series. Feel free to omit this activity if your family doesn't watch tv. My children love building a themed snack before the show starts. And often, on movie nights, I find them making tickets, a schedule of events, and a concession stand so "we all feel like we are AT the movies!"

    Tonight's Feature Film:

    Saturday, November 28, 2015

    Mama May i Book A Day Christmas Countdown Calendar

    Holiday time is an EXTREMELY busy time of year for me. Due to the chaos of production, emails, craft shows, and daily operations, I feel compelled to build Special Time into our daily rhythm to spend with my little ones. I began doing a Book-A-Day leading up to Christmas a few years ago. The first year I thought it would be fun to try something new; schedule quality play time; and add literacy to our busy Winter days. Now my children have come to see this series of reading, making, & doing as part of a beautiful tradition of playing together. The remember so many of the memories we have made while doing this December series. We usually add some special “field trips” to see our favorite Holiday sights - a trip to the Theater - or a ride on the Polar Express Train. I have been collecting Holiday books since I was a child. Some of these are childhood 
    favorites; some I’ve found at Thrift stores along the way; while others I have purchased specifically for this project.  Feel free to use what’s here as inspiration, take what inspires you, and leave the rest. Wishing you and yours a magical and lovely Holiday Season filled with connection, play, learning, and beautiful memories.

    The calendar I created has many built-in sensory skills mingled throughout the days to inspire different learners and build different skills. Below is the Legend for the COMPLETE calendar accentuating different types of activities. Feel free to add your own books, activities, crafts, sensory play ideas. I would love to see what you and your little ones create this Holiday Season. 

    Feel free to submit photos to share with the community on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter using hashtag #MamaMayIJoy or tagging @MamaMayiShop ! 

    The Pre-filled Calendars look like this:

    There are 4 in a pack.
    This is an easy-peasy weekly guide all planned out for you. Read the book/s (or substitute your own favorites) and follow along with the Sensory Skills. As I mentioned above, feel free to use the ideas that suit your family and leave the rest. You can use it as-is or use it as inspiration for your play and learn time together!

    The BLANK calendars look like this:

    Feel free to print this weekly calendar and add your own books, recipes, play activities, and crafts!
    Both of these sets can be downloaded for FREE on my web shop Mama May i

    We made fabric pouches to hold each of our book / craft / activity but you can wrap them in paper, paper bags, recycled gift bags, newsprint, fabric, pillow cases tied on top...whatever you would like!

    Happy Reading!
    Happy Playing!
    Happy Connecting!

    Mama May i Countdown to Christmas - Book A Day Holiday Connecting Through Play Calendar

    ‘Tis’ the Season to be Jolly….and ridiculously busy. I make children’s learning toys,  so the standard holiday bustle becomes complete chaos in my house. I feel like Santa Claus preparing for Christmas Eve.  Since my business and family life blur in my home, I make sure that I plan time for my family to bond. I have always loved the Holidays, and my children are no exception as they are itching to put Christmas music on…in October.  I love the special things we do together and all the little traditions that create the memories to last a lifetime.

    This year I am going to be prepared for some organized chaos. This year, I have made preparations for a tradition I hope to carry through year after year: A Holiday Book Advent Calendar / Christmas Countdown.

    I have seen these done while perusing “Advent Calendars” on the internet in the past. With my love of books, and wanting to engage my children in early literacy, I knew this would be a great holiday tradition. So I set out to make fabric gift bags for this very special, yearly extravaganza. The teacher in me has a lesson plan / project idea for each and every book (or group of books). And I am so excited to carve out a little piece of everyday to engage in some meaningful memory-making with my family.

    Here are the bags I made. If you aren’t crafty, you can use pillow cases from the dollar store and tie them up with string. Or you can wrap the books and attach numbers to the paper. I really wanted them to be fabric, so we could use them every year….Our Christmas is always a bit “tropical” and these fabrics fit the bill perfectly. I cut out and appliqued numbers and cute characters on about half of them…just to make them extra special. We are planning to leave the empty bags under the tree after we open them so Santa can use them instead of wrapping paper for some of our gifts. I love the idea of reusing these handmade creations in a green way for Christmas.


    So now for what’s inside. Each bag contains a book or two (or maybe even three). And each theme corresponds to a particular project for us to do together as a family. It can be an art project; a craft; an activity like decorating the tree, watching a movie, going caroling, or baking cookies. Every day we are going to read what we find inside and live it in some way.

    I think I counted 45….so, as you can see, some of them will be doubled up. I tried to pair similar themed books together when I thought it was appropriate. How do you have so many Holiday themed books, you may ask. Well, to be honest, I bet you have more in your library than you would think. The others I purchased from thrift stores, online, or used books shops whenever possible. A great way to add to your collection is by going to the library.

    Here is a list of the books that made our list last Christmas.

    Tacky’s Christmas by Helen Lester

    I’ve Seen Santa! By David Bedford

    A Magical Christmas by Claire Freedman

    Santa Mouse by Michael Brown

    Dream Snow by Eric Carle

    The Jolly Christmas Postman by Allan Ahlberg

    I Want a Hippopotoamus for Christmas by John Rox

    The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup

    Disney It’s A Small World: Christmas Around the World by Calliope Glass

    Baby Elf’s Christmas by Jane Cowen-Fletcher

    Gingerbread Mouse by Katy Bratun

    The Three Bears’ Christmas by Kathy Duval

    Merry Christmas Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood

    Franklin’s Christmas Gift by Paulette Bourgeois

    Jingle Bells by Kathleen Daly

    How the Grinch Stole Christmas! By Dr. Seuss

    Little Christmas Tree by Suzanna Ronchi

    Queen of Christmas by Mary Englebreit

    The Great Christmas Tree Celebration by Melissa A. Torres

    Josie’s Gift by Kathleen Bostrom

    It’s Christmas Time! By Salina Yoon

    Cookie Count: A Tasty Pop-up by Robert Sabuda

    The Gift of Christmas by Christine Leeson

    The Cat That Climbed the Christmas Tree by Susanne Santoro Whayne

    If You Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff

    A Merry Little Christmas: Celebrate from A to Z by Mary Engelbreit

    The Christmas Sweater: A Picture Book by Glenn Beck

    Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner

    A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe

    Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson

    Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson

    Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner

    The Little Fir Tree by Margaret Wise Brown

    Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh

    Red Sled by Lita Judge

    Mooseltoe by Margie Palatini

    Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore

    The Sweet Smell of Christmas by Patricia M. Scarry

    The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

    Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Rick Bunsen

    Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas by Jane O’Connor

    The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

    The Bernstein Bears and the Joy of Giving by Stan and Jan Bernstein

    The planning stage is the most time consuming. But I have always been a bit of a collector. Last year, after the Holidays, during all those crazy sales, I stashed a few things I thought would be fun for this year. I have tied these projects in with the book themes whenever appropriate and have had a lot of fun shopping around at Dollar Spots, Craft Stores, and my own house for ideas on how to make our Season more magical. 

    This year I am prepared to help !! I have created a Countdown Calendar Template for you to download. You can download a BLANK one and fill it in with your own Books and Craft ideas or you can print the DONE calendar and go with the books and projects we will be enjoying this Season!

    You can find more about the FREE calendar printout Here!