November 28, 2015

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!

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