The holiday season is upon us! I know I probably speak for everyone that it brings about equal parts feelings of joy and….stress. There is so much to plan and accomplish that it can sometimes feel overwhelming. Or, as my youngest niece says, “A thief of joy”. This week, we have prepared activities, gratitude exercises and even a festive science experiment to help you find your Christmas cheer!
Countdown to Christmas cheer
We have just over a week before Christmas morning! How have you been counting down the days? In our family, we have the traditional chocolate Advent calendars and some other fun countdowns too. We’re a Harry Potter household, divided between Gryffindor and Slytherin. In years past, we’ve had the Harry Potter Funko Pop calendar and the Harry Potter Lego calendar. This year, we have a Lego City calendar and for my daughter, a Disney mini book for each day. There are so many fun options that cater to all different interests to bring about your Christmas cheer!
Personally, I enjoy my faithful vintage Avon fabric Christmas countdown. Unbelievable what these are going for on eBay these days! As a visual learner, seeing the little mouse hop to a new day appeals to me. In the spirit of visual options, I love this Christmas Countdown Template that can be colored in for each day. Even though its a little late in the month, you can still practice your numbers and coloring all the dates that have passed. Additionally, you can save it for next year too!
Dashing through the…letters
I will take every opportunity to practice writing with my son. He is in first grade and has been doing so great with writing, his sight words and boosting his skills all around. Here is a fun way to practice all the writing at Christmas! This Name Christmas Tree activity can be used a variety of ways. First, have your child write each letter of their name on an individual triangle and then build their tree. You can also make as many trees as you want with whatever festive words come to mind. This activity is great for practicing letters, fine motor skills like cutting and arranging as well as adding some creative Christmas cheer to your art display areas!
Reflecting on what really matters
In an effort to focus on the light in the season, I want to circle back to gratitude. Sometimes, Thanksgiving gets all the “thanks” and Christmas gets all the “giving”. Really, both holidays are grounded in gratitude. Use this Gratitude Template to find one thing each day to be grateful for. Have each member of the family use a different color pen to represent themselves. The template is blank, so you can begin it ANY time and keep it going for as long as you like. We do something similar in my house around Thanksgiving. It is a good reminder each time to see the visual as we are walking by so those ideas and gratitudes stay fresh.
Alternatively, this could be another use for the Christmas tree activity. Instead of letters and words, use each piece of the tree to fill in with a new gratitude until you have a whole gratitude tree farm! When you take them down, put them in a Ziploc baggie and save them for next year. While you can create new ones the following year, it is great to pull them out and reflect on what you were grateful for the year before. It puts into perspective how things change from year to year and what Christmas cheer means as time passes.
Reverse Bucket List
I came across this concept a while back and find it incredibly compelling. We spend time thinking about the things that we WANT to do. Some of us might even have an actual bucket list of places we want to travel or experiences we want to have. This “reverse” idea though, it really gets me thinking. I started writing about this a while back, closer to Thanksgiving. Since then, the season of gratitude hasn’t dissipated, not at all. We are still in the midst of a pandemic and with a new variant looming over the holiday gathering season, it gave me pause and made me reflect on how grateful I am for health and family amongst other things.
To flesh it out a bit more than we did in November, we created a Reverse Bucket List template for you and your family to work through together. What I love about this is that it allows us to reflect on our experiences and keep the memories fresh. Have each family member think of three examples of accomplishments or places they have visited and reflect on the experience in a few short sentences. For younger family members, have an older sibling or parent help with theirs. I love the idea of sharing this with extended family ahead of the holiday and then sharing the answers with one another whether you are gathering in person or apart! It is a great way to spread Christmas cheer within our families near and far.
Candy Cane Lane
To wrap up, let’s take the natural transition into the world of… science! Not what you thought I’d be saying, hmm? This is the coolest Christmas science experiment ever. You will only need water of varying temperatures and 3 small candy canes per experiment to do this activity. Easy peasy. What we love about this activity is that it’s simple, visual and gets little minds thinking like brilliant scientists.
This Candy Cane Experiment activity has space for your little scientists to make their predictions, conduct their experiments and to records their results. Note: It works best with the mini candy canes as the larger ones are more dense and the results are not as responsive. This is a super fun and interesting way to enjoy some Christmas cheer!
Christmas cheer to you!
We will be off next week spending the holiday with our families and we hope you are able to do the same. Whatever holiday you celebrate, we hope it is filled with joy, wonder and love. Take care, family, and Happy Holidays to you and yours!
Courtney is an MTT tutor, academic coach, and blog contributor for MTTES. If you check out our FB and Instagram pages, you might see her giving a storytime with her son Jack through the company’s Facebook Live service. Courtney’s love of the English language, learning, and creative writing inspired her to contribute relevant content to teachers, tutors, parents, and homeschoolers seeking support across an array of trending topics. She and her teacher husband have two small children and reside in Baltimore, MD with their dog Lottie May.