December and Holidays

A word from Regional

Educational Director

Nancy Nathanson:

December and the holidays can be joyful and stressful for children, teachers and parents!  Find the balance in your classrooms between special activities AND quiet downtime. Remember –

Young children learn best from activities that

are concrete and connected to their own

experiences.

Keep your classroom as neat and organized as possible.  Add an additional “private” or “quiet” space for this busy month – something soft and sensory – to keep it calm and soothing.

Here are some ideas to celebrate (developmentally appropriate, of course) ….

INFANTS – Add some new sensory experiences for our little ones.  Play music with bells or horns in it.  Add a dimmer switch to designate a quiet time or put a lamp next to the rocker for dark afternoons.  Add a furry blanket to the floor area for crawling and laying on.  Add a holiday sensory box for exploration – put leftover gift wrap or tissue paper for crinkling, ribbons or bows for feeling, and something shiny to “celebrate” the holidays.  Bring some natural items into your room – a vase with pine branches to sniff and touch, some real snow (?) to touch or ice to touch, and maybe some special smells for the season (peppermint, gingerbread, or other spices).

TODDLERS – Add everything white to your sensory table – rice, snow, packing peanuts, cotton balls, coconut, flour or powdered sugar.  Add some measuring cups, mini-spatulas, tongs or mini trucks and have some fun!  Boxes – all shapes and sizes are great to play with in December.  Be creative, make music with DRUMS (oatmeal containers) and wooden spoons or bells and pipe cleaners. Also, paper towel tubes make great horns and mini water bottles filled with rice make awesome shakers.

PRESCHOOLERS -Make your theme “celebrations” and connect to them. Talk about birthdays, presents, people, special food and decorations, and candles too. Generate a list of how they celebrate a special occasion and follow up with a special activity or craft to mark the “party”!  In your classroom centers add the following:

Dramatic Play – turn it into a bakery w/ aprons, chef hats, playdoh and cookie cutters. Add spices and extract to the playdoh. Add glitter.

Art Center – add extra scraps of felt or gift wrap, ribbons, tape, boxes and cookie cutters for dipping in paint and let them create their own gift center.

Science – compile a nature table complete with magnifying glasses. Add pine branches, branches without leaves, pinecones, ice or snow, dirt, and berries. Ask – what’s different compared to fall or summer or spring.

Math – make patterns with 2 or 3 colors (blue&white or gold & silver or red and green) or with 2 or 3 symbols (dreidel, santa, candle). Count cookies or candles. Do a countdown calendar with stickers or treasures.

Music & Movement – sing, sing, sing! Make drums, jingle bell bracelets or kazoos! Dance, dance, dance – use streamers or scarves, make headbands and do the reindeer hokey pokey! Spin like a dreidel and make their very own dreidels (the eating kind).

Sensory – add fake snow to the shaving cream in the sensory table. Or use cornstarch, flour, and powdered sugar complete with sifters and measuring cups and spoons.

KEEP IT FUN.  KEEP IT SIMPLE.  KEEP IT AGE APPROPRIATE!!!

P.S.  DURING THE HOLIDAYS, BE ESPECIALLY SENSITIVE TO ALLERGIES AND CHECK EVERYTHING YOU ADD TO CENTERS AND SERVE!!