Wrap up Christmas with eco-friendly crafts
Published on Tuesday, 24 November 2020
Last updated on Monday, 23 November 2020
There’s a dazzle of decorations, carols in the air and shops are teeming with festive flurry, a clear seasonal signal to get creative and plan your festive season program. Designing fresh and fun activities can be tricky, so we’ve put together a collection of fun seasonal ideas for a joyful and inclusive learning experience.
It’s been a challenging year but early education centres across the country have done a stellar job during these uncertain times. As the lead up to the holidays is a busy time, plan for a relaxed program with a loose framework to ease into activities and crafts that follow your children’s interests.
Building in flexibility for a child-led learning approach allows planned activities and setups to be extended or changed easily according to interests, moods, culture and ages. Children may not be interested in a Christmas theme all the time so intersperse dedicated activities amongst your planning and take account of the need for children to pursue their own interests and play experiences.
When planning a holiday program, educators also need to ensure they are respectful of the diversity of cultures, beliefs and values of the children, their families and the educators at the service. Consult with families and discuss different traditions with the children, share books about how the holidays are celebrated around the world and create inclusive alternatives for children who don’t celebrate Christmas.
Take your time to explore the different aspects of this time of year to give children some understanding of the season. Ease into the theme and consult with the children on what they would like.
An important part of the pre-Christmas preparation is the child’s gift making for their family or carer. To ensure children don’t feel under pressure, try to make this activity part of everyday play and craft activities you have planned, rather than something that ‘must be done.’
The Empowered Educator provides this advice to worn out educators: “Don’t give yourself a nervous breakdown trying to get the perfect gifts made before the holiday period. If you are worried about the whole process v product arguments and judgments that always come up at this time of year with Christmas activities and gifts, make sure to pop over and read this blog post to help you embrace balance.”
Capture the generous ‘spirit’ of Christmas
An old saying with ancient roots in many religions that captures the ‘spirit of Christmas’ is the old adage, ‘it’s better to give than receive.’ This season is an ideal time to talk to young children about the concept of sharing and charity.
While younger kids may not always comprehend what giving to a charity means, it is important to introduce them to the concept of donating as it has positive long-term implications. Research suggests that children have a deeply rooted instinct to share and to help others, from the time they’re very young—one study even found that toddlers enjoy giving to others more than they like getting treats for themselves. Children have a strong, natural drive to be kind and generous.
Early educators from The Curiosity Approach encourage a mindful approach to Christmas, encouraging children to find joy in giving rather than receiving – avoiding the consumerism that often goes hand-in-hand with Christmas.
To promote giving, try a reverse advent calendar – it flips the daily receiving of a gift to the act of giving a gift, and can be tailored to your chosen charity. Every day, in the run-up to Christmas, children can gift an appropriate food item into a box for a nominated charity. This activity doesn’t need to adhere to the countdown of 25 days and can be modified to suit your program.
Foodbank is a great place to start, however, there are many other worthwhile local or global charities you could choose from such as the K-Mart Wishing Tree that collects new gifts for The Salvation Army.
Here are some Christmas focused ideas and gift making to tie in with some common learning areas that will delight and excite young children. As an added bonus, they’re inexpensive and easy to organise.
Hands-on seasonal STEM
Bath bombs: Simple DIY bath bombs with safe ingredients make great gifts.
Dancing jingle bells: Science that is fun to do and fun to watch.
Jingle bells magnets: Create a sensory bin for little hands to explore, jingle, shake and stick to magnets.
Christmas tree suncatcher: With an art twist, kids can explore crayon resist painting and learn about absorption.
Stimulate their senses
Christmas slime: Messy, gooey Christmas themed fine motor fun for all ages.
Listening games: Use a small Christmas present box and shake to guess what’s inside.
Banana snowmen: Food is fun, let the kids create edible art such as banana strawberry candy canes through to watermelon Christmas trees
Nature based art and eco-friendly creations
Christmas leaf painting: Kids can seek out natural materials like branches, pinecones and leaves and then get creative with paint.
Salt dough decorations: Use anything from nature to imprint or press into the dough for unique creations
Snow paint: Simple, homemade puffy paint lets kids of all ages create with ‘snow.’
Gorgeous handmade gift ideas
Lovely lanterns: Kids will love making these with recycled materials.
Thanks to The Empowered Educator for their insights on planning for Christmas
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