GOODNIGHT, MANGER: 8 Nativity Activities to Teach Little Ones about Christmas

One of my favorite Christmas memories is watching my daughter play with the Baby Jesus that was part of our Christmas nativity. All through December she’d carry him around the house saying things like, “Baby Jesus crying. It’s okay, Baby.”  Then she’d gently feed him or rock him and sing a lullaby. Before listening to her tender play, I’d never thought of Baby Jesus as ever crying. Her sweet play inspired me to write “Goodnight, Manger”, a Christmas bedtime picture book that not only serves as a fun reminder that Jesus was once a baby who cried and felt everything we feel, but which also keeps Christ, rather than Santa, as the focus during the holiday season.   Now, inspired by GOODNIGHT, MANGER, here are:

8 Nativity Activities to Spark Meaningful Conversations about Christmas with Preschoolers


1. Play “I Spy…an angel!” Identify the figures in the Christmas story using the nativity as your playground. After you “spy” each figure, ask simple questions like “Who was Mary?” or “What were the shepherds doing that night?”


2. Play “I Count… three sheep!” Preschoolers love counting. After each count, think about how everyone in the nativity was looking forward to meeting Baby Jesus. Ask them what they think about that.


3. Play “Where is Baby Jesus?” In this variation of hide and seek, take turns hiding Baby Jesus in the nativity (or beyond). Each time you find Him, marvel about how exciting it must have been to see God’s promise for a Savior fulfilled in the birth of a special baby – Jesus!


4. Re-enact the Nativity. Using Luke 2:1-20 as your guide, re-enact the Christmas story using the figurines. Add animal sounds and alleluias to bring the story to life. For extra fun, you can also retell your nativity-themed picture books (such as Goodnight, Manger, for example) using figurines. Be sure to always link back to the all important message that Jesus is the gift of Christmas.  


5. Sing Carols. While holding the appropriate figurines, sing carols that relate to the nativity story.  For example, pretend the angels are flying as you sing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” Have the wise men march as you sing “We Three Kings.” Place Baby Jesus in the manger as you sing “Away in a Manger,” etc.


6. Care for Baby Jesus. Just as my daughter did, let your child take care of Baby Jesus. Pretend to gently rock and feed him. Maybe even sing him a tender lullaby. Then be amazed together – that God loves us just like we love little babies. He cares for us and comforts us. His biggest gift ever? Sending Jesus to be the Savior of the world.


7. Make your own nativity figurines. Little ones love anything hands on, so roll up your sleeves and make sheep, shepherds, angels and more using whatever materials you fancy. Play dough, felt, glue, paper, crayons and even blocks are all perfect materials for a fun afternoon of nativity building. 


8. Go on a Nativity Hunt. Here’s a fun activity that will get you and your children outside on a crisp day. Walk around your neighborhood looking for nativity lawn scenes. Name the figures you see and celebrate! This also makes a good activity to keep children busy and engaged while running errands in the car.

A version of this post previously appeared on Noelle Kirchner’s amazing blog .  Thank you, Noelle, for having me and for letting me share here!

Read. Discuss. Do!: LOVE IS KIND Jelly Bean Jars

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Today I’m delighted to continue the WORLD KINDNESS DAY celebration with this adorable Read. Discuss Do! graphic created by children’s author Rebecca Gomez.  The Read. Discuss Do! (hashtag #ReadDiscussDo) campaign celebrates reading beyond the book by creating sharable images that give simple ideas for book related discussions and activities.  It is my hope today this LOVE IS KIND Read. Discuss. Do! will inspire you and your little ones to spread love and kindness wherever you go!   Happy reading, discussing and doing!

 

HAPPY WORLD KINDNESS DAY!

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Did you know that today is WORLD KINDNESS DAY?  But where does this gift of kindness and love begin? It begins in our hearts — and in the hearts of our children. And it’s never too early nor late to nurture it. One easy way to do that is to let children brainstorm concrete ways that they can show kindness each day.
So today, in celebration of World Kindness Day (and really every day should be kindness day), I’m over at Noelle Kirchner’s blog with a special LOVE IS KIND guest post sharing a list of ways to be kind from kids from across the country! My wish is that their heartwarming ideas will jumpstart a nice conversation with your own children!
So grab that cup of coffee and head on over. I’ll make it easy for you.  Here’s the link.

Oh, and there’s a GIVEAWAY for one brand new copy of LOVE IS KIND!

LOVE IS KIND: Six Book-Themed Extension Activities to Celebrate LOVE and KINDNESS!

LoveisKind_emailheader_650x254_BDid you know that tomorrow is World Kindness Day?  It’s wonderful to have a day to officially recognize kindness, and hopefully it will prompt us to extend kindness and love to each other each and every day. One of the reasons I wrote LOVE IS KIND was so that kids could see through a fun story just how varied and wonderful extending love and kindness to others can be!  Here now, to help you celebrate KINDNESS after reading LOVE IS KIND, are six book-themed extension activities. Enjoy!

  1. Version 2PUT ON A PLAY.  Creatively re-enacting the story is a great way to embrace and reinforce the wonderful message of the story.  So, after reading LOVE IS KIND, have fun retelling it using stuffed animals, puppets, or yourselves!  Don’t forget to grab three coins, a dollar bill, and a crinkled coupon! For extra fun, write the snippets from I Corinthians 13 that are found within the illustrations on sentence strips.  Then have one child hold up at the right places during the re-enactment.  
  1. IMG_7380DO A PICTURE READ THROUGH.  After reading LOVE IS KIND, flip things around by having your child re-read it to you using the pictures as clues! Reading the pictures is a great pre-reading skill because it encourages interacting with the page. So, snuggle up and enjoy being “read” to.  Reading the story again and again is also a good way to take to HEART the message of the story – that kindness and love aren’t found in a box – even one filled with chocolates. 
  1. MEMORIZE I CORINTHIANS 13: 4 – 8a by SINGING it!   This famous Bible passage was inspirational to LOVE IS KIND and snippets of it appear throughout the story.  As you read, look for them in the illustrations!  Afterwards, open your bibles and play around with various familiar tunes that you could sing the passage to. My favorite pick:  Sing to the tune of “Happy Birthday”  and when you get to the finale – “Love never fails” sing that to the “Happy Birthday” postscript – “…and many more.”  Songs, as you probably know, are a great (and fun) way to memorize all sorts of things because the melodies and words combined stay with us – our whole lives.
  1. 38298026_1792465114173807_3188628633023414272_nSEND a “KINDNESS” POSTCARD to SOMEONE SPECIAL.  Illustrator Lison Chaperon created awesome postcard printables to celebrate the release of LOVE IS KIND. Print one (preferably in color) for each child and glue as directed.  Post card printables are found in this LOVE IS KIND Activity Kit from Zonderkidz. When dry have your child write a sweet “I love you”  or “Kind thought” message to someone special – perhaps a grandparent or beloved aunt or uncle or teacher.  It’s a perfect opportunity to reinforce correspondence conventions, address writing skills, and old-fashioned empathy.  Then affix proper postage and take a trip to the post office to mail!
  1. IMG_7709SPREAD SOME EDIBLE LOVE.  After reading LOVE IS KIND, bake a batch of your favorite sugar cookies – heart-shaped, of course. Decorate with icing, then arrange them on a plate and deliver them to a neighbor, family member, or friend who could use a little extra dose of love and kindness. Or, if you have heart-shaped molds (available at your favorite craft or confectionary making shop) make your own heart-shaped chocolates and deliver those instead. Or, bake some muffins and top them with these delightful character-themed muffin toppers (with recipe), created by the illustrator and have a kindness tea party.
  1. COLOR, make an OWL MASK or DRAW ! After reading LOVE IS KIND, print out one of these adorable coloring pages and have fun coloring while you talk about your favorite bits of the story which can all be found in the LOVE IS KIND Activity Kit Zonderkidz has created to accompany the book.  Or, have your child DRAW their favorite scene. Then talk about what made it their favorite. Have fun!  

Tune in again tomorrow as I celebrate WORLD KINDNESS DAY with a special post and giveaway over at Noelle Kirchner’s blog.  Pop over today to see her kindness devotional.  I’ll post the link for tomorrow’s visit on my blog tomorrow.

Happy Reading, all… and I hope your day is filled with KINDNESS AND LOVE!

Note:  A variation of this post appeared at Becky Kopitzke’s wonderful blog in August as part of my blog tour. Thank you for having me, Becky!

TAILS ON THE ARK: An Edible Extension Activity for GOODNIGHT, ARK

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It’s always fun when you discover that someone you’ve never even met has seen your book and thought enough of it to create a special activity based on the book. That’s exactly what happened last spring when I discovered that on her blog, Easy Elegant Entertaining™, Addie Gundry, trained chef and cookbook author, used the concept of tails in GOODNIGHT, ARK to create an adorable book-themed treat. Click here for her wonderful edible activity.  And thank you, Addie, for letting me share the adorable picture above.

Now to springboard off of her creativity, I’d like to add some suggestions for thoughtful questions you might ask as you are making these delightful tails inspired by GOODNIGHT, ARK!  

GOODNIGHT, ARK Tail-Themed Questions

Do all of the creatures in  GOODNIGHT, ARK have tails? Which do not?

Which is your favorite tail? Why?

How many tails can you count? (On any given page.)

Why do you think animals have tails?

If you had a tail, what would it look like?  (Draw it , or make one using Addie’s ingredients!)

Happy reading, conversing about, creating, and then eating these adorable tails! And thank you, Addie, for creating this delightful (and tasty) extension activity!

P.S. Addie Gundry has also created adorable (and I mean ADORABLE) treats to go with GUESS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU.  Press here for her adorable Bunny Tails.

THE BIG DRAW: Illustrator Rebecca Gerlings Shares DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE

 


When Rebecca Gerlings, the illustrator of DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE, told me she was going to be one of the featured artists at this year’s The Big Draw Epsom, I was excited and wanted to learn more about the event and her role.

What I learned is that The Big Draw is a big deal! The Big Draw is a “a visual literacy charity that promotes the universal language of drawing as a tool for learning, expression and invention” and, according to their website, since their launch in 2000, over four million people have participated.  That makes them the world’s largest drawing festival! This year the festival ran from 1–31 October, and involved over 400,000 people from over 25 countries!

The  2018 theme was “play” and in Epsom activities included live cellists, chalk drawing on pavements, abstract art in the square, and readings and workshops in the library.  Visitors also had the chance to meet local artists, art educators and designers – including picture book author-illustrator Rebecca Gerlings, illustrator of Diva Delores and the Opera House Mouse!

Here’s a round up of Rebecca’s part of the day:

 

Rebecca read Diva Delores and the Opera House Mouse, then lead a puppet-making workshop where children could take home their very own Delores and Fernando.

4439cb7b-874d-4228-8cbe-fa7765c752deShe cut 40 templates for both characters, snipped 40 woolly mouse tails, punched 80 mouse ears, and dotted 120 sticky eyes ahead of the event. 

 

The Fernando puppets were made by rolling each brown sugar-paper template into a little cone and securing it with sticky tape. A pair of ears and eyes and a woolly tail later and – voila-la-la! – Fernando!

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Once the kids had completed their puppets they popped them on stage for their debut performances!

All 40 cute Fernando puppets found new homes with their little makers. And in a flurry of feathers and glittery makery so did all 40 Deloreses!

IMG_2617It was such a smash that when the templates ran out a half hour before the end of the workshop the resourceful kiddos stayed to make cute characters out of the cotton wool balls meant for Delores’ wigs! 

Doesn’t that sound like a wonderful day!  And perhaps it will inspire you to grab a copy of DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE to read with your kiddos. And, afterwards, maybe you, too, can create puppets and put on a show!  Happy reading and creating, all!

LOVE IS KIND: Student Art and Kindness Reflections!

It’s always fun for an author to receive mail – especially the kind that includes student artwork and thoughtful writing inspired by one of their books. That’s exactly what happened this week!  Now, with permission, I’m delighted to share teacher and author Tina Cho’s students’ work along with her explanatory note about how she used LOVE IS KIND with her students in South Korea. Thank you, Tina!

“I read LOVE IS KIND last week for Fall, and we had also read nonfiction books about owls. So it was perfect! I had them draw Little Owl and write how they can be kind. Attached are papers. Below is what they said in case you can’t make it out.”
What a delightful way to integrate learning about owls with thinking about how to extend love and kindness to one another. Little Owl gives this project a thumbs up… and so do I!
Now, without further fuss, here are the art projects with captions beneath for clarity.  Enjoy!

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I can help my mom.

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I eat eggs, be kind at breakfast with Grandma.

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I can share my stuffed animal.

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I love my mom and dad. I play games (with them).

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I help my mom clean the room.

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I can be kind to my dad (helping him work on their jeep

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I hug my mom.

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I share with mom flower.

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I share an apple.

LOVE IS KIND Book Jacket Workshop: Thank you, Cranford Public Library!

IMG_7963.JPGI spent a LOVELY (and fashionable) hour at the Cranford Public Library this morning sharing LOVE IS KIND at my Book Jacket Workshop for kids ages 5+. First, we read the story. Then it was time for a quick history of book jackets, using my own jackets (and impeccable sense of style ) to demonstrate how book jackets developed from plain (like my brown corduroy) dust covers, protecting the fancy book beneath, to colorful (i.e. plaid jacket) covers meant to catch a readers eye like the adorable covers to GOODNIGHT ARK and LOVE IS KIND (Zonderkidz) … to even fancier (like that sequined jacket and the glittery cover of DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE (Sterling Publishing) )to really make a book stand out. And then it was time for them to make their own covers and they did a FANTASTIC job! I even had the pleasure of having several kids read their flap copy to me – with adorable bios! Thank you for having me, Lauren and staff, and thanks for putting so much effort and joy into your projects, kids! Here are a few pictures that capture the feel of the morning. Let’s keep spreading BOOK LOVE!

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LOVE IS KIND: Activity Guide and Printables (Bookmark this post!)

LoveisKind_emailheader_650x254_B.jpgTEACHERS AND PARENTS: This post is a treasure that should be book-marked. It contains a wonderful activity kit offered by Zonderkidz and created by my illustrator Lison Chaperon. The not-to-be-missed kit has an assortment of LOVE IS KIND-themed printables – including coloring pages, an adorable Little Owl mask craft and a post card activity!

41257812_1845944638825854_3088792384515866624_nYou can download the kit here.

IMG_7709And for your convenience, I’m also including the downloadable baking activity with  character muffin toppers seen above – perfect for birthday parties, class celebrations etc. Press here for that.

Happy reading and creating!

 

LOVE IS KIND Blog Tour: Stop SEVEN

5A32405B-843A-4B7A-A32F-0CEE2DE567CEToday Susanna Leonard Hill is featuring LOVE IS KIND as part of her Perfect Picture Book Friday series!  Head on over there to find out her review.  And, inspired by Lison Chaperon’s delicious LOVE IS KIND muffin baking activity, I’m also sharing my thoughts on the benefits of pairing picture books with a tasty treat with FIVE TIPS for doing that! (Oh, and there’s also a giveaway!) So grab that cup of tea and one of those delicious virtual muffins picture above head on over.  HAPPY FRIDAY, all!