Friday, November 21, 2008

What are your Holiday Traditions?

Everyone loves hearing about other families and their holiday traditions. Please share your family traditions for the holidays. It could be something you have done just once, planning to do for the first time, or traditions that have been around for generations!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Giving Thanks

Friday, November 14, 2008

Star Cupcakes Fun to Make and Eat 2007

It is a tradition to decorate star cupcakes at the Grandkids Christmas Day Camp. I bake the cupcakes ahead of time and freeze them for easy frosting and decorating. The kids frosted their cupcakes using plastic knives. They were furnished with a variety of sprinkles to turn their cupcakes into a fun holiday treat. They each make two. One to eat after dinner and one to take home.

As you can see, licking fingers is a must as is trying to lick your chin to get every dab of frosting. There is no question that hands and faces need to be washed after this treat!

Christmas Craft Tote 2007

This is a tote we made at the beginning of our Christmas Day Camp. It is to hold their completed crafts throughout the day. When it is time to go home everyones crafts are in their own tote and the kids can easily carry them all by themselves.

We put some ice cream buckets to good use for this easy tote. The children first decorated the outside of the bucket with a variety of Christmas stickers. I had made a coloring page print out on card stock for each child. I had included the cutting line to create a circle that would cover the lid. The children colored the pictures, then cut out the circles. They glued the cut out to the lid using a glue stick. We then added curling ribbon to the handle. I wrote each of their names on their lids. The buckets are lined up on a low table from youngest to oldest and they keep everyones treasures safe until our Christmas day camp is over.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ho...Ho...Ho...liday Schedule

Our family is rich in holiday traditions. Every year we create a Ho...Ho...Ho...liday schedule to outline our holiday traditions. We love spending the time together. Everyone shares in the preparations and in the the participation of our family events. This site has many ideas throughout it for different activities you can do with your grandkids and families during the holidays.

If you would like to see more details on the Ho...Ho...Ho...liday schedule and more details on our holiday traditions go to my September postings under "Tis the Season". My planning does indeed start very early which is all part of the holiday fun for me!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Cousins singing together just for fun

My grandchildren love to sing their favorite songs together. This time it was around the pretend camp fire at the grandkids camp out. They all made their requests and the older kids taught the younger ones some new songs too. The Christmas day camp will be coming up soon and we will be singing Christmas carols galore!

Number Eight....Just Because

This little guy is number eight out of nine grandchildren. I thought I would post a picture of him "just because". He's not getting many photo ops here on his Grandma's blog. He's not big enough to come to the camp out, or the back to school party, so he has not made many of my postings.

He did however attend last years family Christmas tree bonfire where we got this cute picture of him all bundled up for a night out with the family! He will be coming to this years Christmas day camp so you will be seeing more of this adorable little boy very soon.

Road Trip

Our family had a caravan of family cars and camping gear on this trip to the mountains. On our way we all went through the In and Out drive through for lunch on the road. The smiles remained during our camping trip but that fresh clean look and smell, not so much!

Tin Can Santa Craft

As you can see many of my crafts are Christmas items. This is because I do a twelve hour Christmas day camp every year for my grandkids. It takes lots of crafts to fill our day each year! I always try to do a Santa craft.

Ho...Ho...Ho...This jolly, full bearded, Santa is made from a vegetable can. We first covered the cans in white paper that I had pre-cut to fit ahead of time. The paper is overlapped in the back and secured with a glue stick or a piece of clear tape. Red and black construction paper was used to create the eyes (paper punched), a nose, and a mouth. Using a glue stick glue his eyes, nose, and mouth in place. Make sure to leave space between the nose and mouth for his mustache and space at the top for Santa's hat to come just over the top edge of the can.

Wrap and glue a piece of red construction paper around the top of the can to create the hat so that it is overlapping is in the back. Scrunch up the top of the hat to create a point and staple to hold. You may also need to add some glue to the overlapping areas to help the hat hold it's shape.

Now the real fun begins. Give each child a small plate with a nice size dab of craft glue on it and a handful of cotton balls. Cover the bottom of the hat with a row of cotton balls all the way around by dipping the cotton balls in the glue and placing them on the can. Bring the cotton balls down covering the sides of his face and his chin to create Santa's very full beard. Use a cotton ball cut in half between the nose and the mouth and kind of stretch it out to create the mustache shape.

The finishing touch is a cotton ball on the top of Santa'a hat to cover the staple.

If you would like to make this craft, eat your vegetables....and save the cans!

Christmas Star Fridge Magnet

Kids just love glitter and they also love to display their artwork. This Christmas Star fridge magnet is both useful and perfect holiday decor for the fridge. The children first painted the entire surface of a wooden craft star with glue. I had small bowls of glitter and spoons. The children worked over the bowls so that the extra glitter would be caught in the bowl. They covered the entire surface with the sparkling glitter. We set the stars aside and allowed them to dry. (Older children could do more of a design on the star allowing glue and glitter to dry between colors.)

I gave each child a strip of self sticking magnet tape. (make it long enough to cover the entire length of clothes pin) Each child attached the tape to the back of the clothes pin. I finished up the project for the children when the stars had dried using hot glue to attach the star to the clothes pin for a sturdy hold. We followed up the project by coloring a nativity scene that they could proudly display using their new holiday decoration for the fridge!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Super Easy Nativity Craft

This is a super easy nativity craft for children. We first had a discussion on the true meaning of Christmas and I shared the story of the birth of Jesus.

I showed the children a completed project so they knew what they were going to be creating.

To make this project go to free coloring pages and print out your favorite nativity picture for the children to color. I cut pieces of cardboard to be 9 x12 inches and the children glued a piece of blue construction paper using a glue stick to cover the cardboard. They then colored four jumbo craft sticks brown. Using their craft sticks they built the stable forming walls and a roof. They used glue to secure the sticks to the paper. They painted a wooden craft star yellow and glued it to the top of the stable.

Cut out the nativity after it is colored and glue it in the center of the stable.

Jingle Bell Craft

This Jingle Bell on a stick is an easy craft for kids. They love playing with it once it is completed too. The jingling holiday sound fills the home and it makes everyone feel just jolly!

To make this craft you begin with painting a paint stirring stick. The paint sticks are free in the paint department. Because the children were young I had painted the sticks ahead of time using spray paint. The children selected their own stickers to decorate the stick. A pipe cleaner was used to thread through the jingle bell and to securely attach the bell to the stick. Curling ribbon was added for a little extra fluff. When everyone finished their projects we all sang Jingle Bells together while shaking our new holiday noise makers.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Snow in the Desert

These photo's were taken last winter in the middle of the desert in Arizona! It caused quite a bit of excitement in the community and within our family. We all live near one another so the phone lines were going crazy making sure that no one in the family was missing this freak snow storm. Before it was done the ground was completely covered and we even woke up to snow covered landscapes and roofs.

Some of the grandkids came over and made some snowballs. You can see from the expression that the white stuff is cold!

Christmas Day Camp Tote Project

The first project at every Day Camp is to create a place for the children to keep their completed projects throughout the day. I found these baskets in red and green at the dollar store. To personalize them I had each child lace Christmas garland through the top row of holes in the basket. We used clear tape to connect the ends of the garland. I gave each child a construction paper star that I had cut out ahead of time and had them decorate one side of it with crayons then we printed their name on the other side. I covered the finished stars in clear packing tape to make them more durable. We punched a hole in the top of the star and tied the star to the front of the basket tote with ribbon.

All of the completed basket totes were placed on a low table in a row from oldest to youngest where they stayed all day. As the children completed their projects they put their handmade Christmas treasures in their very own Christmas Day Camp tote.

Musical Instruments part of Holiday Tradition

I have a large collection of musical instruments that we play along with Christmas music CD's or when we sing Christmas songs together. Some of the instruments are homemade and others have been picked up in the dollar store. They are stored away all year long and they are looked forward to as part of our Holiday tradition at grandma's house.

The kids love to march around the house creating music. The instruments are traded around frequently so that everyone gets turns with some of the favorites. The festive headbands made of sparkling garland and shiny ribbon are also part of our holiday orchestra!

Easy Christmas Frame Craft

This is a very simple Christmas craft for kids. They love pasting so this was a very kid friendly project. Ahead of time I cut out the white frames using card stock. The opening in the center is just smaller than an index card. Punch a hole in the top center of the frame. I spray painted the macaroni ahead of time. You could use any shape you like. To paint the macaroni I layed it out on an old cookie sheet, sprayed, allowed to dry, turn with a spatula, spray, and repeat until well coated.

The kids filled in the frame with the macaroni. Remind them not to put any macaroni over the pre-punched hole on the top. Allow the frames to dry. I gave each child an index card and a choice of small Christmas pictures for the center. (You could do a picture of the child.) I used a variety of large stickers. Paste or stick the picture to the center of the un-ruled index card. Center the index card on the back of the frame opening and tape securely into place.

Use a piece of string or yarn to make a hanger. Attach the hanger through the hole on the top. Glue a bow over the picture opening for a fun and festive finishing touch!

Do it Yourself Picnic Lunch 2007

As part of our Grandkid's Christmas Day Camp each child packs their own lunch for one of the mid morning activities. I supply fun Christmas themed bags, and fun Christmas baggies to be filled with their sandwich, chips and a treat. They each make their own sandwich and fill their own bags including a drink and a Christmas napkin. We write their names on the bags and store them in the fridge until lunch time.

In Arizona it is usually warm enough to go outdoors for a picnic. The last two years our mailman has become part of the tradition. We have been having our lunch in the front yard when she comes by to deliver the mail and she stops to give each of the kids a candy cane!

Bird Feeder Craft

As usual, something others would throw in the trash turned into a craft project for my grandchildren and I. We had dozens and dozens of these cone shaped cardboard pieces that were packing materials during home construction. They were very sturdy and had a very textured surface. In my head, as the clean up girl on the construction site, I'm thinking what could I use these for? They inspired the craft of creating a bird feeder.

This is how we did it:

I drilled one small hole in the top of each cardboard shape. I gave each child a paper plate and a plastic knife to work with. We first coated the entire outside surface with peanut butter. The children then heavily sprinkled the entire outside with birdseed. They gently patted the see into the heavy coating of peanut butter. After allowing them to set up a bit we threaded a long piece of twine through the pre-drilled hole. We tied a washer on the under side to secure the twine for hanging.

The children took their projects home and hung them in their trees. The kids were thrilled to see the birds snacking on their creations.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Preparations Begin for Holiday Fun

The picture above is from last year's Grandkid's Christmas Day Camp. The Day Camp is an all day event just for the grandkids. All of my guests will have grown another year and three more younger guests will be added this year.

The event has two purposes. The first is to give my adult children a full day to do what ever they would like to do. Whether it is Christmas shopping, gift wrapping, or just a day to relax. The second purpose is to kick off the holiday season spending some quality time with my grandchildren, and they with one another as siblings and as cousins.

The event is 12 hours long, beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at 9 p.m. with the kids showered and in their pajamas ready for pick up and to be tucked into bed at home.

The day is very structured with a written schedule that includes many craft projects, Christmas activities such as games, music, cooking, and a lesson and role play on the true meaning of Christmas.

My preparations will include making up samples of all of the craft projects and putting a kit together for each child for each craft. I will also start collecting the supplies needed for the rest of the days activities, meals, and snacks.

I am very out numbered at this event and being well prepared, organized, and well rested are all necessary for the event to go smoothly. So, I am starting my preparations now so that I will be ready for some holiday fun with the grandkids!

Check out my other posts for all kinds of Christmas Day Camp ideas.