Christmas is celebrated in countries all over the world, but we all celebrate it a bit differently. I have always been fascinated with the various traditions and symbols of the holiday season. I even taught an entire unit plan about winter holidays when I was student teaching. Baking cookies is one of my favorite traditions of the holidays, and it is one that is common in many of the countries that celebrate. I have such fond memories of baking with my mom when I was younger, and I love being able to pass this tradition on to my daughter, and to see her enjoy the same tradition with my mom as well. Today we take a look at some of the ways that Christmas is celebrated around the world, and the sweet treats they enjoy!
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A World of Cookies for Santa: Follow Santa’s Tasty Trip Around the World was written by M.E. Furman and illustrated by Susan Gal. This colorful book takes readers around the globe, showcasing the Christmas traditions celebrated in various countries. In each country, the author shares a little bit about the different names for Santa Claus, the treats children leave out for him, and interesting traditions that families share on Christmas Eve. The book also includes a selection of recipes, so you can make some of the delicious cookies in the book! The vivid illustrations are bright and colorful, and the end pages include maps of the world, so you can follow along on Santa’s journey.
Making New Traditions
Bake Cookies – As I have mentioned in the past, my daughter and I love to bake together. As soon as I told her that this book would give us a chance to make something new in the kitchen, she was already excited. I love to try new Christmas cookies, so I was thrilled to find easy recipes in this book for some of the cookies mentioned. With her Learning Tower from Little Partners, she is able to help me a lot more in the kitchen, so we tied on our aprons and decided to try one.
We decided to make the Coconut Macaroons from Christmas Island. These were not only incredibly easy to make, but also tasted delicious! She was able to help me pour in the ingredients and mix the batter, so she was very proud to share them. They were a big hit with our family, and will definitely be added to the Christmas cookie rotation. I love that when we serve them during the holidays, we can also share the story behind them. I can’t wait to try out some of the other recipes too!
Decorating Cookies – If your family creates frosted cookies for the holidays, this is a great opportunity for kids to practice patterns and color mixing. If you tint your own icing, have kids help you add the correct dyes to make the colors. While frosting cookies, encourage kids to create repeating patterns. If your family doesn’t frost cookies, you can cut circles out of brown paper. Have kids decorate their paper cookies with markers, crayons or art supplies.
Traditions – I have always been interested in learning about Christmas traditions around the world. I was surprised while reading this book to discover that a lot of my family’s traditions are inspired by other countries. As you are reading with your kids, talk about your own holiday traditions. Do any of the traditions in the book sound like yours? Have kids draw a picture of your Christmas traditions and maybe add some traditions from other countries that they really liked.
Playing with Your “Food”
Play Dough Cookie Mats – There are lots of fun ways that you can use play dough to bring this book to life. My daughter loves playing with play dough (especially the gingerbread play dough we made), so I decided to make these printable play dough mats to continue our cookie fun. Print these mats out and seal them between two pieces of contact paper. Trim the edges so there is enough left to seal the paper inside. For the first side, I created cookie outlines of different shapes. Have kids shape the play dough into the shapes and place them on the right plates. You could also use cookie cutters if you have shape cookie cutters available.
For the second play dough mat, I decided to have a little fun with counting. Each section of the cookie sheet has a little circle for a number. Write a number in each corner, or create a small number out of play dough. Have kids create small balls of play dough, as if they were rolling out cookies to bake. Place the right number of “cookies” in each section of the sheet. When they have the correct number of cookies, they can smash them down into flat cookie shapes with their hands. If you have a spatula, they can use it to pry the cookies up when they are done. This activity not only works on counting skills, but also helps with fine motor skills.
Travel Around the World
Dramatic Play – Encourage kids to be creative with a dramatic play area set up for cookie making. Provide kids with aprons, kitchen tools, play food and a kitchen area or table. Talk to them about what kind of cookies they like to make and who they like to make them for. You can easily create fake cookies out of felt or paper, and let kids decorate them. You could even take it one step further and pretend you are traveling to other countries! Since she loves to use her Little Partners Learning Tower as a food truck, she drove it around the house serving cookies.
My daughter loves to mimic whatever I am doing in the kitchen. I like to have some smaller utensils for her to play with while I am doing the work she can’t help with (like working in the oven). I love to see how her mind works when she is left to her own devices. It always shows me just how closely she is really paying attention to everything I do!
There are so many fun traditions at Christmas time. This book is a fun (and tasty) way to introduce different traditions to your kids. You may even be inspired to start a new tradition of your own. For more inspiration, check out this list of books I created celebrating Christmas around the world!