I love having the Christmas tree up. When I am playing in the living room with my daughter and the lights are on the tree and Christmas music is on the radio, there is a sense of peace and joy that settles over me. Whether you are an artificial tree family or a real tree family, creating the perfect tree is an important part of the Christmas season for a lot of families. Today’s book is all about the joy of picking and decorating your family Christmas tree!
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Pick a Pine Tree was written by Patricia Toht and illustrated by Jarvis. This colorful and whimsically illustrated book follows a family as they go on a hunt for their Christmas tree. They visit a tree lot, look through different kinds of trees, take their favorite home and plan a decorating day with friends and loved ones. As they decorate it with lights, garland and ornaments they watch it transform from a pine tree into a Christmas tree. The rhyming pattern and fun illustrations make this a great book to read aloud, especially as you prepare to decorate your family’s tree.
Checking out the trees
Visit a Tree Farm – Whether you use a real or artificial tree in your home, consider visiting a local tree farm. A lot of tree farms in our area have lots of activities throughout the holiday season. Even on years that we didn’t use a real tree, we have gone and picked up a pine wreath, visited with Santa and looked at the trees. The family in the book talks about the differences they see in all the trees on their lot. Start a conversation with your kids about the different kinds of Christmas trees. How are the needles different? Do they prefer taller trees or shorter trees? There are lots of learning opportunities that you can find just browsing the lot.
Get kids into the decorating!
Child Friendly Decorating – Give young kids an opportunity to get in on the decorating fun! There are lots of ways that you can do this. When we were younger, my sister and I each had a miniature tree in our rooms that we could decorate on our own. It gave us the opportunity to create something all our own, and also brought a little Christmas cheer to our rooms. You could also provide kids with a more playful option which they could decorate over and over. Create a small tree out of felt and hang it on a wall or door. Attach Velcro dots to the back of felt ornaments and let kids decorate their own tree. There are also pre-made felt tree sets available for purchase.
Snowy Pine Ornaments – If you have pine trees in your area, or if you cut down your own tree, use a few small branches as paint brushes for these easy ornaments. Give kids a piece of green card stock and pour some white paint onto a plate. Have kids dip their pine branches into the paint and dab it onto the green paper. When the paint has dried, cut (or have them cut) pine tree shapes out of the card stock. My daughter had a lot of fun using the branch as a paint brush, and I love how they look like little snow covered pine trees when they are done!
Learning with Lights
Letter Lights – Lights are one of the best parts of the Christmas tree, in my opinion. Even though the ornaments are the most sentimental to me, there is just something about the soft glow of lights on the tree that really says Christmas. I decided to use the traditional Christmas light shape to give my daughter some practice in spelling her name.
I cut several Christmas light shapes out of different colors of construction paper and wrote a letter on each one. Then I mixed them all up into a pile and had her find the correct letters to spell her name. You could also turn this activity into a game for older kids. Write out the word “Christmas” onto the light shapes (one letter per bulb), and lay them out on a table. Have kids move the bulbs around to see how many words they can make out of the letters provided.
Teaching with Trees
Christmas Tree Math – This is an easy activity that can be a great quiet time bin or travel bag while you are getting things done during the holiday rush. Cut several Christmas tree shapes out of green and brown construction paper. Write a number on the brown trunk of each tree. Provide kids with buttons to use as ornaments and encourage them to add the correct number of ornaments to each tree. If you have buttons with different colors, you could also change it up and have them sort them into specific colors for each tree.
Pom Pom Push – This fine motor activity is great for babies and young toddlers. Draw a Christmas tree on the front of an empty gift box. Cut small holes into the tree, just big enough to push a pom pom through. Color the rim of each hole in different colors. Have kids push the pom poms through the matching hole.