As soon as I saw this activity, I knew I wanted to try it out with the kids.  Making gingerbread housed is such a fun holiday tradition, and I love how this links that to the nativity.  So, Caitlyn made us this sample one this morning, and then she helped the kids and I make a bit of a simplified version.  I thought some of it might be pretty tricky for little hands to do, but they did really well and had fun, too!  The hardest part was balancing the stable pieces as the frosting "glue" dried,

but once we accomplished that, we could sprinkle some dyed coconut "straw,"
and start making our gumdrop Mary and Joseph.
Next, we made a manger out of graham cracker pieces, and a baby Jesus from a mini marshmallow and the top half of a little gumdrop.
Then, a sheep from a big marshmallow and some licorice.
And the best part is, they all had just as much fun whether their end result looked like this-
or this! :)
    Today we made these really fun Christmas trees.  I am always a fan of a craft that the kids can do all by themselves, and this was a good one for that, especially for the older kids.  I just gave them each a Christmas tree outline on green construction paper and then they could cut them out, and use the hole punch (wich they love to use!) and then covered up the backside of the holes with scraps of tissue paper.  These trees make a great holiday decoration, especially hung in a window so that the sunlight can shine through and "turn on" their Christmas lights!

    For our science time today, we did an experiment to see if we could pick up a piece of ice from a glass of water using only a piece of string, and some salt.  First, we dropped a piece of ice into a glass of water and found out that it floats! We tried laying the string across the ice, waited a few seconds and then lifted the string.  The ice stayed in the glass.  Next, we layed the string across the ice and poured a little bit of salt onto the string.  Together we counted to thirty, and then lifted the string...

The ice came with it! Because salt lowers the freezing temperature of water to below 32* (which is why those big orange trucks put salt and gravel down on slippery roads in the winter time), adding salt to our string and ice cube caused the ice to melt a little around the string.  As the salt was diluted and the ice cube was cooled more by the neighboring molecules, it refroze around the string allowing us to pick up the ice cube!
    Here is a photo of the Hilary's Home Daycare tree all set up and decorated at the Festival of Trees this past weekend!  I think it turned out just great and the kids should be very proud of all of their beautiful contributions. :)  Our tree also helped out the youth of First Lutheran Church by raising $50 of the nearly $1300 that was raised at this first annual event!  It was a lot of fun to be a part of it!

Christmas glitter playdough
    Today we made some really fun "Christmas playdough!"  I started out by just making a batch of my favorite playdough recipe (which I will include below).  I used green food coloring, of course, and tried adding a little bit of mint extract to make it smell minty, too.  I love to add pumpkin pie spice to our orange fall playdough, so that's where the idea came from, but I think the pumpkin smell mixes a little better with the playdough's own scent than the mint did.  It's still fun, though! :)  Once the playdough was cooled enough, I gave each of the kids a chunk

Christmas glitter playdough
of it, along with some glitter and sequin bottles for them to add a little
Christmas decoration of their own.  They really had fun with it and made lots of playdough Christmas trees, and "birthday cakes," and even a couple of "John Deere tractor cakes." :) 

Christmas playdough
Anyway, here is my favorite playdough recipe for you to try out at home.  Have a great weekend!

Mix together in saucepan:
2 cups water
3 T. oil
desired food coloring

Mix together in separate bowl:
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 T. Cream of tartar

Gradually add flour mixture into wet mixture.  Cook and stir over medium heat until well blended.  Knead on a floured surface until smooth.  Stores well in an air-tight container for a looong time!

Coloring Christmas bell
    Today we made our final ornaments to add to the Hilary's Home Daycare Christmas tree that will be on display in First Lutheran Church's "Festival of Trees" this weekend.  We used egg cartons, pipe cleaners, and bells to make our own Christmas bells.  The kids really seemed to enjoy this one most of all the ornaments we've made this past week, with the only exception possibly

Egg carton Christmas bells
being the baking cup-snowflakes.  I think the reason they liked it so much is that once I explained how to make them, they really didn't need any help from  me, but could pretty much do it all by themselves.  Most of the kids even made several of them.  Next up is to decorate the tree tonight!  I am excited to

Egg carton Christmas bells
see all of their great ornaments on display, and just in case you can't make it to see the trees in person, I will be sure to post a picture of all of our handiwork! :)

Festival of Trees Info:
  • Viewing & Silent Auction:
    December 2 -6-8 p.m. &
    December 3  - 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Reception: December  4th 3-4 pm; silent auction closes at 4 pm; announcement of winners at 4:30.