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Christmas Stocking & Good Behaviour

How do you enthuse a toddler about Christmas? What stories do you tell him? How do you share your own growing up with him? For a first timer, it is always a challenge (a fun one) to introduce your child to something new. For us, it is Christmas and I am having a great time telling my little one stories about Christmas and how it is such a special festival. I imagine V to grow up to believe in the magic of Santa. I would want him to believe that there is a friendly old man who watches over little kids and brings them surprise goodies on Christmas eve.

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Much before school begins, and long before I seek a generous help from malls and public places to generate an interest about Christmas, there are small things that I am doing at home. One of them is to get my little tornado settle down for some seasonal magic.

The legend of the Christmas Stocking is an old,old one. And to be honest, one that I had quite forgotten. So a little bit of research to understand what I am getting into, here is a little tale about the origins of Christmas Stockings sourced from this adorable home business website called Cotton Creations.

The custom was founded by the most influential figure in the shaping of today’s Santa Claus, St. Nicholas of Myra, a fourth-century bishop who was known for his charity and wisdom. According to legend, a poor Italian father was faced with selling one of his three daughters into slavery in order to afford the dowries needed for others to marry. One night the daughters had washed out their stockings and hung them over the fireplace to dry. Having heard of the family’s misfortune, the good saint decided to pay them a visit. Late that night, in the darkness riding his faithful white steed he stopped by their house and saw the stockings through the window. He secretly tossed three bags filled with gold coins down the chimney. The bags fell into the stockings that were hanging by the fire. His kindhearted gift made it possible for all three maidens to marry. A variation of the story is that he tossed the bags threw the window into the stockings. 

If you have a little computer savy reader, then head over to Hello Kids for some more popular legends.

But here is my version. The version of the legend that I told my 2 year old before we went ahead with our Christmas Craft 2!

The One About The Christmas Stocking 

Once upon a time there was a naughty, little boy just like you. He had a mommy, just like me.  Like your mommy, she went to work everyday. And every morning like Vihaan does, he would cry and throw a little fit.This made mommy very, very sad.

It was Christmas and she told her son, “You know Mumma tells you that you must be a good boy? You must not get angry. That you shouldn’t cry when Mumma goes to work. Doesn’t Mumma say that you must be a smiling, happy baby? Then why do you cry baby?”

“You know Santa Dadu is watching over you. He knows where you live. If you are a good boy and do what Mumma says then he will come over bringing you many toys. Which toy do you want my boy?”

“Mumma Gai” he piped.

“But you have that don’t you? Why don’t you close your eyes and tell Santa Dadu what you want? I know what we will do. Let’s make a Christmas sock and keep it for Santa. He will see you have kept a stocking and bring you your gifts” said mommy.

“Baba Gai,” the little boy’s eyes lit up.

Christmas Stocking Title Final

The Christmas Stocking Craft

We decided to keep this simple. Simple enough so that there was nothing really much to learn. Except a little use of motor skills and imagination. I did much of the work in this one and then left around a few pieces for V to put together.

Here is what you will need: 

1) Red velvet paper or red foam

2) Card stock – I used an old cereal box

3) Stickers – I picked two themes, jungle world foam stickers and Winnie the Pooh glitter-foam stickers. You could pick any sticker really…the trick is to get the child to pull out the stickers from the sheets and place them in his own way.

4) Scissors

5) Glue

What We Did

The little kiddo will need a little help here. An older child can however do this by himself. Draw up a stocking shape on the felt paper and cut it out. Trace it on the cereal box and cover it up with the felt paper. Leave a little opening on the top to pop in small candies. Remember its a paper / foam stocking and it can pop. It is meant for small items so handle it with care.

Christmas Stocking A

Next up, leave the stocking for the child. Let him peel up the stickers and allow him to place them as he fancies. V decided he wanted the jungle animals in one straight row. I tried telling him that he could put them any other way, but he knew how he wanted to arrange them. It was also his idea to add a few heart shapes stickers. Cute, I thought! 🙂

Christmas Stocking B

For the other side, he picked the 100 Acre Wood theme and placed the stickers all right. Once again I left it for him to decide where he wanted to place what. I was amazed to see that his little brain didn’t want to mix the two themes. He saw them as two distinct sides of the stocking.

Christmas Stocking C

So there you go…a small and simple craft to help little fingers practice their motor skills. Let’s hope V takes back the bigger lesson in my version of the story. Whatever be his projected behaviour, Santa has the tough task of bringing him a miniature of his father’s car!

Christmas Stocking D

It’s Christmas Eve, have you put up your Christmas Stocking yet?

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Colours, Shapes & The Christmas Tree

What good is Christmas without a Christmas Tree?

With the  toddler at two, it is the right time to introduce to him the wonderful, wonderful, fuzzy celebration of Christmas. And what better way to celebrate than put together a Christmas Tree? Since this will be V’s first year, I decided to wait around till we put together the real Christmas Tree. The riot that he is, I doubt the tree will survive him until Christmas. So, the real decoration will have to wait till a day before 25th.

But then what stops us from making one of our own! Today, I put together the first of our Christmas Crafts – A Christmas Tree that taught us colours and shapes.

christmas tree craft

I brought the crunchy, glittery, amazing-to-feel-on-the-fingertips shimmer foam sheets. V’s blocks of shapes worked well to make the star, circle, triangle and square…a bit of mix and match here and there, one for every colour and I put together an activity that was fun to do.

Here is what you need:

1) Coloured sheets of paper – You could pick of any kind. I chose the glitter foam sheets, because they add the extra-sensory magic of touch.

2) Different shape blocks – Every toddler will have a shape sorter. It’s a perfect baby toy that can be beautifully adapted as the child grows up to form various activities. This for example is one!

3) Scissors – If you have an older kid, you can use craft scissors. V is just too young for them. 🙂

4) Ice-Cream stick – For the stem of the tree. We could have coloured it…I noticed it only after we finished the activity.

5) Glue – Use with parental guidance

Christmas Tree Collage 2

What Next? 

Here is what I did. I explained to V that a Christmas Tree is a magical tree under which Santa Dadu (Yes, I made him a Grandpa) will bring him lovely toys. But there is a lot that goes into a tree. We must make it look pretty and nice. Let’s put in some of our favourite shapes?

V instantly liked the idea!

So the big green triangle was instantly recognised. Next came the star and the other shapes. V went over the colours, which he identifies very easily now. He mixes up his shapes here and there…but that is perfectly okay! 🙂 He likes to call the diamond barfi, because you know why. 🙂

I let V choose where he wants to put the shapes. All I had to do was put some glue on the reverse, which he for some reason chose to call ‘medicine’. So with a bit of adhesive medicine under the shapes, V’s baby fingers worked on the tree lovingly.

The entire activity held us in place for close to 20 minutes. Which was a win, win situation for both of us.

There is more to Christmas than just a tree…so watch this space as we share with you our countdown to Christmas.

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Making The Best Use Of A National Holiday

With a working mother who is out 6 days of the week, it gets really tough sometimes. So when a National Holiday comes in the middle of the week, we choose to use it well.

It began last night with these pots of homemade paint. We made a fresh batch of yellow, green, red and chocolate brown. The red and brown look similar in the picture though.

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The morning started with V’s favourite activity – kalaloo (colouring).

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We brought out yellow & green today. So first with brushes and then with fingers, our homemade paints painted a messy canvas. (Btw…these paints are totally eatable & washable)

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Next up, some fun with numbers. We brought out the ice-cream sticks and pipe cleaners. Happy to note that V can comfortably identify numbers 1 – 10.

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Lastly, we played with our colour flashcards. I made these sometime back and we hadn’t used them in a while. V enjoyed identifying his buu, oange, pulpul, edd, blaack. 🙂

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We also used the pipe cleaner for a quick game to put to test our motor skills.

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This comfortably took care of nearly 2 hours! Mommy was happy she could hold V’s attention for sometime. And V seemed pleased that Mommy wasn’t running away today.

More on these individual activities later…

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Fun with Pipe Cleaners

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Let me tell you the truth. I hadn’t heard or seen anything strangely called as pipe cleaners until very recently. What is it anyway? And how do they clean pipes? Until a little research told me that these actually act like brushes to clean smoking pipes. The same pipes are adapted for children’s’ craft where these beauties bend and bow to form shapes and patterns.

I discovered them first on Pinterest and then at V’s summer camp. So when I found pipe cleaners at our craft store, I happily pocketed them for later use.

Pipe cleaners have a thin wire wrapped in polyester and nylon. These pipes come in bright colours, making these attractive playthings for kids. The wire inside can be bent easily without the use of any force. Which is why they are open to be shaped into varied things. We began by bending the wires to form a few shapes. V was clearly not interested. But when I made a balloon, like the one below, his eyes lit up! So there…I had his attention!

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So what did I do next? Made spectacles for Pintu & Pluto. V agreed that they looked really good. It was quite a struggle to keep the glasses in place though, because they would keep falling off much to V’s chagrin! We were well into the breakfast and V was finally having enough fun to sit.

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Pipe cleaners are an excellent resource for early literacy. V has recently picked up the numbers 1-10 and on a good day he follows the sequence. On most other days, it goes like “1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 9”.

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We haven’t formally taught numbers. So his voluntary learning is a great starting point for me. Recently at the book fair I bought a book called One, two, count with Pooh. Which kid doesn’t love Pooh? V has many Pooh merchandise, a mug, balls, a stuffed Pooh, so these books have a high recall for him. This one is all about numbers with Pooh as the central character. It is a simple flap book that has numbers 1- 5.

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All I had to do is ask V which number he wanted me to make. He’d give me a number and I would bend the pipe cleaner to make the number. I realised that the pipe cleaner is an excellent resource to teach writing as well. Next up, he matched every number I formed with the corresponding number in the book.

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Recently, I wrote a post on Parentous about how I find inspiration from so many awesome mommies on the web. In my pursuit to finding fun activities for V, I found myself on Pinterest more than usual. And what a brilliant social network it is! From food, to education, to activities and crafts Pinterest should be your go-to resource if you have a child, no matter what age!

So remember to look up Pinterest and don’t forget to follow me. 🙂

If you are looking for more pipecleaner ideas look up this.

Not enough? Craving for more? Here are some more amazing pins for pipecleaner activities. 

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And if that is not enough, then check out this Google Hangout video hosted by Maggy Woodley from Red Ted Art. Here you will find some more amazing ideas for pipe cleaner activities from mommy bloggers in the UK.

Remember the Havells Ad where the kids bend wires to form tongs and necklaces? What a wonderful piece of commercial! Not just does it promote a particular feature of a brand but also shows the sheer ingenuity that kids have. Pipecleaners remind me of the commercial…just another wire unleashing creativity.