children

Make paper decorations

The year 3 students at our school recently made some Christmas decorations – and I think they are lovely!

paper Christmas decorations hanging in a window overlooking greenery

I spotted them on a bench outside the classroom and couldn’t resist grabbing some photos before ours arrived home a few days later.

collection of children's hanging Christmas decorations

How to make hanging Christmas decorations

You will need:

  • one A4 sheet of thin cardboard per decoration (obviously you can use a bigger sheet of cardboard to make lots of these!)
  • scissors
  • staples (and stapler!)
  • decorations – glitter glue, stickers, textas, glitter
  • shiny string (or plain string or thin ribbon) for hanging

cardboard, ruler, pencil, stapler and scissor to make a Christmas decoration

You then need to cut the cardboard into strips. For each hanging decoration, you will need to cut 7 strips about 5 cm wide based on:

  • 2 x full length
  • 2 x 2/3 length
  • 3 x 1/3 length

{This makes it a good maths activity, too, and will stretch the kids brains as well as building their fine motor skills while having fun and being creative!}

red and green cardboard strips

Strips cut for the alternative, wider decoration (see below)

Arrange the strips from biggest to smallest to biggest. That is, make a pile of

  • 1 full length
  • 1 2/3 length
  • 3 1/3 length
  • 1 2/3 length
  • 1 full length

Make the pile neat, with all strips meeting at one end of the pile. Staple the ends together.

stapled strips of reed and green cardboard

Bend the strips towards each other so all the loose ends line up together, and staple again.

Put a hole in one end and thread string/ribbon through (or just staple on the string or ribbon if you prefer) so the decoration can hang.

Now make it beautiful with textas, stickers and glitter glue.

Alternatively, staple a few decorations together to make a longer decoration, and just add string/ribbon at one end. Or attach some string to two decorations so there is a little room for them to sway independently. connected hanging decorations hanging in a window

They can hang on a tree, in a window or from a ceiling. Somewhere that catches an occasional breeze gives a pretty effect.

child-made hanging decorations hanging in a window

Many of the children at school chose to use black card so the glitter and stickers stood out more, but I also like the colourful cardboard ones. What will you make – colourful or black?

An alternative is to have 2 1/3 lengths and one 1/6 length to have a decoration that is much wider than it is tall – this is what happened when I followed my kids’ instructions initially!

red and green card decoration

Foam Christmas decorations

My children have made Christmas decorations for the boys in their classes this year, having already made hair ties for the girls.

child-made decorations in Christmas card envelopes

Foam decorations made by my children for their classmates

We used a craft kit of foam decorations which they decorated and popped into an envelope with a Christmas card.

The kids loved colouring in the ornaments, to the point that my son even coloured along the edges of some!

children working on foam ornaments

My children enjoyed making these ornaments (excuse the marked table they were working on!)

Foam decoration kit

The kids were excited and got into the decorating before I got photos taken so I only have shots of the kit in part!

foam Christmas ornament craft kit

Foam ornament kit from Art Star

The kit made things very simple and the kids enjoyed making the decorations.

The kit contains 12 foam Christmas ornaments (three each of four designs), lengths of golden string, four small textas and some glitter glue. The packet states ’embellishments included’ and there were two tubes of glue so I thought there was something else to glue onto the ornaments – it took a little while to understand it was glitter glue and that was classed as an embellishment.

The biggest issue with the kit is the size of the textas – they were cute being so small but didn’t last well enough for my kids thoroughly colouring in the ornaments and writing messages on the back. In particular, my kids used a lot of red (on Santa’s suit and other decorations) so ended up using their own textas and pens.

But you could certainly use the kit for a quick Christmas activity or as gifts like my children have done.

Christmas hair ties

My children enjoy making a small gift to put with a Christmas card for their classmates.

In the last couple of years, they have each made something different. But this year they are both making one gift for the girls and one for the boys.

Christmas hair ties

The girls will be getting a Christmas hair tie made by my children.

Four Christmas hair ties

Four Christmas hair ties

We started with a packet of hair ties and some rolls of Christmas ribbon. Actually, what I used was like a hollow string rather than a ribbon, but any Christmas ribbon will look pretty 🙂

green hair ties and Christmas ribbon cut into strips

Hair ties and ribbon are all you need!

I cut the ribbon into lengths of approximately 20 cm.

Then we simply tied a piece of ribbon onto each hair tie, making the two lengths equal.

child tying string onto a hair tie

Attaching the ribbon to the hair tie

We then tied the ends into a bow.

child's hands with a finished Christmas ribbon bow

A finished bow…

I say simple, but it was more challenging for my six year old than her brother or me – good fine motor skill practice though!

child adding finished CHristmas hair tie to a pile of hair ties

The resultant pile of Christmas hair ties is very pretty and festive! And hopefully will make  a number of young girls happy when they open their envelopes.

array of CHristmas cards and envelopes with hair ties included

Cards and Christmas hair ties ready to hand out at school

Other children’s craft

If you are looking for other ideas of things children can make as token gifts to classmates and the like, have a look at previous things I’ve made with my kids:

Kinders writing to Santa

After enjoying it so much last year with my son, I offered to help my daughter’s kinder with Santa letter writing this year. The children are four or five and heading towards starting school next year.

An array of letters to Santa, written by kinder children

An array of letters to Santa, written by kinder children

Helping the children write

Working with two or three children at a time, I sat with the kinders to help them. Each child chose a texta (choice of colour is important!) and then copied Santa’s name from where I had written it.

Many of the children went on to write ‘can I please have’, while I wrote it for a few of them. Then they told me what they wanted to ask Santa for and I wrote it down – either for them to copy or directly onto their letter.

Sharing the letters

Image collage of children's hands writting a letter to Santa

Children writing their letters to Santa

Once the entire group had written a letter (I went in during two different sessions), they were photocopied.

The children folded the original letters, placed them in an envelope and together they walked to a letterbox and posted their letters. By this time, they had learned how letters are formatted, practised their writing and seen how to mail a letter – it’s a great learning activity as well as being fun.

The kinder teacher placed the copies into the children’s portfolios which were given to parents as a Christmas gift after their concert.

Requests to Santa

While most of the children quickly rattled off a favourite gift idea or two, a few had trouble which surprised me. I hadn’t expected to have to help any child suggest what they wanted!

Not surprisingly, there were a number of requests for Lego, things from Frozen, cars and games. One girl very sweetly added ‘a gift for my little sister’ to her list.

Santa’s reply

In my usual role as Santa’s Letter Elf, I wrote a reply to the kinders, too.

It was fun to include each child in the letter somehow so they could feel it was truly for them when the teacher read it out to the group.

Kinder children writing to Santa

I helped at my son’s kinder this morning and was given the very appropriate job of helping the children write their letters to Santa 🙂

Each child wrote “To Santa Love from {name}” from pre-written cards to help them know the letters to use.

In between the to and from bits, we also wrote a request for a gift. Some of the children did this themselves (once I wrote out the words on scrap paper for them) while others needed my help writing those bits (they are only 4 or 5 years old!)

letters to Santa written by 5 year olds

Kinder children writing letters to Santa with care and pride – lovely to watch.

The children worked hard on their letters and it was a delight to watch them, and participate with them. One child was so pleased with his letter he kept coming back to get it, fly it around the room and show it to everyone he could get to stand still and look!

Letters are being sent to Santa – and copies kept as part of the collection of work being given to parents at the end of the year. I for one am pleased to know we will have a permanent record of what my son wrote!

Have you ever received (or at least seen) letters your children have written to Santa at kinder or school?

If your child is yet to write to Santa, don’t forget we have a template to help them get started and write a nice letter to Santa.

If UK children ran Christmas, they would…

Santa 
 

Nearly 20% of children love to give gifts and help others around Christmas time. I’m not sure whether to be pleased 20% of kids are generous or sad 80% haven’t been shown the pleasure in giving and helping others.

What do you think?

All the more reason to focus on teaching kids about the spirit of Christmas and reducing the reliance on presents as the important Christmas activity.

Do you think the statistics would be different if this survey was repeated in Australia or other countries?

*Infographic courtesy of Santa’s Lapland

Love Santa amuses children

Activites from Love Santa to entertain kidsIn the lead up to Christmas, young children are very excited and often need more activities, attention and distraction – while parents needs kids busy so they can get things done!

Here are a few activities (additional to those in Santa’s letters) that may entertain your kids while they wait for Santa to arrive on Christmas Eve:

 Santa’s face colouring in page

 Six white boomers colouring in page

 a printable colouring-in book about Santa train (for early readers – they’ll get skills from it)

 a pop up Christmas tree card or mantlepiece decoration

 play games and see what’s happening with Santa’s preparations to fly Downunder

 cook some yummy treats for the family – just to check they’re ok to leave out for Santa to snack on!

 go and see some Christmas lights or Myer (and other) store windows

 try some new Christmas craft ideas

 tell some Christmas and Santa jokes and fun stories

 set them up on the computer and play some Santa games

 write letters to Santa – even if they’ve sent a list, let them write a friendly letter to Santa for fun (and good manners!)

 teach them some Christmas tongue twisters

 listen to the story of Kris the Moose (although disappointing that the Boomers are ignored 🙁 )

 together, read Santa’s letter to the world (it’s about Santa and fun but also has educational and making-them-think elements)

 

If you have some other good ideas, please share them here as we all need help and creativity for our kids at Christmas!

Writing to Santa – help is at hand!

One of the pleasures for many children in the lead up to Christmas is writing a letter to Santa. There is something very special about actually writing your own letter and of course there is the hope of getting what you asked for!

Yet many people struggle with writing letters (how do I start, what can I say, etc) so we’ve added a template to our site to make it easier.

child using a Love Santa letter template

Free to use, our Dear Santa template can be printed off and used to write a well structured letter to Santa, or just use the text and write out your own letter altogether.

By using this template, children can write to Santa and include more than a list of gifts they want – it teaches them to show interest in others and end a letter gracefully. The template (like Love Santa letters) also encourages children to recognise their achievements and be proud of them.

So, please feel free to use this template and send Santa some beautiful letters this Christmas!

The Love Santa letter template helps your child send Santa a beautiful letter for Christmas!

Love Santa letters – constant prices

In the seven years we have been writing letters to help Santa, we haven’t changed the price so our letters are still $10 each (or $9.25 for orders of 3 or more).

Why no increases, even after some rough financial years and two postage increases? Because Love Santa is not about the money, it’s about the love of Christmas, magic and children.

We know others are selling letters for more than us, and not always at Santa’s request, but we’ll stay with covering costs and making people happy.

And of course our letters still contain a number of personalised details, craft and cooking ideas and a small surprise mailed individually to each child.

Writing to Santa

Santa loves getting letters from children around the world, and they come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colours – some even come with pictures. Santa is very generous and clever enough to read all sorts of writing and languages, but I thought some tips might make it easier to write as well as easier for Santa to read.

two children writing letters to Santa while wearing Santa hats

Dressing for Christmas makes letter writing even more fun!

Letter writing tips

When writing to Santa

  • remember to start with Santa’s name – maybe Dear Santa or Hello Santa
  • ask for things nicely – even Santa gives more when people use please and thank you
  • finish with your name – Santa has too many children on his lists to know who wrote it without your name on it!
  • let Santa know you’ll leave him a snack
  • ask Mum or Dad to make a copy of your letter as you might like to read it again when you’re grown up or someone might make a beautiful scrapbooking page with your letter and Santa’s answer
  • use your best writing and maybe get mum or dad to draw some lines for you to write on
  • have fun! You can write in red or green, or use lots of colours – it’s Christmas after all!
  • think about writing something that isn’t about presents you want – maybe ask Santa how he is, tell him about your Christmas plans, thank him for last year’s gifts, ask what his favourite colour or book is, or tell him a joke (Santa does love to laugh!)

If you have a little brother or sister, maybe you could write a letter for them, too.

And on behalf of Santa, thank you for writing to him!

 

PS  We have a free template you can use to help write a Santa letter 🙂

Christmas songs at school

Today, I went to an afternoon tea at my children’s school – it was to thank parents and others who do things to support the school, such as go on excursions and help with reading programs. During the afternoon, various classes came in and sang Christmas songs for us.

It was lovely to hear them sing, and watch the actions they had obviously practised – they were so cute! The joy on their faces to be doing something for us, as well as the fun of the songs, was great, too.Santa and children singing carols

The grade 1 classes sang “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth“- and at least a third of them actually had front teeth missing so the song was a good choice 🙂

That’s Christmas should be – people sharing good times, children laughing and having fun, and people happily doing something special for others. May you and your children have a happy Christmas!

5 cent biscuits (aka shortbread)

When she was very young, my daughter decided we were making “5 cent biscuits” for Santa. I have no idea where she got the name from or what it meant to her, but the name has stuck and we leave out 5 cent biscuits for Santa every year.

Everyone else (and us the rest of the year!) call them shortbread so I thought I’d share our recipe with you – it’s pretty simple and my kids have helped make them from an early age. Santa has started putting fun cutters in their stockings, too, so I guess he likes them making biscuits for him on Christmas Eve!

5 cent biscuits (shortbread) recipe

You need:

250g butter (or margarine)

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1/3 cup of castor sugar

2 cups plain flour

4 Tablespoons rice flour

You do:

Pre-heat oven to 180 Celsius

Grease an oven tray

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla (that means beat them together until they are pale yellow and fluffy)

add flour and mix

knead the dough well on a lightly floured bench/board

shape shortbread*

Prick shortbread surface with a fork

bake at 160 Celsius (yep, lower than the pre-heat temp) for 15 – 20 minutes

remove from oven when starting to colour

cool

sprinkle with icing sugar, dip in chocolate or leave plain.

* you can roll out the dough and make 4 saucer-sized circles, cut into 8 pieces per circle OR you can let the kids use shaped cutters to make fun 5 cent biscuits. Individual biscuits cook a little faster than the circles.

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