Christmas Trees

The week before Christmas I like to do a Christmas tree unit.  The boys and girls are already excited about Christmas so I like to tone things down.  They love the activities and it is a fun way to review basic concepts like shapes and letters in their name.

To introduce the unit we read, The Biggest Christmas Tree Ever, by Steven Kroll.


Then I like to show the boys and girls a giant tree (around 5 feet).  You can use this two different ways.  
1.  Sometimes I like to write the word Big in the star and as a class we brainstorm all of the different words that mean the same thing and write them in the bulbs (great for kindergarten).
2.  In preschool, I like to write "Tree's Are..." and we brainstorm words that come to mind when we think of Christmas trees.

We use the giant tree for many activities.  One of the activities is estimation.  The boys and girls take turns guessing how tall the tree is.

The boys and girls love making this giant tree.  I cut out a giant tree from a piece of tag board.  Then I used green paper roll pieces and trace the tag board.  Each child gets a tree.  Click on the picture below to find the pieces in our Winter for Preschool unit.



This tree may be a great tree to use in kindergarten.  Adding a writing piece always adds to the activity.


This tree is great for preschool and kindergarten.  I found this name tree by Miss Kindergarten Love.  If you click on the picture below it will take you to her website.  This is a great activity for kindergarten or preschool.  We count the letters in our name, and compare the lengths on the trees.




Gingerbread Senses

I like to start out December discussing the 5 senses.  Gingerbread men are the perfect way to introduce the senses.  

I love to use the fun gingerbread man below, from www.mrsleeskiddos.com.  It is a fun visual for the boys and girls.  They also get to make a smaller version of it.


For one of our centers, the boys and girls pretend to bake cookies.  They use a spatula to choose a cookie.  Then they look at the alphabet letter on the belly of the gingerbread man and match it to the cookie on their sheet and dab it.



We read several of my favorite gingerbread books, Gingerbread Baby and The Gingerbread Boy.

These are great books to use to compare the characters and ending of a story.

Poems and rhymes are fun!  This is a poem and activity from our Winter for Preschool unit.  The boys and girls learn the poem.  The first time I do this I leave the pictures (tree, candy cane, cookie, Santa, sleigh) on.  The second time the boys and girls help.

Each day we review one of the senses and complete one of the pages in our senses book.  Each page has a special activity.  (Tree: add glitter to lights, Sleigh:  add a jingle bell, Cookie, sprinkle cinnamon, Santa:  cotton for beard and candy cane: AB pattern)  when the candy cane is complete I give the boys and girls each a candy cane)

I like to work other important preschool concepts in with gingerbread men.  The boys and girls love Gingershape Man.  They listen to the Gingershape poem and then take turns finding shapes and colors.  I give each of them a gingerbread man from the Winter for Preschool unit and they use foam shapes and stickers to decorate their own Gingershape Man.  

For review the boys and girls can name shapes to look for gingerbread baby.

The boys and girls love to write in their journal.  After reading Gingerbread Baby, by Jan Brett, I gave them each a felt gingerbread sticker (from Michael's) and asked them to draw a picture of the gingerbread baby hiding in his/her gingerbread house from a creature of their imagination.  Some examples were a dragon, monster and evil fairy. 


Another one of our senses activities was a giant gingerbread house.  The boys and girls used smelly markers to create their masterpiece on giant pieces of paper.  They discussed the smells as they worked.  


For the sense of touch I filled balloons with different materials (using a funnel); beans, rice, sand and water.  The boys and girls passed the balloons around and kept a secret about what was in the balloon until everyone had a turn.  Then they made their guess.  I wrote the answers on the board.  The balloons were then placed into our science center.  



We listened to the story, Jingle Bells.  Then we used plastic Easter eggs to make rice shakers.  First, we put rice in the eggs.  Then, we used colored tape to cover the crease.  Finally, the boys and girls placed Christmas stickers over the eggs for decorations.  We used our egg shakers to sing the song, Jingle Bells.

Most of the activities above can be found in our Winter for Preschool unit.