12 Days of Christmas Book Activities


 
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This post is part of the 2017 Homeschooling Through the Holidays series and was written by KT from Lit Mama.

There’s nothing more fun than cuddling up with your littles on a blustery day and reading a good book. Christmas time is one of the best times for it, too, because so many quality picture books feature the holiday. The house is warm, the tree is lit, and if the day is gloomy so the lights really shine? Even better.

At Lit Mama, our best days also have activities to go with the picture books. Extending the reading experience is a great way to create a love of reading in your kids and increase learning through fun. If you love to celebrate Christmas all month like we do, you can pick a book a day and an activity to go with it and make the holiday season
really special for your little ones.

The 12 days of Christmas is the perfect time to implement this idea, and since I know you’re busy, I’ve put together a list of books and activities for you.

Books and Activities for the 12 Days of Christmas

Cotton Snowman Craft for Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner

This adorable book tells, in gentle rhyme, of snowmen celebrating Christmas all through the night of Christmas Eve. And it’s good. Really good. But the most special part of this book is the stunning illustrations by Mark Buehner. The colorful Christmas lights reflecting on the snow. The warm street lamps and the shop windows. These pictures
evoke the warmth and beauty of the holiday season as well as any evening spent in front of your own Christmas tree. An easy cotton snowman craft is the perfect fit fo this lovely story.

 

This Cotton Snowman Craft made from items you probably already have around the house is a fun activity for the picture book Snowmen at Christmas. Part of the 12 Days of Christmas Book Activities from Lit Mama.

What you need:

What you do:

  • Glue the cosmetic pads onto the blue construction paper, leaving a 2-inch space at the bottom of the paper to add snow
  • Glue cotton swabs to either side of center pad for arms
  • Cut a small triangle from the orange construction paper for your snowman’s carrot nose and glue in place
  • Cut 8 circles from the black construction paper with scissors or a hole punch
  • Place 3 black circles in a line down the center pad and glue in place
  • Use remaining black circles to give your snowman a face
  • Cut a top hat shape from black construction paper
  • Glue onto your snowman’s head
  • Glue cotton balls in rows below your snowman for snow
  • You could even make some cotton ball clouds!

Green Grinch Slime for How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

This classic tale is still one of my favorites. We read the book every year and watch both the animated and live-action films. I never get tired of the Grinch or the way the Whos help his heart grow. I hope the hearts of my boys grow a little every Christmas season. To help them remember the lesson taught by the Grinch, we do this fun activity.

Green Grinch Slime is a fun activity for the picture book How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Part of the 12 Days of Christmas Book Activities from Lit Mama.

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup Elmer’s Glue (white or clear, either will do)
  • 1 & 1/2 cup water, divided
  • 1 teaspoon Borax powder
  • Green food coloring
  • Green glitter

What you do:

  • In a small bowl, mix the borax and 1 cup water. Stir until Borax is dissolved
  • In a large bowl, mix glue and 1/2 cup water. Add 4 drops food coloring and as much glitter as you want. Mix well.
  • Add Borax mixture to glue mixture and stir up with your hands (you might want to let the littles do this stirring. It grosses even boys out for a minute, so it’s loads of fun for everybody).
  • There will be water left over. Throw it out. We grabbed our slime out of the big bowl and dropped into the smaller bowl for this part.
  • When you’re done playing with it, throw it in a sandwich bag or an air-tight jar and it should keep for as long as you could possibly wish. Not yet sure that’s a good thing.

Scented Salt Dough Ornaments for The Night Before Christmas illustrated by
Cyndy Szekeres

Reading Clement C. Moore’s Christmas poem is a Christmas Eve tradition at our house. Our favorite picture book version (and the one I read from every year) is illustrated by Cyndy Szekeres. Because her characters are adorable. Making Salt Dough Ornaments for our tree is another of our best traditions. Combining the two? Best. Christmas tradition. Ever.

This Cotton Snowman Craft made from items you probably already have around the house is a fun activity for the picture book Snowmen at Christmas. Part of the 12 Days of Christmas Book Activities from Lit Mama.

What you need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/2 to 1 cup cinnamon (I used 1/2 a cup and added a good dose of ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Yummy.)
  • 1 1/2 cups very warm water
  • Cookie cutters (we used hearts, Christmas trees, gingerbread men, stars, and a biscuit cutter for round ornaments)
  • Cedar or pine needles, holly leaves, pine cones, various other outdoor finds (we even used moss!)
  • Pencil or ka-bob stick
  • Jute or ribbon
  • Mod
    Podge
    (optional)

What you do:

  • Mix together the salt, flour, and spices.
  • Add water to flour mixture.
  • Stir it all up to form a dough. Once it’s mixed you may have to knead a bit of extra flour in to take out some of the stickiness. Cover a work surface with flour and roll out your dough till it’s about a 1/4-inch thickness.
  • Let your littles go to town with the cookie cutters. Place cut-out ornaments on wax paper. We usually just put the wax paper on the cookie sheets we’re going to bake them on.
  • Use your pencil or ka-bob stick to poke a hole completely through the top of your ornaments. Make sure you do this before you dry them. Make the hole large enough to fit your jute or ribbon through.
  • Add your nature elements, pushing them down into the dough so they will stay on after the ornaments are dry.
  • If you want to bake them to dry them, throw them in a 200 degree oven for about an hour. You can just let them air dry, but allow at least 24 hours before you try to hang them, probably more like 2 days. Even when we bake ours, we let them sit for a day or two before we do anything with them.
  • Once they’re dry, cut your jute or ribbon to a good length to make a hanger (I made mine about 3 inches long) and thread it through the holes you made and knot it at the top. Ta-da! A gorgeous ornament with a built-in hanger.

Snow Popcorn for Let it Snow by Holly Hobbie

I swear, that’s the listed author for this book. Makes me think of paper dolls. But the book is a beautiful homage to snow and perfect for a snowy day or just dreaming of a white Christmas. And this amazing snack is fun
to enjoy while you’re reading.

Snow Popcorn is a fun snack to have with the picture book Let It Snow. Part of 12 Days of Christmas Book Activities by Lit Mama

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup each unpopped popcorn, coconut flakes, mini marshmallows, peanuts
  • 2 blocks vanilla almond bark
  • 1 tsp olive oil

What you do:

  • Pop the popcorn
  • While it’s popping, heat the almond bark and oil together until melted
  • Mix popcorn, coconut flakes, marshmallows, and peanuts in a large bowl
  • Drizzle melted vanilla bark over it, stirring to coat

Craft Stick Santa Ornament for How Santa Got His Job by Stephen
Krensky

This book, y’all. It’s the story of all the jobs Santa had in his youth that prepared him for the Big One. It is so stinkin’ cute. I love it. My boys love it. Your family will love it, too.

In fact, we love all things Santa, and this ornament is easy and looks good on your tree. If you have a tradition of kid-made ornaments, this is a perfect additon.

This Craft Stick Santa Ornament is a fun activity for the picture book Snowmen at Christmas. Part of the 12 Days of Christmas Book Activities from Lit Mama.

What you need:

  • 10 craft sticks
  • Red Felt
  • Googly Eyes
  • Craft paint in black, pink, and flesh color (whatever flesh color you want your Santa to be, of course)
  • Lit Mama’s Santa Hat Template
  • Cotton balls
  • Craft Glue
  • Scissors
  • Embroidery thread or thin ribbon and needle

What you do:

  • Line 8 craft sticks up like in the second pic above (this will give your Santa a chin for his beard)
  • Cut the two extra sticks down so they just fit horizontally across the 8 sticks and glue them in place (that’s what holds your Santa together)
  • Turn Santa face over and paint entire front flesh color
  • Set aside
  • Print out Santa Hat Template
  • Trace onto felt and cut hat from felt
  • If paint is dry, glue hat across the top of Santa’s face
  • Glue on googly eyes
  • Cut 1 cotton ball in half and glue half to the small circle at the tip of the hat
  • Glue cotton balls across the brim of Santa’s hat
  • Cut another cotton ball in half and pull each half apart slightly to elongate them
  • Glue them in place for Santa’s mustache, leaving enough room above to paint a nose and enough room below to paint a mouth
  • Just below the outer edge of each mustache, paint a pink circle for Santa’s rosy cheeks
  • Paint in Santa’s mouth and nose with black
  • Glue cotton balls along chin (it may help to cut some in half)
  • Thread your needle with the embroidery thread or ribbon and run it through the top of Santa’s hat
  • Tie a knot to make a hanger

Felt Candy Cane Mouse for Christmas Mice! by Bethany Roberts

The holiday spirit can even infect a cat and make it kind in this cute book that furthers the adventures of the holiday mice. Your littles will enjoy reading about all the holiday preparations and this adorable craft is the perfect place to keep their candy canes. Plus, it can double as an ornament or treat for friends. Can you even?

This Cotton Snowman Craft made from items you probably already have around the house is a fun activity for the picture book Snowmen at Christmas. Part of the 12 Days of Christmas Book Activities from Lit Mama.

What you need:

  • Lit Mama’s
    mouse template
  • Candy Cane
  • Felt in at least 2 colors (any colors, really. Red and green are cute. I used red and white.)
  • Black or pink felt
  • Scissors
  • Dark marker
  • Googly eyes

What you do:

  • Print out the mouse template and cut out the pieces
  • Trace the body and inner ears onto one color felt with the marker
  • Trace the ears onto the other color felt
  • Cut out pieces. Cut a small corner of black or pink felt for the nose
  • Glue the nose and googly eyes in place at the pointed end of the mouse
  • Glue inner ears onto ears
  • Make slits in body for ears and candy cane tail where marked. You can fold the felt across the slits to make cutting easier. Slip ears through slits at front of mouse.
  • Fold outer ear and tuck through slit at smaller end of mouse
  • Tuck it back up through second slit and straighten
  • Glue on inner ears, eyes, and nose
  • Slide wrapped candy through rear slits, tucking the end under the ear piece

Chai Gingerbread Men for Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett

Does anything scream Holidays like gingerbread men? They never fail to make our list for December Baking Day. Baking with your kids is one of the funnest holiday traditions you can make. And Jan Brett’s sweet book,
Gingerbread Friends, is such a great way to remind (ourselves) our littles how important it is to have friends and be good to them. Because life is boring without friends. Just ask the Gingerbread Baby.

Chai Gingerbread Men Cookies are fun to bake with your kids while you read the picture book Gingerbread Friends. Part of 12 Days of Christmas Book Activities from Lit Mama.

What you need:

For the cookies:

  • 2 Chai-flavor tea bags
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp molasses

For the icing:

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 1/2 tsp milk (plus more if needed)

What you do:

For the cookies:

  • Remove tea bag contents (you should have about 3 tsp of tea), discard bags
  • In a medium bowl, combine tea, flour, and pumpkin pie spice
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat butter on high about 30 seconds
  • Add sugar, beat until light and fluffy
  • Beat in egg yolk and molasses
  • Add flour mixture and blend well
  • Divide dough in half
  • Cover and refrigerate 3 hours or until easy to handle
  • Preheat oven to 350F and grease cookie sheets
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out half the dough at a time to 1/4 inch thickness
  • Cut dough with gingerbread man cookie cutter
  • Bake 12 minutes until edges are lightly browned
  • Cool on cookie sheets 2 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely

For the icing:

  • Combine powdered sugar, vanilla and milk
  • Mix well
  • If not at piping consistency, add more milk 1 tsp at a time
  • Transfer icing to a piping bag or a plastic sandwich bag with one corner snipped off
  • Decorate cookies with icing

 

Crystal Snowflakes for Dream Snow by Eric Carle

This book is so sweet. The farmer takes a nap and dreams that he and all his animals are covered in snow. Imagine his surprise when he wakes up to find that snow has actually fallen on the farm. Fortunately, the snow reminds him that he forgot to leave gifts for his farm friends. And all that snow makes for a very fun craft that helps littles practice their fine motor skills.

This Crystal Snowflake Craft is a fun activity for the picture book Dream Snow. Part of the 12 Days of Christmas Book Activities from Lit Mama.

What you need:

  • Blue and white chenille stems (2 per snowflake)
  • Blue and white embroidery thread
  • Clear and blue bicone and/or pony beads
  • Scissors

What you do:

  • Cut the chenille stems in half
  • Lay one half stem atop another to form a T
  • Fold bottom stem up and over cross stem
  • Fold top stem down over cross stem so vertical stem is wrapped around horizontal stem
  • Lay a third stem diagonally across the T you’ve made
  • Wrap it around the center of the T the same way you wrapped the vertical stem
  • You should have a 5-pointed snowflake (you can add more stems if you like, but I think 5 make the prettiest snowflakes)
  • String beads along each stem of the snowflake (6 bicone beads and 8 pony beads per stem are a good fit)
  • After the last bead has been strung on to the stem, fold the remainder of the stem back over it to hold the beads in place
  • Cut a 4″ piece of embroidery thread and knot it into a loop
  • Wrap one of the ends of a stem around the loop, cut off excess string, and hang your snowflake

Honey Toffee for Home for Christmas by Jan Brett

With Jan Brett’s typically beautiful illustration, this story of a troll who runs away only to realize he misses his family has a good lesson for littles. Nothing else is quite like home, and Rollo is fortunate to get home just in time for Christmas. But since he’s spends some of his runaway time with some bears and has to literally run from a bunch of
bees, making a batch of honey toffee is an easy activity to do with this fun book.

Honey Toffee is a fun treat to make with your kids to go with the picture book Home for Christmas by Jan Brett. Part of 12 Days of Christmas Cookie Activities by Lit Mama

What you need:

  • 3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 cups sugar
  • candy thermometer

What you do:

  • Generously oil a jelly roll pan (or as we call them, a cookie sheet) and set aside
  • Put the butter, sugar, and honey in a 3-4 quart heavy saucepan
  • Over moderate heat, stir until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil
  • Continue to boil slowly over moderate heat, stirring gently without touching the sides, until it reaches the hard-crack stage (290F)
  • Pour mixture into the oiled pan and allow to cool about 5 minutes
  • Use a butter knife to score the toffee into squares
  • Allow to cool completely, then break the toffee into pieces along scored lines
  • Store in an airtight container

7- Piece Foam Tree for Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry

This tree is the ultimate in upcycling. Mr. Willowby’s Christmas tree is too tall for his house, so he lops off the top. The butler gives it to the maid for her room, but it’s too tall, so she lops off the top. The cycle continues through the neighborhood forest creatures until 7 different families end up with Christmas trees from that one tree. And because 7 trees are better than one, this cute craft will help your littles engage with the story and practice their sizes.7-Tiered Foam Tree Craft is perfect for the picture book Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree. Part of 12 Days of Christmas Book Activities from Lit Mama.

What you need:

What you do:

  • Print and cut out Tree Template
  • Trace onto green foam
  • Cut a horizontal slit in the wide part at the base of each tree piece
  • Hole punch ornaments circles from other foam sheets
  • Glue ornaments onto tree pieces
  • Slide slits over craft stick, largest to smallest
  • Your 7 trees are now 1!

Paper Roll Sleigh for A Creature Was Stirring by Carter Goodrich

I’m crushing hard on this book. The left-hand pages contain the classic poem by Clement C. Moore, but the right-hand pages, following the same rhyme scheme, tell of a little boy who is up on Christmas Eve when he shouldn’t be. Adventure ensues. Surrounding Santa’s sleigh. So this is the perfect craft.

Paper Roll Sleigh Craft is fun to do with the picture book A Creature Was Stirring. Part of 12 Days of Christmas Book Activities

What you need:

What you do:

  • Paint paper roll red, set aside to dry
  • Print out Sleigh Template
  • Trace body of sleigh twice on red card stock
  • Trace Sleigh runner twice on black card stock
  • Cut sleigh pieces from card stock
  • Run a line of craft glue around edges of sleigh body pieces, making sure you’re on the outsides of both pieces
  • Sprinkle with glitter
  • Tap excess glitter off of sleigh body pieces
  • When paper roll is dry,turn on its side
  • Glue bottoms of sleigh body pieces to either side of paper roll near the top
  • Glue sleigh runners to either side of paper roll near the bottom

Iced Caramel Chip Cookies for The Baker’s Dozen: A St. Nicholas Tale by
Aaron Shepard

I love this story about how a baker’s dozen came to mean 13 rather than 12. And Wendy Edelson’s illustrations are divine. Since it’s all about cookies, let’s bake some more and make the sugar avalanche that is Iced Caramel Chip Cookies. Oh, and I am not responsible for the behavior of children jacked up on these cookies, just so you know. You might want to limit them. In fact, you might even consider only icing some of them.

Iced Caramel Chip Cookies are fun to bake with kids to go with the picture book The Baker's Dozen: A St. Nicholas Tale. Part of 12 Days of Christmas Book Activities from Lit Mama

What you need:

For the cookies:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 11-oz package caramel chips

For the icing:

  • 3 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tsp cold water

What you do:

For the cookies:

  • Preheat oven to 375F
  • Grease 2 cookie sheets
  • Sift together flour, baking powder and soda, and salt in a large bowl
  • In a mixer, cream brown sugar, sugar, and butter until light and fluggy
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition
  • Add vanilla extract
  • Add flour mixture
  • Stir in caramel chips
  • Drop in spoonfuls onto cookie sheets 2″ apart
  • Bake for 13 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through

For the Icing:

  • Mix the powdered sugar and the water in a small bowl until desired consistency.
  • Ice cookies once they’ve cooled a bit.

Each of these activities will provide a fun educational experience for your little ones, but just as importantly, they will help you create lasting memories that involve both books and family. In my world, those are the two most important things.

12 Days of Christmas Book Activities includes craft and snack tutorials for 12 incredible Christmas picture books.

KT Brison @ Lit Mama Homeschool

 

KT Brison is a former
children’s librarian and educator who gave all that up for the most
important job in her life—homeschooling her boys.Though she loves the
outdoors and rambling around her farm, she can usually be found with her
nose in a book. Any book. As long as it has words. For more book-related
crafts and activities, visit her at Lit Mama or connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.

 

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