Tag Archives: christmas

Christmas Wombat by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley

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xmaswombatChristmas Wombat by Jackie French and illustrated by Bruce Whatley, paperback picture book, published by HarperCollinsPublishers in 2011.

The wombat from Diary of a Wombat is back, and this time it is Christmas. What kind of havoc can she wreak when Santa pays a visit?

Being a wombat sounds pretty good, with all that sleeping, scratching and eating. The wombat’s quest for carrots really is comically singular! She challenges reindeer and even a polar bear to claim all the carrots she can. She has such spunk! The expressive nature of the illustrations bring her to life.

Christmas Wombat is easy to read and the illustrations are gorgeous. This is a great book for sharing with the kids around Christmas.

Christmas Wombat is suitable for toddlers through primary school children.

A Very Duplo Christmas to You!

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We have a big tub of Duplo that gets played with everyday. On Christmas Eve Big L and A were entertaining the boys with the Duplo, building cars and houses. I challenged them to construct a Christmas tree, and then left them to it. After a while A came and found me to show me what they had built.

One large Christmas tree complete with star on the top, a couple of presents and a Santa, all made from Duplo! Merry Christmas!

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A Fairy Extraordinary Christmas Story by A.J. York

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Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00002]A Fairy Extraordinary Christmas Story by A.J. York, chapter e-book, 67 pages, published by A.J. York in 2015.

Tallulah is a Christmas Fairy in a beautiful white gown, with white feathery wings. During the festive season she adorns the very top of the Anderson’s tree, otherwise she lives in the attic. There, she can mingle with the other Christmas decorations, and those that belong to the Easter box and the Halloween box. After many years, a Christmas arrives when the decorations are not taken out of the attic, and the house is very quiet. Tallulah and her friends venture downstairs to investigate.

A Fairy Extraordinary Christmas Story made me think of the movie ‘Toy Story’, except with holiday decorations. It reminds us that the holidays are best shared with everyone, and that the magic of Christmas lives in all of us, even when we have grown up and have children of our own.

The story is easy to follow and uses reasonably simple language. It is a good length for children not long reading chapter books too. The illustrations at the beginning of each chapter were simple and cute. I really liked the Easter Bunny, both the illustration and the character. He was a nervous little fellow, but I could easily picture him with his little line of Easter chicks.

This Christmas themed chapter book is suitable for lower to middle primary school students. It would be a nice book to share with young children in the lead up to Christmas.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Horrible Histories: The Big Fat Christmas Book by Terry Deary

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IMG_5904Horrible Histories: The Big Fat Christmas Book by Terry Deary and illustrated by Martin Brown, hardback, 159 pages, published by Scholastic Ltd. in 2014.

Come on a journey through the twelve days of Christmas Horrible Histories style!

This book is divided into sections for each of the twelve days of Christmas from the 25th of December through to the 5th of January. Each part is dedicated to a different aspect of Christmas, such as food, animals, royals, games and weather. It covers many eras in history, from the Stone Age through to more recent history. Each section also contains some information on something that happened in history on that particular day.

There is a lot to learn in this interesting and entertaining non-fiction book for primary school students. The Horrible Histories series makes learning history fun, and this Christmas book is particularly good. I had no idea that Christmas was such a popular time for bad things to happen in the past! There are be-headings, ghosts, wars, storms and other amazing historical events to read about. It is made more fun through the use of anecdotes, comics, plays and illustrations.

With Christmas coming up, now’s a great time to sit down and read a good Christmas book, and this one really is fun. It’s a must for any Horrible Histories fan!

Aussie Christmas Books for Children

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With Christmas only six weeks away, it was time to pull out some of our Christmas books. We have a pretty good selection of Christmas themed books and I wanted to share some of the Australian ones here.

IMG_3000Our absolute favourite Christmas book, What Does Santa do When it’s not Christmas? is by Australian author and illustrator Heath McKenzie. It is a perfect picture book for sharing aloud and is sure to make you laugh!

IMG_5824Other humourous rhyming books for an Aussie Christmas include There Was an Old Bloke who Swallowed a Present and There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Star, both by P. Crumble and Louis Shea. With hilarious illustrations and a familiar cadence, these are great for young children.

IMG_5827For some Christmas carols with an Aussie twist Colin Buchanan has it covered with Santa Koala (to the tune of Waltzing Matilda), Aussie Jingle Bells and The Twelve Days of Aussie Christmas. The latter also has a list of things to spot in the pictures throughout the book. Fair Dinkum Aussie Christmas is a collection of songs by Bucko & Champs which can be sung to the tunes of some traditional carols. Possibly the most popular Australian Christmas song is Six White Boomers by Rolf Harris and Bruce Whatley; it is certainly our favourite! We also like The Twelve Cats of Christmas by Kevin Whitlark. If you’re more of a dog lover, you may prefer The Twelve Dogs of Christmas!

IMG_5829IMG_5833It wouldn’t be Christmas without reading An Aussie Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve! I love the idea of Santa arriving in an old ute.

Fans of Diary of a Wombat won’t be able to pass Christmas Wombat by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley. That wombat sure does like carrots!

IMG_5830We have a picture book called Santa is Coming to Sydney. Santa takes the whole night to make his special deliveries to Sydney children before flying home… it’s probably nice for kids in Sydney to read about Santa coming to their city, but my kids weren’t really impressed, as it made it seem like Santa would only be visiting Sydney. I do like that Santa uses Santa-Nav to get around though.

IMG_5836If you’re looking for something to keep the kids entertained, you might like to try Where’s Santa? In Australia by Louis Shea. There are literally hundreds of things to spot in this Where’s Wally?-esque book. The humourous illustrations will keep the kids busy for hours!

We also enjoyed The Australian Twelve Days of Christmas by Michael Salmon (my favourite version), Tea and Sugar Christmas by Jane Jolly and Robert Ingpen, and Christmas in Australia by John Williamson and Mitch Vane. We borrowed these ones from the library.

What Aussie Christmas books do you like to read with your kids?

 

 

Merry Christmas 2014!

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It’s almost time for Santa to arrive in our house, and we have been getting ready for his arrival with much enthusiasm this evening.

A throwing out reindeer food.

A throwing out reindeer food.

Before dark, we went outside and the kids spread their reindeer food around the front yard. The glitter in the feed will help to guide the reindeer down to land on our lawn, and then they can munch on the food while they wait for Santa. L and A threw some of the reindeer food in the air, so it rained (A made this pun as she threw it) all over us, consequently we are all very glittery!

L and A made some chalk markings to show where Santa should enter our house (we don’t have a chimney). L also wrote “Santa stop here please” on our front path, just in case. She also put a number of notes around the house to show Santa where the tree is and the like.

A message for Santa.

A message for Santa.

The snack.

The snack.

The snack went out onto the table, each girl chose a biscuit for Santa. L put out a big cup of water, while A thought Santa would prefer milk. And apparently the reindeer are hungry this year, as they are also getting a nice juicy carrot to eat. There are more notes indicating what Santa should do.

One of the notes L left for Santa.

One of the notes L left for Santa.

The kids watched their favourite Christmas movie, The Grinch, before going off to bed. They are very excited, but hopefully they will be able to go to sleep quickly.

I know of so many families that have an absurdly early start on Christmas morning, but that tends not to be us. On more than one occasion, at least one of the kids has slept beyond eight o’clock on Christmas morning! Hopefully that will be the case again tomorrow, and we will all have been able to get a good night’s rest.

I hope Santa finds each and every one of you tonight 🙂 We will be enjoying some wonderful family time tomorrow, and we hope you do to. Merry Christmas from all of us at Today We Did.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

 

 

 

Christmas Garland

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IMG_3248Tucked away in the craft drawers I found a packet of cardboard Christmas garland shapes. It consisted of ten pieces of alternating bauble and snowflake shapes that could be decorated and then combined to string across the wall or the top of a door or window.

Shaking on glitter.

Shaking on glitter.

Glitter was the only decorating material we considered, so we took the glitter tub and the cardboard garlands outside. The kids painted on glue with paintbrushes and then shook glitter onto the glue.

Creating patterns with the glitter.

Creating patterns with the glitter.

L made some interesting patterns on her baubles and snowflakes. She added glue in a swirl shape and covered it with one colour of glitter, and then blew the excess off. Then, she placed glue in the plain section and added a different colour of glitter to this glue. She also did some stripes using the same method. These look great.

Some of the garlands hanging up to dry.

Some of the garlands hanging up to dry.

Glitter patterns.

Glitter patterns.

A liked to use lots of different colours all over hers, which also look great. At least twice, the lid of one of the glitter tubes came off, dumping a heap of glitter onto the shapes. As there was a lot of glitter left on the muck mat, I painted glue all over the last two pieces of garland, and then pressed them glue side down into the excess glitter. The glitter colours were very mixed up, but I liked the way they came up, and we didn’t waste too much glitter!

Ready to be combined to make a lovely glittery garland string.

Ready to be combined to make a lovely glittery garland string.

Once the garland pieces were completely dry, I stapled them together, end to end. We tied the finished garland from the curtain rod on our large lounge room windows. It is quite festive!

Hanging from the curtain rod.

Hanging from the curtain rod.

The Adventures of The Bailey School Kids: Santa Claus Doesn’t Mop Floors by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones

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IMG_3287The Adventures of The Bailey School Kids: Santa Claus Doesn’t Mop Floors by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones and illustrated by John Steven Gurney, paperback chapter book, 71 pages, first published by Scholastic Inc. in 1991, this edition published in 2007.

After having to clean up another mess made by the third grade class at Bailey Elementary School, the school janitor quits. In his place, starts Mr Jolly, who looks rather like Santa Claus, and is always turning the heat down to chilly. Messes are no match for Mr Jolly who can have the school sparkling again in no time. And he’s been watching the 3rd grade gang and writing in his little notebook, as if he’s taking notes about the kids. Could he really be Santa?

Santa Claus Doesn’t Mop Floors is a chapter book containing short chapters and a shallow story-line, suitable for children in lower to middle primary school.

It is an easy read, but I greatly disliked the main gang of characters. They were rude, destructive and disrespectful, especially Eddie, who often bullied and coerced his fellow gang members into naughty behaviour. Spreading peanut butter and whipped cream through the school may seem funny to some, but it is still vandalism. I don’t condone these behaviours and I don’t want my children thinking that it is okay to play these sorts of “pranks”. Basically the kids were horrible, and fell well short of the decent role models I have come to expect from good kids books. Even if the writing and plot had been better, I still could not have stepped past the poor behaviour and lack of any meaningful consequences for the gang.

The main theme of the story seemed to be to restore Eddie’s Christmas spirit, through kindness and the presence of magic. However, the plot wasn’t deep enough to really examine the causes for his lack of belief in Christmas. It also didn’t explore why he thought the solution to his sadness and trouble was to be a jerk to everyone else. I would have preferred a bit more moralising.

I did think that I might have been placing too much of my adult (and rule abiding) self forwards whilst reading Santa Claus Doesn’t Mop Floors, so I sought the opinion of my second grader. She also disliked the children in the book, (she too is quite rule abiding and often complains about disruptive kids ruining for classroom learning experience). She thought it was average and not worthy of another read. For a child that devours books of all varieties, often re-reading books I think aren’t great, several times in close succession, I was surprised by her strong disappointment in this Christmas themed book. We will not be seeking any further books in this series, which appears to contain around fifty titles.

Reindeer Food

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Pouring the cereal.

Pouring the cereal.

Adding glitter.

Adding glitter.

We mixed up a batch of reindeer food today in preparation for Santa’s visit later this week. The kids tipped some rolled oats, corn flakes and rice bubbles into a big bowl, and added lots of glitter! They stirred it all together and then scooped it out into plastic sandwich bags ready for Christmas Eve.

Mixing, mixing.

Mixing, mixing.

Before bed on Christmas Eve we will take the reindeer food outside and spread it across the grass. The glitter will sparkle and help to guide the reindeer to land safely on our lawn. While the reindeer are waiting for Santa, they can eat the cereals in the mix.

The kids get very excited to feed the reindeer with their reindeer food. They will also leave out some carrots in case the reindeer are extra hungry.

Spooning the reindeer food into bags.

Spooning the reindeer food into bags.

 

Fingerprint Christmas Cards

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There were Christmas craft ideas in some of the email newsletters from Educational Experience in the lead up to Christmas. One of the ideas was to create fingerprint Christmas cards. We tried this out at home, making Christmas trees and candy canes with our fingers.

A liked to smudge her fingerprints together for her trees.

A liked to smudge her fingerprints together for her trees.

L carefully creating a tree.

L carefully creating a tree.

We started with plain white cards. The kids used green paint to create a triangle for the tree, and then brown paint for the trunk. The candy canes were alternating red and white fingerprints in a cane shape.

A making a candy cane.

A making a candy cane.

To finish the cards, we added sparkly star stickers to the top of the trees, and little Christmas stickers in the corners of the candy cane cards.

This was a quick activity with minimal mess. And the end result looked good. We gave these cards to teachers and staff at the kids’ school. The card’s recipients were very impressed. On the back of each card I wrote the name of the child that painted the card, along with the year and the class that the kids were in.