children christmas countdown books and activities Children can benefit greatly when parents establish annual holiday traditions. Benefits of traditions include that they can:

• Bind families together

• Create feelings of warmth, closeness and connection

• Provide children with a sense of identity and belonging, helping them to feel secure and special

• Teach values

• Create a sense of excitement and anticipation

When deciding which traditions your family should embrace, here are a few guidelines:

• Traditions shouldn’t add significant stress to the adults

• Traditions don’t have to be expensive or time consuming to prepare

• The best traditions are, in fact, often simple and inexpensive

• The goal is to allow everyone to participate

To discover more about the importance of family traditions, see this excellent article, Teaching Values Through Family Traditions.

To help busy parents decide which traditions make sense to add, we at Horizon Education Center are providing information about Christmas countdown books and activities for you to consider.

Countdown Books

Countdown books (you know how much we love books!) are excellent ways to share a special time with younger children as they anticipate Christmas. Amazon provides a list of choices – and, if you don’t want to spend money on a book before you know your child’s reaction, check it out from a local library first. Also consider asking librarians for their recommendations, because they’re a wealth of knowledge. Read some recommended books to your children – and then buy a book or two that are keepers.

Here are three choices to consider:

Curious George Christmas Countdown (age range 2-3): the first Curious George book was published in the United States in 1941 (originally published in France in 1939). Children have gravitated to this inquisitive monkey ever since. This particular book comes with seven tabbed spreads, each including a fun poem, as George picks out a tree, bakes cookies, sings Christmas carols and more.

Snowbear’s Christmas Countdown (age range 4-7): First published in 2009, this book traces Snowbear’s activities from December 1 (when he makes a wish list for Santa) through Christmas; activities include making ornaments, watching his favorite holiday movies, organizing his snow-globe collection and more.

• Christmas books that you enjoyed as a child: with these books, you can read the story as a family – and then you can share memories of Christmas from when you were a child, providing opportunities for loving togetherness.

Countdown Calendars

You have two main choices: buy the one that appeals to you or make your own. If you choose to make your own, you have more flexibility to create traditions that accurately reflect your family’s values and beliefs. Here are some ideas:

• If your family believes in protecting the environment and/or enjoys stimulating your child’s creativity, then these ideas will probably appeal to you. This English family takes naturally found objects (this year, rocks) and creates their own countdown materials. The year before, they used fallen leaves. This blog post also lists 24 crafts you can make during December 1-24.

• Or you can use more traditional craft materials, such as felt, glitter and glue, to create Christmas countdown materials plus a New Year’s wreath.

• If you’re looking for a simpler idea, you’ll love this one where you only need two bowls and 25 peppermint candies to help your children count down.

• Investigate these countdown coloring pages, many/most of them free. All you need is a way to print them out and a few crayons.

• Also check out suggestions at Pinterest.

• If you’re interested in helping your child brush up on math skills in a fun way, here is a countdown calendar based on the number 24. You can download the worksheet provided or tailor one to your own child’s age and stage.

• Or, you can simply count your blessings! At dinnertime each evening (or at another time that fits your family’s schedule), ask everyone to share one thing that makes him or her grateful and/or happy. Repeat throughout the countdown period.

Know that you can count on Horizon Education Centers for affordable quality care including educational and enrichment opportunities to the children in the following Northeast Ohio locations.

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