Holiday Picture Book Play

Chilly weather, holiday decorations, gift lists... the holiday season is officially in full swing! Today I'm joining an amazing group of parents and educators from the Montessori Bloggers Network to offer some inspiration as you enter into the holiday season. Be sure to stop by MBN for all of the posts in the Montessori for the Holidays series!

Holiday Picture Book Play from At Kid Level - story retelling activities for young children

Holiday Picture Book Play from At Kid Level - story retelling activities for young children

For so many of us, this is a special time of year - and sharing that holiday spirit with the children in our lives can make it even more special. One of my favorite ways of doing this is through stories. A good children's holiday story has a natural rhythm and beautiful illustrations, offers a little bit of magic, and warms the heart. Even more exciting is when a favorite story can be retold, acted out, or played at by a child. Picture book play fosters story language, vocabulary, and sequencing skills - all very important to developing literacy. It's also incredibly enjoyable for young children and offers them a deeper understanding of and appreciation for literature. 

Here are three of my favorite holiday picture books, with a play activity for each.  

Jim Aylesworth's The Mitten is a lesser-known version of this classic winter story, but it will become an instant favorite in your house or classroom! A little boy drops his mitten in the snow, and some chilly animals try to squeeze inside to stay warm. Spoiler alert: they don't all fit!

Jim Aylesworth's The Mitten is a lesser-known version of this classic winter story, but it will become an instant favorite in your house or classroom! A little boy drops his mitten in the snow, and some chilly animals try to squeeze inside to stay warm. Spoiler alert: they don't all fit!

This activity is very simple to put together. A piece of white felt for the snow, a red mitten (I used an old one from when Wilson was just born), and a collection of Schleich animals (for Aylesworth's version: a squirrel, a rabbit, a fox, a bear, and a mouse). Put everything in a basket and it's ready to be played with!

This activity is very simple to put together. A piece of white felt for the snow, a red mitten (I used an old one from when Wilson was just born), and a collection of Schleich animals (for Aylesworth's version: a squirrel, a rabbit, a fox, a bear, and a mouse). Put everything in a basket and it's ready to be played with!

The Elves and the Shoemaker by Paul Galdone is about two tiny (and naked) elves who sneak into a cobbler's shop at night to help him make beautiful shoes for his customers. To thank them for their role in his fortune, the cobbler and his wife make clothing for the elves. 

The Elves and the Shoemaker by Paul Galdone is about two tiny (and naked) elves who sneak into a cobbler's shop at night to help him make beautiful shoes for his customers. To thank them for their role in his fortune, the cobbler and his wife make clothing for the elves. 

I am so in love with this activity. The elves are actually blank bendy dolls from Cedar Ring Circle, a wonderful Waldorf-inspired shop. I hot-glued little felt hats to their heads and put them in a tray with some small shoemaking supplies (sewing scissors and a ball of thread) and a leather baby bootie. Then I cut simple vests out of felt so that the elves can put on their new clothes at the end of the story.

I am so in love with this activity. The elves are actually blank bendy dolls from Cedar Ring Circle, a wonderful Waldorf-inspired shop. I hot-glued little felt hats to their heads and put them in a tray with some small shoemaking supplies (sewing scissors and a ball of thread) and a leather baby bootie. Then I cut simple vests out of felt so that the elves can put on their new clothes at the end of the story.

The First Day of Winter is my all-time favorite Denise Fleming book. It's based on The Twelve Days of Christmas, so you can actually sing the words if you want! Over the course of the book, a snowman receives all kinds of gifts (maple leaves, buttons... even salty peanuts) from the child who is building him. 

The First Day of Winter is my all-time favorite Denise Fleming book. It's based on The Twelve Days of Christmas, so you can actually sing the words if you want! Over the course of the book, a snowman receives all kinds of gifts (maple leaves, buttons... even salty peanuts) from the child who is building him. 

I made the pieces for this activity from felt - it took time, that's for sure, but it was very inexpensive. Everything came from the craft store (by everything, I mean a few sheets of felt, some millinery birds, buttons, and pom poms). "On the fifth day of winter, my best friend gave to me: 5 birdseed pockets, 4 prickly pinecones, 3 striped scarves, 2 blue mittens and a red cap with a gold snap!"

I made the pieces for this activity from felt - it took time, that's for sure, but it was very inexpensive. Everything came from the craft store (by everything, I mean a few sheets of felt, some millinery birds, buttons, and pom poms). "On the fifth day of winter, my best friend gave to me: 5 birdseed pockets, 4 prickly pinecones, 3 striped scarves, 2 blue mittens and a red cap with a gold snap!"

There's nothing like cozying up to a magical holiday book again and again with your child. By creating ways to extend the story, you are fostering important language and literacy skills while giving your child the gift of holiday nostalgia. What are some of your favorite holiday books? I bet they would lend themselves beautifully to picture book play!

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