Christmas Treat Recipes

The following recipes are our staff’s favorite holiday treats! What traditional treats do you make this time of year?

Graham Cracker Treats

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • Graham crackers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 10″x15″ jelly roll pan with no-stick cooking spray. Break each graham cracker into four small rectangles and completely cover the pan. Melt butter over low heat. Stir in brown sugar. Raise heat to medium and bring mixture to a boil. Boil 2 minutes stirring constantly. Add nuts and pour mixture over graham-cracker lined pan. Bake for 7-9 minutes. Use a metal spatula to remove from pan and place on wax paper while still hot. Cool before serving. Continue reading

Do Cultural Holidays Belong in Your Child Care?

by Katie Brazerol

As the holidays approach, many child care providers struggle with the question, “Which holidays should I include in my setting?” The U.S. contains a wonderful mix of races, ethnicities, and cultures. Because of this, we are learning about more and more holiday traditions and customs beyond Santa and his eight reindeer. Many providers wonder how much cultural diversity they should provide in their settings, and how much is too much. In addition, many providers may wonder how they can provide accurate integration of culture into a setting without seeming to take a tourist approach (when you know nothing about a culture so you read about a specific tradition or holiday and then inadvertently teach about it as if there is only one way to celebrate it.)Group of happy Christmas kids in Santa hat lying down. White bac Continue reading

Surviving the Holidays

by Kelley Jilek

Sad christmas santa woman wrapping giftsFor many of us, the holidays are a time of increased stress. Our calendars are overflowing with parties, holiday programs, family get-togethers, shopping, and a variety of other commitments. The holidays can be exciting, but exhausting. Our stress affects our children. To compound the problem, young children lack the skills that adults have to effectively deal with stresses and anxieties. Therefore, they may be experiencing our stress even more profoundly than we are.

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Countdown to the Big Day!

by Judy Mullican

Are you and your children looking forward to a big event? Whether you are looking forward to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, a birthday, or a visit from Grandma, here’s a fun way to build anticipation and help young children keep track of when the event will arrive. This can work at home or in a child care setting.

Cut strips of construction paper in festive colors. Each strip should be about 1″ x 6″. You will need one strip for each day that takes place before the big event and one for the day of the event. On each strip, write a fun activity to do together. The activity can be related to the upcoming day or just something fun to do. Here are 30 ideas to choose from, but use what you know about the children to personalize the activities:

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Vibrant and Sweet: Celebrating Diwali

by Teresa Narey

Introduction and Background

A quick Internet search for Diwali (pronounced dee-VAH-lee) yields many results that compare this Indian holiday to Christmas. While the bright colors and flowers associated with India’s most cherished festival may not immediately draw up images of a snowy Christmas, its emphasis on sweets, gift-giving, and spirituality will certainly resonate with you.

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Not Halloween: An Introduction to Dia de los Muertos

by Teresa Narey

Introduction and Background:

In the U.S., the end of October is traditionally marked by the celebration of Halloween. In greater America, however, another holiday emphasizing fun, food, and costumes calls attention to the passing of time. Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is celebrated in Mexico and throughout Latin America on November 1 and 2, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, respectively (click here for help pronouncing Spanish words). On the surface, Dia de los Muertos and Halloween appear to have much in common, but a closer look at customs tells us otherwise.

The purpose of Dia de los Muertos is to honor the memories of deceased loved ones by having parties, displaying their favorite items in ofrendas (altars), and participating in activities they once enjoyed. Celebrations highlight the idea that our ancestors are still with us in spirit. Acknowledging Dia de los Muertos in your setting provides children with a multicultural experience that extends autumn’s greatest lesson—the circle of life.

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Promoting Play Through Independent Activity Centers

by Katie Brazerol

Children benefit from choosing and freely exploring materials in interactive learning centers throughout your setting. Providing a space that encourages children to explore, interact with others, and use critical thinking skills without constant adult direction allows them to gain independence. Children can use independent activity centers during free play or as transition activities while waiting for others to finish a task.

Set Up the Centers

  • Include materials to support current concepts and topics of interest to the children.
  • Offer age-appropriate materials that can be used with minimal adult supervision.
  • Promote multiple learning domains. Rotate activities that focus on language/literacy, math, science, social studies, social/emotional well-being, physical development, and creative arts (music, art, and dramatic play).

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Shana Tova: Bringing Rosh Hashanah into the Early Childhood Classroom

by Teresa Narey

The beginning of the school year signals the beginning of many things: meeting new children and families, observing children becoming friends, setting rules and expectations, implementing new ideas and activities—the list goes on. It’s fitting, then, that Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, occurs during September. Rosh Hashanah literally translates to “Head of the Year.” (For help pronouncing Jewish holidays and Hebrew words, search here.) In addition to praying and attending services, Rosh Hashanah is a time when Jewish people reflect on their feelings and actions and consider how they may enter the new year with the best of intentions.

Like most holidays, Rosh Hashanah is associated with certain symbols, all of which can be used to inspire extended activities. Symbols of Rosh Hashanah include apples, honey, challah, pomegranates, and the shofar, a horn that is sounded following the reading of the Torah and services. Continue reading

Choosing Words Wisely

by Judy Mullican

“Wow! You are a great builder!” Ms. Tammy says as she looks at Josh’s complex block construction. No doubt Ms. Tammy means her words to be encouraging, and Josh probably enjoys hearing them. But research shows us that these words are not the most likely to lead Josh to develop persistence and a willingness to try challenging tasks. Ms. Tammy’s words can be termed people praise. That is, they focus on the type of person Josh is rather than his actions. In contrast, process praise focuses on a child’s actions and efforts. Using this type of praise, Ms. Tammy might say, “You worked on that building a long time, Josh. You balanced the blocks carefully so they didn’t fall. I think it’s the tallest one I have seen you build so far! Did it turn out the way you were hoping?” These words draw attention to Josh’s efforts and actions.

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