One of my goals this year was to plan a lesson / activity around each of the holidays, and I wanted to try to start some new traditions too. Unfortunately, I have not started off well in this 2012 New Year. Though I’ve done a few projects for New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, and even Groundhog Dog, I didn’t feel very prepared, and I didn’t do anything for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day or Washington’s Birthday. Oh well. I plan to do this every year, so I’ll make up for eventually. Since my boys are so young, I have probably done just enough anyway.
To help myself, I’ve just looked up and bookmarked some sites that will tell me the holidays. Here they are:
2012 American holiday schedule:
Here’s a few visuals and notes about what I did accomplish these past two months. (I’ll repost this next year before the holidays.)
January 1, 2012 – New Year’s Day
For New Year’s, I thought it would be a good time to go over the months of the year with my five-year-old. He has already learned the days of the week on his own. I think he’s motivated because he likes to know what our plans are, and he understands that some of our routines happen on a weekly basis. He almost knows the months of the year, but not quite.
I made these calendars with the boys and laminated them, but I admit, it was more for me than for them. They had fun creating a list of their “favorites” for 2011, though. It’s a great item to put into their keepsakes box.
We put a 2012 calendar on one side and their list of favorites for 2011 on the other. I invited them to decorate the calendars, but the five-year-old wasn’t really into it. (This seems to be typical of him. I think decorating is more of a girl thing.) He did want to cut out his calendar and list and paste it to the construction paper, though. He also picked the color black – one of his favorites.
I also made this peace dove for New Year’s. Again, I thought five-year-old might enjoy making it since he likes making so many animals out of paper, but it turned out I did the creating here. And it turned out rather blah too. Oh well.
February 2, 2012 – Groundhog Day
If it wasn’t for checking the Internet on the morning of the 2nd, I would have missed Groundhog Day altogether. Athens has a pretty fun Groundhog Day celebration with Gus, the groundhog who resides at Bear Hollow Zoo. We may have been able to make it there that morning, but it was cold, and I wasn’t feeling that energetic. So, I turned to the Internet to help me.
I printed off some fun sheets to color, which you can access by clicking here. Whereas in the past my boys have not been into coloring at all, I’ve noticed that changing a bit. They had fun with these sheets, and we hung them on the bulletin board.
I told my five-year-old what the holiday was about, and we watched several videos about groundhogs and Groundhog Day on YouTube. Here’s a couple, and you’ll find many more on YouTube.
- Ground Hog Day (2012 HD) – watch a real groundhog take a peek outside his burrow. I enjoyed the music on this one.
- Groundhog Day – Get some more information about groundhogs and Groundhog Day history on this one.
It happened to be a lovely, springlike day, so we also went outside to see if we could see our shadows!!
Despite my lack of preparedness, I could tell that my five-year-old enjoyed learning and celebrating Groundhog Day. At the end of the day, I said, “I’ll have to check the newspaper to see if Gus saw his shadow today.” The five-year-old said, “I just don’t understand…..groundhogs don’t understand like people do.” He’s a smart little guy. I told him, “Yep. The groundhog has no idea what all the fuss is about. This holiday is just for fun….”
February 14, 2012 – Valentine’s Day
For Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d get an early start (unusual for me, if you can’t tell), so we started making crafts a week or two early. I made this Valentine’s mailbox, and the five-year-old helped me decorate it. I wrapped a box with some old paper that they had already drawn on. (I try to recycle whatever I can.)
The best part of preparing for Valentine’s Day was teaching my five-year-old how to make a heart: by folding a piece of paper, drawing half a heart with its center on the crease, and then cutting it out. Once he opened it up, he was so happy to discover a perfect heart!
However, he couldn’t quite draw half a heart very well, so my five-year-old was very disappointed with his first attempts. Since he can be quite a perfectionist, he usually gives up when this happens. I was pleasantly surprised to watch him keep trying this time. Soon, he mastered heart making, and once he could make some good hearts, there was no stopping him! We strung his hearts up along the doorway to our activity room and also pinned them to our bulletin board. It was really fun for me to watch him do the decorating on his own!
We’re lucky to own a few Valentine’s Day books, so we read those too:
- My First Valentine’s Day Book - This a great book for 2~3 year olds, and my 5-year-old still likes it too. It consists of simple rhymes, and there are little cards on each page that your child can take out of an envelope and read.
- The Best Thing About Valentines by Eleanor Hudson – Also for youngsters. A cute book emphasizing how we make our own Valentines and give them away.
- Valentine’s Day by Cass R. Sandak – This is a great book, but I got lucky and found it at a library sale. It has the history and customs of Valentine’s Day throughout history. It’s for older kids, so I only read my five-year-old a few pages.
We also made (and bought) some Valentines for each other. I made each of the boys a special card with their names on it and described their personalities and things they like to do. Similar to the calendar, and it’ll go into their keepsakes box.
Unfortunately, on Valentine’s Day, I was extremely sick with a bad cold and fever, so some other things I had wanted to do will have to wait until next year. :(
So please tell me, what kinds of traditions do you have during January and February? Do you celebrate these holidays and/or celebrate other holidays / traditions this time of year?