I normally post about early literacy in everyday places, and I will continue to do so into the new year. Today, however, I'm sharing some early literacy ideas that stick a little bit closer to home and are perfect for families celebrating Christmas this time of year. These are literacy activities inspired by Christmas trees!
- Talk about colors.My one-year-old is completely enthralled with the pre-strung colored lights on our artificial Christmas tree. She points at them all the time, looking for someone to label them for her. I use this as an opportunity to introduce color words. Each time she points to a light, I tell her what color it is, and name some other things that are also that color. She doesn't have many words yet, but she pays such close attention, I can tell she is filing information away for later.
- Sing Christmas tree songs. There are lots of Christmas tree songs, but the three that come to my mind most often are the traditional O Christmas Tree (or O Tannenbaum), Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, and My Christmas Tree (by John Williams, from the Home Alone 2 Soundtrack). Teach your children to sing these songs as you decorate and enjoy your tree.
- Tell the stories behind your Christmas ornaments.As you add ornaments to your tree, or even as you admire the ones you have already hung, tell your child the history behind them. I have lots of ornaments I made as a child or received as gifts from family members, and this is a great way to pass some of that history down to the next generation.
- Play ornament I Spy. With preschoolers and older kids, you can practice using adjectives by playing a game of I Spy. Describe an ornament on the tree and have the kids guess which one it is, then ask them to describe an ornament for you to guess. This game also works on public Christmas trees, such as the ones you might see while standing in line to meet Santa, or in places where kids get easily bored, like banks and doctor's offices.