Archive | December 2009


I thought this was worthy of a separate post. Just. because.

This was actually the draft to our h is for horse Alphabet Wall craft but we ditched it because I wanted the horse’s head to be drawn facing the left.
Anyway, whilst we were busy drawing the “proper” horse on another sheet of paper, unbeknownst to us, DD had quietly picked it up together with a spare green marker from my pencilbox.

Aside from the outline of the horse’s head and back and its eye, the rest of the sketching and shading is DD’s own work. 🙂

Alphabet Wall: Making…h is for horse

Over the holiday period, DH made up a story about a Jelly the Green Horse.
I don’t know if DD’s recent interest in horses sparked up a request for a story about a horse, or that the story inspired her recent interest in horses…but I did have all this torn and crumpled Christmas wrapping lying around on Boxing Day that was begging to be turned into craft resources.

So this week – we did an Alphabet Wall craft, that, hmm…I don’t quite know how to reference to the Bible…but I’ll find something for sure. 😉

You will need the following materials: leftover wrapping paper (we chose green for Jelly, but of course, you could do any other colour your child fancies), glue, marker, artblock sheet.

1. With your leftover wrapping paper, tear off small bits and crush them into small crumples. Do this together with your child – it’s no scissors, no fuss, no way to get it wrong! Set aside.
2. On your artblock sheet, draw a horse head facing the left, because you want to finish drawing the rest of the body in the shape of a small letter h. Add in the details (tail, mane, etc).

3. Apply glue over the horse’s body.

4. Glue on the little crumples.


Alphabet Wall: Making…g is for good news

It was really hard to resist pouncing on the ideas of “I bring you good news of great joy” and “Glory to God in the highest” for the letter g. But they turned out to be rather complicated concepts for DD.

Nevertheless, this blog is after all, all about our trials and errors, so I’ll post it up anyway and let you, the reader, form your own judgements. Maybe I’ll think of another g craft sometime down the road. Maybe I won’t. I dunno…in any case, we had a good afternoon of painting.  😀

You will need the following materials: Artblock sheet, paints, paintbrushes, palette, scissors, pencil.

1. With the pencil, trace out the picture you want to paint. I drew an angel, a star, two shepherds and two small g’s.

2. Take a second sheet of paper, place it on top of the first so they’re in alignment and hold them up to the light. Trace out the picture from the first sheet.
3. Cut out selected portions on the second sheet. This will form a stencil of sorts. (I do this because I find that if I don’t the whole sheet will end up a mish-mash of colours…great if it’s freestyle art, but that’s for another time…)

4. Mix the paints, hold the stencil in place for your child, and off we go then.

5. Lastly, have your child trace out the letter g using the paintbrush.  Done!

 Luke 2: 8 – 14 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
 14“Glory to God in the highest,
      and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

‘Twas the night before Christmas…

…and the elves are all done!

Yippee! Now to go catch some serious sleep before the action packed day tomorrow. 😉

Making our own tot-friendly Christmas tree

We’ve never owned a Christmas tree. Incorrigibly lazy me loves to admire the lights, baubles and ornaments on other people’s trees, but wants none of getting all entangled in wires, stringing, sorting and unpacking and storing. 😛

But ain’t we lucky that I’m at least not too lazy to capitalize on Christmas kids craft! We started this last year with DD, and from the looks of it, it’s going to become an annual family craft project from here on now.  😀

To make the tree:-
You will need: Two large green art plastic boards (um…I don’t know what they’re actually called so I’m putting a pic below for readers’ reference), pencil, ruler, scissors or box cutter.  

1. Place both green plastic boards in a portrait orientation. Using your ruler, measure out the centre of the boards at both ends.
2. With your pencil, lightly trace an outline of a Christmas tree on the first board. It doesn’t have to be symmetrically or geometrically perfect (trees are organic after all, hey? 😉 ). We made ours with rounded edges so that there are no sharp points to accidentally bump into. Cut out the shape.
3. Using the cut out tree from the first board as a template, trace the outline on the second board and cut it out as well.

4. On the first board, make a cut halfway down the centre line from the top.
5. On the second board, make a cut halfway again down the centre line but this time from the bottom.
6. Fit one onto the other. You should have an X-shaped base which should be fairly stable. Secure with cellophane tape at the top and bottom if necessary.
7. This is an optional step. You can set it on a cardboard box base if you want it slightly raised up and to make space to place the presents underneath.  We wrapped our cardboard box in wrapping paper.

To make the decorations:-
You will need: Scissors, craft foam sheets, assorted paper sheets, December magazines, wrapping paper scraps, glue, double -sided tape.

December magazine spreads usually have many Christmassy pictures and graphics. Or use leftover wrapping paper. Cut these out and stick them onto a craft foam backing.

You can even design your own ornaments!  Click here for an earlier post that shows the ornaments we made. 🙂
If your kids are old enough to be involved, this is fun stuff to occupy them and gives them some ownership over the decoration process. 🙂
As you make the ornaments, paste a small piece of double-sided tape on the back of each so it’s easy to put them up on the tree afterward.

Make it a family activity to put up the ornaments and then step back and admire your collective work of art! We wanted the focus of our Christmas craft to be the baby Jesus, so you’ll see he’s the “star” at the top of the tree. 🙂

I made 49 ornaments in total (no significance whatsoever in the number, just decided my fingers were aching from all that cutting and packed up for the night 😉 ) but now that it’s all pasted up on eight sides, it sure looks like we need more!

The kids are looking forward to sticking up more ornaments which means overtime for the elves!

Alphabet Wall: Making…f is for fun foam fish

I had a flash of inspiration for our alphabet wall while chewing on my dinner one of the weekday nights and so we dove into a quick art attack before bedtime with DD.

You will need the following materials: Artblock sheet, craft foam, marker or pen, glue, scissors, colour pencils or crayons.

1. Draw the letter f on the artblock sheet, and within its outline, draw a fish.

2. Cut out some “fish scales” from the craft foam and set aside.

3. Apply glue on the body of the fish.

4. Paste!  Parents can leverage this opportunity for a lesson in patterns or counting. I’d prepared this in five minutes with leftover craft foam from making our Christmas ornaments, but if I could do it all again, I’d like to use more colours for the scales, and maybe throw in some shiny aluminium foil ones too.  f is for foam and f is for foil! 🙂  

5. After you’re done pasting all the scales, colour the fish.

And our Bible verse to tie the whole lesson together…“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” – Matthew 4:19

Oops…this is what happens when you check the verse only after trying to write it from memory. Yeesh. 😛

Carol Origins: Hark The Herald Angels Sing

“Hark the Herald Angels Sing” was written by Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley founder of the Methodist church, in 1739. A sombre man, he requested slow and solemn music for his lyrics and thus the carol was originally sung to a different tune.

In 1840 Felix Mendelssohn composed a cantata in 1840 to commemorate Johann Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press, and English musician William H. Cummings adapted Mendelssohn’s music to fit the lyrics of this carol.

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

~ Information excerpted from ~

Carol Origins: Away in a Manger

Our regular Alphabet Wall craft post has been postponed for the Carol Origins series this week. But in line with our usual Friday focus on activities for kids, today’s write-up is about a much-loved children’s carol “Away in a Manger”.

The first two verses of “Away In A Manger” are anonymous. They first appeared in Little Children’s Book for Schools and Families, by J. C. File (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America, 1885).

In Dainty Songs for Little Lads and Lasses, for use in the kindergarten, school and home, by James R. Murray, (Cincinnati, The John Church Co., 1887), “Away in a Manger” is entitled “Luthers’ Cradle Hymn (Composed by Martin Luther for his children and still sung by German mothers to their little ones).” However Luther is not listed as the composer, instead are the initials J.R.M. The hymn in this publication is set to the tune we know as MUELLER.

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head;
The stars in the bright sky look down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

The cattle were lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes;
I love Thee Lord Jesus, look down from the sky,
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay
Close by me, forever and love me, I pray;
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven, to live with Thee there.

Information excerpted from Centre for Church Music

Carol Origins: Once in Royal David’s City

The words to the carol “Once in Royal David’s City” were written by Mrs. C.F. Alexander ( 1818 – 1895 ), wife of the Bishop of Derry. It makes wonderful use of the English language to paint a picture of the events of the nativity. Mrs. Alexander wrote many poems for children, chiefly on religious subjects.

The music to “Once in Royal David’s City” was composed by H.J. Gauntlett. This carol is believed to have first been published in the early nineteenth century.

I’d personally like to revisit this as a literature lesson opportunity with the kids when they are older. 😀

Once in royal David’s city,
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her Baby,
In a manger for His bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ, her little Child.

He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall:
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Saviour holy.

For He is our childhood’s pattern;
Day by day, like us, He grew;
He was little, weak, and helpless,
Tears and smiles, like us He knew;
And He cares when we are sad,
And he shares when we are glad.

And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love;
For that Child so dear and gentle,
Is our Lord in heaven above:
And He leads His children on,
To the place where He is gone.

~ Information excerpted from ~

Carol Origins: Silent Night

It was December 24, 1818, and in Oberndorf, Austria, Fr. Joseph Mohr, an assistant priest went to the home of his friend, the organist of the small church. He brought the words of a poem that he had written two years earlier and asked him to write a tune to it, to use at the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass.

The organist, Franz Xavier Gruber, reminded Fr. Joseph Mohr that the organ wasn’t working and so they would not be able to have music for the service. Fr. Mohr went in the other room and got a guitar. Gruber strummed a few chords, then started humming. He exclaimed, “The song, it sings itself.” A few hours later, he had composed the tune, and the two men presented the carol for the first time that Christmas Eve.

When the organ repairman, Carl Mauracher, later heard the carol, he took a copy of it with him. He presented it to two groups of traveling singers, who then performed it in their Christmas repertoire, and thus it began its journey around the world. The Strasser and Rainer families traveled and performed all over Europe, singing this as “the Tyrolian folk carol”. The Rainer family brought the carol to the United States, first performing it in German in New York City in 1839.

A publisher heard the carol sung near Innsbruck, Austria around 1832. He liked it and published it for the first time, claiming the source to be a “Tyrolian folk song.” The songwriters were not known at that time, and the tune had been changed somewhat from the original. That printed version is the melody that is still widely sung. However, in 1995 a copy of “Silent Night” was found, written in Fr. Joseph Mohr’s own hand, which gives the origin of this carol, along with proof of its creators.

“Silent Night was translated into English in 1863 and was first published in an American hymnal, Charles Hutchins’ Sunday School Hymnal.  Whilst across the world, it is played early and often leading up to Christmas, the people of Austria consider it a national treasure, with an organization formed to protect it from commercialization, and to convince people to learn the original melody. A visitor to Austria can visit museums and memorials in Oberndorf and other places significant to this carol. Makes me feel like going to Austria sometime to find the original tune! 😀

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

~ Information excerpted from Centre for Church Music ~