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Archive for Classroom Activities

Purple Santa in the classroom

We want to see how you use our Purple Santa in the classroom.  Got Purple Santa? To help you out, Santa’s (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) Night Before Christmas has been Free all weekend on the Kindle.  Today is the last day! Download it. Read it. Get some ideas. If you love it and think you can come up with ideas, buy a hard copy to share in the class, or check one out at the library. (Many have it, but if not you can request they order it for their collection.) We think it is a great book to explore many many ideas with reading, imagination, vocabulary, art, writing and so much more. And we want to hear your ideas!  We want to hear the best idea.   See our classroom page for ideas. And we are reposting a blog from last year for further inspiration below. Send us your ideas. We would love to post pics of how you used it! Fun holiday book! Got Purple Santa?#GotPurpleSanta #BlackFridayin3words

Encore Blog:

Reading Santa’s Night Before Christmas for classroom enrichment activities is so much fun! We have lots of ways to spark the imagination with this book by encouraging creativity in art, writing, and oral expression! –At home, or in a read aloud classroom or library setting!  Please see our classroom page here for a growing list of ideas of how to enrich your classrooms with our book.

Meanwhile here are a few thoughts:

  • After reading the book and finding out that there is no longer Milk and Cookies, but instead Tea and Honey, introduce a Tea and Honey Party. It can be as formal or as informal as you like. Bring a variety of teas, maybe some more traditional and a couple of holiday blends, along with some honey. Then expose kids to traditions and tastes of other cultures of which they may be unfamiliar.One book- oodles of classroom actvities.
  • Initiate a Christmas Caroling activity. After reading the book and talking about funny sounding carolers, discuss the practice of Christmas Caroling. Choose some songs. Make them funny if you wish. Go around to other classrooms and sing carols.
  • In a group setting following a read aloud there are many topics of discussion that could be focused upon in verbal format and then flowed into a writing assignment if desired. (Most of these could also be presented in front of the class as well.)
    • What details are in the drawings that that aren’t mentioned in the story? (Hint- hunt for Matches the Mouse!!)
      What other zany and wacky things that could go wrong with Christmas if Santa’s suit were purple?
      What other things could have happened instead? Like could the milk and cookies be turned into carrots and celery? Why or why not? Could the candy canes be chocolate or sour instead of burnt? Would it have been a problem to change the story because of the rhyming?
      Launch for a theme of show and tell – bringing in their favorite holiday book, other books with Santa, or anything else related.
      Talk about cause and effect – consequences; how things relate, how this one change morphed Christmas, and how doing one thing differently day to day might have different effects in our own lives.
      Read the original The Night Before Christmas story (or any other version) and have a compare and contrast discussion
  • Art Projects galore! Have them do an art project of any kind to illustrate any idea of a zany, wacky Christmas. Use your own zany imagination-this book can spark all kinds of artistic expression and creativity.Choose your own color santa suit- Milk Carton Santas. One of many ways to tie Santa's Zany Wacky Just Not Right Night Before Christmas into classroom activities.
    • Santas with suits of a different color. Almost any normal Santa project you do can be converted into a purple  Or better yet, you could let the kids express themselves and let them choose what color they want their Santa to be.
    • Similarly, blueberry blue reindeer might be fun! Or let them choose their own fun color.
    • Upside down snowmen and trees of all kinds. Any project you might normally do with snowmen or trees could be done upside down. One I like is the Name Snowmen. Just put the face and hat one on the bottom upside down.
    • Art and Writing worksheets, like “If I were a Zany Wacky Reindeer, I would…” Download: Zany wacky reindeer worksheet.  Please see the classroom page for more ideas; as well as that is where we will be posting new ones.Worksheet to go with Santa's Zany Wacky Just Not Right Night Before Christmas available hardback, kindle or via Interactive Touchbooks app.

Santa’s Night Before Christmas and his purple santa suit bring Christmas feelings

Christmas is a feelingSanta’s Night Before Christmas and his purple santa suit bring Christmas feelings we can remember all year.  I started back in September anticipating the release of this book, and reminding everyone that Christmas isn’t a season or a day, it is a feeling. (Post from September)  It has definitely been a fun season.  It has been fun sharing our book with everyone.  I’ve been privileged to see a child read the book out loud for the very first time (I’ve read it so many times to so many people that this was especially fun for me!). I listened to him read it just as I had imagined the cadence to be.  I watched him stop and point out the illustrations and ask questions and giggle along the way.  I’ve had the joy of seeing a little girl wake up the next morning after hearing the story for the first time and be so inspired from the beautiful artwork that she was drawing her own creations trying to match the pages.   I’ve finally had the wonderful privilege of meeting the illustrator in person whom I’ve been working with for years.  Brad Cornelius is a delightful being.  Pardon the pun, but it was like watching a Christmas tree light up as we talked about what other adventures Santa might need to take in the future.  What a pleasure.  We’ve received awards and wonderful reviews.  We’ve had people who were inspired to create wonderful videos (see reference) because they loved the book so much.  We even had a wonderful lady super inspired to create her very own Santa’s Just Not Right cookie recipe. (see reference).  We’ve had dozens and dozens of beautiful reviews all in appreciation of all of the work that went into creating this great work.  Teachers have been inspired to have tea and honey parties make purple santas and use the book in the classroom. (see reference) . It is a book that sparks the happiness in people.  It sparks imagination and thinking. (see reference) Santa’s Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) has been a fun, joyful, zany, wacky ride. It has caused me to personally stop and appreciate how the work of a few individuals can really touch others.  And that work can be from something like a fun story like ours, a plate of cookies, or even just a simple hello to a stranger in the street.  It is a great joy to connect with others in whatever way we can. I hope that after this holiday season we all can try to reflect back at all of the things we try to make so special during the season, capture that feeling, and live it all year long. Thanks to all who have participated in creating and enjoying our book.  We wish you a very Merry Christmas and hope that your Christmas isn’t just a season, but a feeling that will last you all year long.

Santa’s Just Not Right Christmas Cookies

Santa’s Just Not Right Christmas Cookies??  Ever since we began dreaming of all the things that would go wrong with Christmas if Santa’s suit turned purple, the ideas have snowballed.  You can see many of them of course in the book.  Like upside down snowmen, and jets instead of sleighs.  We imagined tea and honey instead of milk and cookies.  But the things that we have imagined are probably only just beginning.  We challenge you to come up with your own zany, wacky inspirations of how Christmas might be different.  We challenge you to do them at home. We challenge you to use them in the classroom.  And this week, one very inspired reviewer has done just that! Check out Santa’s Just Not Right Christmas cookies!  Baking in the classroom: Santa's Just Not Right Christmas CookiesThey have made it to our recent December Bucket List for sure!  And they easily can be used in the classroom for an art project and a fun Santa’s Night Before Christmas Cookie party!  We just want to run to the kitchen and get baking.  We’ve posted enough to get you started, but please for full recipe (and many other fun recipes!) please see A Mama, Baby, and Sharpei!  If you need a copy of the book to go along with these treats, of course you can get more information about the hardback, kindle, or interactive touch app, all on the Book page here.

SANTA’S JUST NOT RIGHT CHRISTMAS COOKIES
INGREDIENTS:                                                                           yields 2-3 dozen cookies

  • 1 C Unsalted Butter, Softened
  • 1.5 C Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1.5 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 2.5 C All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
  • Purple Food Coloring (I recommend gel coloring)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and powdered sugar together with the paddle attachment on low-speed so that the sugar doesn’t fly up in a cloud. Once the sugar has been mostly incorporated into the butter, turn up the speed, beating the butter mixture until it is creamy and thoroughly incorporated.

Then add the egg to the butter mixture, beating until just incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and baking soda and once that is thoroughly mixed in, add the flour, one cup at a time until it is all mixed in. This creates a batter-like dough that will be very soft. Dab in the purple food coloring and mix at a low-speed, or by hand, until the entire dough is colored to your liking. Remember that the color will brighten as it rests in the fridge.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead it into a soft ball. If the dough is sticky, add additional flour while kneading. Transfer the dough to a wax-paper lined plate, then press another piece of wax paper on top of the dough, flattening it into a round disc, the size of the plate between the two sheets of wax paper. Tuck the extra ends of the wax paper under the dough disc to keep the dough from drying out. Place the dough in the fridge for at least three hours or overnight to firm-up.

Once it has rested in the refrigerator, tear off a one-third section of the dough and place it on a floured work surface and keep the rest of the dough in the fridge. Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper and pre-heat the oven to 350F.

Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to 1/2 inch thickness, making sure to flip the dough to keep it floured or it will stick to the work surface. *I prefer a 1/2 inch thickness in a roll-out cookie because they will remain soft and fluffy, even after decorating. If you prefer a more crisp cookie, I recommend rolling the dough to a 3/8 inch thickness*

Use a cookie cutter to cut the desired shapes. Place the cut cookies on the baking sheet, two inches apart as you prepare them. Once the baking sheet is full, place it in the oven and bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes until the edges just start to darken. If you try to lift the cookies and they are still very soft, give them another minute or two. Transfer the cookies to a wire cooling rack until they are cooled to room temperature. Repeat with the dough in the fridge until you have made all of the cookies you desire.

Now on to decorating!! Use your imagination! We made a batch of Purple Royal Icing to pipe the details onto our cookies and to help our sprinkles and candy buttons and ornaments to stick to the cookies. But feel free to mix up any color you like and add any decorations you desire! I’ve included the recipe for the Royal Icing below which makes more than enough icing for 3 dozen cookies, we made just a half batch and still had plenty more icing leftover.  For full recipe for Santa’s Just Not Right Christmas Cookies again see …..A Mama, Baby, and Sharpei!Santa's Just Not Right Christmas cookies at home or in the classroom!

 

Reading Santa’s Night Before Christmas for classroom enrichment activities

Choose your own color santa suit- Milk Carton Santas. One of many ways to tie Santa's Zany Wacky Just Not Right Night Before Christmas into classroom activities.

Reading Santa’s Night Before Christmas for classroom enrichment activities is so much fun! We have lots of ways to spark the imagination with this book by encouraging creativity in art, writing, and oral expression! –At home, or in a read aloud classroom or library setting!  Please see our classroom page here for a growing list of ideas of how to enrich your classrooms with our book.

Meanwhile here are a few thoughts:

  • After reading the book and finding out that there is no longer Milk and Cookies, but instead Tea and Honey, introduce a Tea and Honey Party. It can be as formal or as informal as you like. Bring a variety of teas, maybe some more traditional and a couple of holiday blends, along with some honey. Then expose kids to traditions and tastes of other cultures of which they may be unfamiliar.
  • Initiate a Christmas Caroling activity. After reading the book and talking about funny sounding carolers, discuss the practice of Christmas Caroling. Choose some songs. Make them funny if you wish. Go around to other classrooms and sing carols.
  • In a group setting following a read aloud there are many topics of discussion that could be focused upon in verbal format and then flowed into a writing assignment if desired. (Most of these could also be presented in front of the class as well.)
    • What details are in the drawings that that aren’t mentioned in the story? (Hint- hunt for Matches the Mouse!!)
      What other zany and wacky things that could go wrong with Christmas if Santa’s suit were purple?
      What other things could have happened instead? Like could the milk and cookies be turned into carrots and celery? Why or why not? Could the candy canes be chocolate or sour instead of burnt? Would it have been a problem to change the story because of the rhyming?
      Launch for a theme of show and tell – bringing in their favorite holiday book, other books with Santa, or anything else related.
      Talk about cause and effect – consequences; how things relate, how this one change morphed Christmas, and how doing one thing differently day to day might have different effects in our own lives.
      Read the original The Night Before Christmas story (or any other version) and have a compare and contrast discussion
  • Art Projects galore! Have them do an art project of any kind to illustrate any idea of a zany, wacky Christmas. Use your own zany imagination-this book can spark all kinds of artistic expression and creativty.
    • Santas with suits of a different color. Almost any normal Santa project you do can be converted into a purple  Or better yet, you could let the kids express themselves and let them choose what color they want their Santa to be.
    • Similarly, blueberry blue reindeer might be fun! Or let them choose their own fun color.
    • Upside down snowmen and trees of all kinds. Any project you might normally do with snowmen or trees could be done upside down. One I like is the Name Snowmen. Just put the face and hat one on the bottom upside down.
    • Art and Writing worksheets, like “If I were a Zany Wacky Reindeer, I would…” Download: Zany wacky reindeer worksheet.  Please see the classroom page for more ideas; as well as that is where we will be posting new ones.Worksheet to go with Santa's Zany Wacky Just Not Right Night Before Christmas available hardback, kindle or via Interactive Touchbooks app.