Discover more from Can we read?
Can we read? 2022 holiday activity survival guide
Notes From the Reading Nook: Nov 29: A guest post from Hope Henchey
Good morning! This post is going out to all my subscribers today, because it’s just so good. Tomorrow my special edition on Christmas will hit your inbox if you’re a paid subscriber — if you don’t want to miss it, it’s not too late to upgrade and receive my juiciest annual issue…
Last year I came up with what I dubbed the Can we read? holiday activity survival guide — my ideas for things to do together to create warm, wonderful memories and traditions (hint: for me, it’s NOT baking cookies) and foster an atmosphere of love.
That proved to be a very popular post — I heard from many of you — but it turns out that I really only have those three ideas in me 😉 So this year, when I wanted to recreate the guide, I turned to the absolute best person for this: one of my dear Substack friends, Hope Henchey, of the brilliant newsletter Family Scripts.
I admitted to Hope that for those of us with kids in traditional school, all the time off surrounding the holidays and the end of the year is sometimes — perhaps even often — a challenge. If this isn’t true for your family, great! It’s not always difficult at my house, either. But as my eldest’s kindergarten teacher once emailed me: “Weather is ever-changing, the amount of daylight is so short, and everything associated with the upcoming holiday season can be overwhelming. Kids can struggle this time of year.” (She was a teacher for 33 years before retiring in 2020, so she knew what she was talking about.)
Thankfully, Hope agreed to come up with some fun activities families can enjoy together around the holidays. She inspired the heck out of me (and my 8yo, who was looking over my shoulder as I began to format this post saying, “I want to do that! And that! And that!”) I hope she does the same for you, too.
Storytelling Stones, Christmas Town Luminaries, and More
Hello! My name is Hope and I’m the founder of Family Scripts. If you’re looking for some activities to keep your kids busy this season, these should help. I have five kids ages 10 and under, so we try to choose crafts and activities that are simple and interesting to all ages (including the grownups). More aesthetically pleasing versions of these crafts exist, of course, but that’s not what we’re focusing on here.
Whether you try these ideas together or send your kids off with instructions and scissors, I hope you enjoy!
Story Stones (or Cards)
In one of our July newsletters, we shared the idea of using Story Stones to help young (and old) storytellers come up with a plot, one new twist at a time. This activity was inspired by Rory’s Story Cubes, a favorite tool for passing time at restaurants. Sarah had the awesome idea to come up with a winter version, so we made it happen for you!
Click below for the PDF!
For Story Stones: Collect and clean some rocks or smooth stones. Cut out images and adhere them to the rocks using Mod-Podge. Let dry, and place in a dish. (A bowl of Story Stones looks good on a coffee table or bookshelf!)
For Story Cards: For a simpler option, cut out the squares to use as cards, and pull them out of a bowl (or even an envelope.)
You never know what twists and turns a story might entail when plot elements include a forest, a gingerbread man, a recycling bin, snowballs, and cheese!
Winter Village Luminaries (and an Envelope Town)
There’s something so enchanting about the idea of a small, snowy village with warm lights and unique buildings. Ella Claire & Co. came up with a gorgeous winter village using nothing more than computer paper, tape, and votive candles; her post even includes free printables.
However, to make this more of a creative activity, you can design a luminary village for yourselves: ours included an ice skating rink, hotel, coffee shop, Ferris Wheel, and lots of adorable housing.
Encourage the kids to draw different buildings on the bottom of a piece of paper, and when they’re done, roll it into a cylinder and tape the seam. Place a battery-operated tealight under each cylinder, and let the kids rearrange the towns however they wish. It’s quite a cozy activity, especially if you turn off the lights in your house!
Another twist on this idea is to give your kids envelopes; the rectangular shape and pointed top make building design less intimidating. An easy way to put the envelopes together into a cohesive village is to paint a cardboard box a deep blue, add some stars, and glue the envelopes onto it! It’s like a whole little town.
Cardboard Gingerbread Men (or Ornaments!)
To design and play with your own little characters, gather some pieces of cardboard and draw basic shapes of gingerbread people or whatever shapes you like. Here’s a tip: draw them on the side of the cardboard that has print or flaws; when you cut out your shapes, flip them over and you won’t see your drawing lines, either.
Then let the kids decorate! White looks really cool on cardboard; you can use chalk markers, white paint, or even Wite-Out (paint-sponge included!)
If you use a thin cereal box, it’s easier to cut out your character, and it gives your kids more space to decorate. (See these cute examples from Hello, Wonderful.) However, it’s really satisfying to hold and play with a thicker cardboard character.
You can also poke a hole in your shapes, thread a string through, and make ornaments!
I hope you have fun with these ideas. If you like stuff like this, we share activity ideas every Tuesday on Family Scripts. I’m so grateful for Sarah’s thoughtful, lovely posts — and most of all, her friendship — and it was an honor to get to write for Can We Read? today!
Hope from Family Scripts
An enormous thank you to Hope — and the rest of the Family Scripts team, her willing family — for coming up with these super fun ideas to help whoever needs them not just survive the holidays, but make the most of the extra time together.
Because she’s amazing and generous, Hope is offering a special discount on paid subscriptions to Family Scripts just for subscribers of Can we read? — click below for 20% off forever!
Read good books and take good care 😘