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We are loving our holiday themes this year.  Our reindeer theme was a fun way to get in the holiday spirit without going all santa and elves and even do a little nonfiction learning. Check out this week full of all kinds of reindeer themed learning and fun!

**This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. View our full disclosure policy here.**

Here were our plans for our reindeer theme:

And here are the details for each activity:
 Reindeer Retelling:
Our first story was Olive, the Other Reindeer, by  Vivian Walsh and J. Otto Seibold. We started by reading the story.  After reading I gave Madelynn a response page divided into 3 columns for beginning, middle, and end. We talked about what happened in the story then Madelynn drew a picture to show each part. Afterwards I asked her to tell me about each picture/part of the story.
Beginning: He was listening to music.
Middle: He went with the reindeer to help.
End: They were at the North Pole and opened presents.
The Reindeer Problem:
Our next story was The Great Reindeer Rebellion by Lisa Trumbauer. Before reading we discussed and defined problem. We talked about how every story usually has a problem or something that goes wrong. After reading, Madelynn drew and labeled the problem in the story (Santa's reindeer wouldn't fly the sleigh.) Then we talked about how the problem was solved.
Making Predictions:
Our next story was The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett. Before reading, we practiced answering questions and making predictions.

I asked "After looking at the cover, what do you think this story will be about?" 
Madelynn: "That's about reindeer."
Then I asked: "What will the reindeer do in the story?"
Madelynn: "They're going to fly and deliver some presents."

She is still making very basic predictions initially, but I love that she is starting to use the vocabulary that we have been talking about each week, like characters.
Reindeer Vocabulary:
For some nonfiction learning, we read Reindeer (A Day in the Life…Series) by Katie Marsico. While reading I used picture cards to reinforce new words. Then Madelynn made a reindeer vocabulary book. She drew pictures to show the meaning of each word and used the picture cards and book as a reference.
  Tracking Print:
Our last book was this letter R alphabet reader. Madelynn identified the picture then pointed to each word as she read. Afterwards she colored all of the pictures in.
Sleigh Read and Color:
This week we focused on beginning sounds so we started with this color by code activity. Madelynn identified each picture, then decided what letter it started with. Knowing it was one of the 5 listed on the left side of the page helped with some of the trickier sounds, then she followed the directions to make each spot the correct color.  
Turkey Sound Stamping:
Next, for more letter practice we used our dot stampers. We started out stamping inside the letter to make an R for reindeer. Then Madelynn had to find the upper and lowercase r's in Rudolph, stamp them and make the "R" sound each time. 
Reindeer Rhymes:
This week we focused on rhyme again. For this rhyme sort, I taped reindeer feed bag labels onto small paper bags with pictures and printed carrots with rhyming pictures. First we read the word on each carrot, Madelynn found the rhyming word then placed it in the correct feed bag. Afterwards we brought them to our stuffed Sven (the reindeer from Frozen) for a little snack.
Gingerbread House Name Craft:
For this week's name craft we created this fun reindeer.  First Madelynn cut the reindeer pieces out. Then she traced the letters in her name on each antler piece. After she finished writing, she glued the reindeer pieces together and added the antler pieces in order to spell her name. To finish off the reindeer she used a marker to draw a mouth. 
Reindeer Journal Writing:
For our journal this week Madelynn chose to draw and label a reindeer habitat. She decided that her reindeer lived in a cave because that is what she saw in Rudolph.  After drawing she wrote Rudolph next to her reindeer with "RF."  All the letter sound work and stretching out words is starting to show!
Magic Reindeer Feed Tray:
Our first math activity this week was a reindeer themed writing tray.  I filled the tray with oats and sprinkled with glitter. Then Madelynn used small reindeer number cards as a model to write numbers in the oats with jingle bells or her finger.
Reindeer Shape Run:
It's starting to get a bit cold to be outside for long so it's time to incorporate a little movement into our learning inside for sure. For this shape game Madelynn put on reindeer antlers and chose a shape reindeer card from our basket. Then I called out an action and she ran, jumped, tiptoed, hopped on one foot, and flew like a reindeer across the room to find the matching shape carrot in a basket. She named the shape then fed it to her matching reindeer.
Build a Shape Reindeer:
Learning shapes was fun with this little shape reindeer.  To make this activity more about shapes and less about cutting, I precut the reindeer shape pieces from construction paper. I also didn't want her cutting skills to interfere with her ability to identify each shape. (The circles sometimes turn into squares and triangles into trapezoids depending on her cutting ability that day.)  I named a shape to find. Madelynn looked for it then followed directions to glue the pieces together and create a reindeer.
Reindeer Shape Puzzles:
These shape reindeer were just too cute, so I had to find another way to use them.  I created these little Rudolph shape puzzles. Madelynn matched the shape pieces together. Then I helped her read the shape words and match them to the puzzles.
Roll & Build Reindeer:
We can never have enough counting practice so I came up with this little game for Madelynn to get some more practice in this week.  First I printed the reindeer (without antlers) page. Madelynn rolled 1 or 2 dice. Then she counted out the correct number of brown connecting cubes and used them to build antlers for the reindeer.
Rudolph Sensory Bin:
Fruit Cup Reindeer:
This little Rudolph was fun and easy to make.  Before we started I used a utility knife to poke 2 holes in the bottom of a few plastic fruit cups. Madelynn painted the entire fruit cup brown then we waited for it to dry. Next she bent small pipe cleaner pieces around a longer one to create antlers.  She pushed the antlers into holes in the fruit cup and I added a little hot glue on the inside so that they would stay in. Finally I helped Madelynn use hot glue to add googly eyes and a large pom pom nose. (I added a dot of glue and she was able to carefully push it into the glue without any problem, but you may want to do this part on your own!)
Rudolph Rockets:
These little rockets were hands down our favorite activity of the week. I printed black and white reindeer and Madelynn colored them in. I cut a few inches of length off 4 plastic pipettes and taped them to the back of each reindeer. Madelynn pushed a straw inside of the pipette on the first reindeer. Then  she blew in each one to see how far she could launch it. After she repeat with each reindeer we talked about which one went the furthest.
Reindeer Paper Plate Mask:
To prep this mask I cut out a semi-circle from the top center of a paper plate. Madelynn painted the plate brown. While we waited for it to dry she cut out cardstock antlers and a nose. I reinforced the antlers by taping a craft stick to the back of each one. When the plate was dry she drew a mouth with a marker and  helped glue the antlers and an additional craft stick to the bottom of the plate for a mask handle.
Reindeer Feeding Sensory Bin:
In this bin: oats, pipe cleaners (bent into reindeer shapes), cups, bowls, scoops

Want all of this week's printables and plans?  You can grab them here:

Or you can grab our entire year of themes and plans here:

And that's it for this week. I can't wait to share all of our learning and fun with you this year! Here are our tentative plans for weekly themes if you want to follow along!
September:

October: 

November:

December:

Just one more color left in our color themed baby bins and this week was all about WHITE! I was hoping we might have a little snow to explore this week, but our winter has been unusually warm so far, but I'm not complaining! We will have plenty of cold and snow here soon I'm sure.
**This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. View our full disclosure policy here.**

Here is a look at what we have planned for our second set of 6 color themed baby bins:

Here are the details for each of our activities:
White Read Aloud:
White Rabbit's Color Book by Alan Baker was the perfect white themed book for our baby bins. It was great for reviewing the colors we have learned so far and introducing color mixing.
White Sensory Bin:

Play ideas for this bin:
1. Find the white vehicles and drive them around.
2. Build a towers with connecting cubes.
3. Find all of the animals.
4. Find all of the food and feed the animals.
5. Not pictured: Dump the entire bin and watch the balls roll everywhere....
Stuff the Snowman:
For this activity, we worked on building fine motor skills by stuffing mini marshmallows into an empty water bottle that I decorated to look like a snowman. Super simple to prep just use a little hot glue, buttons, ribbon, googly eyes and felt.  Aubrey equally enjoyed shaking the bottle at the end to get all of the marshmallows back out.
Rabbit Paint in a Bag:
For this baby safe painting activity, I put a gray rabbit outline in a ziplock bag with a few drops of white paint. Then I sealed it up for some fun no mess and no stress painting. Before the paint dried I carefully opened the bag and peeled it away from the top to allow it to dry.
White Frosting Play Dough:
This white frosting dough is my absolute favorite! Just mix white frosting and powdered sugar until you get the softest smoothest play dough ever. I don’t even measure it, just keep adding sugar until it’s no longer sticky. It’s seriously a fluffy cloud of awesome. Trust me your kids will be begging to play with it more than slime...okay maybe not that much, but you will enjoy a few minutes to yourself while they explore with this fluffy white taste safe play dough.
Here is what I included on our tray: angel and snowman cookie cutters, cut up pipe cleaners, and foam snowflakes

Frosting Playdough Recipe: (But you really can just wing it)
In a stand mixer, mix 1 cup white funfetti frosting and 3 cups of powdered sugar. 
That’s it! If it’s too sticky add more powdered sugar. 


Too dry? Add more frosting. Sooooo easy and a great texture.
White Color Collage:
At the end of each color week we are making a color collage that I will put together in a book for Aubrey to flip through.

To make the white book page, I first cut out a large rectangle from the center of 2 pieces of white cardstock. Then I cut two pieces of contact paper that were slightly bigger than the white rectangles.

  I took the backing off of one piece of contact paper and stuck one rectangle on it.  Then I gave Aubrey a tray full of white pictures, stickers, sequins, and feathers to create a white collage.

After she was finished, I glued the second white rectangle on top of the first and pressed the remaining piece of contact paper over the top to seal the collage inside. Next, I trimmed the excess contact paper around the rectangle.  I hole punched the top corner and added it to a small metal ring with our red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, brown, and black collage pages to form a unique color flip book.

If you are looking for all of the plans and printables for this week's theme I will be posting them soon! If you'd like to be notified as soon as they are available please subscribe to my newsletter (in the sidebar to the right) and/or join our Tot School and Preschool Facebook group here:

Check out all of our Baby Bin themes here:
September:

October:

November:

December:


I just love the holiday season with little ones at home. Every year we make a gingerbread house together, and yes I totally buy the store bought kit, because frankly no one is eating that thing anyways, right?...Well except for handfuls of candy while decorating of course :) This week was full of all kinds of gingerbread themed learning and fun!
**This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. View our full disclosure policy here.**

Here were our plans for our Gingerbread theme:

And here are the details for each activity:
 Gingerbread Baby Retelling:
Our first story was Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett. We started by reading the story.  After reading I gave Madelynn 7 pictures from the story with simple sentences underneath. We read through them all together and then I prompted her to find what happened first, second, third, etc. She then glued them to her page in the correct order to retell the story.
Gingerbread Man Characters:
Our next story was The Gingerbread Man by Karen Schmidt. Before reading we discussed and defined characters. 
“A character is a person or animal that does things in the story.” 
After reading, I printed the Gingerbread Man characters response page. Madelynn drew and labeled the characters in the story then circled the main character. Most gingerbread stories are great for identifying characters because it is fun to remember all of the animals and people that chase the gingerbread man and the main character is easily identifiable.
  Gingerbread Girl Retelling:
Our next story was The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst. We started by reading the story.  After reading I gave Madelynn 7 pictures from the story with simple sentences underneath just like we did with Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett. We read through them all together and then I prompted her to find what happened first, second, third, etc. She then glued them to her page in the correct order to retell the story.
Making Predictions:
Our next story was Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires. Before reading, we practiced answering questions and making predictions.

I asked "After looking at the cover, what do you think this story will be about?" 
Madelynn: "A gingerbread cowboy." 
Then I asked: "What do you think he will do?" 
Madelynn: "Run away from all the hungry characters."

She is still making very basic predictions initially, but I love that she is starting to use the vocabulary that we have been talking about each week, like characters.
 Tracking Print:
Our last book was the letter G book from Abby's Alphabet Book Series. Madelynn identified the picture then pointed to each word as she read. She has caught on to the pattern in these one word per page books, so she is completely independent with them at this point.
Gingerbread Salt Tray:
Our first literacy activity this week was a gingerbread themed salt tray.  To make this fun gingerbread scented salt I mixed 1/2 cup salt with 1 tsp each of cinnamon, ginger, and allspice.Madelynn used gingerbread man letter cards as a model and chose which ones she wanted to practice.  To add a bit more fun, we used gumdrops on toothpicks for writing letters too.
Gingerbread Sound Stamping:
Next, for more letter practice we used our dot stampers. We started out stamping inside the letter to make a G. Then Madelynn had to find the upper and lowercase g's in the gingerbread man, stamp them and make the "G" sound each time.  We also talked about how G makes 2 sounds. Soft G says /j/ like "gingerbread" and hard G says /g/ like "girl."
Baking Gingerbread Rhymes:
This week we focused on rhyme again. First I printed gingerbread cookies with rhyming pictures on them and then taped labels onto cookie sheets. Madelynn used a spatula to choose a cookie and identify the picture. Then she found the baking sheet with a rhyming picture at the top and added it to that pan. I chose words with the same ending sounds but different rimes (bat and jet, lip and hop) for a bit more of a challenge this time.  If your kiddos aren't ready for that challenge you could start with just 2 rhymes to make it a bit easier then do the other 2 afterwards.
Gingerbread House Name Craft:
For this week's name craft we created this super cute gingerbread house.  First Madelynn cut the house and decorations out. Then she traced the letters in her name on each gumdrop. After she finished writing, she glued the gingerbread house pieces together and added the gumdrops to the roof in order to spell her name. To finish off the house she added the rest of the decorations and used crayons/markers to make the candy cane stripes and window panes.
Gingerbread Journal Writing:
For our journal this week Madelynn chose to draw and label a gingerbread house. She also added a little gingerbread girl for her house.  I encouraged her to label each item so she wrote H and W for house.
Hot Cocoa Count and Color:
To continue working on counting and identifying numbers, Madelynn worked on this color by code activity. Madelynn counted the dots then had to follow the directions to make each spot the correct color.  Now that we've been doing these activities for a few weeks we moved onto 6-10 dots in each area.
Roll & Count Gingerbread House:
Like most kids, Madelynn of course loves any learning activities that involve food. She started out with an empty gingerbread house. Then she rolled 1 or 2 dice and counted the dots to identify the number.  After that she counted out the correct number of candy pieces and used them to decorate the gingerbread house. She repeated this many times until the house was completely decorated.
Gingerbread Counting Cookies:
This game was really easy to prep and fun to play.  To prep, I printed numbered gingerbread boys, then set out brown play dough, a rolling pin, a mini gingerbread boy cutter, and a baking sheet. Madelynn chose a card and identified the number.  Then she rolled out brown playdough, used a mini gingerbread man cookie cutter to make the correct number of cut outs and put them on a baking sheet.  We repeated with each gingerbread boy number card with numbers 1-10 to fill the entire baking sheet.
Count and Build Gumdrops:
For another easy number identification and counting game, I set up this count and build gumdrop activity. I printed a gingerbread spinner with numbers 1-10, laminated it, and added a a brass fastener and paperclip for the spinner. Madelynn gave the spinner a spin and identified the number.
Then she counted out that number of gumdrops and used toothpicks to build a gumdrop house. Wwe repeated until her house was complete. While building we talked about the different shapes she was making and any patterns we saw.
 Gingerbread Number Mats:
We used these mats for LOTS of math practice this week. First, Madelynn identified the large number. Then she made it with play dough and counted the buttons in the ten frame. Next, she used a dry erase marker to practice writing the number, and finally counted out buttons to make the correct amount.
Gingerbread Baking Sensory Bin:
In this bin: gingerbread cloud dough (8 cups flour & 1 cup vegetable oil mixed together + 3T each allspice, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger), spoons, cups, gingerbread cookie cutters, pans and rolling pins
Gingerbread Face Plate:
This project turned out so ute and was even easy enough for my 19 month old to join in.  First I cut brown tissue paper into squares, printed gingerbread face cut outs on colored cardstock, and
mixed 1/4 cup white glue and 1/4 cup water together. Madelynn used watered down glue to paint a paper plate. Then she stuck brown tissue paper squares to the glue and painted over them with more watered down glue.  We allowed the plate to dry then glued white string around the rim of the plate for icing and red string for a mouth. Finally we finished it off with the paper shapes for eyes and a bow.
Build a Boat for the Gingerbread Man:
Our science activity this week was a simple STEM activity. I set up a tray with a gingerbread boy, aluminum foil rectangles, straws, pipe cleaners, and rubber bands. Then I filled a small bin with water. Madelynn used the materials to build a boat for the gingerbread boy so he didn’t get eaten by the fox.
Gingerbread Puffy Paint:
For this craft I made a batch of puffy paint, by mixing equal parts of shaving cream and white glue. Then I added brown food coloring, a few drops at a time until I got a nice gingerbread color. I printed a bunch of gingerbread outlines on cardstock. Madelynn painted them with the puffy paint and added buttons, bits of yarn and googly eyes to complete her gingerbread boys and girls.
Gingerbread Sensory Bin:
In this bin: brown paper shred, gingerbread pan and cut outs, pom poms, buttons, pipe cleaners, and jingle bells

Want all of this week's printables and plans?  You can grab them here:

Or you can grab our entire year of themes and plans here:

And that's it for this week. I can't wait to share all of our learning and fun with you this year! Here are our tentative plans for weekly themes if you want to follow along!
September:

October: 

November:

December:

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