story · topic


Let me start with a disclaimer… I’m learning about this holiday along with you. My goal is to share more varied holidays and traditions to enlighten us to the world greater than our own homes. Children love a celebration and teaching these often sparks an interest in learning more.

Last night was the start of the Jewish holiday of Purim, which continues until tonight.

Everyday Jewish Mom’s explains the history behind Purim here, this is more of an explanation for the adult.

A fun story for the kiddos. The Princess of Persia from BimBam

Here is a link to Everyday Jewish Mom where she shows some fun activities she did a home with her own little ones. a

Here is the link to the Hamantschen Dough that she uses to bake Hamantschen cookies with her children.

Today get out and celebrate Purim. Read the story, dress up in costume, make Hamantschen (even if it is just with play dough), learn something new.

story · topic


Today is Mardi Gras which is a holiday that is famous for the celebrations in New Orleans. This first book is about a fictional band that played in New Orleans, but went away. They are trying to imply the time of Hurricane Katrina, but do not speak about it straight out. It talks about the impact that the band and music has on the culture of New Orleans and Bourbon Street. The Bourbon Street Band is Back by Ed Shankman.

The second story is written by Wynton Marsalis, Squeek Rumble, Whomp, Whomp, Whomp shows how you can listen to your world and hear the music. Watch this video as Wynton Marsalis shows how you can take other songs and put them into a jazz feel! If you and your child enjoy this, I encourage you to find his Nursery Rhyme Swing concert at Lincoln Center.

Now it is your turn. Find sounds around your house and see if you can create your own jazz. Can you take a song you know and tweak it to make it more your own.

story · teaching thoughts

You Can Be President Too

Today is President’s Day. It is a day to reflect on the impact of the former Presidents of the United States. But, we don’t have to only think about the former presidents, we can think about the future too! Start by reading the book I Can Be President Too by Yanitzia Canetti.

One of my favorite YouTube channels to share with my classes is Kid President! If you have not checked out his videos, start today. Here is one called Kid President’s 20 Things We Should Say More Often.

Draw a picture of yourself as the president. What would you do as the president? What qualities would make you a good president.

We all need to dream big dreams. We need to focus on the qualities that makes us important. We need to encourage kindness, acceptance and love.

story · topic

Lunar New Year

Typically on Friday’s I write my series Why Do Teachers Do That? But, today I wanted to encourage you to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Did you know that many different cultures celebrate the Lunar New Year? Let’s start by reading Our Lunar New Year by Yobe Qui. Here is another YouTube video to explain more about how different cultures celebrate the Lunar New Year.

Think about ways you can incorporate some of these traditions in your home today? I’m all over the idea that there is no cleaning done on the Lunar New Year! Look at some of the foods they enjoy. Maybe choose to create red envelopes and give your child some new money. Help your child create lanterns. Maybe draw or craft a lion or dragon.

art · STEAM · story · topic

It’s Groundhog’s Day

It’s February 2nd the day to celebrate groundhogs!

You can:

Today is also a great day to learn about shadows! If it is a bright sunny day where you live, go outside and trace shadows with sidewalk chalk. You can go outside again later and see if the shadows have changed! A fun way to do this is to trace your child’s feet and then trace their shadow, later go out and stand in the feet outline… does your shadow still fit in the outline?

If it is too cold, ok like here in my town there is too much snow to do this activity outside today. But that does not mean you can’t play with shadows! Build something with Lego blocks, use dolls or action figures, or use other toys. Stand them on a white piece of paper and use a light to cast a shadow. Using a flashlight, you can change the length and direction of the shadows just as the sun does as the earth rotates.

STEAM · story · topic


Tomorrow is Groundhog’s Day. This occurs on the 2nd of February every year. This holiday started in the 1800s! That’s a long time to think a groundhog is a good weather forecaster.

It is said that if the groundhog comes out of his burrow and sees his shadow he will be scared and go back into his burrow. This means 6 more weeks of winter. If he does not see his shadow… an early spring.

Ok first of all this seems totally backwards to me… if the sun is shining bright won’t the groundhog want to stay out in the sun and enjoy the weather? If he does not see his shadow that means it is cloudy and possibly raining or snowing. But, I didn’t make up the tradition, I just share it with you!

First let’s listen to the story The Night Before Groundhog’s Day by Natasha Wing, since tonight is the night before Groundhog’s Day.

Want to learn some more? Watch SciShow kid’s video Fun Facts about Groundhogs to learn a bit more about groundhogs!

Today is a great day to make some predictions! Do you think the groundhog will see his shadow tomorrow? Why, what clues bring you to this prediction? Will the Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction be the same as your backyard?

STEAM · teaching thoughts · topic

Christmas Engineering

Today let’s do some engineering! (Engineering at this age means problem solving through design and exploration of an open ended quest) Provide your child with any of the materials listed below and then let them work. When we work on these projects at school, we typically start by letting the children explore their materials. After learning how the materials work together, then provide a challenge. Make the tallest Christmas tree. Make a gift box. Make a candy cane. Make a sleigh. Make an ornament for the tree. Whatever you want your child to create/engineer.

Pick any of these combinations:

  • jingle bells with pipe cleaners
  • jingle bells with playdough
  • gum drops (or other gummy candy) with toothpicks
  • beads and pipe cleaners or string
  • playdough and beads
  • marshmallows with toothpicks
  • toothpicks, straws, tape, string,
  • playdough and candy canes (this can be tough since candy canes aren’t as strong as you’d think)

Ok… here’s a different way to engineer

Build an ornament holder (that suspends an ornament up) using straws, tape, pipe cleaners, ornament holders

Design a new sleigh for Santa use paper, tape, glue, popsicle sticks, egg cartons, Lego blocks or whatever creative items your child wants to use

Are You Teaching Kids Responsibility? 50 Simple Challenges to Get You  Started - A Fine Parent

Remember! There is no right or wrong way to work on these STEM projects. Your roll is to ask questions. If you want to participate…. do your own version beside your child. Children often figure out how to do things by struggling through the steps of what not do it… failure is always an option, it is the first step on the way to success.

art · story · topic

Christmas Tree

When we think of Christmas, one image often comes to mind… the Christmas tree. It is believed that this tradition began in 16th century Germany. Trees were originally decorated with foods such as nuts, berries, apples and dates. Beginning in the 18th century, people began adding candles to their trees, but this was not very safe. The first Christmas lights were added to the Christmas 1895.

Let’s read some Christmas tree stories: The Littlest Christmas Tree by Janie Jasin and The Biggest Christmas Tree Ever by Steven Kroll.

I decided to share this Art for Kids Hub video How to Draw a Christmas Tree… it is a folding surprise picture. I chose it because when the picture is folded, it is a little Christmas tree, but when opened, it is the biggest one.

Let’s work together on a torn paper picture.

  • green sheet of construction paper
  • another color to use as the background
  • glue
  • markers
  1. tear the green paper into smaller pieces. encourage your child to use their pincer grasp to hold and tear the paper (fine motor work!)
  2. arrange the torn paper into the shape of a tree, if struggling draw a rough outline on the background paper
  3. After gluing all the pieces down, pick up the paper and let any that didn’t stick fall off. Glue them back on if needed
  4. use markers (or other colors of construction paper) to add ornaments and other decorations.
story · topic

Light the Lights

Many winter holidays have a light component. Christmas lights and candles, Hanukkah’s Menorah, Kwanzaa’s Kinara, Winter Solstice’s yule log, Diwali’s lanterns, St Lucia’s candle headdress, Chinese/Lunar New Year’s lanterns, and more! (Lights of Winter by Heather Conrad)

While many families only celebrate one winter holiday, others celebrate multiple. Let’s read a few books about families who celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah.

Light the Lights by Margaret Moorman and Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Momma by Selina Alko.

This is a great opportunity to complete a venn diagram, or double bubble web to compare and contrast the holidays. What makes them the same? What makes them different?

art · story · topic


Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah. Each night, for 8 nights, families gather around and celebrate by lighting the Menorah. The Menorah symbolizes the oil that lasted long ago in the temple. After the Maccabean War, the Jewish people went back into their temple they only had enough oil for one night, but it lasted for eight nights. This is why Hanukkah is celebrated for eight nights. Each night, the shamash candle (the middle one) is light and from there the other candles are lit. One for each night of Hanukkah.

Families gather together and exchange gifts and a meal. They enjoy potato lakes, sufganiyot (a type of jelly filled donut) and other fried foods (in celebration of the oil that lasted 8 nights). The game of dreidel is played to try and win nuts or gelt (gold chocolate coins). And of course, they light the lights!

Learn more with from National Geographic’s Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights Starts Tonight.

This is the Dreidel by Abby Levine

Follow along as Art for Kids Hub makes a Menorah

Now, let’s make a Menorah. You can either have your child put the whole thing together on one day, or add candles from right to left each night as they do in the celebration.

cut a paper plate in half

one half leave whole, the other half cut out a triangle section for the base (you can color or paint the plate pieces or leave them white… your choice)

on the whole half you will draw curved lines to represent the “arms” of the menorah

cut nine thin rectangles from construction paper (I chose blue, but you can do white, blue, yellow, silver….)

make flames from tissue paper or yellow construction paper

now let’s light the lights!