During the holidays young children think about gifts for themselves, but it's also a great time to introduce giving to others. Gifts do not need to be expensive to be appreciated. Children love to surprise family members and do things to make them happy. It's a lot of fun to help them make their own wrapping paper and teach how to wrap gifts. For more ideas see the authors' book "Learning Through the Seasons" available at local stores and www.grandparentsteachtoo.org.
Large white paper or newspaper, poster paints, markers, cookie cutters, sponges, or potatoes, scissors, and tape
ANDEREGG, MACALADY FOX, HETRICK, KATERS
What to do
Gifts may be handmade or purchased very inexpensively and decorated. Children love to make painted or colored pictures, decorated frames with a photograph of them, or pencil holders made from frozen juice containers. Cover the juice containers with white paper and add designs with markers or crayons.
To make wrapping paper, collect cookie cutters, old small sponges, and potatoes. Adults can cut the sponges in holiday shapes. Potatoes can be cut in half. Then create a stamp on the bottom by cutting away everything on the bottom but the shape you want to appear on the paper. The shape should be about inch thick.
Lay large pieces of newsprint on a flat surface. Put several colors of poster paint your children choose in small flat dishes. Children pick a cookie cutter, sponge, or potato, dip it, and press down on the paper in several places to make prints of the shape. Repeat with other shapes and colors. Even newspaper will start to look festive. When the paper is covered with colorful prints let it dry for a half hour. This is a great time to teach that cleaning up is always part of any playtime. Clean up the mess with your children's help. Give each child a specific job rather than saying," Let's clean up." Talk or sing songs to make cleaning festive.
When the wrapping paper is dry, show your child how to cut the paper to the right size. Practicing cutting with a child's scissor is great for small muscles. Young children are very interested in using a little bit tape and also helping to make the triangle when you fold the wrapping paper at each end. After wrapping one gift together, help your children try it mostly alone. It doesn't matter if it's not perfect. It's the process that is important.
What else can I do?
When shopping for family members it's a great idea to buy something for a charity at the same time. Children love to bring gifts to the Salvation Army or Cheer Club. Giving helps them understand that they can make a difference in the life of another child.
Editor's note: This column is penned by retired Marquette Area Public Schools teachers Iris Katers, Jean Hetrick, and Cheryl Anderegg. Esther Macalady is from Golden, Colo. Tim Fox currently teaches at Superior Hills Elementary. It's supported by Northern Michigan University Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship, the School of Education, U.P. Children's Museum, U.P. Association for the Education of Young Children, and U.P. Parent Awareness of MIchigan. Their book "Learning Through the Seasons" is available at area stores and www.grandparentsteachtoo.org. Their mission is to provide fun standards based activities that adults can do in the home to prepare children for school and a lifetime of learning and reduce the stress of child care.