Have you ever read this darling book by Eve Bunting? My class just LOVED it, and so did I! I thought it was a great addition to our theme of caring for others at Christmas time. (And, by the way, I think the GRINCH was a great way to start this theme, if I do say so myself! We've been able to talk about how he changed to care for others at Christmas. If the Grinch can do it, we can show care for others, too. Even the animals!)
In this book, a family finds the same Christmas tree in the forest every year, and decorates it with food for animals: popcorn wreaths, apples, oranges, and some ornaments made out of millet, honey, and nuts. The family celebrates outside, then go home, where the little boy imagines all of the animals that might be eating from the tree. It was a charming story, and I'm so glad I read it!
We followed up the story with my favorite kind of craft - the ones that take 15 minutes or less! I got this idea from another blog somewhere, but I can't find it now to give the owner of the idea credit. Anyhow, I wanted to make an ornament that students could put outside to feed animals. We have all made the fun pine cones with peanut butter and birdseed, but now with all of the nut allergies in school, that is not a good idea.
So, we made cheerio ornaments (which my husband assured me are perfectly safe for birds and squirrels to eat), out of cheerios strung on pipe cleaner. It can't get much easier than that! Since they were for animals, we didn't even add any ribbon. The kids shaped the ornaments in whatever shape they liked, added cheerios, twisted, and voila!
I told the kids to find a tree somewhere to hang the ornaments. Some kids came in on Friday all excited..."Some animals have already eaten some of my cheerios!" So sweet.