Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Picture Books: Counting Down to Christmas

These Christmas tales use counting as a platform to tell about holiday traditions.  While they are useful for teaching or reinforcing counting skills, these books are entertaining and enduring in their own right.  Each book illustrates tradition, holiday spirit, and family memories. 


 Counting Christmas (ages 3-6) by Karen Katz  
Three children count down to Christmas Day.  In preparation, they wrap the tree with lights, put out the presents, make cookies for Santa, hang their stockings, and race upstairs.  Once the parents lovingly put them to bed, the children dream of Christmas goodies and gifts.   On Christmas morning they joyfully play with their toys and family.   Teaching Opportunities:  Counting, Numerals, Number Words, Ryhme, Alliteration, Traditions


Christmas for 10 (ages 3-8) by Cathryn Falwell  
A simple counting format frames the festivities of a loving family preparing for Christmas.  The family decorates their tree, plays music, listens to stories, wraps presents, bakes cookies, and strings popcorn.  In addition, they pack baskets for the needy and cheerfully welcome guests.  Christmas for 10 illustrates children, parents, and grandparents making holiday memories together.  Teaching Opportunities:  Counting (backward & forward), Numerals, Family, Traditions


The 12 Days of Christmas (ages 3-8) by Linnea Asplind Riley 
This cumulative picture book illustrates the popular Christmas song by the same name.  It is the story of a young man who gives his true love many unusual gifts, such as two turtle doves, three French hens, four colly birds, and five golden rings.  The vibrant paper cut-out illustrations are appealing.  Teaching Opportunities:  Counting, Numerals, Ordinal Numbers, Vocabulary Building, Music


Ten Little Christmas Presents (ages 4-8) by Jean Marzollo 

Ten presents are sitting in the snow, labeled with an animal's name.  Each two-page spread illustrates an animal with his Christmas present and the number of presents left along with rhyming text.  For instance, "Ten little Christmas presents, in the snow so fine...Mouse gets earmuffs!  Now there are nine."  The pattern continues as each new present is opened.  After all the presents have been revealed, they ask, "Who's our Secret Santa?"  Then, Santa Bear slides down the hill and wishes everyone a merry Christmas.  Teaching Opportunities:  Counting, Numerals, Forest Animals, Vocabulary, Rhyme, Generosity

Under the Star (ages 4-10) by Jane Yolen 
Each two page spread repeats the words, "Under the star, Under the star" on the left. Then, in ascending order (1-10) a countdown of people and animals who would have seen the Star of David on the night Jesus was born are called out.  The final picture is of all the people and animals gathered around Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in the manger.  Teaching Opportunities:  Counting, Number Words, Numerals, Christmas, Bible Story


Snowbear’s Christmas Countdown (ages 5-10) by Theresa Smythe  
On the first day of December, Snowbear starts to prepare for Christmas.  Each day he fulfills one of his holiday traditions.  Snowbear writes out his Christmas cards, makes ornaments, picks out a tree, goes shopping, and wraps his presents.  In addition, he enjoys the winter weather by sledding and ice skating.  On Christmas Eve, Snowbear bakes cookies for Santa and his reindeer.  Readers will enjoy this countdown to Christmas (1-25).  Teaching Opportunities:  Counting, Ordinal Numbers, Weather, Traditions, Bears


Counting to Christmas (ages 4-8) by Nancy Tafuri  
Similar to Snowbear’s Christmas Countdown, a young girl counts down day by day.  Every couple of days she participates in a different activity, such as sending cards, making a gingerbread house, baking cookies, wrapping presents, and stringing popcorn.  Part of her holiday tradition is to prepare a Christmas treat for the animals outside.  Teaching Opportunities:  Counting, Traditions, Numerals  

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