I loved celebrating a special Rudolph Day during December. A lot of children in my school were already familiar with the song, and often the TV special. I liked to start singing the song – but then stop to talk about the vocabulary and what was really happening in the story that is told in the song. It was a great opportunity to ask the children questions – “What color nose do most reindeer have?” “What do you think it would be like to have a shiny nose like that?” “What else do you know that glows?” “Why did other children laugh at him and call him names?”
Of course I wouldn’t ask all those questions at once – but they can lead to great discussions. I also read a simple book that told the story. I think that Rudolph is a great story to introduce – or reinforce – the idea of making connections. It was really common for children in my class to raise their hand and tell me they were making a connection to something we were talking about. At the beginning of the year most of their connections were pretty vague – if we were reading a dog story they might raise their hand to tell me about their dog, etc. As the year went on we talked about text to text connections – when one book reminded us of another we had read, and text to self connections – when something similar to the storyline had happened to ourselves.
The story of Rudolph gives lots of opportunities for children to make personal connections. Some children might relate to how he felt when other children made fun of him, or wouldn’t let him play their games. Some children might think that there is some way that they are different from other children, like Rudolph with his red nose. Other kids might relate to the idea of getting to do a very special job, like Rudolph when he got to lead Santa’s sleigh.
After a lot of discussion I asked the children to draw and write about a connection they made to the story of Rudolph. Please click for a copy of our writing paper.
The first year I tried this with my class, I really asked them to do too much! (I had a problem with this sometimes!) Here is a copy of the writing paper we used – it really might work fine if you spread it out and only wrote about one connection at a time.
We also made reindeer headbands to wear that day. I cut two strips of red construction paper about 2 1/2 inches by 12 inches and stapled them together for each child. Then each child traced one of their hands on brown or tan paper – I usually used 6 x 12 folded in half so they would get 2 sets of “antlers.” Then we stapled or glued to hand prints to the bands, and stapled them to fit around the children’s heads. I used red paint on their nose for anyone who wanted to be Rudolph. I made one for my grandson Owen too!
(Grandparents love showing off their grandchildren!)
I took a class picture of all the children wearing the reindeer headbands. I usually had some kids stand, some on knees and some on the floor. Later we used copies of that picture on our Christmas or Holiday card for parents. To go along with that I asked each child the question “What is Christmas?” and typed out their responses. It was very cute and personal.
We made several other reindeer projects – The children traced a large candy cane and painted on the red stripes. When it was dry they cut it out, added brown handprint antlers like the ones on their headbands, one jiggly eye and a big red pompom for the nose. This made a profile of a reindeer – I usually put those up in the hallway with a title “Mrs. Senk’s Little Deers.”
For a parent gift I made a reindeer wall hanging. I tore unbleached muslin about 12 X 18 inches, leaving the slightly raveled edges. I traced each child’s foot and cut it out of brown felt. I glued the felt footprint onto the muslin. Then I painted the children’s hands green and made handprint antlers. We added eyes and another pompom nose. I made a simple casing for a dowel and tied on a string for a hanger. I made one of these with my grandson Owen too – here is a photo of that one!
Owen was about 14 months old when I made this – one handprint came out fine, then he grabbed onto the fabric with the other hand! Kindergartners are usually more cooperative!
Occasionally I did the footprint project on paper instead of fabric. I glued the footprint on white paper and made the handprints. Then I bubble cut it out and mounted that on red paper. It was cute too!
I loved including a “cooking” project too – we made Rudolph sandwiches. The children put peanut butter (if we had no allergies) on a slice of bread. Then they cut it into a triangle, by turning the flat side of the slice of bread to the top, and starting to cut at each corner – basically cutting off the bottom two corners. We used small pretzel sticks for antlers, sticking them into the two top corners of the triangle. We used raisins or M & Ms for eyes and a maraschino cherry on the point at the bottom for the nose. Very cute and fun! I usually offered cream cheese as an alternative for the peanut butter – we called it brown reindeer fur or white reindeer fur.
Happy Rudolph Day!!