Every year in December we celebrate Special Days. The idea came from some December preschool ideas book, and I’m firmly committed to the idea. It gives me a wonderful way to teach the children about winter, and to introduce some of the holidays that are celebrated in December in a low-key way. It also gives me a way to channel the excitement that builds in December into some age-appropriate activities. But mostly I do these special days because they bring joyfulness and magic to the classroom.
First up: Marvelous Mittens Day. The children come in that morning to find a giant mitten traced on the floor of the meeting area with masking tape. This in itself is very exciting and mysterious. At centers time we make mitten ornaments (see above) and we made mittens that I ordered from Oriental Trading that Miss Slinger placed in their memory books. By the time Miss Slinger and I were done with getting 20 children through two mitten-making centers, we were utterly exhausted.
Then came story time. We had done some preparation by reading Jan Brett’s The Mitten the day before.
For those of you unfamiliar with the story, it’s an old folktale about a boy who loses a mitten in the snow, where it is found by a series of animals who crawl in to get warm. The mitten gets stretched to ridiculous proportions (I enjoy asking my class, “can a bear really fit into a mitten?”) and then finally the bear sneezes, everyone flies out, and when the mitten is in the air, the boy finds it again.
I discovered Jan Brett’s website a long time ago, and made masks of each of the animals in the mitten. Instead of using the pictures as masks, however, I turned them into necklaces of sorts, and we just hang them around the children’s necks. We act out the story for the first time on Mittens Day, with me reading/paraphrasing the book and acting as MC/narrator.
At the end the actors lined up and bowed, everyone else clapped, and the kids said, “Can we do it again?”
It was time to go home, but I promised we could, and we have. Every single day since then.