December 9th 2013

We don’t have to spend money to fill December with happy family memories. The cozy winter nights do not require sugary sweets and rampant consumerism to make them special. This month the members of CRF-DAC share our favorite free activities that are healthy, cause no cavities, and create holiday fun for everyone in the family. At the top of our list is TALK. Filling your home with conversation relieves stress, builds young vocabularies, and connects us to each other. Listening and sharing thoughts and stories is a time honored tradition in every culture. Singing and dancing the old stories has been the center of celebrations for thousands of years. In our busy modern lives we give each other a great gift when we take some time to do the old fashioned things together.

Here’s a calendar of events to make each day this month merry and bright.

Count Down to 2014

Dec. 12 Write and hide directions for a scavenger hunt.

To create a hunt for small children, try one of these sites for some very good ideas:

Dec. 13 Sort holiday decorations by size, color, shape and talk about them

Dec. 14 Sing counting songs: Twelve days of Christmas, Ants Go Marching

Dec. 15 Measure ingredients in a recipe

Dec. 16 Form and trace shapes and letters out of play dough

Play Dough Recipe

2 cups flour                2 cups water

1 cup salt                2 Tbsp. oil

4 tsp. cream of tartar         food coloring

Mix dry ingredients together in a large pan. Mix water, oil and food coloring together. Pour water into pan and stir until lumps are dissolved. Put pan on stove and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until a big lump forms. Drop dough onto wax paper and let cool. Store play dough in airtight containers.

Dec. 17 Read a book together, one chapter each night

Dec. 18 Assemble the pieces of a puzzle

Dec. 19 Tell family stories and talk about photos from your childhood

Dec. 20 Draw pictures and make a book for someone

Dec. 21 Watch TV together and talk about the show

Dec. 22 Share your favorite poems

Dec. 23 Make-up a story taking turns to add adventures

Dec. 24 Play I Spy: spell out clues one letter at a time. For different versions of play go to

Dec. 25 Play Who am I? (samples below) Start with vague clues and get more specific

“I’m all white.

I’m made of very big round shapes.

I look like a person, but I’m not alive.

If I came into the house I’d melt.

Sometimes my nose is a carrot.


“I’m very sweet.

I’m smooth and hard but I break easily.

I look like a line with one curved end.

I have red and white stripes.

(candy cane)”


Dec. 26 Try tongue twisters (samples below)

“How many deer would a reindeer reign if a reindeer could reign deer?”

“Running reindeer romp ’round red wreaths.”

“Eleven elves licked eleven little licorice lollipops.”

Dec. 27 Look for letters and numbers on road signs

Dec. 28 Play Charades

Dec. 29 Play card games

Dec. 30 Recall and retell events from each month of the year

Dec. 31 Plan good times on the new calendar

Secret Santas abound in our community. This month we are grateful for a couple of new ones:

JoAnn Jonas arranged for General Mills to donate 1,000 books from their Cheerios reading campaign. The books are being distributed by local social service organizations.

Donald Wilson of the Sunrise Optimist Club fixes bikes to give to children in families that cannot buy new ones.  The club has partnered with Children’s Reading Foundation of Dona Ana County to help fulfill wishes for six children at Jardin de los Ninos.

Are you looking for a thoughtful gift for a special child? Does your favorite yardman or babysitter have small children? You can give the gift of a year of books for under $30. Dolly Parton Imagination Library serves children in Dona Ana County ages birth to 5 years old. Your child will receive one age- appropriate book each month for twelve months. Don’t have a child of your own? At the Children’s Reading Foundation, we have a waiting list of families with children who would benefit greatly by having books in their homes. Consider being a Secret Santa for one of these children and put twelve books in the hands of a child who has none. Sign up at CRF-DAC through our website or by contacting me at