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Christmas Memories Through Children’s Literature: Holiday Crafts Retell the Story

Published by Sueann Heavrin

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Reading aloud to children is one way to encourage interest in books. Reading aloud can also be a springboard to creative activities that bring book pages to life. Converting ideas from a book to a craft enhances meanings and memories. The craft becomes a vehicle for retelling the story.

The four craft activities below help children reconstruct stories by creating personal products to enjoy at holiday time.

Holly and Ivy Wreath

In The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden (Viking Press, 1957) the wishes of a lonely little girl and an overlooked toyshop doll bring them together at Christmas. Make the lives of Ivy, an orphan, and Holly, a doll, intertwine in a holly and ivy evergreen wreath.

Materials: grapevine wreath base, sprigs of holly and ivy, florist tape and wire, ribbon


  1. Wrap ivy around the grapevine base tucking ends into crevices.
  2. Tuck holly sprigs with berries into the vine.
  3. Tie a bow at the top and a hanger to the back.

Wildlife Tree

Families include wildlife in their holiday celebrations in Night Tree by Eve Bunting (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991) and The After-Christmas Tree by Linda Wagner Tyler (Viking, 1990). A family tradition in Night Tree is to decorate a forest evergreen with edible ornaments for wildlife on Christmas Eve. In The After-Christmas Tree a family extends holiday spirit by hosting an after Christmas party where guests help recycle the Christmas tree with treats for birds and wildlife. Share your holidays with wildlife.

Materials: thread, needles, popcorn, cranberries, cheese cubes, raisins, grapes, quartered apples and oranges, pinecones, peanut butter, sunflower seed, assorted nuts, shelled corn


  1. String popcorn and fruit chains using thread and needles.
  2. Tie apple and orange quarters onto branches.
  3. Spread pine cones with peanut butter and roll in sunflower seed before hanging from branches.
  4. Scatter shelled corn and nuts on the ground.

Mousekin Ornaments

A white-footed mouse leaves a vacated house to find a new home in Mousekin’s Christmas Eve by Edna Miller (Prentice-Hall, 1965.) Mousekin selects a warm home with music and laughter and contentedly curls up to sleep with animals in the crèche. Make an assortment of Mousekin ornaments.

Materials: walnut shells, cotton balls, colorful fabric, felt, yarn, needles, thread, fabric glue, glue gun, scissors


  1. Each half walnut shell is the body for one mouse. Fill shell cavity with cotton balls.
  2. Tuck fabric swatch into shell around cotton balls.
  3. Glue felt ears and nose to the front of the shells and a yarn tail to the back.
  4. Draw eyes with marker.
  5. Glue a loop of string to the shell for the hanger.

Country Pasta Angel

Three small angels light up the sky on Christmas Eve in Country Angel Christmas by Tomie DePaola (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995). Light up the eyes of family and friends with miniature pasta angels.

Materials: bow tie pasta, elbow macaroni, ridged rigatoni, angel hair pasta, small ½” wooden ball for head, felt-tip marker, hot glue, ribbon, star spangle, spray paint in white, silver or gold


  1. Glue the elbow macaroni onto the rigatoni body for arms.
  2. Glue the bow tie pasta on the back of the rigatoni for wings.
  3. Attach the wooden head to the top of the rigatoni.
  4. Dab glue to the top of the head and press into angel hair pasta.
  5. After the glue dries, spray paint the choir of angels.
  6. Draw facial features with pen. Glue the star to the angel’s arms.
  7. Glue a loop of ribbon to the head for hanging the angel.

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