Holly, with its beautiful red berries, is a brilliant reminder that nature, and the God who created it, does not die off in the winter. Instead, it is ever new, ever nourishing, ever green. Admittedly, the evergreen, the oak tree, and the holly berries are all derived from pagan traditions, and yet, they inform our current traditions on the birth of Christ. Holly gives us the red and green colors of the Christmas season, and inevitably reminds me of a Christmas wreath or a candy cane. Besides, doesn’t the photo above just fill you with joy at its cheerfulness and beauty? Better yet is viewing this in person.
Seeing this tree the other day inspired me to create yet another sensory bin for G. Yes, I know, it is a bit of a stretch as a segue, but really, sensory bins seem to be one of G’s few go-to activities. I think about them way too much. Last year my husband teased me mercilessly about my obsession with sensory bins. Rightfully so, however, when one day I could not find a vacant plastic container in the entire house to transport muffins. They were all occupied with diversely-themed objects. Note: since then, I have become wiser, and only keep a couple going at a time. The rest of the bin items are stored in large ziploc bags. I especially store dry goods like rice and beans, or small toys and figures.
Here is last year’s winter bin.
Ingredients: cotton balls, rice, toy penguin figures,a wooden Eskimo figure, a plastic scoop, star and tree cookie cutters and craft jewels. We kept this bin out until mid-spring, he enjoyed it so much. I saved the cotton balls (always good for an indoor snowball fight) and the rice to re-use.
Here is this year’s winter bin.
I kept it even simpler, adding the old rice, cotton balls and tree cookie cutters. Instead of a star we used a tiny gingerbread man. G has been reading the classic tale “The Gingerbread Man.” Our favorite versions are Jan Brett’s “Gingerbread Baby” and Usborne’s “The Gingerbread Man.” The latter has the added bonus of repetitive, words for emerging readers and an introduction to the meaning of fractions. The fox SNAPS one-fourth of the gingerbread man, then one-half, and then three-fourths, etc. I smiled as he immediately began to reenact the story, quoting directly from our favorite books. Finally, I added some inexpensive candy cane ornaments we intend to eventually hang on our tree. G added the horse. Apparently, it is actually “Aslan, the good lion, and he is roaring through Narnia.” Well, that just demonstrates another reason I love these bins – they are a great way to showcase your little one’s imagination.
I probably shouldn’t tell you since it is politically incorrect, but the candy canes quickly became “candy cane guns” to my cowboy-loving guy. Anyone who knows G is not surprised. Besides, I have not yet explained to him what political correctness is.
May your family love every green holly leaf still on the tree. May you have winter cheer. May you take the time to pause and enjoy your little one’s imagination at this time of the year.