One of my favorite Christmas memories is of a night spent making gingerbread ornaments and stringing popcorn and cranberries with my grandparents. Surely the reason I treasure this memory is because of the time with family, because, even as an adult, threading popcorn without breaking it proves challenging. Keeping the berries from dripping onto the popcorn, and thus ruining it, is just as difficult.
And yet, popcorn and cranberries remain iconic at Christmastime. Why not give your little ones a chance to make their own string of garland, and help them practice their fine motor skills at the same time?
Here’s what you need:
berry-colored wool blend felt
popcorn-colored wool blend felt
3/8-inch wide ribbon
freezer paper (optional, but helpful)
iron (if using freezer paper)
needle and thread
Cut out a bunch of popcorn and cranberry pieces. The templates are a guide, but these don’t need to be precise. An easy way to cut the pieces is to trace the pattern onto the matte side of the freezer paper and iron it to the felt, shiny side down.
Cut through the paper and felt at the same time, then peel away the paper.
Fold each felt piece in half and cut two slits in the felt on the fold. Be careful not to cut through the entire piece!
Cut a piece of ribbon. For younger children, try about 2 feet of ribbon. For older children, 3-4 feet is a good length. Sew a button to each end of the ribbon. You may even want to make several ribbons.
Now, demonstrate how to slide the button through one slit, and then through the other. Younger children may have an easier time going through only one slit, but the second slit allows the shape of the popcorn and cranberries to show more.
Soon you’ll see strings of garland appearing!
This activity is perfect for teaching buttoning skills, and for practicing patterning. Challenge your child to follow a pattern you make, or encourage them to create their own!
When they are finished, help them remove the felt pieces (unbuttoning practice!) so the activity is ready for another day.