Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Six-inch candles, one for each child
- Modeling clay, a fist-sized amount for each child
- Evergreen boughs, cut in 3- to 5-inch lengths, and gardening shears
- Tiny pine cones, a handful for each child
- Gold or silver decorations
- Trays, one for every 3 children
- Paper plates, and a marker
- Paper towels, moistened
- A trash bag with liner, recycle bins, and (optional) a compost bag
- Optional: Plastic storage bags for taking elements home
Preparation for Activity
- Obtain materials. A floral shop or a large arts and crafts store will have boughs, tiny pine cones, and gold and silver decorations, such as floral picks, gold or silver doilies you can tear or cut into smaller pieces, or metallic-colored pipe cleaners. Purchase enough decorations so that each child will be able to choose a variety. Cut the boughs into smaller pieces.
- Place the gold and silver decorations and the tiny pine cones in trays. Plan how you will set the trays on activity tables so that three children can share each tray. Then, set the trays aside.
- Keep the candles and trays out of sight and introduce each one after enough time for experimental play with each element.
Description of Activity
Children will first manipulate the clay, then the candle, then the evergreens to create a candle centerpiece.
Invite the children to the activity table. Give each child a ball of clay. Invite them to play with the clay. Then, give each child a candle. Ask:
Can you make the candle stand up in your ball of clay?
Let them experiment with the clay and the candle. For preschool children, the process and feel of the clay, the candle and the evergreens is as important as the finished product.
Finally, bring out the trays and gold pieces, and invite them to create a centerpiece for their table at home. Help children press decorations into the clay. When done, place each centerpiece on a paper plate and label with the child's name. Place them in a spot for picking up later. Encourage the children to help clean up.
Including All Participants
The finished product is not as important as the time a child spends manipulating the clay, candle, and greens. Invite children who do not complete a centerpiece to take home the individual pieces in a plastic bag; encourage them to complete the centerpiece, with help, at home.