The Mitten by Jan Brett – activities

Last year I bought this classic story The Mitten by Jan Brett but I realised in the spring that this winter book had sunk into oblivion. However, this year, when winter is really harsh with quite a lot of snowing, I managed to prepare some activities on the basis of the story.

At the very beginning, we were looking at flashcards of winter and summer clothes and put them into 2 groups: what we wear and don’t wear in cold winter.


Before reading the story with the girls I prepared an extra-large mitten out of felt. As time was an issue I cut out 2 mitten-shaped pieces of  felt and used a hot glue gun to stick them together. (There’s a snow-white mitten in the story but unfortunately I didn’t have white felt at home so I used a light beige and a gray piece.)


I downloaded and shrank the animals’ pictures from Jan Brett’s site. I made two-sided stick animals out of them so the kids can put the animals in the felt mitten one by one as the story goes along. (Lucky there are 8 animals in the story and we could share the animals equally.)

After the story, they matched and compare mittens that I’d found around the house.

They told me which ones are too small or too big for them.

Too big, Mommy

Then came the mitten craft. Out of white and light blue construction paper I cut out mitten shapes and provided the girls with all kinds of decorative elements: hearts, cotton balls, buttons, glittery star and flower shaped stickers etc.


They decorated their mittens as they wished. E. decorated her 2-3 mittens heavily and accurately. Little L. used the stickers mostly as she found the glue too sticky.



I also made two mitten-related, age-appropriate activities for them:

E. had the rhyming mittens. Each mitten has a picture on them and they rhyme like cat-hat or pig-wig. She matched them in no time.

L. got a Which mitten is different? activity. As she wasn’t interested at all E. did this one too. She placed a button on the mitten that was the odd one out of the four.

Mommy, this one was the most difficult. It’s not for a 2-year-old. 🙂 It’s for me.

We spent 2 and a half hours together reading, playing with the mittens, matching and comparing mittens, decorating mittens. I’m not saying that my 2-year old’s attention didn’t flag but apart from the odd-one out activity, with a little help she could keep pace with my 5-and-a-half year old big girl. Whenever she couldn’t focus anymore I gave her something new to redirect her with success. (The story time and the mitten matching were really fascinating for her, but the mitten decorating was too long, so when she wanted to finish it half way I gave her new stickers or she could try using the glue stick or could squeeze out some glue on her paper mitten.)

All the way through we were discussing  winter topics, like clothing, what animals do/eat in the winter, what patterns our mittens have , what colour the decoration on their mittens is or I was describing what we were doing.


I love you because…

Valentine’s day is here and I was lost for what activity to do with E. so I decided to do nothing. This is not totally true, but we didn’t really talk that much of this holiday this year. Instead she read about it. Read about how much I love her.

Every day starting on the 1st of February I put out a new heart on her door saying why I love her so much. It went up to Valetine’s day. At first I thought she wasn’t that much interested (she often forgot to read her daily heart) but then around the 8th February she told me she couldn’t find a new heart on her door.

I made 3-4 hearts at a time and I tried to reinforce the nice and loveable things she had been doing.


Here are some ideas what you can write on your hearts to your kids or to your partner as they work really well in lunch boxes or as secret messages in your hubby’s pocket.

You’re creative.

You’re kind.

You’re the best big sister.

You’re my sunshine.

You are a fantastic friend.

You have a great sense of humour.

You’re one in a million

You’re beautiful.

You’re so creative.

You mean the world to me.

You express your feelings.

Your imagination is wonderful.

You’re a great problem-solver.

You’re helpful.

You’re a great reader.

You speak English very well.

You never give up.

You’re always by my side.

You hug like noone else.

Your kisses are the sweetest.

There are 20 on the list but it is advisable to use the ones that apply to the days of February in case of a child as they can connect to it more easily, what’s more, it can serve as a basis of discussion. In the last couple of days E. asked me why I put on some of the hearts and I gave her examples how caring she was with her little sister or how she helped around the house, how amazingly she communicated with N, our native nanny, or how she shared with me what made her angry or sad that day.

This display of love can work any time of the year, at a birthday or around Christmas but Valentine’s day can serve as a reason if need one at all.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


2018 January – books of the month

E.’s list is a little shorter as we’ve started to read chapter books. What’s more, we read them like 3-4 times as she couldn’t get enough of them. A real bookworm. Little L.’s list is longer as she enjoyed the many books she got for Christmas and hadn’t had time to read them due to the busy holiday seasons.

I read for E. before the afternoon nap time when she’s home and before bedtime. L. doesn’t hear these stories as she is too young for these books. But E. is present when I read the books for L.

Colour codes: E.’s favourite, L.’s favourite, Both loved it

E., 5 y 8 m old

Gulliver’s Travels (Usborne)


The story covers only Gulliver’s travel to Lilliput. The story is divided into chapters. It is large print and the language is quite easy so E. could read it for herself. We read it twice and I suppose instead of getting dressed in the morning before leaving for the kindergarten she read it once more.

Jack Frost by Kazuno Kohara


A classic winter story about a little boy who hates winter as he misses company. But then he meets Jack Frost and they have lots of fun. There is one rule only, he shouldn’t mention anything warm or Jack will disappear. Can he manage?

Stick Man by Julia Donaldson


Another winter story. Unfortunately E. didn’t enjoy as much as I did. What a pity as it is a really funny book about Stick man who gets involved some dangerous adventures when a dog wants to play with him or when a boy uses him as an arm for his snowman.

The Wizard of Oz (Usborne)


Another chapter book for E. The same applies here as in case of Gulliver’s travel. A classic story in an easily readable form. I needed to read it 4 times and E. read it another 2. I think her interest escalated when I told her the story of one of my carnivals when my whole class got dressed as the characters in the Wizard of Oz.

Quarks by Ruth Spiro


As we live together with a scientist, I had to buy this book at full price. But it was worth it. It is a baby book but not so much. In a very simple way and with wonderful illustrations atom and molecule structures

The Giraffe, the Pelly, and Me by Roald Dahl (the absolute favourite of the moths!)


An absolutely fantastic and a typical Roald Dahl book. The story is about 3 window cleaners who get the best job in the world. While starting to the job they catch a burglar. We read it 3 times and I was about to make some activities to elaborate some outstanding vocabulary of the book, but alas I had no time. I might try to do it at another time.

L., 2 y 1 m old

Tough Trucks by Tony Mitten


As Little L. is into vehicles this book is the absolute favourite for her. But E. liked it. I can’t recall how many time we read it but approximately 50-60 time minimum. The book presents big vehicles like trucks, articulated trucks, refuse trucks, tow-away trucks and so on. The description is rhyming and the CD that goes with it is really handy. I was especially delighted as the book uses British English vocabulary. After a while L. could finish the end of each line (the rhyming pairs mainly). E. knows the whole book by heart.

The Snow Storm


I love Usborne book, and this farmyard series is so close to my heart. Not for my kids. E. was not interested in it after the first read. Little L. wanted to see only the lamb in the bush (that was born under the hedge). Nice illustration and a fun snowy book though.

You can do it, Sam


L.’s other favourite after Tough Trucks. The story is about a little bear who prepares cakes early in the morning with his mum and deliver them to their friends as a surprise. The little bear needs to be very brave as he hast to take the cakes from the truck to the doorsteps in the big snow. Mama Bear say “of course” several time during the story. Every time L. added “second course”  because for her these 2 phrases sound so similar. 🙂

Maisy goes shopping by Lucy Cousins


Maisy is still in. Read it a million time. As much as they don’t like Peppa Pig, they adore Maisy. l. compared herself and E. to Charley and Maisy. Charley who’s got a bike in the story was E. and she, herself was Maisy. She rides a tricycle.

10 chuckling ducklings by Sally Crabtree


A typical count-backwards board book with plastic 3-D ducks on each page. There is also a button to push to hear the quack-ing. For me it was too much for the kids… well, they were fighting for the button to push or to finger the ducks.

Getting dressed (Mark and Spencer)


A board book teaching kids the order of getting dressed. You can touch different items of clothing. The story is in rhymes. Both kids like the sensory books so a lot of argument was involved around this book too.

A birthday for boots


L.’s been interested in counting lately hence the second count-backwards book. This was E.’s first favourite Dora book. She liked the stories I told her about the time when we’d read it together. L. learnt some of the Spanish numbers from this book. And of course, the shout at the same time: Swiper, no swiping!

This is my puppy (Usborne)


Touchy-feely puppy board book that examines every important dog parts: ears, paws, tail, nose adding a touchy-feely experience and the joy of making the doggie woof-woof with the button.

Fox’s Socks by Julia Donaldson


Little L. enjoyed this board book as well. Julia Donaldson’s rhymes are so easy to learn that she could say the rhyming pairs after a few reads. Lifting the flaps adds to the fun. No wonder the fox finds his clothes in strange places. E.: – Mommy, this fox is very untidy.


Bird feeders

Last December E. made some bird feeders at her one-day winter camp. She loved the idea of feeding the birds when they have real difficulty in getting any food during winter so much we needed to make some more.

The first bird feeder idea came from our Helen Doron school.



What you need:

  • pine cones (you can buy them but easier to collect your own)
  • peanut butter (of any kind)
  • seeds (you can buy canary food in a pet shop, but we mixed our own: corn, sunflower seeds, millets, smashed walnut, sultanas, dried cranberries)
  • knife
  • thread
  • bowl

How to make it:

  1. Mix the seeds, dried fruit, nuts in a bowl


  2. Spread the peanut butter with the knife between the scales of the cone


  3. Roll the cone into the seed bowl


  4. Tie a string or thread so you can hang it up on bushes or trees
  5. Go to your garden, balcony or, as we did it, into a park nearby and hang out your bird feeders

We went back to check on the bird feeder and seeing the seeds and the peanut butter disappear gave E. tremendous joy.

We made the pinecones with our native nanny, N, in English. We spread them around E.’s kindergarten area with I.-Grandma in Hungarian. When we went back to check them we were in English again. So we covered a lot of vocabulary in both languages. (bird feeder, seeds, corn, hang out, hide, quiet-busy, visible, don’t migrate, robin, blackbird, finch etc.)



What you need:

The same as above except for the pine cone and the thread. After pressing some orange/tangerine juice for the girls I kept the rind. Quite a lot of seed mixture remained from the previous bird feeder project so we used it.

How to make it:

  1. Take the pressed out tangerine (or orange) rind and line it with peanut butter.
  2. Sprinkle the seed mixture in it
  3. Place it on and under bushes or just in your patio or on your balcony.

  4. Return to check how fast the seeds are eaten up.

In the second case again we made the little feeders in English and the next day we went out into the snow to play (we were in Hungarian) and put out the tangerine bird feeders.

It’s a lovely winter project even with little kids and you can save the tiny song birds that do not migrate in the long, cold winter. Through this topic you can build your children empathy and teach them how to take care of nature and its creatures.


New Year’s Eve 2017

We do NOT really celebrate New Year’s Eve in our family. The reasons are numerous, but for the kids I wanted to make it a special day.

For Christmas both of them got a magnetic wand with some colourful discs. I printed a 2018 do-a-dot sheet, one for each girl. They helped me separate the discs according to colours.


They started to put the disc on the numbers.


Well, Little L. was not very interested in this activity… within 1 minute she started to throw the discs away. Therefore I decided to give her the dotmarkers and she painted for max. 2-3 minutes.


As for E., she placed the discs very accurately on the circles. She chose to use different colours for each number.


When she finished, she collected her discs with the magnetic wand and coloured her 2018 with dot markers.

During the evening we played a lot together with the toys they got for Christmas and for L.’s second birthday.


Lucky, we have Baby Sis’ birthday at the end of December. We had plenty of balloons to play with. Even in the bath. (Not for long though as E. freaked out about the fact that the balloons might pop)

Instead of the balloons we had sparklers during their bath-time, which also made the day a little different from the others.
(No pictures, sorry)

We had a fun evening that finished at about half past 10.