5 Christmas Dinner and a Movie Ideas for Families

As you know our family is big on Christmas movies.  We love to count down the days until Christmas, watching one movie each night until the big day arrives.  At first this was a couple's affair.  My husband and I would wait until the kids went to sleep, and cuddle on the couch sharing a candy cane while watching our movie by Christmas lights.

That was until our kids started getting older and wanted to join us.  Then it became a family affair.  The problem was they wanted a special treat for each and every movie night and well...  As much as I love Christmas cookies and other desserts, I don't enjoy putting on an extra ten pounds during the holiday season.  So we struck a compromise.

The five Fridays between Thanksgiving and Christmas we have our Christmas Dinner and a Movie Nights.  We select Christmas movies that are appropriate for everyone in the family and prepare a special dinner to go along with each movie.  Our kids absolutely love this new tradition.  The adults love it too!

Each dinner and a movie are meant to compliment each other.  Our kids love how each one corresponds to the movie that we're watching.  Sometimes take-out is part of the plan.  Other times we make everything homemade. It depends on our schedules and ambitions on each particular night.

Here are our 5 Christmas dinner and a movie ideas for families!

5 Christmas Dinner and a Movie Ideas for Families
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5 Christmas Dinner and a Movie Ideas for Families


The Santa Clause Dinner and a Movie

1. The Santa Clause with Left Overs from Thanksgiving Dinner or food from Denny's

Whether you're eating a turkey dinner or settling for Denny's, the movie sets the scene perfectly.  Turkey dinners are definitely the main meal here.  And if you're in a generous mood you can always add the perfect cup of hot cocoa for dessert.

Home Alone Dinner and a Movie

2. Home Alone with Pizza

Everyone enjoys a cheese pizza just for them.  It won't matter if you make homemade pizzas at home or order take out, so long as there's enough for everyone.  If you'd like to add a dessert an ice cream sundae bar is the perfect choice.

Elf Dinner and a Movie

3. Elf with Spaghetti

You may want to pass on the maple syrup but spaghetti is a perfect dinner to serve while watching this holiday comedy.  For those who want dessert too, anything with sugar will do, but of course Elf themed cookies are always fun.

The Christmas Story Dinner and a Movie

4. The Christmas Story with Chinese Food

Chinese may seem like the last meal one would eat during the Christmas season, but when watching this movie, it's the only option, that is unless you like boiled cabbage or meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  Add a glass of Ovaltine and you're all set!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas Dinner and a Movie

5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas with "Roast Beast"

I'll always remember how this movie inspired Bulldozer to want a real Christmas feast when he was old enough to know what one was.  In our house "roast beast" is a ham dinner, but in your home it may be a pot roast, turkey, or chicken.  Whichever it is, the meal goes along perfectly with this movie night and definitely brings in the spirit of the holiday.

Now I've mentioned in our home we use these for Friday night movie nights, but they can be done any time during the holiday season.  If you're looking for a low key family night during the holiday season, nothing is as simple as the ideas listed above.  Everyone needs to eat dinner.

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Christmas Tree Activities for Tots & Preschoolers with Free Printables

Our family is not one to celebrate Santa at Christmas time.  Instead we focus on things that are real during the holiday season.  Sunshine loves Christmas trees.  It only seemed natural to put together these Christmas Tree Activities for Tots and Preschoolers with free printables.  She had so much fun with them!
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Here's what she's been working on!

Christmas Tree Activities for Tots & Preschoolers


Christmas Tree Number Match Up
Christmas Tree Number Match up
Sunshine thoroughly enjoys counting down the days until Christmas using her Melissa and Doug Countdown to Christmas Wooden Advent Calendar, but she's constantly wanting to play with it.  This activity was created to encourage just that.

Sunshine is working on her numbers, learning their names and how to identify them.  In this activity she pulls a card from the pile and identifies the number. Once she has done this she grabs an ornament and places it on the matching number on the tree.  She continues this until all of the numbers are covered by ornaments.

Source: I created this free printable for this activity as part of my Christmas Tree Unit Printable Pack 1. This is a subscriber's only freebie. For your copy, click on the "Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter" link at the bottom of this post.

Christmas Tree Addition
Christmas Tree Addition with Clip Cards
Sunshine enjoys addition.  She finds it challenging and very entertaining. In this activity she is adding felt Christmas tree table scatter that I found at our local dollar store.  Once she has solved the equation she uses the red glass beads to mark the answer on the clip cards.

Source: I created this free printable for this activity as part of my Christmas Tree Unit Printable Pack 1. This is a subscriber's only freebie. For your copy, click on the "Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter" link at the bottom of this post.

Christmas Tree Tong Activity
Christmas Tree Tong Transfer Activity
Sunshine is working hard to improve her hand-eye coordination.  This tonging activity has been very beneficial.  She picks up one of the foam balls with the tongs and transfers it into one of the Christmas tree ice cube slots.

Christmas Botany Match Up
Christmas Botany Match Up
I saved my favorite activity for last.  It's not secret that Sunshine loves botany.  Why not create a Christmas themed botany activity just for her?  This match up activity includes pictures of the Christmas plants from far away, and then pictures of the plants up close.  Sunshine loves to match them and comment on all of their names.

Source: I created this free printable for this activity as part of my Christmas Tree Unit Printable Pack 1. This is a subscriber's only freebie. For your copy, click on the "Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter" link at the bottom of this post.

There are so many fabulous ways to use Christmas trees in learning activities during the holiday season. They are versatile and are common to both spiritual and secular celebrations.  Best of all they are living things and encourage so many sensory experiences.

For those interested in the free printables mentioned above, be sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter.  You will receive a thank you message.   This includes a link to our Subscriber's Only Freebies page along with the password that will grant you access to the page.

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Chapter Book Recommendations for 3rd Graders (Bulldozer's Reading List)

At the beginning of each new school year we give our kiddos reading lists that have been hand-picked by my husband and I to encourage a love of reading and aid in the learning process.  We take into consideration each kiddos' interests and abilities to ensure success.

Bulldozer's reading list this year is one of my favorites.  We included books from series we have read aloud that he can continue on his own.  Bulldozer loves comedy and so you'll find a few funny choices here.  He also loves adventure, especially if it includes a natural disaster.

If you have 3rd graders with similar interests, these chapter book recommendations are for you.
Chapter Book Recommendations for 3rd Graders
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The books are in no particular order.  Bulldozer will be required to read twelve out of twenty books by the end of the school year. If he finishes twelve and would like to read more he is always welcome.  He will also complete a book report about each book.

To ensure the kiddos are provided time to read we have "rest and reading time" every afternoon after lunch. The kiddos all go to their rooms for an hour.  They can choose to take a nap or read silently.  Sunshine almost always takes a nap but the other kids love to read.

Here is Bulldozer's reading list for this year!


Chapter Book Recommendations for 3rd Graders


1. The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

2. Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House Series) by Mary Pope Osborn

3. Fudge-a-Mania by Judy Blume

4. Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary

5. Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater

6. The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois

7. Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl

8. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia) by C. S. Lewis

9. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

10. The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick

11. Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

12. George Washington’s Socks by Elvira Woodruff

13. I Survived the Eruption of Mount St. Helens by Lauren Tarshish

14. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba

15. The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure by Doreen Cronin

16. A Storm Too Soon by Michael J. Tougais

17. In the Heart of the Sea: The True Story of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick

18. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

19. The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop

20. The Secret of the Indian by Lynne Reid Banks

I absolutely love watching the kiddos become completely absorbed in their reading lists.  They are constantly begging for more and reading every chance they get!

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FREE Christmas in Europe Printable Pack

It is so much fun to study how others celebrate Christmas around the world. Last year we focused on how people of Europe celebrated the holidays.  I'm so excited to finally share all that we did as well as our FREE Christmas in Europe Printable Pack.

During our Christmas in Europe Unit we studied the history of how Christmas came to be what it is today.  The kiddos learned about various Christmas figures and their origins.  A new found love and understanding of holiday plants was formed.  And oh did we love learning about all of the celebrations and holiday treats of Europe!

FREE Christmas in Europe Printable Pack for Kids
 This post contains affiliate links.

Our unit was inspired by the book, Rick Steve's European Christmas.  If you're planning to study Christmas celebrations in Europe, this is the perfect resource.  We read it aloud as a family, and loved the emphasis the book placed on several different European countries.
Book about European Christmas Traditions
As we read the book the kiddos had questions.  These questions developed into activities with amazing printables!  Sadly, the pictures I took of this unit study are no where to be found.  Instead I only have descriptions.  My sincere apologies.  Here's what you'll find in the printable pack:

European Christmas Figures Match Up

The kiddos thoroughly enjoyed learning about all of the Santa-like figures celebrated in various parts of Europe.  It was amazing to watch their views and worlds expand beyond Santa Claus as we know him in the United States.

The cards for this activity are matching cards.  One card has an image of the figure. The other card explains who the figure is, where he/she is celebrated, etc.  Bulldozer and Princess used these cards to play memory for weeks. They loved discussing the figures and countries.

Source:  Jason and I created the printable for this activity as part of our Christmas in Europe Printable Pack.  This is a subscriber's only freebie. To obtain your free copy, click on the subscriber's link at the bottom of this post.


Christmas Botany Match Up

So what are holly, ivy and so many other plants that we hear and sing about during the holiday season?  How did they become related to the Christmas?  This activity explains it all.  With beautiful images and corresponding description cards, your kiddo will become a Christmas botany expert!

My kiddos loved learning about the origin and history of these plants.  After using the cards several times they would point out any plant that they saw whether fake or real as we were out and about.  They would also point out when plants were mentioned in Christmas songs.  It was such a neat learning experience.

Source:  Jason and I created the printable for this activity as part of our Christmas in Europe Printable Pack.  This is a subscriber's only freebie. To obtain your free copy, click on the subscriber's link at the bottom of this post.

Famous Christmas Desserts Throughout Europe

If I want to teach my kiddos about foreign countries, the best way I've found to do so is through the introduction of foods, especially desserts.  It definitely helped that the book mentioned above spoke a lot about yummy traditions across Europe.

For this activity the kiddos matched up pictures of desserts with their corresponding country flags.  It made such a difference for them to see what each dessert looked like.  Each one definitely had their preferences.  Lol.

Source:  Jason and I created the printable for this activity as part of our Christmas in Europe Printable Pack.  This is a subscriber's only freebie. To obtain your free copy, click on the subscriber's link at the bottom of this post.

Studying the traditions of Europe during the holiday season was so much fun. The kiddos particularly enjoyed our own mini celebrations of St. Nicolas Day and Santa Lucia Day.  They developed a better understanding of the 12 Days of Christmas and loved adopting some of the traditions we learned about.

To me the most beautiful aspect of the unit was that they stepped out of life in the United States and developed such a love and appreciation for other cultures! 

For those who are interested in the free printable pack, click on the link below.  Subscribe to our newsletter and you will receive the password for our Subscriber's Only Freebie Page.

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The Montessori Math Bead Bar Printable Pack Bundle in Action

At the beginning of the school year I created the Montessori Math Bead Bar Printable Pack Bundle.  It was designed to help Sunshine learn her numbers as this is something she struggles with.

Each day she'd select work from our shelves and become frustrated because it was too hard.  She had such a hard time remembering, and always needed someone working with her.

Then there were times when she was really trying to focus on her work, but every little movement and sound around her was a distraction.  She'd lose her focus and then become frustrated because she couldn't pick up where she left off, let alone remember what she was doing in the first place.

Besides the inability to remember number concepts from day to day and her distractibility, Sunshine has extreme delays in fine motor skills.  She suffers from a vision impairment in one eye that also affects her depth perception. Sunshine needed some extra resources!

I can not express in words the positive changes we've seen in Sunshine and her ability to complete number work with Montessori materials since introducing parts of this bundle.  It is amazing!  I just had to share the Montessori Math Bead Bar Printable Pack Bundle in action with you!

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The Montessori Colored Bead Stair

The Montessori Colored Bead Stair is very challenging for Sunshine.  Her frustration tolerance is so low.  When she sincerely tries to do the work and fails, she's devastated.

To help her be successful we've added the tray so her beads stay in order if she accidentally bumps them, which has been known to happen on several occasions.

We've also added a colored control copy of My Number Book from the Montessori Math Bead Bar Printable Pack Bundle.  When Sunshine selects this work from the shelf, she uses the book, page by page to help her put the Montessori Colored Bead Bars in order.


If she becomes distracted, she has her book open to the right page to help her know where she left off.  The book also helps her remember the bead colors and corresponding numbers. There are also days when counting each individual bead on the bar is extremely difficult.  This book provides the information she needs during those times.

It's the goal to help her progress to doing the work without these extra supports, but it may be years before she's ready to do that. In the meantime we are working extremely hard to follow her desire to learn more about numbers.

The Teens Board

It took Sunshine years to be able to master work related to numbers 1-10. On her best days she can complete the work with minimal assistance, BUT Sunshine wanted to learn bigger numbers this year.  In essence she was done counting to ten and made that perfectly clear.  So, I introduced the Teens Board.

Knowing the Teens Board would be a challenge, especially when working with the corresponding bead bars, I created an extra control for her work, My Teen Numbers Book.  Just like the book for numbers 0-10, this book is for numbers 11-19.  The control version of the book has all beads colored in with corresponding numbers.


Sunshine LOVES this book and her Teen Board.  The smile on her face when completing the work melts my heart.

The added resource helps her work independently.  If she gets distracted, if she forgets what number comes next, or if she just cannot count those darn beads, let alone create bigger numbers with them, she can get back on track and still feel successful.

The Tens Board

Just last month, Sunshine asked if she could work with the Tens Board.  Knowing she'd need extra resources to be successful, I pulled the tens cards from My Montessori Number Book 0-100 as an introduction to the work.  Just as she had used the teens book as a control for the teens board, she used this book for the tens board.


We started with one board and then progressed to two.  She's still trying to learn the names of the numbers, but the book provides her with the visual cues she needs.


The Hundred Board

Sunshine isn't anywhere near ready to start working with the Montessori Hundred Board, but when she is the extra support and resource she needs is ready to go.  (She actually already uses it as a book to practice identifying numbers she's working on with other materials.)

My Montessori Number Book 0-100 includes all numbers 0-100.  As she's working on completing the Hundred Board she can have this book open, advancing through the pages, with visual reminders of what numbers come next.  If she becomes distracted or frustrated she has her book there to help her refocus and remain calm.

Writing Out Numbers

Sunshine loves to write, even though her skills are extremely limited.  Knowing I didn't want to squash her enthusiasm, but instead encourage it, I made sure that all numbers were written out in each book.

A coloring/traceable copy of each book is provided in the Montessori Math Bead Bar Printable Pack Bundle for Sunshine to practice her writing and coloring skills.  Whether she uses actual beads or a control book, she's able to enjoy the process.



When my older kids expressed excitement for the books, I created a third version of the books in the bundle.  In this version, a single line is provided instead of the written out number, so they can practice spelling number words.


The Montessori Math Bead Bar Printable Pack Bundle has been such an incredible resource in our classroom.  I honestly don't know what we did without it.  It provides such independence for Sunshine as she completes number work using the Montessori Materials. When learning time isn't in session, she can be found carrying around one of the books flipping through the pages practicing her numbers.

This post has highlighted just a few of the resources in the Montessori Math Bead Bar Printable Pack Bundle.  For information about other parts of the bundle, be sure to visit my post, Montessori-inspired Math Activities Using Bead Bars.

The Montessori Math Bead Bar Printable Pack Bundle comes in print and in cursive. We use both sets in our classroom.  Click on the link below to obtain your own copy today!

For a limited time only, you can receive the Montessori Math Bead Bar Printable Pack Bundle at a fabulous discount!

20% OFF all products at Every Star Is Different fro a limited time!


Both the Montessori Math Bead Bar Printable Pack Bundle in Print and in Cursive are included in the Montessori-inspired Printables Sampler.  If you'd like both, this is definitely quite a steal!

Montessori-inspired Printables Sampler

Montessori-inspired Printables Sampler


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