Beaded Candy Canes

blog-titles-2Christmas is coming faster than seems possible and our Christmas art is in full-swing. With all the hustle and bustle that comes with the holidays, I wanted to keep our art projects as simple as possible.  This adorable candy cane craft uses only beads and pipe cleaners.  It’s easy, fast, requires little preparation and almost no clean up (unless baby dumps the entire plate of beads onto the floor when you aren’t looking.)

For this project you will need:

  • Red and white tri beads (I got my giant tub of beads 50% off at Hobby Lobby)
  • Red and/or white pipe cleaners (chenille stems)
  • Paper plate (optional–not pictured)
  • Sharp scissors (optional–not pictured)

I decided to cut my pipe cleaners in half to make mini candy canes, since I wasn’t sure how long my little elves would be engaged in stringing the beads onto the pipe cleaners.  The small size was perfect for B and G (4.5 years old) but E (5 years old) happily beaded two candy canes and probably would have kept going if her mom hadn’t arrived to pick her up.  I did this craft with two groups of kids and found that the half-size candy canes were best for the 3-4 year olds and the full size ones were great for 5 years old and up.  All of my photos show the smaller candy canes but both sizes are made exactly the same way and both look adorable hanging on the tree!

p1030601Before the kids got started, I folded down one end of the pipe cleaner and pushed a bead as far as it would go to that end.  This created a stopper so that the beads didn’t fall off the end as the kids were pushing their other beads into place.  I tried gluing the bead into place with liquid glue but that only made a sticky mess.  Folding down the tip of the pipe cleaner seemed to work well; none of the beads have come off our candy canes so far and it keeps the end from being so pointy.  I also bent the pipe cleaners into candy cane shapes.  They don’t hold their shape well during beading, but it gives the kids an idea of what their finished craft will look like.

I set out a plate of beads and a pile of ready-to-bead pipe cleaners and the kids got busy.  blog-designs-750-x-225We talked a bit about different patterns they might choose to use for their candy canes but I didn’t push them to use a pattern if they weren’t interested in doing so.  I knew they would be getting some great fine motor skills practice with this activity no matter how they ordered their beads.  Next year I might make some simple pattern cards and encourage them to follow a pattern as they bead their candy canes.

The kids stayed very focused threading their beads onto the pipe cleaners.  I modeled a 3 red, 3 white pattern on my candy cane but the kids were disinterested in my patterning.  B wanted to follow a red-white-red-white pattern for his candy cane and the girls were more creative in their designs.  Theirs might not look like traditional candy canes but I loved seeing the different ways they approached this simple craft.  When the kids finished, I folded over the bottom tips of their candy canes just like the tops to hold the beads on and protect little fingers from the sharp point.  We reshaped the pipe cleaner into a candy cane shape and the kids eagerly placed their candy canes on the tree.  Don’t they look great?

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6 Awesome Christmas Books for Babies


I love finding great books.  When I started looking for Christmas board books, I expected the biggest problem would be narrowing down my choices to my favorites.  Surprisingly, despite the extensive selection of books I found, there were few that met with my criteria–colorful pictures to appeal to babies, a short, simple story to keep baby’s attention, and something I wouldn’t mind reading over and over and over again.  I also wanted books that were readily available which eliminated some good ones that are hard to find.  After looking at dozens of books, I found these six board books that I can wholeheartedly recommend as great Christmas books for babies.  (Notice:  This post contains affiliate links.  By clicking on the links you help support this blog at no cost to yourself.  And you make me happy.)

Christmas in the Manger is written by Nola Buck and illustrated by Felicia Bond who you may recognize as the illustrator for the “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” series.  In this adorable book, various characters, including a donkey, an ox, wise men, and Mary each give a statement about their role in the Christmas story.  Told in simple rhyming text, the story stays short and sweet and ends with a reminder that Jesus is the reason for our celebration.

Where is Baby’s Christmas Present? by Karen Katz follows the usual pattern of her well-loved lift-the-flap books.  In this one, Baby finds candy canes, ornaments, Christmas cookies and more as he searches under and behind things for his present.  Toddlers will love opening the flaps to find the surprises underneath!

Fa La La written by Leslie Patricelli follows an excited baby through a variety of Christmas activities which include decorating (more than the tree), visiting Santa (smile for the camera), making presents (homemade ones are the best), and finally opening LOTS of presents!  Parents will appreciate the gentle humor found in the illustrations.  Whether you’re already a Patricelli fan or not, this is one book worth checking out.

Little Llama Llama returns in Llama Llama Jingle Bells by Anna Dewdney.  Short, rhythmic text and colorful illustrations introduce babies to the sights and sounds of the holiday as little llama prepares for Christmas.  I particularly enjoy the natural flow of the text and the details in the illustrations–there’s even a Salvation Army llama ringing a bell!

thats-not-my-snowmanThat’s Not My Snowman
 is one in a series of Usborne touch-and-feel-books. Following the same storyline as the other “That’s not my. . . ” books, a little mouse looks for his snowman.  He finds several that aren’t his for various reasons (“its hat is too soft”) before delightedly finding his own.  This is a sturdy book that will hold up well to being handled (and chewed on).  I am excited to see that this book is currently available on Amazon!

Oh what fun it is to read Jingle Bells, illustrated by Janet Samuel.  In this book, the well-loved story of a sleigh ride through the snow is told both in the words of the traditional carol and through fun, colorful pictures sure to engage even the youngest readers.  Or should I say singers, since it will probably be impossible not to burst into song when you open this book.

For now, these are my absolute favorite Christmas books for babies.  I would still love to meet my original goal to have ten books on this list, so I’ll add more books as I find them. Some it’s just a matter of tracking down a copy at the library or the bookstore so I can check them out personally, but if I wait until I do that this list may still be in progress next Christmas!  In the meantime, these six books are a wonderful place to start whether you are building baby’s book collection or choosing library books to read together during the Christmas season.

What is your favorite Christmas book for baby?