The Colors of Christmas

Identifying and naming colors are important skills for children to learn.  Most children know basic colors (red, blue, orange, yellow, green, purple, etc) by the time they are 3 years old.  During the holidays, there are a lot of sights and colors everywhere. This can be a great time to work on helping your child identify and name colors.  Here’s a simple craft to work on this important skill.

Materials needed and to be used with adult supervision:

1 large green triangle made from construction paper, cardstock, poster board or foam
1 medium green triangle made from the same materials as the larger one
1 small green triangle made from the same materials
About 8 different colored pom-pom balls* OR circles cut from different construction paper
1 yellow star cut from construction paper

*Pom-poms are very enticing to young children.  Please supervise your child carefully so they do not place them in their mouth. 

Step 1:  Glue the green triangles together and glue on the star.


christmas tree

Step 2:

  • To work on identifying colors:  Present two different colored pom-poms or circles in front of your child.  Ask your child, “show me blue.”  If they reach for the correct color, praise them and then let them glue the pom-pom or circle on the tree.  If they don’t get the correct color, present the two colors again, but move the targeted one closer to your child.  Continue this step until all the colored pom-poms are on the tree.


  • To work on naming colors: Place the colored pom-poms in a bag so you can’t see them.  Have your child reach into the bag and pull out a pom-pom.  When they do, say – “oh look – it’s _____” and wait for them to respond with the correct color name.  If they do – praise them and let them glue it on the tree.  If they don’t, ask them, “what color is it?”  If they still need help, say the color name and try it again.


christmas tree colors

Step 3:  Have fun!


Now It’s Your Turn:  How do you like to work on identifying and naming colors?




How to Make a /k/ Sound Candy Cane

The /k/ sound can be a tough sound to make.  Many children will produce a /t/ instead of a /k/.  For example, they say “tar” instead of “car,” or “tat” instead of “cat.”  This sound is typically mastered by children around 3 1/2 years of age.  If your child is working on the /k/ sound, here’s a fun and crafty speech therapy idea.

Parents – just remember that a word that is spelled with a “c” does not always make a “kuh” sound.  For example, in the word “cent,” the “c” sounds like a /s/.

Materials needed: 

Paper or cardboard cut-out of a candy cane shape
Red marker or crayon
Pictures of objects and animals that start with the /k/ sound
Glue or glue stick


Step 1: Have your child color the candy cane by drawing stripes with the red marker.


Step 2:  Go through the pictures and have your child say each targeted word.

Step 3:  Give your child a choice between the two pictures.  For example, ask if they want the “cat” or the “car” and emphasize the /k/ sound when you say these words.  Encourage them to ask for the desired picture by saying the targeted word.  If they reach for the picture, but don’t say it – tell them, “you say ___” and encourage them to say the word correctly.  After they make a choice, give the picture to them.

Step 4:  Have your child glue the picture on their candy cane.

Step 5:  Repeat until all the pictures are glued on.

candy cane
Step 6:  Have fun!


Now It’s Your Turn:  Do you have a special craft activity that works on the /k/ sound? 

Cooking Up Some Holiday Fun!

Bradly Cookie
When families get together, adults and children most often end up in the kitchen.  Children love to get involved and help “cook.”  This time of year, making holiday cookies is a perfect way to spend an afternoon in the kitchen with your little helper.   Here is a simple sugar cookie recipe for kids of all ages.

1 cup softened butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups of flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat oven to 400°

1.  In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla extract until blended.

2.  Add flour and baking powder, mix well.

3.  You can make traditional sugar cookies by scooping out teaspoons of dough, roll them into balls and flatten with a fork.  Or, you can roll out the dough to use cookie cutters. Then, sprinkle with colored sugar or sprinkles for added fun!

4.  Bake 7 – 8 minutes until just starting to brown around the edges.  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Have fun and happy holidays!

Now It’s Your Turn:  What does your child like to help you “cook” in the kitchen?

Meeting Santa

Santa and Boy
Santa Claus is a special guy, but meeting Santa can be overwhelming for some children. Before you visit Santa, tell your children the history of Santa to prepare them ahead of time.

Saint Nicholas was born a long time ago.  He traveled around the country giving gifts and helping the poor and the sick.  Santa Claus has many names around the world.  Some call him St. Nicholas, Kris Kringle or Father Christmas.

In the United States, Santa Claus is known as a chubby man with a white beard and red suit.  This description of Santa is based on a story called “Twas the Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore.   When Mr. Moore met Santa that night, he learned a few things:

  • Santa Claus understands that many children may be scared to sit on his lap and tell them what they want for Christmas.  That’s okay.  You do not have to sit on Santa’s lap.  You can give him a handshake or a high five – he’d like that.
  • If you don’t want to meet Santa by yourself, a parent, sibling or friend can go with you.
  • If you don’t want to talk to Santa – that’s okay.  You can write a list or draw some pictures to give to Santa.
  • You can ask your parents to call (951) 262-3062 and you can leave a message on Santa’s answering machine.
  • Santa likes to give gifts because it makes people happy and he feels good afterwards.  The holidays are a time for giving and it’s important that we share and give to others – just like Santa Claus.

Meeting Santa for the first time is a special day.  By preparing your child ahead of time, you can avoid some of the uneasiness and fear your child may experience.  If your child becomes upset while visiting the Santa at the mall, find him at another location without so many other people around.   The most important thing is to have a positive experience so you and your child can enjoy this wonderful holiday tradition.


The History of Santa Claus

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas


Just Like You – Down Syndrome: An Interview with Rachel and Savanna


Photo courtesy of the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City


A collaboration between Just Like You films and the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City has resulted in a fantastic video,  Just Like You – Down Syndrome This video features Elyssa, Rachel and Sam – three kids with Down syndrome and their best friends, Bretlyn, Savanna and Bobby.   They talk about Down syndrome, what it’s like to have Down syndrome and how others can support those with Down syndrome and be their friend.

I have known Jawanda and Rachel Mast for almost 10 years.  Jawanda was on the Board, and then the executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Memphis and the Mid-South (DSAM) when they lived in Memphis.  Rachel attended public school and studied piano with my husband at The McMahon Piano Studio.  In 2008, the Mast family moved to Kansas and became involved with the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City.

On Saturday, December 1, I had the privilege to interview two of the stars of the video – Rachel and her best friend Savanna.  Rachel has Down syndrome.  Over Skype, we talked about the film and their friendship.  Rachel’s mother, Jawanda Mast, was also present and contributed to the interview.

How did you girls meet?

Rachel: We met at school in fifth grade.
Savanna:  We were in the same elementary school class and have known each other for about 3 years.

You girls have been friends for a while, what kind of things do you like to do together?

Rachel: We do games, movies and sleepovers.
Jawanda:  Savanna also likes Rachel’s iPad©.
Rachel: We play Water.
Savanna:  Water and Cut the Rope.

What kind of movies do you like to watch?

Rachel:  We like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and um, we watch movies at my house.
Savanna:  Didn’t we go see Arthur’s Christmas?
Rachel:  No.
Savanna:  Yeah, we did. We did go see Arthur’s Christmas.  It was good.

Savanna, what makes Rachel a good friend?

Savanna: She’s very nice, very compassionate.  I mean, she doesn’t care what you are or what you dress like.  She’s very considerate.

Rachel, what makes Savanna a good friend?

Rachel:  She’s fun. She’s kind.  She likes to hang out with me.

Tell me about the video, Just Like You – Down Syndrome.  How would you describe it?

Savanna: Very informational.  It has a lot of information about how to deal with Down syndrome and how to be friends with somebody with Down syndrome.
Rachel:  I think that it’s awesome and good.  I love it and would love to do it again. And, I want everyone to see it.

How did you like being a part of the movie premiere?

Savanna: It was fun.  We got to ride in a limo.

What else happened at the premiere?

Savanna:  We got to walk the red carpet and watch the film.

Were there a lot of people?

Savanna:  Like 400 people at an AMC theater.

Jawanda:  At the end of the premiere, they brought the 6 kids on stage for a Question and Answer. They were open ended questions with no practice.  Tell Liz your favorite questions.

Rachel:  Um, if we have boyfriends and girlfriends.
Jawanda:  What was your answer?
Rachel:  Um, no.
Jawanda:  And then she said that her mom says she’s not old enough to have a boyfriend yet.

Savanna:  I think my favorite was when they asked about the heart problems.  They thought that they did, but they didn’t.
Jawanda:  In the video, they talk about how some babies with Down syndrome have a heart problem. So, someone in the audience asked the kids if they had heart surgery.  So, Rachel went first and said yes and then started to describe her heart surgery. Then, her daddy and I said, “no – Rachel, you did not have heart surgery.”   Then, they ask Sam and he begins to talk about having heart surgery.  Then, his parents say, “no – you did not have heart surgery.”   Then, they give the microphone to Elyssa and she says, “mom, dad – did I have heart surgery?”    It was funny.

What do you want other kids to know about Down syndrome?

Savanna:  It’s not contagious.
Rachel:  Down syndrome is not scary and I love my life.

What do you want the world to know about Down syndrome?

Savanna: Individuals with Down syndrome may look and act different, but people with Down syndrome are just like you.
Rachel: Kids with Down syndrome like to have fun and do the same things as everyone else. We are good friends.

Just Like You – Down Syndrome is a wonderful video for adults and children to watch.  It shares great information about Down syndrome, but it mainly focuses on the individuals.  Down syndrome does not define anyone.  As Rachel says in the video, “it’s just one part of my beautiful self.”

One of the best things about the video is that it shows some great friendships.  Friends are people who accept us and like us for who we are.  Friends love you and make you feel special without expecting anything in return.  After watching Rachel and Savanna interact with each other and learning more about them, it’s easy to see that they have a lot of fun together and are good friends. That’s perhaps the greatest lesson and gift from this video – friendship is important and everyone needs and can be a good friend.

Special thanks to Rachel, Savanna and Jawanda, Just Like You films and the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City.