I was back at the Geffrye Museum on Saturday leading the Christmas Nursery Rhyme Time sessions. The Museum is a perfect setting for festive fun as it currently tells the story of how London families have prepared for everything from Twelfth Night and New Year, to the winter solstice and Christmas over the last four centuries. The BBC has put up a slide show that gives a flavour of the Museum at this time of year: Celebrating the best of Christmas past.
In my sessions I adapted a children's story by Gillian Shields and retold it using props, actions, songs and craft. The children, aged between two and six, joined in enthusiastically and I was impressed with how their grown ups participated too.
In the story we helped Sam and his mother get ready for Christmas while they waited for his father to return from the forest with a surprise; he'd promised to get home before the snow.
Sam and his mother did their Christmas baking; making cakes, pies and biscuits flavoured with cinnamon and nutmeg (we passed round spice samples for everyone to smell). They brought out their boxes of decorations and guessed what was within the packaging before revealing the contents (we used feely bags with vintage decorations from the handling collection for this).
All the while Sam kept wondering how long it would be before his father came home - and where was the snow? Sam's mother distracted him by showing him how to make a rainbow snowflake decoration using glittery pipe cleaners and pony beads (everyone used their twisting and threading skills here). The rainbow snowflake gave Sam an idea...
Maybe the snow had lost its way! He decided to make a glittery snowflake that would shine out of his bedroom window to guide his dad and the snow home in time for Christmas. He used a sheet of white paper, scissors to cut, fingers to fold and rip, and glue to cover it with sparkly glitter. Then he attached a little wooden stick to the back so he could prop it against his window pane. The children watched avidly as I showed them how Sam did all this.
The story ended with Sam's father returning from the forest with a Christmas tree, as it began to snow once more. Sam's snowflake landed magically at the top of the tree, where it shone and glittered like a star.
Everyone made a rainbow snowflake (candy canes, wreaths and even a spacecraft were created too), and then whole families sat on the floor together surrounded by paper, glitter and glue, making their own snowflakes on sticks; all unique - just like the real thing. It was magical.