We love adding new handmade ornaments onto our tree. It is a delight to work on them with my toddler, then hear him come to the tree several times a day and exclaim, “Tree! Ball! Mitt!” Mitt is the one we just finished, based on one of our favourite stories – The Mitten by Jan Brett.
Growing up in Russia, I was familiar with the story The Mitten since I was a child. As a matter of fact, I still have my own book here, published in 1990 and telling a story of an old hunter, who lost his mitten in the snow. As it often happens with folk tales, there are a few variations of the plot. So I was not going to bother with an English version of the story until I saw the illustrations. I am in love with the detailed and ornamental style of Jan Brett’s illustrations, and if I ever see her books in thrift stores, I pick them up without reading. Some stories are better than others, but the illustrations are always gorgeous.
But back to The Mitten! When I read Jan Brett’s version, I liked it more than the one I was familiar with. It turned out to be more descriptive, and I thought that it would be easier for children to sympathize with a little boy who lost his mitten than with an old hunter. A hedgehog finds the mitten and crawls in, then a hare, and many other animals. Even a bear squeezes in! How do they all fit into the mitten and what is going to happen in the end? You can find out from the book.
I also liked that the book used a Russian/Ukrainian word “baba” for “grandma”. This is how Budster calls his Russian grandma, so it is special to him.
We read this book a lot last winter, and took it out again now. It was time to make some mittens!
– cardstock paper (any colour you want your mitten to be)
– packaging tape
– a variety of buttons (I like buying packs of scrapbook buttons at Dollar stores and on-line)
– (optional) glitter
– (optional) our template
1. Cut out a mitten shape. You can use our template and print it on a piece of cardstock, then cut it; you can also trace it onto your piece of cardstock; or you can freehand your own mitten. Then cut out the inside of the mitten, leaving approximately 1/4″ outline and a cuff. The cuff is necessary for attaching some trim and making a hole later.
2. Apply strips of packaging tape to the back of the mitten so that the sticky surface is exposed in the cutouts.
3. Collect buttons and beads in a bowl.
4. Attach them randomly to the sticky surface.
5. Using the glitter is optional, but we used it to cover the spots where there were no buttons.
6. Cut a white rectangle and glue it onto the cuff. Let it dry.
7. Use a hole punch to make a hole, then thread a ribbon through it.
I did all the cutting, and Budster did the sticking. He enjoyed arranging buttons on the sticky surface. It was one of many button collages we made this year, and I thought that he worked particularly carefully on this one, filling all the space with buttons and beads. But the most exciting thing was seeing the finished ornament on the tree! Illuminated by Christmas lights, glitter and beads sparkled and shone, and Budster was proud to show everyone, “Mittens! Mitts!”
Then, later he brought over Daddy’s old glove and tried to put it on a Christmas tree as well. “Mitt? Tree?” That’s right: if we run out of ideas for Christmas ornaments, we will decorate the tree with mittens and gloves!
If you liked this article, you may also be interested in:
– Magical Christmas Lanterns: turn Mason jars into Christmas illumination
– Christmas Tree Clay Ornaments: inspired by the book A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree, Budster made some monstrous and cute trees to hang on our big Christmas tree
– Christmas Cards: using buttons, make cards together with children
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