Papa Piccolo – Christmas in Italy


Papa%20Piccolo""Papa Piccolo was the first FIAR book of the Christmas season, so we quickly incorporated this into a Christmas in Italy theme!


We chose to memorize Psalm 68:4-5 for this book.  I created a Bible verse printable pack to go along with this wonderful picture book.

You can purchase it here at our TPT store.

papa2There’s also a FREEbie tracer in the Preview.

Jordan worked on the Bible tracer as well as the Bible puzzle throughout this row.

Social Studies & History:


We recently studied Italy for How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World (Dragonfly Books)""How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World and Clown of God, so I thought it would be fun to start our Christmas Around the World studies with Italy!  The kids were SUPER excited!

I presented Papa Piccoli with Little Red’s Christmas Holiday’s Around the World 2, hot cocoa, and a biscotti, because breakfast in Italy is usually something sweet!


The kids really enjoyed working on their Christmas in Italy printables!  We added them to our lapbooks right away!

img_7951We also watched several Christmas in Italy clips from our Papa Piccolo Christmas playlist.

Jordan added our story disk to the map and created a beautiful Papa Piccolo title page in his lapbook.  He LOVED this book and his title page showed it!

I even created a Venice Box with a canal, gondola (lego canoe), Safari Ltd. Domestic Cats Toob Figurines, Pack of 11""Cat Toob, and a few other craft supplies.

The kids took turns setting up a “scene in Venice” throughout this unit.

Marco Polo:

We watched a couple of educational videos from our Papa Piccolo Christmas playlist.

Adoption & Fatherhood:

We briefly talked about adoption and how some families have a Mommy and a Daddy and some have only one parent.

We read our Little Cub""Little Cub board book which was a PERFECT story about adoption AND fatherhood.  Parker and I read I’m a Papa, Too on our Epic app.  Both stories were great examples of a loving, fatherly influence.

Occupations on the Water:

We talked about the occupations mentioned in the book and what the equivalent would be where we live.


I put together a quick vehicle matching activity for the boys to do.  I wrote down the water occupation, gathered our equivalent toy vehicle, and an article to represent each.

Parker worked on matching the description with our equivalent toy vehicle and the article that goes with it (tee shirt to the laundry truck, man to the taxi cab, crumpled paper to the garbage truck, etc.).

Language Arts:

Most of our language arts activities are part of the Sonlight Core A and Core C programs, but we try to include some thematic activities to weave into our FIAR studies.  Since we rowed Papa Piccolo during December, you’ll see PLENTY of Christmas activities!

Drama – Cat Charades:

I quickly wrote down some of the cat action words from Papa Piccolo, folded them, and placed them in a basket.

The kids welcomed an active break and played a quick game of charades.

Fable – The Fox and the Sour Grapes:

After reading Papa Piccolo several times, I read The Fox and the Sour Grapes from Fox%20Tails: Four Fables from Aesop""Fox Tails Four Fables from Aesop on our Epic app.


I asked Jordan if that story reminded him of anything.  He immediately thought of Papa Piccolo’s comment, “I don’t like pastries anyway”.  SO proud of him making that connection without my help.

ABC Order:

I had made some Christmas vocabulary cards with some blank Christmas  that I used to write several Christmas words.


I created a CVC Christmas Gifts printable for Parker to practice beginning, middle, and ending letter sounds.

You can purchase them at our TPT store.

I set out the first card with the matching letters, but he informed me that HE wanted to find the letters himself.

For the next one, I gave him the card and he picked out the letters and put them in order.

I created red and green word boxes for Jordan to work on practicing his spelling words….just a little color can make the mundane festive!

Christmas Rhymes:

I printed out the FREEbie Rhyming Christmas tree from Lavinia Pop’s Christmas Literacy Pack.

I cut construction paper circle “ornaments” and wrote words from two different word families (-ake and -at).  I instructed him to put just the rhyming “ornaments” on the tree.

Christmas CRAFTivity:

We learned about fish in Parker’s Sonlight Core A Science program.  So I jumped on the opportunity for a Sonlight/FIAR CRAFTivity.  We were creating Christmas fish that would escape the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a Christmas tradition in Italy.

Christmas Fish:

This week we learned that fish have rings on their scales for each year of life.

The boys drew circles, for each year of life, on every green and red scale.

I cut out cardboard fish shapes and gave one to each boy.  They layered the fish scales like roof shingles, just like we learned in our Sonlight science lesson.

We glued on googly eyes and the boys used metallic Sharpies to embellish the fish.

They turned out so cute.

Christmas Creative Writing:

I informed the boys that their Christmas fish were captured for the traditional Feast of Seven Fishes.  They needed to write a story about how THEIR Christmas fish escaped.

They put on their creative thinking caps and came up with their own holiday version of the fish that got away!

Hot Cocoa Contractions:

I created a set of Hot Cocoa contractions since Jordan was working on contractions in his Sonlight Core C program.

You can purchase this printable in our TPT store.

I set out the Hot Cocoa Contraction Cards on a tray and Jordan matched every one.


Christmas CVC Rhymes:

I created a set of Christmas Rhyming Cards for Parker to work on during December.

Christmas Rhymes

You can purchase them at our TPT store.  There’s a FREEbie sample in the Preview!

Parker sorted the cards by CVC rhyming families (-en, -ob, -ub, etc.).

Then we played another game of roll-a-rhyme with our educational cubes!


We continued working through our Horizon Math lessons and adding things along the way.


Cranberry Panettone:

This was our carry over activity from Cranberry Thanksgiving.  I chose to make an Italian Cranberry Panettone.

Jordan and I gathered our ingredients and set them out.  Jordan worked on measuring each ingredient.

He added them to our bread maker in the order suggested.

We waited for the ingredients to mix and the machine to sound to add in our cranberries.

I checked on the dough and snapped a pic….looks like it’s going to be good!  It turned out golden and delicious and we enjoyed it for several days, but I forgot to snap a few pics (sorry)!

Counting by TWOs:

I created a Christmas Slippers – Counting by TWOs printable for the boys to work on.

You can purchase this printable pack from our TPT store.

Both boys used the mat and counted by two.


I created a counting by TWOs strip and a card with multiples of two.


Christmas Kittens:

We couldn’t row Papa Piccolo without studying kittens!

We started our morning with breakfast, a few cuddly friends, and The%20Christmas Kitten-new Hardcover Book and Cute Plush Kitten""The Christmas Kitten.

The illustrations in this book are BEAUTIFUL!

The kids added some kitten lapbook inserts in their lapbooks.

Jordan was REALLY curious about the sardines, so we ate a sardine lunch.  The kids LOVED it!

We got out our Cat Breed Cards and matched some with our cat figures.

We read Stowaway%20in a Sleigh""Stowaway in a Sleigh and thumbed through Gail Gibbons Meow%20meow""Cats.

Art & Other Fun Stuff:

Color Theory:

We dedicated a full day to studying color theory.

We started with a colorful breakfast featuring the three primary colors….red, yellow, and blue!

We read an excerpt from The%20Art Box""The Art Box by Gail Gibbons.

After reading about the primary and secondary colors, I instructed the kids to use their plastic knife to make the secondary colors on the bagel.

They did a great job mixing their edible color palettes.

There’s nothing quite like eating your work of art!

I added a “Color Theory Christmas” page to their lapbooks with empty boxes for them to color in.


They were to color the primary, secondary color equations, and make a color theory star to go on top!


Haley colored her primary colors first then filled in the secondary on the points in between.

We opened up our book to the dedication page to do a little color matching.

I brought out our Montessori Color Tablets (2nd Box) and the boys took turns matching some of the colors they saw.

We went through several colors on various parts of the illustrations.

Afterwards we watched a couple of color theory clips from our Papa Piccolo Christmas playlist.

Live Eyes:

We talked about the illustrations using white dots on the cat’s eyes to give them life and show reflection.

The boys got out their art sketchbooks and practiced making their own live eyes.


Italian Sugar Cookies:

I found a recipe for Italian Christmas Cookies online and printed a copy for each boy to keep in his lapbook.

We went into the kitchen to start making our Italian Christmas Cookies.

Jordan cracked the eggs while Parker helped me measure the dry ingredients.

Jordan used the electric mixer.

While Parker dumped in the flour.

We put our cookies in our oven and waited….they smelled SO good!

I dipped them into icing and added holiday sprinkles.

I called in our resident taste-testers…

They gobbled them up so quickly.

They all said they were delicious!

Use of Color for Light:

We opened up our book and looked at the windows during the day and night.  We talked about how artists use blues, purples, and blacks to represent the night sky and yellows in the windows for the light.

I folded the recipe into a little house shape and we wrote “Italian Bakery” on the page.   We drew a moon and stars with a silver pen.

img_7427The boys colored the sky blue, gray, purple, and black.

Then the boys added yellow to the windows of their bakeries.

This was a really fun book to row during the Christmas season.  We made so many wonderful memories together!  Next stop….Christmas in Russia with Another%20Celebrated Dancing Bear""Another Celebrated Dancing Bear!

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