Thursday, December 6, 2012

The 12 Days of Christmas

We own a few children’s Christmas books that I pull out at Christmas time. It makes the season more fun for Amanda when she only sees them this time of the year. It’s hard to imagine Christmas when living in a hot climate, but the books help.

The book that has kept Amanda and me busy for the last couple of days is The Twelve Days of Christmas by Paula Cloonan and published by Blackie London and Bedrick/Blackie New York.

The first time I read the book to her, she asked me to read it and then to sing it afterward. We went through the lyrics together a couple of times. She was so keen on learning it that she wasn’t happy when we had to stop for dinner.

The pages in the book are not numbered. It’s mostly made up of illustrations with one stanza on one page for every two pages of illustration. Amanda’s favorite part of the song is the five gold rings. Paula keeps it interesting for curious minds by hiding the five gold rings on the subsequent pages. Amanda had a lot of fun playing “I spy” as she looked for the rings.

(In this photo, Amanda is pointing out the five gold rings hanging from the doorknob.)
I brought the book out again the following day. This time I included a memory flash card game, which I created myself by printing images off of the computer and gluing them on to cardboard paper cut into equal sized squares. I hadn’t numbered the cards yet on the picture side. Instead, I asked her to help me remember how many French hens there were, how many pipers were piping, and so on. I wanted to help her memorize the song as well as recognize numbers and number association. (She's pretty confident with recognizing the numbers 1 - 6, which I attribute to her playgroup teacher.)

At this point I discovered that the images I had printed from the computer had a few of them in a different order. I thought that I was teaching her the way that everyone sang it. Why was my book different to the website? Well, our book doesn’t seem to have the most popular version, but it’s closer to the oldest version in print. This is what I found on Wikipedia:

The earliest attested version of the chant in England appears in The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, as follows:
The twelfth day of Christmas, | My true love sent to me | Twelve lords a-leaping, | Eleven pipers piping, | Ten ladies dancing, | Nine drummers drumming, | Eight maids a-milking, | Seven swans a-swimming, | Six geese a-laying, | Five gold rings, | Four colly birds, | Three French hens, | Two turtle doves, and | A partridge in a pear tree.

The colly birds are another name for blackbirds. Many newer versions have changed it to calling birds just as our book has. Also, some versions use “golden” rings instead of “gold” rings. Our book uses “gold” rings, but Amanda preferred singing it as “golden” and that was without prior knowledge of this being another option.

The pictures seem too busy for my preference, but Amanda likes it that way. I found that out by asking her what she least liked about the book. She took me to the beginning where the first and only present gets introduced, namely the partridge in a pear tree. She said that it wasn’t interesting enough. She liked the other pages more, because there were more things in the pictures.

I think that this book is ideal for reading to young children ages 3 – 6 for both boys and girls. It held Amanda’s attention for an unusually long amount of time. For that reason alone, I’d say that this is a great book to buy for the holidays.

Here is a fun American 12 Days of Christmas website with lots of gifts and activities that you can make, games to play and other great Christmas resources. It’s the same website that I used to print my images for the memory cards. They also stick with the more common version of this song.

I did not receive any pay or gift for this book review. All opinions are entirely mine and my daughters.

I'm linking with the Kid Lit Blog Hop.

The kitten joined us for story-time.


  1. I just had to sing along. Thanks for the info and links. This is quite helpful. You are a very busy mom.

    1. Thanks Eya! The 12 Days of Christmas website has many fun ideas, which I hope you can make use of. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

  2. Just to make your day (I hope) I've nominated you for The Liebster Blog Award - there's work involved I have to say, but hopefully, you'll be rewarded by more Followers and the like: Please answer the following 11 questions

    (1) Got your Christmas cards done yet?
    (2) What do you hate most in life?
    (3) Now the opposite - the best thing for you?
    (4) Dogs, Cats or Another Animal?
    (5) Favourite Carol?
    (6) Apart from Wallmart, where do you shop?
    (7) Your favourite food?
    (8) Favourite colour?
    (9) New Year’s resolution yet?
    (10) Christmas this year: home or away?
    (11) New Year wish?

    Then choose 11 bloggers already follow who have less than 200 Followers and let them know, as I am doing here, what you've been up to!

    Read all about the rest of it on my blog at

    Happy Christmas and a Great New Year! Isobel

    1. Thanks Isobel! These look like fun questions. I did a liebster award on my 1camera1mom some months ago. It took me several hours and days to put together, so I won't be joining you. Also, I have over 200 followers, so I wouldn't have been able to participate, but thanks for the nomination.

  3. That is a fun website. I like the wrapper sheets they have, thanks for sharing!

    1. I'm glad you checked out their site and found it useful. Have fun with it!

  4. My job as a teacher becomes easy when parents like yourself sit down with their children, read to them, ask them interesting questions, and extend the learning with activities based on the reading. Plus, there is fun involved so it doesn't seem that you are teaching. Well done.

    1. Thanks Randy! I admire teachers who love teaching and who love their students too. I checked out your blog and I can see that you fall under that category. It's a difficult job. I've taught on different levels (including pastors on a Bible course and high schoolers English and German) and surprisingly with little background and no degrees. God has a sense of humor.

      I recognized your post from a link-up, but I hadn't visited before. Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave an encouraging comment. I'm interested in your book. I'll look out for if if you've linked it on the Kid Lit blog hop.

      I'm following you on Twitter. Have a great weekend!

  5. Love the idea of the flash cards! Good stuff. This looks like a beatiful book. Will have to see if our libary has it and if not Amazon it is! Visiting from the blog hop.

    1. Thank Mindi! I just visited your blog and saw the post with the decorating of the Christmas tree. I love the photos! They capture the moods and atmosphere so well.

  6. Christina,
    Thanks for the Christmas book recommendations! We don't really have any good ones yet. Amanda is darling btw :)

    1. Thanks Katie! I hope you find some good Christmas books. They are always fun to read to the kids at this time of year. :)

  7. This looks like such a beautiful book! I also checked out the 12 days of Christmas website and LOVE all of the printable activities. I'm looking forward to showing my kids when they get home from school today. Thank you for sharing! Visiting you from the Kid Lit Blog Hop this week!

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to visit my post! I hope your kids have lots of fun with your new activities. Enjoy the Christmas holidays!

  8. Can you do the memory game with me because it doesn't matter how many times I sing that song every year, I can never remember what happens after 9?! It is one of my favorite songs of the season though and I can totally see why Amanda likes the "golden rings" part the best... I'm with her on that one! lol

    Thanks for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop once again Tina and have a fabulous week! :D

    1. It doesn't seem to matter which order you put them in, because from 9 upward there are different versions. You could just say your were singing the other version if someone asks or rolls their eyes. :)

      Wishing you and your family a very special Christmas season!

  9. Hi Christina,
    Excellent review with beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing on Creative Monday and have a wonderful week.
    Judy - Judy H-J's Thoughts


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