The poinsettia is a beautiful
flowering shrub native of Mexico. The poinsettia is the most popular and best-selling
potted plant in the U.S.A. The global
popularity of the plant was actually spread by an American who
introduced the plant to the U.S. and it is named after him: Joel
Roberts Poinsett. December 12 is National
Poinsettia Day, it marks the death of Mr. Poinsett and is meant to
enjoy and share the beauty of the poinsettia.
The activities below will explore the poinsettia, and
how this plant is
meaningful during Christmas celebrations in Mexico and other Latin
American countries. The use of hand held fans is also
deeply entrenched in Latin American tradition. The craft,
a paper fan decorated with a poinsettia, will provide a vehicle to have children participate in this
multicultural experience or revisit the traditions in their culture. The
craft makes a nice holiday ornament/decoration or gift for friends, and family
NOTE: These activities can be adapted for use as a
Bible related activity to address the First Christmas - The Nativity
-- review suggestions and Bible links at the bottom of this page.
Preparation: Display Materials and Suggestions
1. Display the Pp
Poinsettia color poster prominently refer to it during the
presentations and discussions.
2. If at all possible, have a real small potted poinsettia
(or a fake one), or plan for a visit to a flower shop or garden
center, the links below will also provide many images, but the real
plant is more memorable. The potted plant can also be displayed
to have children make their own painting, join the children in this
art appreciation activity.
3. Below are different suggested learning activities, educational links
and a craft. Decide which activities and how to structure the order of these activities based on your group or home schooling
needs. These can also be spaced over a two-day session.
4. While children are assembling the craft,
coloring the Pp Poinsettia coloring page, or doing a painting, have some cheerful holiday music in
the background. Your local library may be a good source for
cassette tapes that may feature Latin American Christmas
Activity 1 > Social Studies > Places &
Mexico and Latin American
The poinsettia and the use of hand held fans in Mexico & many
Latin American Communities:
The poinsettia is special holiday gift in Latin American
cultures. The flower can
represent the "Christmas Star" the Three Wise Men followed to visit Baby
Jesus. It is given a number of different names in different
regions or countries among them: "The Good Night Flower" (or
Flower of Christmas Eve). The poinsettia can be seen decorating
homes, and religious places of worship, particularly around an
altar. The Aztec Indians used it for medicinal purposes and to
produce a colorant, among other things.
Activity 2 > Picture Book > The Legend of the Poinsettia, retold and illustrated by Tomie dePaola > on YouTube
Legend of the Poinsettia > This
Mexican legend has a beautiful and meaningful message that can be
shared with the children. Explore it and decide how would
like to include its content in the activities. This legend is appropriate
for a memorable Bible activity as it relates to The Nativity > The
Birth of Jesus (Luke 2
& Mathew 2).
Idea: Hold a finished fan craft during this part of the
discussion or have other examples of fans.
The hand held fan has been used mostly by women in one form or another
by many cultures. In Latin America it was used mostly to help
ease the hot summer days. The fan could me made of many
materials and often it could be folded (accordion style folds). These could
be very embellished with beautiful images which could be embroidered
or painted and reflected family traditions and/or religious
scenes. Some fans were regarded as heirlooms and transferred
from a mother to daughter on very special occasions like a
wedding or birth of a child. A lady could have many fans
to match her different outfits or special ones just for the holidays,
like Christmas. Ladies would also use their fans during dances
and also used "The Language of the Fan," for example, to admonish their
children by gently tapping their leg with it (a wordless, "Hush,
little one... "). This "Language of the Fan" (distinct for
different Latin American countries) , meant ladies would move or tap
their fan in different ways to secretly convey messages. Share
with the children they will be making a poinsettia fan to celebrate
the Christmas and winter holidays and possibly give it as gift to a special lady in their
lives, like Mom, Grandma, other relative, child care provider or
Activity 3 > Science/Social Studies The Poinsettia Plant
View and share facts about the poinsettia you think the children
may find interesting here.
The biggest misconception about poinsettias is that many believe that
it is a poisonous plant, but it is not. Children should not eat
them though, and they would have to consume vast amounts and
this would probably result in a tummy ache... (they don't taste very
Language Arts >
Activity > Alphabet > P is for Poinsettia or F is for Flower & Fan
Print and present the alphabet materials of your choice.
Arts and Crafts
Activity > Poinsettia Fan Craft - Ages 3+
During the assembly of the craft children will be able to practice
number skills -- counting one through six and view and paste the
petals in numerical and clockwise position as they will read
numbersin a clock.
Color Skills: The main colors to identify and practice here are red,
yellow and green.
Printing and assembly options for Bear Head Craft
Option 1: Print fan
template, cut out and tape or glue to a craft stick.
Print instructions & petal
templates, cut 6 red petals of each
size. Conduct learning activities of your choice above and assemble. Discuss
colors on the template.
Option 2: Print fan
black & white
template. Print directly on your choice of background color
on sturdy construction or card stock preferably.
Print instructions & petal
templates, cut 6 red petals of each
size. Conduct learning activities of your choice below and assemble.
The instructions page offers some suggested guidelines to make this craft
with large groups, particularly with 3 to 4 year olds, where a
bit of more preparation can go a long way. Don't be daunted by
the twelve petals, it can go smoothly by doing 6 petals first (a song
or snack break) and then the next 6 petals.
Ideas for making the craft with older children in mixed age groups,
after school programs or at home with older siblings:
1. Children can do most of the cutting and actually trace and
cut the leaves on their own. They can experiment with other
materials like fun foam or color/paint the petals with different
2. The petal areas can be filled with
sequins, beads, and other similar craft materials, instead of a
cut-out petal. Add interest
to the fan's background by stamping leaves in light green shades
(sponging or rolling) first, proceed to finish petal areas.
3. The craft stick can be painted and also embellished covering
with a ribbon or paint. Add a pretty bow and long streams of
ribbon to the handle.
4. Use a hole punch along the border of the fan. Start
lacing from the handle and end by making a bow with red ribbon or
External resource: The
Bible and Christmas activities:
The First Christmas > Bible text: Luke
coloring pages with text
Illustrations only templates below
Black & White
& Petals Template
Alphabet Printable Activities
& Standard block
Poinsettia coloring page 1
Poinsettia coloring page 2
The First Christmas
with text no text
(more Christmas Bible coloring pages)
The Legend of the Poinsettia
Find @ a library