If you’re looking for a new idea for a Christmas bulletin board, try one based on Christmas literature. Petunia’s Christmas by Roger Duvoisin, is one of my favorite holiday tales and it’s a wonderful story on which to base a Christmas bulletin board.
In the story, Petunia is a pet goose that lives at Pumpkin Farm. She goes for a walk in the snow and meets a charming gander called Charles, who is being fattened for Windy Farm’s Christmas dinner.
Petunia has to problem solve to save the handsome gander’s life.
Work with the children to identify Petunia’s problems or challenges, to fact find (what does Petunia know, what has she already tried), to think of ways she could solve her problem, and to list some ways she might save the gander.
Making the Petunia’s Christmas Bulletin board
- Read the story to the children a number of times.
- After each reading discuss one or two of the story elements.
- The first time talk about the characters.
- Next, the setting and season
- Finally discuss the problems and how Petunia solved the problem. Do not overload the kids with too much too fast.
- Then work together to create the following story map elements to create a Christmas bulletin board.
Create a more interesting bulletin board
There is no need to put 20 identical pieces of art on a bulletin board as long as you have work from every student in the class on display.
Depending on the number of children you are teaching, divide the story into chunks and have each child create one of the characters or items from the story. Make it a class activity to arrange all pictures on the bulletin board in the order they occur in the story to make a story map.
A story map usually identifies:
- the characters
- the setting
- the problem
- the events
- and the solution
To create the story map bulletin board individual children can draw, paint or create:
- Petunia going for a walk
- Charles in a coop
- Petunia dressed up like a scary dragon (see below)
- Petunia begging for money with a cup
- Petunia making and/or selling decorations
- the decorations, little wreaths, stars…
- the farmers
- the wedding and Christmas celebration
- word cards to identify characters, events or solutions
Integrate art and literature into your bulletin board
Child’s rendition of Petunia as a dragon.
Let the students create story characters from old scraps of file folders, paint, markers and of course, anything in the imagination center. In the sample below, a child cut and glued pieces out of old file folder cardboard, then painted them with tempera paints in the art center.
Use these free Christmas tracers on the bottom of this page to make decorations like Petunia made in the story.
Tips for making your Christmas bulletin board bright and cheerful
Try these tips:
- provide the children with only bright colored felt markers and paint, put dark blues, purples, blacks and browns away
- put text on the board with colorful sentence strips
- overlapping items makes the display more interesting
- group the decorations into colorful piles
- photocopy the book’s cover and put the picture up with a colorful background
Math and Literature Connections
Petunia’s Christmas is great for connecting math and literature . Petunia has to solve the problem of how to pay for Charles. A 20 pound goose worth 75¢ a pound!
Try these fun activities to heighten your students’ mathematical understanding of the story:
- Bring a 20 pound sack of potatoes, flour or four 5 pound dumbbells to class
- Let the children take turns lifting them to see how heavy a 20 pound goose would be
- Have students make decorations like Petunia and count them in piles of tens
- Provide a yard or meter stick so the children can point at the story map and retell the story, model doing this with math vocabulary such as, “This is Charles the 20 pound goose. This is Petunia. She had to sell objects to earn money.”
- Organize a class cookie or muffin sale to let the children experience selling
- Read more about organizing a class baking sale
Author study – Roger Duvoisin
Petunia’s Christmas was published in 2004 (first published 1963) by Knopf Books for Young Readers and is a Caldecott Medal winner. You may have to locate a second hand copy as it is a popular story.
Fortunately, some of his books are now being republished. See image below.
Roger Duvoisin wrote many other wonderful children’s books. Introduce your students to these at the same time and help them discover characteristics of his artistic style (loose, sketchy and colorful). Encourage the students to use bright colors also.
Roger Duvoisin was born in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1904 and came to the U.S.A. in 1925.
Among his more than 40 childrens books, he is best known for those featuring Veronica, the hippopotamus, and Petunia, the silly goose.
He received the Caldecott Medal in 1947 for White Snow, Bright Snow and a Caldecott Honor in 1966. He died in 1980.
Some of the other 40 stories written or illustrated by Roger Duvoisin:
- White Snow Bright Snow
- Donkey Donkey
- The Happy Lion
Youtube videos of Petunia books…
If you can’t find the books there are a few Youtube videos with the Petunia stories.
This is a very old video black and white version of Petunia’s Christmas. The first half minute before the story is pretty strange!
This one is Petunia the goose.Petunia the goose.
There are more Duvoisin book videos here.