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Getting to the Core

 Quick & Easy Tips For Your Winter Bulletin Boards

     Do you need some budget-conscious ideas to put a bit of “pop” and “pizzazz” into your winter bulletin boards? Here’s how you can add some flair to your creations. These things are usually deeply discounted after the holidays, just in time to decorate your classroom and hallway!

  • Use blue, snowflake-printed wrapping paper to cover the “sky” portion of your January bulletin board when making a winter scene.January bulletin boards, January bulletin board ideas, snowman bulletin boards, winter bulletin boards, 3D-bulletin boards, penguin bulletin boards, snowflake bulletin boards, bulletin board ideas,
  • Aluminum foil makes a great “ice rink” on the bottom portion for skaters and penguins.
  • Use the large sheets of white batting for “snow”. Roll it out and trim so that it looks like various sized hills, then staple them so they slope up and down across the board.
  • Many of the other “wintry” or foil wrapping papers make lovely backgrounds too.
  • Attach plastic and flocked snowflakes with fish line and dangle them from the ceiling so that they hang just above your board at various lengths.
  • Scrunch up lengths of white tissue paper to add a 3-D “snow” border.
  • Twirling blue, white, and silver crepe paper and using that as your border, gives a nice pop. Loop it from the ceiling and hang large 3-dimensional tissue paper snowflakes in between.
  • A similar effect can be created with alternating blue and white paper chains as your students practice various colored math patterns.
  • Use your students’ cut out-paper snowflakes as your border.  Make them stand out by putting them on a piece of balled-up tissue.
  • Using an exact-o knife cut half of the section of your printed cardboard border and bend it outward.  For example, if your border has snowmen in a row on it, cut the right side of the snowman out and fold it over so that it has a 3-dimensional look. 
  • Make a “display” above and beside your January bulletin board with paper plate snowman heads.
  • Dangle these creations from the ceiling and stack some like a totem pole on either side.
  •  3-Dimensional Snowman, January bulletin board ideas, January bulletin boards, snowman bulletin board, winter bulletin board, snowflake bulletin board, penguin bulletin board, 3-D bulletin boards, bulletin board ideas, winter bulletin board ideas,
  • If your students are making snowmen, have them apply dimensional things to their artwork, like tying on a piece of plaid ribbon instead of coloring on a scarf, or gluing on real twigs for arms and using plastic buttons instead of drawing them on.
  • Glue the carrot nose on like a hinge, so that it pops right off the page!   
  • Blue, white and silver curling ribbon added to the corners of your January bulletin board helps and sparkle and depth. Use the ribbon to hang things and then curl and leave dangling to twirl and swirl, to add interest.  
  • The use of opalescent glitter on students’ wintery artwork adds a twinkling effect and is fun for children to sprinkle on wet white paint. I use it to add glitz and bling when I write my students’ names on winter projects.  
  • Sheets of Styrofoam, cut with a knife, make nice “icebergs” and “igloos” to add dimensional objects to your students’ artic projects.  
  • White pom poms and cotton balls, are great “snow balls” for student work too.

  • Small Styrofoam balls sliced in half and placed in a pile next to a winter poster or on each corner are a cute snowball accent.  shaving cream snowman, January bulletin boards, January bulletin board ideas, winter bulletin boards, winter bulletin board ideas, snowman bulletin board, snowflake bulletin board, penguin bulletin board, bulletin board ideas,
  • If you mix equal parts of white Elmer’s glue with non-menthol shaving cream, students have a wonderful “snow frosting” that they can add to any winter artwork! This needs 24 hours to dry, but the puffy affect is outstanding!  Have students apply with a Popsicle stick. 
  • And speaking of Popsicle sticks…they make perfect fences, ice skate blades wrapped in aluminum foil, sleds, and the tiny ones are great hat brims for snowmen.  
  • Finally, use student work to make the shape of a piece of winter art to decorate a large hallway wall if you don't have a bulletin board.
  • For example, when displaying student writing, hang it in the shape of a humongous snowflake so that you have papers hung on six intersecting blue yarn lines; if they’ve made paper snow globes, arrange them in one big circular shape on top and use a huge black paper circle cut in half for the base.
  • Have students write about snow on a white paper circle and then hang the “snowballs” in such a way that they create a huge snowman, or use their cut out-paper snowflakes in the same way.
  • If your students make penguins, put them in a parade and display them in a row along the bottom of the wall waddling into your room.
  • Make a "real" igloo on the wall, using recycled foam meat trays.  They are easily cut to make the rounded shape for outside pieces. 
  • Post smaller artwork on it with tiny pins or have students write the final drafts of their winter poem somewhere on a block of "ice".
  • Making winter bulletin boards can be “snow” fun with just a little imagination!  

1-2-3 Come Play Some Christmas Relay Race Games With Me. 

     To build team spirit and cooperation I have my students do a lot of relay games. Here is an entire selection for you to choose from. Be prepared for a lot of hilarity as just staying in a line is quite a feat for some youngsters. TIPS: Have an adult captain for each team. As soon as each child has had their turn tell them to sit down, or they will be repeating. Make sure they get back into the correct line! Buy two bags of solid color stick–on bows, one set of red and one set of green.  Count the bows out to how many students you have in class. Toss them into a Christmas gift bag and then gather your students into a circle. Have them reach into the bag and pull out a bow. Have them peel off the paper and stick it onto their shirt.  They will either be on the RED or the GREEN team depending on what color bow they chose.  As soon as all of the bows have been put on have the children line up in two lines, a red and green one.  Their adult captains should also be wearing a bow.

Snowball Relay: Give each team a wooden spoon and a Styrofoam ball. They have to walk as fast as they can from the line at one end of the room around a garbage can at the other end of the room and back to the next person in their line and not drop the “snowball” on their spoon.  No touching the “snowball”.  If it drops they just pick it up and continue.

 Skate To the North Pole Relay: Wrap two pieces of 12 x 6 pieces of tag board with waxed paper.  Have the children “skate” from one end of the room to the other on the waxed skates.  They come back and give the “skates” to the next person in line who does the same thing.

Present Run: The same thing as above only you are doing it with 4 wrapped shoe boxes for “shoes”. Cut holes in the tops of the boxes big enough for a child to fit his feet (without shoes on) into the wrapped boxes, one box for each foot. (4 boxes needed for 2 teams.) They shuffle along to the other end of the room and then back to their team mate.

Dress The Snowman Relay: You’ll need two of everything: A vest, A hat, A scarf, a pair of mittens. Let’s say each team has 10 members. 5 members will be snowmen and 5 will dress the snowman.  As soon as one pair has finished dressing their snowman and undressing him, the next pair has their turn.  The team that finishes dressing and undressing their snowmen first is the winner.

 Christmas games for kidsOrganize the Ornaments Relay: The Dollar Store sells 18 plastic ornaments so you’ll need to buy two sets. Skip count number the two sets by 10’s to 100.  Put the ornaments in two baskets. Each member on the team has to walk down to the basket and arrange the ornaments in the basket from 10 to 100 in the correct order.  If you do not have this as a standard then do 0-10 or spell Christmas or whatever else is a standard for you.

Trim the Tree Relay: I have a “Slim Jim” Christmas tree that I bought 75% off after Christmas that’s perfect for this game.  Set it up at the front of the classroom.  Students are at the far end.  The two opposing teams will each get one side to decorate.  Give the 1st member an ornament to hold.  The first member on the team puts his ornament in the wooden spoon and races down and puts it on the tree. They get another ornament out of the basket, put it on the spoon and come back and give the spoon to the next person in line. The first team to get the side of their tree decorated is the winner.  You could skip the spoon and do it blind folded with a shorter distance to traverse if you wanted to.

Stack the Gift Boxes Relay: This is a bit of work, but teaches all sorts of small, medium and large “eye ball the dimensions” skills + once you’ve done the work you can always keep the presents year after year.   Wrap 10 packages of various sizes for each team. (This would be if you had 20 children in your class.  You would need more if you had more children.)  The packages will be stacked from largest on the bottom to smallest on the top.  Explain what the children need to do.  The first person walks down as fast as they can and puts the largest package down, the next person puts the next largest on top of that one and so on, ‘til the last person puts the smallest package on the top.  Easy right?  Not if they didn’t do it correctly and the packages are out of order in which case the person who put the wrong package on, has to go back and re-do theirs and so on down the line….The first team to get it correct is the winner.

 Christmas games for kidsCandy Cane Relay: Buy 6 wrapped candy canes (just in case of breakage) The object here is to have one candy cane looped on your index finger. Your finger touches the next person in line’s index finger and you slide the candy cane off your finger onto theirs and then they pass the candy cane onto the next person.  No touching with other fingers. The team who goes through their entire line first is the winner. (Be prepared for dropping and breakage.)

Ornament on a Stirrer Stick Relay: Pick up enough coffee stirrer sticks at the local fast food eatery so that each of your students has one.   Have them hold it between their teeth.  The object here is to pass a small ornament from their straw to their partner’s straw.  So that this is not near impossible take a pipe cleaner and make a nice-sized loop on the top of the plastic ornament. 

Remind students to be careful of each other’s eyes and have the straw and ornament far below the nose level and to take their time and go slow. No touching with hands! The team who goes through their entire line first is the winner. If you don't want to use the stirrer sticks have them put a larger ornament on their shoulder and hug it their with the side of their head by scrunching their neck and shoulders.  The object would be to get the ornament from their shoulder to the other person's shoulder or under their chin without using their hands.

 Rudolph’s Sticker Nose Relay: Get two big red circle stickers.  Put them on the noses of the first two children in the two lines. Explain to them that they have to take off their Rudolph nose and put it on the person behind them, that person has to take off the nose and put it on the person behind them.   The team who goes through their entire line first is the winner.

Fill the Stockings Relay: Give each child a block, unifix cube whatever you have in your class. Hang two stockings at the end of the room.  The first child in each line puts whatever they have on a wooden spoon and walks it as fast as they can down to the stocking and puts it in and then scoots back and gives the spoon to the next person in line. The team who goes through their entire line first is the winner.

Blow the Snowball Off the Table Relay: Give each student a straw and cotton ball (snowball).  Have the lines on either side of a long table so they can cheer each other on. The children who are playing are in front of their team mates at the table.  The object is to keep their snowball (cotton ball) on the table, but to blow it across the table using their straw, so that it flies over the edge on their opponent’s side.  The next person in line then goes up with their snowball and straw and does the same thing. The team who goes through their entire line first is the winner.

Snowball Blower Relay: This is similar to the cotton ball relay but this is using a toilet paper roll.  To make these look pretty, have a room mom helper wrap enough toilet paper rolls in aluminum foil and give one to each student.  Assemble the children as with the above table.  Tape a paper cup to each side.  The object is to get the ping pong ball or Styrofoam ball into the cup. Each time a student does, the team scores a point. The team with the most points is the winning team.

santa_kidsPass Santa’s Sack Relay: You’ll need two of everything: a pair of gloves, enough gum in a pack for each child to get a stick, a Christmas Baggie or something that can be used as Santa’s sack.  (I made a black sack using black felt specifically for this game.) Children are sitting in two lines.  Explain what they are to do by showing them. Put on Santa’s gloves, take out a stick of gum from the opened gum pack that is in Santa’s sack,  put the gum back in the sack, unwrap the gum, put the wrapper in Santa’s sack, chew your gum, take off the gloves, pass the gloves and sack to the next person.  The team who goes through their entire line first is the winner.

 Marshmallow Snow Relay: Pass around some liquid “magic soap” and have everyone disinfect their hands. Give everyone 3 tiny marshmallows. Show them what they are supposed to do.  The first person turns around and has 3 tries to try and get one marshmallow tossed into the person’s mouth who is behind them.  That person can help by moving their head, but not using their hands.  As soon as they get one in, (they don’t have to wait to use up all 3 marshmallows) that person turns around and tosses a marshmallow in the person behind them and so on ‘til they have gone through their entire line.  If they try three times and still don’t get a marshmallow in, that’s OK that person just turns around and tries with their person.

 Santa Said Secret: Have the two lines sit down. Whisper the same message into each ear of the first person in each line. They whisper it to the next person and so on.  The message begins with: Santa said. It can be as complicated or as simple as you think your students can handle.  The team with the correct sentence or as near to the correct sentence is the winner.

 How Many Words Relay: Teams are sitting at a table, or on the floor.  One student is designated as the secretary for each team.  Remind them to be very quiet as they don’t want the other team to hear their answers.  Children have 3 minutes to think up as many words as they can that can be made out of the words Merry Christmas.

Who’s Your Elf ? This can be done as an individual thing or as a team game.  Prior to the game jumble up everyone’s name or simply write their name backwards. Put the names in a gift bag and have students each pick one.  The person who figures out who their buddy elf is first is the winner. The team that figures out who all their elves are first is the winner.

What’s In The Stocking? This can be done as an individual thing or as a team game.  Have two stockings with 10-15 identical things in each stocking.  Children are sitting on the floor in two lines. Each person has 15 seconds to feel what is inside the stocking and then passes it on to the next person. They write down as many things as they can remember. As soon as everyone on their team has gotten a turn to feel what’s inside they get into a huddle and share their findings their “secretary” writes things down and numbers them. The team with all the things listed or the one with the most is the winner. These things need not be Christmas.  You may want to throw in a few “zingers” that are hard to figure out.

 I hope you got some ideas for your party or the last day of school.  I think games are a terrific way to teach all sorts of life skills.  You may want to save this article and adapt the games for Valentine’s Day. You know that will be here sooner than you can say  

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you!

So What Are You Doing On Party Day? 1-2-3 Come Play Some Classroom Christmas Party Games With Me

Christmas party games for children, preschool kindergarten and first grade Christmas party games, Christmas party games for kidsPlanning games for your Christmas party is no easy task. Young children are still learning the life skill of fair play and tears often happen when they don’t win or they are out of a game. 

I try to head problems off at the pass before they happen. I also like to set the stage ahead of time. I've rarely had a problem.  Here’s the scenario:

“Everyone’s a winner in this class!  OK. If you’re a winner raise your hand! If you want to play some games and have fun raise your hand! If you’re a good sport raise your hand.” "Wonderful.  We are going to play games for the sheer fun of playing games.  Sometimes we win; sometimes we don't; but we can always have a good time when we play together, so no poor sports right?  Great; let’s start the fun!”

Even tho’ it’s party day and we are playing games, I try to keep things geared towards some intellectual activities and report card standards.

I’m also trying to teach all sorts of cooperative life skills such as sportsmanship, waiting their turn, working as a team, showing self-control, having patience etc. so games in themselves are a wonderful way to practice these things.

 SPEED: I start out games with some paper table top and “Speed” games. “I Spy” a number or letter are great for reinforcing letter and number identification.  I run off a “Paper Packet” and staple it.  Students put their name on the cover and wait for directions. 

The I Spy sheet is on the top.  I’ll call on a quiet child to spy a number or letter.  Children spy and trace the called out number/letter and then I’ll call on another child until the paper is complete.  Students select a specific color crayon hold it in the air and I’ll explain the directions for the next page. 

They’ll turn it as soon as I say: “Ready-Set-Snow!”  The first student done raises their hand.  I go over and check their paper, if it’s correct they get a sticker on their paper, and then I explain the next page etc. I have room helpers checking and starring the other student’s work as well.

Click on the link to print a set of speed games.  To make more simply buy a Christmas coloring book and adapt the pages to fit your needs. Christmas Speed Games

Christmas games for kids, Christmas games for preschool kindergarten first grade, hot present Christmas game Hot Present: Wrap the cover and bottom of a box in cute wrapping paper.  Fill the box with tiny candy canes. Children sit in a circle. Put on Jazzy Christmas Music like Jingle Bell Rock or something festive.

Have a parent run the boom box . They are not looking at the children.  Children pass the box and when the music stops the person holding the box is out.  So that this is still fun, they dance with the adults on the side line.  The adult playing the music plays it for 5-15 seconds and then hits the pause button.  The last child left gets to take the lid off the box and passes out the candy canes, stickers or whatever little treat you want to put in it.

 What’s Missing? Children sit in a circle. Explain to them that they must not peek and that peeking is cheating and that is not honest and that if they’re caught they will not get to play. Ahead of time gather some things that are Christmas related.  I have a jingle bell, candy cane, ball ornament, gingerbread man, Christmas cookie,  tiny wreath, tiny stocking,  Santa (ornament), sleigh (ornament),  tiny Christmas tree.  I got most of the miniature things I was looking for in the miniature ornament section at Hobby Lobby. Start out with 5 things.

Put them in the middle of the carpet in a circle. Say them in order: bell, candy cane, ornament, gingerbread, cookie. Tell the children to close their eyes as tight as they can.  Have parents check. Cover the things with a tag board circle, slip your hand under the circle and take one of the objects out. Say “OK open your eyes.” Then remove the circle. The first one to yell out what’s missing is the winner.  Replace the object and add another one. Say them in the exact order again adding the new object.  Play as before and then add another object until you have added all ten objects.  My students absolutely LOVE this game.  I play it for every season.

 Shapely Presents: This is my Christmas version of “Four Corners” Cut out a triangle, rectangle, circle and square from tag board. Wrap them in Christmas foil wrap or aluminum foil and put a bow in the middle.  Hang the presents  from the ceiling so that they dangle from each corner of your room.

Choose a child to be Santa to start. Cover Santa’s eyes. The rest of the children (elves) scurry around and must end up in a shapely package corner before you and Santa blast off in your sleigh counting backwards from 10-0.  Any elf not getting into a corner or who is caught moving and has not frozen when Santa has blasted off and yelled “Freeze!” is out of the game and must sit on the carpet by teacher who is covering Santa’s eyes. Santa’s eyes are covered and he chooses a package to be delivered to the North Pole with those elves who will load those shaped presents on the sleigh. He chooses a rectangle.  

"OK all those elves in the rectangle package corner are out and sit on the carpet. They help Santa blast off by counting with him." The first Santa gets to join the “free” elves. Teacher chooses a new Santa from the “Out elves” and play continues ‘til only one elf is left and is the winner.  My students also LOVE LOVE LOVE this game so I change it for every holiday.  It's a wonderful way for them to get the wiggles out too!Christmas party games for children, Christmas games for preschool kindergarten first grade, Christmas games for kids

 Christmas Card Pick Up: Ask friends, relatives and parents of your students to save Christmas cards for you. Cut off the covers and then scatter them all over the floor.  Have your students tip toe around them as they come in from recess.  On your signal of “Ready-Set-Snow!” they scoot around gathering cards. As soon as they are all picked up have them make a circle and count their cards.  The one with the most cards is the winner. Who had the next most?

You can also cut the cards in half and have them put the cards together.  If they don't have the match they can "steal" it from a friend who has the other half. The one who spotted the missing half first, gets the card.

 Christmas Card Puzzle Dice Game: I laminate a class set of Christmas cards and cut them into 1/6ths giving each piece a number, making them into puzzles.  Children choose a partner and roll a dice; whatever number they roll they put that numbered card down eventually putting their Christmas card puzzle together.

Where’s Santa’s Hat: While my students are out at recess I hide a Santa hat.  When they come in I tell them to go look for it.  I make it a bit difficult and then I’ll give them “Hot” and “Cold” clues. i.e., “Jenna is ice cold, but Conrad is red hot.” So they know what part of the room they should be in.

 Guess-timation Station: On party day I’ll have several “Guess how many?" In our “Guess-timation Station math area.  How many “snowballs” in the box? These are cotton balls.  How many Rudolph noses in the baby food jar? (Red pom poms?) and how many peppermints in the candy tin? The first two are worth prizes the 3rd winner of the candy tin, gets to take the tin of peppermints home. Children write their name and guesses on the entry form. At the end of the day I announce the answers and winners.

Reindeer Pokey: To get the wiggles out before game time and get everyone giggling. We do the Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer Pokey.  We put our red noses in, also our hooves, antlers and our wagging tails; and that’s what it’s all about! 

 Santa Chistmas Party Game, Children's Christmas Party Games, preschool kindergarten first grade Christmas party games, Christmas Party games for kidsAll I Want For Christmas ABC’s: Children sit in a circle. I start them out. All I want for Christmas is an A-Airplane.  The next child says B-Bear or whatever, the next child says, C-Crayons.    If you really want to make it hard, especially if you have older children, they have to repeat the letters that came before and then add theirs.

 Remember Doggy Doggy Where’s Your Bone? You can play this with a PRESENT and play "Kelli Kelli where’s your present?" Or with a HAT and play "Santa, Santa where’s your hat?" or with a red ball, clown nose, or red pom pom and play "Rudolph, Rudolph where’s your nose?"  Anyway, the game is played with your students sitting in a circle.  Put a chair in the middle with the present, hat, or nose under the chair.  A child is chosen to sit in the chair and cover their eyes. 

Teacher points to a child to QUIETLY take the object under the chair.  Everyone puts their hands behind their back and teacher says "OK you can peek."“ _________,  _____________ where’s your _________?” The rest of the children chant. Fill in the blanks with whatever game you decide to play.

 Pin The... Nose on Rudolph, Pin the Hat on Santa, Pin the Star on the Christmas Tree. You decide and then make whatever it is that you’ve decided upon. For me Rudolph was the easiest. I bought a placemat with a reindeer on it.  You could also make one out of construction paper. I wrote each child’s name on a red sticker dot (Rudoph's nose). 

Students got into two lines. My room-mommy/daddy helpers gave the child their “nose”, covered their eyes with their hands, and walked them over to the placemat that another mom was holding up to their level.  They stuck it on. There was no need to twirl them around; they could barely walk straight as it was.  The name on the dot allowed me to see who was closest at the end of the game. The rest of the children sat on the floor until their name was called via the mom holding the noses.

Who is Santa? Children are sitting in a circle. Tell students they will either get a turn to be Rudolph or Santa. Assign a mom to keep track, so that everyone gets a turn. You choose a child to be Rudolph. They go out of the room into the hallway, with an adult helper. Choose a Santa.  Most children do not know how to wink so before hand, find out who can wink and make those Santa’s if not enough with this skill, then tell them that they can blink twice hard and then you demonstrate. Inform the children that they must make eye contact and be paying attention. 

How to play the game: When Santa winks/blinks at you, you say “Ho-Ho-Ho.” As soon as someone says that, Rudolph guesses who Santa is.  Santa winks/blinks two more times. Rudolph has 2 more guesses or one minute to figure out who Santa is by trying to catch him wink-blinking.

 Christmas games for kids, Christmas party games for preschool kindergarten first gradeWhat Elf is Missing? Children are sitting in a circle. Put a chair in a section of the circle. Tell children that they will either get a turn to be Santa OR an Elf.  Assign a parent to keep track, so that everyone gets a turn. Send Santa out in the hallway with a parent. 

Choose an elf to sit in the chair and cover them with a sheet and put a bow on top of the sheet.  Santa comes in.  Remind the children not to say anything or they will not get their turn.  Children ask. “Santa which of your elves is gone?” Santa has 1 minute to look around the room to see who is missing, and then guess that child's name.  When everyone has had a turn teacher should take a turn. You’ll be surprised at the results.  Every year, my little Y5 elves did not realize I was missing!

Play Santa Says Instead of Simon Says.

Who Am I? Write a Christmas character’s name on an index card and pin it to the back of each child.  They have all day to ask yes and no questions of anyone to see if they can guess who they are. When they guess they get a sticker on their index card.   Ideas for characters: Rudolph, The gingerbread man, The Grinch, Santa, Mrs. Claus, Frosty the Snowman, The Little Engine That Could (Tillie was a Christmas Train) Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, (A partridge in a pear tree or any of the other 12 days of Christmas things). A Shepherd, one of the 3 Wise Men etc.

Gingerbread Bowling: Save 10 water bottles and cut out brown construction paper gingerbread men.  Tape them on the front of the bottles.  Set them up in a triangle so they look like the pins in a bowling alley.  Give each child 2 chances to bowl down as many gingerbread pins as they can with 2 large Styrofoam "snowballs".

 What ever games you decide on, I hope you have a jolly holly time filled with giggles galore!  The next article is all about  Relay Races and Team Games that promote cooperation! Scroll down to read it!  Thanks for visiting.  Wishing you a very merry day.

     Quick And Easy Gifts For Your Students/Children To Make

With Tips On How To Go About It

     December’s quite a whirl wind month and it’s easy to be swept along in the Christmas excitement of children.  One can almost feel the energy in the air; it’s invigorating if you let it!

     So that I’m not overwhelmed with a zillion things to do, I incorporate the “making of gifts” as center activities instead of “extra” activities.  There’s also enough expense on the home front so I try to keep things on a low-budget scale in the classroom.  I do this in several ways:

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  • I shop for bargains after the holidays and during Christmas in July.  Garage sales and flea markets are also a plethora of “good stuff”. I Stock up on the things that I’ll need for the upcoming season at a fraction of the cost, and then store it for next year.  So that I don’t forget, I make a list of things that I’m out of as I pack up my December units and then hang that list inside my kitchen cupboard.  I also make a list of what I do have.
  • Because I change things up each year and do so many different things, I jot down what worked and what I’ll be doing again.   I take a photo of finished projects and bulletin boards so that I know how the finished projects look and file a sample along with each of the masters.
  • I’ve also found that parents are more than willing to help contribute ingredients for things, or send in an “extra” for another child that didn’t bring something, so don’t be afraid to ask and send a letter home.  This took me years to learn, until kind room mom’s prompted and assured me that it was OK to do so.  To alleviate this “last minute” asking, you can always let parents know way in advance via a list of necessities in your student handbook, monthly calendar, newsletter, or “sign up to donate things” that you display at open house and conferences. One parent also shared with me that because she works and leads a very hectic life with 5 children, she’d just as soon send in several dollars and have me pick up whatever her child needs.  When I discussed this with other parents it was pretty unanimous that all of them were happy to oblige when it came to sending in T-shirts, socks, a potholder or whatever. They’d much rather send in a few dollars than run around town trying to find something on a list and risk that it wasn’t correct.
  • I’ve long since given up having everyone bring in a magazine, can, jar, Kleenex box, toilet paper, or paper towel roll on the due date. I simply have boxes in my basement and save them all year.
  • Finally, the crafts I do use pretty standard supplies and I have most of them in my classroom.  I also have a “Could Use-Please Donate:” Section in my newsletter and I list things that we run low on such as wiggle eyes, pipe cleaners,  etc. Several of my teacher friends post a turkey with thankful feathers, or a Christmas tree with thankful balls with things their classroom needs for December outside their door during November conferences. They say this is extremely helpful to get them through a busy craft month.

Christmas gifts kids make, Crafts for kids, making Christmas gifts at school, homemade presents 


Keepsake Potholder Christmas Gift For Mom: Ever since my daughter Kelli lovingly presented me with her handmade one years ago; I vowed that this would be a standard “have-to-do” on my make-it/take-it craft list.  It’s one of my all-time favorite gifts that she ever made me and it’s launched hundred’s of cute little handprints into other mommy’s hearts. Potholder Christmas Gift


Christmas Cookie Cookbook: Wrap the potholder along with a class-made cook book and a cute paper gingerbread ornament with their little darling’s face on it (See December bulletin board ideas-Gingerbread men.) and you have a “Wow!” gift that any mom will love. If you'd like to teach a Gingerbread Unit, or do more Gingerbread Art & Activities click on the links for all sorts of wonderful ideas. Christmas Cookie Class Cookbook.Plaster pins from chocolate mold, Christmas crafts for kids, Christmas gifts kids can make, homemade gifts, Holiday crafts


Plaster Pins: Did you know that you can use chocolate molds to make plaster pins?  They pop out perfectly and can easily be painted by the youngest child and still look quite fantastic.  There’s a huge variety out there and they start at only a dollar!  Children can make these as another gift for mommy, or something for grandma as most grandparents will be popping over for the holidays. The one in the photo is painted with metallic lavender paint.   The metallic paints are wonderful to use because they not only have a shimmery luster, they also have a gloss finish.   Plaster pins Christmas gift 

heat sock filled with rice, homemade gifts for dad, holiday crafts for kids, gifts kids can make, December crafts for preschool kindergarten firstgrade, keepsake crafts


Christmas Gift For Dads: A heat-filled "Soothing Sock": It’s easy to make a present for mommy, so often times daddies are left out.  Not in my class; and this is a proven winner.  Fill a tube sock with rice and cinnamon-clove Christmas potpourri, attach a note and you’re set. What could be easier than that?  Click on the link to view/print directions and pattern for how to make a "soothing sock" filled with rice for dad. . Christmas gift for dads.

Christmas tree tile trivet, Christmas gifts kids make, homemade gifts, keepsake crafts, December art projects for preschool kindergarten and first grade,


Bun Warmers or Trivet Christmas Gift: These too are wonderful keepsakes. You can put a handprint on them, or use any kind of rubber stamp.  Children put the paint on with a sponge brush and then they pat, not brush the paint on the stamp; one hard press and you have a very professional looking picture.  So that it doesn’t scrape off, I take the tiles outside and spray them with clear-gloss varnish.

I choose a Christmas tree and the children decorate it with different colored balls using a Q-tip.  If you heat the tile in the microwave for 30-seconds it will get hot.  Tuck it in your basket of rolls under the napkin to keep them warm, or use your tile as a trivet.  This too is an inexpensive gift as you can pick discounted tiles up for as little as 29¢   Watch for them at garage sales at new homes.  Small tiles (4x4) are perfect for little hands, but I got an entire box full of 5x8 tiles for only $1.00 and we simply used a bigger tree stamp.  You could also use more than one stamp on the tile too.


Fabric_Doorknobber_Gingerbread_Banner_PixGingerbread Banner Christmas Gift: This is the same paint-stamping concept as above.  Go to a wallpaper store and ask them if you could have one of their discontinued fabric-looking wallpaper books. Then tear the neutral pages out and cut the bottom edges off using  pinking shears.  These stores also have fabric swatch books that make perfect banners.  Most stores will give them to teachers for free if you ask, and tell them that you’re a teacher.  I’ve only had to pay $1 or $2 in one store and it was well worth it to get such perfect backgrounds for my banner projects. 

These too look so neat and professional because “paint stamping” is very easy for even the youngest child to do.  I punch a hole in the top of this banner and use a pipe cleaner twisted into a circular shape so parents can hang it on a doorknob.  I've also glued a Popsicle stick to the top and knotted yarn to either end for hanging.

Puzzle_Photo_Frame, gifts children make, keepsake crafts, Holiday crafts, making Christmas presents, gifts for dad, mom, grandma and grandpa, December crafts for preschool kindergarten and first grade


Puzzle Frame: When you lose puzzle pieces from puzzles in your class, don’t dismay: keep them for crafts! You can also pick up 100-piece puzzles at The Dollar Store, or at garage sales for as little as a quarter.  Simply glue them to a Popsicle stick frame and you have a darling keepsake for any member of the family.  If you don’t want to take pictures of your students, send a note home asking parents to send in a family photo for this project.  Make sure to tell them that it will be used in a craft and they will not be getting it back in the same form they sent it. Puzzle Frame Christmas Gift

Christmas Keepsake wreath, Keepsake crafts, making gifts with preschool kindergarten and first grade, making Christmas presents, December art projects,


Secondary-Color Study Wreath: Even though we are doing crafts and making gifts, all of these in some way or another are linked to my report card standards.  We are counting, measuring, reviewing shapes, comparing, writing, etc.  If you ever need clarification on that, just drop me an e-mail and I’ll send you the specifics.  The wreath is a mini science study of colors.  Your students will get so excited when yellow and blue change right before their eyes.  Mine squeal: “Mrs. Henderson come quick! It’s green. It’s green!”  It’s a bit messy, but they have so much fun, and works as a wonderful math equation of yellow + blue= green.  Just by doing this simple and fun project they remember that little bit of science because it was so “hands-on” (pardon the pun)!  Keepsake Wreath Christmas Gift


Don’t Open It Magnet: Is your fridge covered with magnets? Mine too! A warm feeling seems to flow through you when you glance at a child’s photo or work of art as you fly through your busy day.  That’s exactly what I want this little magnet to do, “So don’t  open it…there’s nothing but love inside.” Magnet Christmas Gift

Glass pebble pin, making Christmas gifts at school, Christmas crafts for kids, December art projects for preschool kindergarten and first grade, Christmas presents for dad and mom, Keepsake crafts for kids


Glass Pin Christmas Gift:  If you didn't want to mess with the plaster above, and still wanted to make a pin, you could make a flat-backed clear glass stone pin.  These too are easy and inexpensive.  Most craft stores sell these flat "marbles" that are used in floral arrangements or put in vases for wedding centerpieces.  They usually sell for $1.99 a bag at Hobby Lobby, but this department and product are always on sale for 50% off, so watch for sales.   Brush Elmer's glue or spray adhesive to the back of the stone and press on your cut out picture, add a piece of tag board so that the glue from the pin doesn't bleed through, and then glue a pin to the back and you are done.  You can use a child's school photo, pictures from wrapping paper, etc.  I designed labels with 3 Winnie the Pooh pictures in a row and printed them off.  I cut the labels into 1/3's so that each child had a Pooh head to glue on their glass pin.  Before hand they stuck the sticker on a circular piece of tag board and then glued it to the back of the glass, and then glued on a pin. 

angel kitchen towel, December crafts for kids, Christmas gifts kids can make, Making presents in school for preschool kindergarten and first grade


"There's an Angel In The Kitchen" TowelI've been making these for over 20 years!   I designed them a very long time ago as thank you gifts for people who were angels in my life, and later sold them in my Victorian gift shop, Hastings House.  They were always a huge hit.   They make the perfect gift for those special volunteers who make your life easier by helping out in your classroom, but are easy enough to make if you want to do this as a class gift for your little ones to make.   Simply send the letter home so that your students bring in the towel and 2 dishcloths; you provide the ribbon and poem  I have poems for a parent, grandparent and volunteer helper. Angel in the Kitchen towel Christmas gift 

If you're doing a faculty gift exchange this is a nice alternative and will help you with the "I don't know what to buy anymore!" dilemma.  To make our teacher's party a bit more fun everyone sits with their gift on their lap and I read Twas the Night Before Christmas.  Each time I read the word THE everyone passes their gift to the right. When I read the word AND they pass the gift to the left.  Whatever gift you end up with at the end of the story is the one you get to open.  You can add "stealing" to the silliness if you want to.  My church group has really enjoyed this and opted to do our white elephant gift exchange this way every year.  I've typed up the story with the words highlighted if you'd like a copy. Twas The Night Before Christmas Story    


Chocolate Spoons: This was another "hot seller" in my store.  They came in a zillion different flavors.  My daughter's favorites were Irish Cream, and Raspberry Amaretto.  It only seemed natural that I would whip up a batch for my Y5's to help "dunk" , wrap and take home as a sweet treat for their loved ones.  I do this on our Reindeer Theme Day when my students are counting red-hot Rudolph noses! We tuck a package of those in with our chocolate spoon.  This is really simple, lots of fun for little ones, and a pleasurable gift for anyone on the list! Chocolate Spoon Christmas gift



Angel Toilet Paper Roll Christmas Note Holder: I save toilet paper rolls all year so it's not a big deal to whip these little angels together with my students.  Gather a bit of aluminum foil, some scraps of construction paper and ribbon, 2 coffee filters, and a child's photograph + a pair of scissors and a glue stick and you're ready to make this cute keepsake.  Besides being a table decoration you can hot glue a spring clothespin to the back and she becomes a note or recipe card holder.  Angel Christmas Gift


These are a few of my easy-breezy favorites.  I could go on and on, but that's what next year's for...I hope you got an idea or two here that will help you sail through the gift-giving dilemma of what on earth to do for a project this year!  As always if you have something fun that you do with your children I'd love to hear from you.  Sharing is caring and isn't that a big part of what Christmas is all about?

Click here for all of the projects directions and patterns + the article. All Christmas Gifts 

And if you'd like to tuck a "Merry Christmas!" note in with a gift to your students, click on the link for a nice selection, including some bookmarks, a slap bracelet and even a skill sheet for your students to practice writing Merry Christmas!

Happy Merry Making!

Quick Bulletin Boards Or Door Decorations


peppermint bulletin board, December bulletin board ideas, December crafts for preschool kindergarten and first gradeWith everything that a teacher has to do in December, one barely has time to slap up a bulletin board or door decoration,  so I’ve dreamed up some quick and easy ideas with awesome results. On party day have a parent take them down and send them home.  They make great keepsakes!  You can pick and choose which one you want to do and click on the individual links, or for your convenience, if you like them all, and want to use them as center activities, I have them in one pdf at the end of the article.  Enjoy!

Educational Connections for these ideas:  My students discuss the vocabulary word SYMBOL and we discuss what kinds of things we see in December that are symbols of Christmas.  We also discuss the colors of Christmas. Besides reinforcing the fine motor skills of cutting and gluing; I'm also working on spatial directions and placement with them. We review the various shapes of these things and as a math extension, they measure the ribbon and wrap with a ruler. We discuss and review that math vocabulary as well: length, width, height etc.

 Paper Plate Peppermints: Blow up your student’s school picture and mount it in the center of an 8” paper plate that they’ve striped with a red marker. Cover with clear cellophane that you can buy at The Dollar Store, tie with red and green curling ribbon and have your students curl with a Popsicle stick and you have these sweet treats!

Possible titles:     “___________’s class is worth a mint!” “______________ has a very sweet class!’


button_ornamentButton Ornaments: Offer your students a variety of colored bulbs and have them glue buttons across the stripe.  Make it a math extension by having them follow a pattern and count as they go making a specific set or group, or have them complete a math equation in their heads: 2 buttons + 3 more =’s 5 buttons.  Glue aluminum foil to the top and add their photo.  Possible titles:   “___________’s class is all decked out and cute as a button! “ “ _________________’s class is having a ball learning in ____________. (Young fives, kindergarten, 1st grade, room 101) Click on the link for ORNAMENT PATTERNS.


packageGift Wrapped: Cut rectangular pieces of tag board and have children wrap them in Christmas paper, add curling ribbon.   Blow up their school picture on the copy machine, or take a picture of them wearing a Santa hat and have them glue it to the back of the gift box.  When you’re done with the bulletin board you can send home with the children as a keepsake card.  Possible titles:    “_____________’s class is all wrapped up in learning.”  “The greatest gift is LOVE!”

gingerbread man bulletin board, December bulletin board ideas, gingerbread ornament, keepsake crafts for kids, December art projects for preschool kindergarten and first grade, December door decorations


Gingerbread Joy:  Run off a copy of the gingerbread man on light brown construction paper.   Take a photo of each child or enlarge their school picture.  Cut them into circles and have students glue them to the face of their gingerbread man.   Have children decorate with crayons, markers, and stickers.  Use white puffy paint for the squiggly frosting. Children can use tooth picks to dab this on if you don’t think they can handle manipulating an entire bottle. Write their name across the tummy with glitter glue, or sprinkle glitter over Elmer’s glue.   Possible titles:   “______________ has a class that’s sugar and spice and everything nice!”   “We’re so smart! We’re learning to read words like run, man, and can!”     Click on the link for a GINGERBREAD pattern.  

Cover your b. board with aluminum foil so that it looks like a giant cookie sheet, or cover 2 or 3 rectangular pieces of tag board with aluminum foil;  arrange your student gingerbread cookies on these smaller "cookie sheets" then arrange the cookie sheets in a "kitty wampus" fashion for added sparkle!  Want them to smell great? Spritz the cookies with gingerbread or cinnamon potpourri spray!

Christmas ornament, December bulletin boards, December crafts for preschool, kindergarten and first grade, December door decorations


Tree-mendous Work!  Cut out a huge green pine tree from green bulletin board paper and hang it on a wall in the hallway.  Keep it simple and make it just a large triangle. Put a brown rectangle trunk on the bottom.  Using black or red die-cut letters have a caption that reads:   "__________’s class does Tree-mendous work!"   Then all month long you can hang up student work that is extra special right on the tree.  If you want it to look like you’re decorating the tree as well, have your students glue their school photo to a paper Christmas tree bulb and write their name on it.  Then when you hang up their paper, put their ornament in the corner of the paper, so that people can also see a picture of whose work it is and the tree will look like it is decorated with ornaments too!   Click on the link for an ornament master. ORNAMENTS


Click on the link to print all of the patterns. It also includes the article so things make sense.  Christmas Bulletin Board Patterns and Directions

Be sure and check out the other December Bulletin Board ideas in other blog articles too! Dear Santa Letter December Bulletin Board, Family SnowflakesIn December I lke to...poinsettia

I hope you found something useful here that will be a time saver for you! I wish you a peaceful month filled with lots of happy moments.  As always, if you have a cute bulletin board, I’d love to hear from you.


Bless You!

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