Getting to the Core

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.

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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 

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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. 

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"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!”

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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!

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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!

     football Thanksgiving card, November crafts for kids, Thanksgiving crafts for preschool, kindergarten and first gradeSome of my friends ask me if my brain ever shuts off as I’m constantly in the design mode.  Actually that’s no laughing matter as I wish there was some sort of off button located on my body, especially when I want to sleep!  But lucky for you the ideas keep popping into my head because here are some more things you might want to whip together with your little ones before they leave for break, and if you’re home schooling they make darling decorations and nice keepsakes.  

You can click on the individual links and view/print the  patterns for each of the projects, or for your convenience, click on the link at the end of the article and print all of them on one pdf.

Happy Thanksgiving Football Card What looks like goal posts are really the letters H for happy with a hidden T for Thanksgiving making this cute card a great activity for your literacy center!  Students practice  those much-needed scissor-cutting fine-motor skills and cut out the letters, then trace the words "Happy Thanksgiving" with a brown marker   A staple holds the letters together. Children glue the football to the top of the H and write "Love" and their name on it. Thanksgiving CardI'm Thankful Turkey, November crafts for preschool, kindergarten and first grade, Thanksgiving crafts for preschool, kindergarten and first grade

I’m Thankful For My Family Turkey is a great way to practice those family sight words.  Mr. Turkey’s fork feet can hold a family photo, poem, recipe, note or "Happy Thanksgiving!" greeting written on an index card.   If you home school, you can do this on your printer.  I trimmed down a sheet of red, orange, yellow, tan and brown construction paper and put it in my printer one piece at a time.   Write  family words on the board and have the children copy which ones are appropriate for them on their feathers.  Don't forget to include pets and grandma and grandpa.  Some of my Hispanic children also live with their aunts and uncles. Help students with the spelling of their sibling's names.  Add a bit of color to the turkeys with crayons.  Alternating the colors of the feathers is a nice math pattern extension!  Thankful Turkey

 Pumpkin Turkey, Thanksgiving crafts for kids, Turkey crafts for preschool, kindergarten and first grade, Thanksgivng centerpiece

Pete The Pumpkin Turkey makes a great centerpiece for your table and a wonderful family activity.  By now all of the stores have those artificial pumpkins on sale 70%- 80% off.  Pick one up and you’re ready to make Pete. While you’re waiting for dinner to get done, give everyone a feather. Print a red, orange, yellow and brown piece of construction paper master one sheet at a time.  Cut the feathers out.  Have each family member write their name at the top and list the things they are thankful for. Tape a toothpick to the bottom-back of the feathers and poke them in the back of the pumpkin.  Print my turkey head on a sheet of brown construction paper, color with crayons and cut out.  Stick on with a few glue dots.  Pete's all set to keep an eye on your guests as you gobble down your feast.  Pete the Turkey


PC the paperclip Pom Pom Turkey.  Buy a box of jumbo colored paper clips (Staples has these cool looking striped ones 100 in a box for $2.79), each turkey needs 8 feathers, + some small ones for the feet, some 2" brown pom poms for the turkey's body, a 1" pom pom for the head, and some 7 mm wiggle eyes, a few scraps of yellow and red construction paper for the beak and wattle and Elmer's or Aileen's tacky glue to hold it all together and you'll be able to make PC the paperclip Turkey.  After you've glued him to a thick piece of tag board he can be an adorable note or recipe holder.  If you feel real ambitious make an entire set for the family dinner and use them to hold your place cards!

Turkey bulletin board  

Strut Your Students’ Or Strut Your Family’s Stuff Turkey makes a nice bulletin board if you’re a teacher, or a great keepsake if you home school.  Make extra’s and send as Thanksgiving cards to grandparents.  A  b. board caption could say: "We're gobblin' up great work!" or "Mrs./Mr. _____'s class is struttin' their stuff learning about ______".  Turkey Bulletin Board

handprint turkey, Thanksgiving crafts for preschool, kindergarten and first grade, November crafts for kids, This Is Me Turkey! My special version of that darling handprint turkey, sure to become a cherished keepsake! Trace your students' handprint on a white sheet of copy paper.  Children glue their school photo on the head (thumb) and draw on a pilgrim hat.  Help them fill out the following information on their feathers: Their age, their favorite color, their favorite food and either their best friend or their favorite thing to do. They color their turkeys, coloring the "favorite color feather" that color, add feet, a wing with the date, their name underneath, a beak, eye and wattle.  An adult cuts them out and the kids glue them to a blue background along with an explanation strip. Happy Turkey Day!  Handprint Turkey

 Shape Turkey, turkey crafts for preschool kindergarten and first grade, Thanksgiving crafts for preschool kindergarten and first grade, turkey art projects The Shapely Turkey A fun way to review shapes is by making this adorable little guy!  Make templates from my master and have students trace them, or pre-cut the shapes from construction paper and have your children glue them to a large sheet of green or blue construction paper.  I used brass brads to make the wings moveable.  Fold the beak for a 3-D effect and use white reinforcement holes for the eyes!  Shape Turkey


Turkey Mask: For a Gobblin’ good time, print off the turkey, (I trimmed down a sheet of tan construction paper and slipped it in my printer), have your child color Tom, cut him out, glue to the back of a large paper plate, cut out the eye holes, tape on a Popsicle stick to the back-bottom of the plate, so they can hold onto their mask, and then gobble-gobble away. Turkey Mask Pattern

Turkey crafts for kids, Thanksgiving crafts for kids, kindergarten and first grade crafts for Thanksgiving Wiggles the Paper Strip Turkey Cut out 4 strips of construction paper. (1x11) Bend them into a loop. Staple the loops together and tape them to the back of the construction paper body. Glue on wiggle eyes, a beak, a wattle, looped feet from a paper strip that is cut in half and also made into a loop and then folded so that Wiggles will stand up and you have Wiggles!  Because he sits up  he makes a darling decoration on a counter or table.   Wiggles is so quick and easy you can make some for the entire family and use these as place cards!  Wiggles Turkey

Turkey Literacy Center, Thanksgiving Literacy Center, preschool, kindergarten and first grade literacy center  

Thanksgiving Literacy Center:  Whenever I see a Scrabble game at a garage sale I buy it and use the letter tiles for all sorts of things in my classroom.  I use Ellison die cuts, draw 1-4 squares on them and then laminate the shapes.  They make a perfect themed card for my literacy center.  My students look at a sight word list and use the tiles to spell words on the seasonal - themed die cuts and then they write the word on a sheet of paper.  I've made a set of Thanksgiving ones for you + provided a list of sight words and a sheet of corn and feathers for your students to write words on.  They could also write spelling words, a little "love you" note or Thanksgiving greeting, or even some mathematical equations or fact families!  If you don't have letter tiles run off a copy of my master, laminate, cut out, and keep in a small envelope.  "Oh what fun it is to learn in the Thanksgiving  center today!"   Thanksgiving Literacy Center

turkey paper plate holder, Thanksgiving crafts for kids, November crafts for preschool, kindergarten and first gradePaper Plate Turkey: Tuck your morning table top lessons in this cute container made by stapling two paper plates together.  Students color, cut and glue their turkey to the plate add their name to the turkey's belly and they're all set to trot off to their lockers. I've also included some quick "trace & write" shape, number, and ABC review sheets for your students to "gobble" down.  Turkey Holder

Native American Tie Dye Wet Wipe Blanket, Thanksgiving crafts for kids, November arts and crafts for preschool, kindergarten and first gradeNative American  Wet Wipe - Tie Dye Blanket: If you're looking for a quick and inexpensive color craft to do for your Native American theme day, this is it!  You can get a box of 100 wipes at The Dollar Store. I'm sure you already have a supply of rubber bands, watercolor markers and pencils in your drawer, so you're all set to make this pretty project.  There are two options as you can see by the photo. 

For a great fine motor skill have your students roll the wipe on a pencil and then put 5 rubber bands down the length of it. This will make a striped "blanket". Or have them poke their index finger through the middle of the wipe and then gather it into a column that way and you will make a circular pattern.  Once your students have put the rubber bands on they need to color any wet wipe areas that are showing with watercolor markers. They can choose a rainbow of colors or just two like I did with the yellow and brown circular patterned one.  After the wet wipes are dry, carefully snip the rubber bands and smooth out the wipes. Get ready to ooh and ahhh over your pretty tie dyed blankets.

I hope you can make some time to do these projects with your children.  Holidays are all about making memories and spending quality time with the people you love most.  Making something for someone that will touch their heart is also important.  When I do these things with my students I tell them “We’re making PAPER LOVE.”   I hope you have time to pass some on this Thanksgiving!

Click on the link to print all of the Thanksgiving Projects. This includes the descriptions in the article.

turkey crafts for kids, Thanksgiving crafts for preschool, kindergarten and first grade, November crafts for kids

Getting Your Students Writing and Reading By Making A Class "Big" Book

Writing class books, writing poster, writing class books with preschool, kindergarten and first gradeMaking class big books is a super-fun way to get your students writing and reading. They’re easy and your students really enjoy making their own personal page to contribute to the class book.  Every year these books become my students’ favorite “Tummy Time Reading” favorites.  I incorporate word wall words and report card standards so I’m getting lots of bang for my “time buck”!

Many of them are Home-School Connections so I’m involving parents each month.  They are making time to do something special with their child.  I have received lots of positive feedback from parents on the enjoyable quality time they have spent making these special pages. Their child is not only learning a report card standard, they are often learning about themselves and their family as well!

 Here are some of the class big books  that I do, that I think you’ll enjoy making with your students.  You can click on the link to view/print the patterns for each INDIVIDUAL book or wait, and click on one link at the end of the article, to print all of the books on one pdf.  For your convenience, the directions for all the books are on one pdf. I've also made a poster  for you to display when you put your class-made books out on a table during conference time! 

Click on the link for the poster or get it with the all-in-one down load. These things will remain free through July 2011 and then go on the shopping cart for only .59 cents each!

Seasons, I'm Special, and the Class Yellow Pages will stay FREE.  Simply click on the WRITING apple on my HOME page and then click on CLASS BOOKS and there will be a list of all of the class books including the free ones.  Enjoy!



Wel-gum To Our Sweet Class!

When my Y5’s come to class I want to learn some things about them, and they are eager to share that information.  I also want to dive right into graphing and letting them know differences and similarities.  One of our report card standards is to be able to recognize your name.  I do all of the above, + lots more, with the above class book. It’s a big gumball machine.  I write each student’s name on a gumball. They find their name and COLOR it their favorite FLAVOR.  I explain to them that a flavor is different than their favorite color.  i.e., my favorite color is purple, but my favorite flavor is cherry, so I would color my gumball red not purple, because grape is not my favorite flavor.  I write the flavor words on the board for them to copy, to help them fill in the blank.  We graph the results. When our school pictures come in I cut them in the shape of a circle and glue them to one of the empty gumballs and then laminate this book.  


See Us Play Book, Making class books with kids, Writing class books for preschool, kindergarten and first gradeSee Us Play !  Our Playground Book

Just ask any energetic 5-year-old what their favorite “subject” at school is and I’ll bet they say “recess”!  A fun class book to make is a “See Us Play” book.  Gather your little ones on the carpet and graph what their favorite playground “thing” to play on is. Take your list outside along with your digital camera and snap some pictures of your students playing on the swings, monkey bars, slide etc. .  When you get the pix printed off have your students glue their photo to their “See us play” page. Have them fill in the information and then illustrate their page. You now have a great “easy reader”  that will help them not only learn their friend's names, but a little bit about them too!   

chicka_puppetABC class made book, kindergarten and first grade class made books, How to get kindergarten and first graders reading and writing, Chicka Boom class book


Our ABC Initial Chicka Boom Boom Book

We’re learning the alphabet as well as learning to recognize and write our names, so what could be more appropriate than to make an alphabet book?  One of my favorite alphabet books is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom  by Bill Martin.  I use this book to introduce learning the alphabet to my Y5's. One of my friends, Mrs. B., made me this adorable  Coconut Tree sock puppet. I put  a velcro scratchy dot on the back of plastic magnetic letters that I bought at The Dollar Store. I pass these out to my students;  when I come to that particular letter during the reading of the story,  the child holding that letter sticks him to Cheeco the coconut tree puppet.  I've also included several skill sheets to go along with this book.  I do several craft activities as well, and have lots of extensions for Chicka. Simply click on the Reading Apple on the home page and then click on Chicka Boom.     


Yellow Pages class book, writing class books with kids, writing class books with preschool, kindergarten and first gradeYellow Pages “Who Ya Gonna Call?”

During October when we’re learning to dial 911 and having the fire department visit us, they tell us how important it is to know our phone number.  It’s no longer a report card standard, but really helpful to know,  so I try to stress to parents the need for them to help their child learn this valuable piece of information.  To make it fun for them, I do a class Yellow Pages Big Book. It’s a Home-School Connection assignment that parents enjoy helping their child with and doesn’t take that long.  I show my students the yellow pages and explain what they are used for. I tell them to think of what they love doing or what they are really good at that someone could call them and ask for help with. They are very excited about this assignment and think it’s fun that someone would call them to do a job!  It’s a great introduction to learning their phone number, and also ties in with our economic's standard where we learn about "Goods and Services" as well as fitting in with social studies and studying about community helpers.    

 Class color book, Making class books with preschool, kindergarten and first grade,

Our Favorite Color Book and Our Book Of Colors

Another report card standard is being able to identify nine colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, white, black, and brown; I tie this in with a math extension and we graph our favorite color. Since we have a color of the week, I also choose a day; send a note home with my students asking parents to please have their child wear that color and then I take a class photo.  In that letter they are also asked to please bring some pictures from magazines of things that are that color.  The next day I lay out a white sheet of construction paper at a gluing station center and children glue their color pictures on the page. This collaged picture and the photo of our class wearing the color of the week become the pictures in our Book of Colors  along with the graphing results.  

Class book of the seasons, Making class books with preschool, kindergarten and first grade,


Our Favorite Seasons Book  This class book helps teach my students about the seasons.  We learn about them during our calendar time.  This is the chant I teach my Y5's to help them learn the seasons:  Winter, spring, summer, fall...  Four seasons…  And I love them all!   I have my students learn the sign language for the bolded words.  Learn how in my article "Sign Language in the Classroom."  It's a great fine motor skill!  There are two pages to this class book.  One incorporates the chant as seen in the photo.  I found the adorable paper clothes cut outs at this website:  perhaps you can think of more ways to use them!   The other has them choose and illustrate their favorite season.  As a math extension we graph the results. Seasons Book

Our class book of shapes, Making class books with preschool, kindergarten and first grade,


Our Book Of Shapes & Our Favorite Shape Book

Being able to recognize shapes is another report card standard and a nice way to tuck in the math standard of graphing.  My children by now really enjoy giving their opinions via a graph. A parent letter home asking them to help their child find an example of each one of the shapes in a magazine and bring in the pictures to help collage a page for our book is a fun Home-School Connection assignment. Star Student class book, Star Student certificate, Star Student bulletin board, Star Student booklet,  Star Student class book


I Am Me; I Am Special Book

This is another Home-School Connection assignment that is sent home.  Parents work on these 3 cute pages with their child and they become the pages in this class book.  When I feature the “Special Star Of The Week” their pages are shared by the child during Sharing Time and then put on the “Star Bulletin Board”.   I use this as a big self-esteem builder for my kids.  I've included a Star Student Certificate and two different kinds of Star Notes your students can fill out for their star friend.  I did a version of this when I taught high school. One young man shared with me that he saved his "praise paper" and carried it in his wallet to look at whenever he felt down!  Wow! You just never know how you can touch a heart.


This is where I live class big book, Making class books with kids, Getting kindergarten and first graders reading and writing, class made booksHere’s Where I Live Book

Being able to recite one’s address is no longer one of our report card standards, but just like learning your phone number, the police and fire departments agree that this is important information for a kindergartener to know and can sometimes save a life. To help make learning their address fun, I turn it into a class book activity.  This is another Home-School Connection assignment. Parents work on this page with their child and they become the pages in this class book.   


Our Family, Making class books with preschool, kindergarten and first grade,


My Family Book

This Is My Family is another Home-School Connection Book.  One of the students’ special exploratory classes is Spanish.  They learn how to say the names of the family members in Spanish.  When they are learning these I send home this assignment.  Children trace the sentences and fill in the blanks + draw a picture of their family. Parents help them label the people and pets that live with them. Including a real photo makes our book extra special.  


graphing book, making class books with kids, writing class books for preschool, kindergarten and first gradegraphing book, writing class books with kids, writing class books with preschool, kindergarten and first gradeOur Graphing Book

We graph all sorts of things every day.  Several times each month, I choose some extra fun things to graph in a more artistic way and make it into a page for our graphing book.  In September, on the right, we graphed how we got to shool.  We used our first day of school photo.  During our science unit in October, on the left, we graphed if we did or did not like spiders.   I wrote the children's names on a red sticker.  These are laminated and first displayed on a wall in our hallway.  We call it our "Wall Of Fame".  After the month is over,  I put the pages in our book.  This is one of my students’ favorite books to look at.  They like comparing how they “voted” with the rest of their classmates.

   Click on the link to view/print the directions and patterns for all of the books. 

 These are just a few of our favorites.  We make a book almost every week in class as well based on whatever theme we’re doing.   For some themes we'll make several different pages for one book.  For example for our 100 Day celebration we make a class book and have three different pages: "If I had 100 wishes I would wish for...""If I could eat 100 things I would eat 100 ...." and "If I could have 100 things I'd want 100..."  They either copy a sentence from the board, or fill in the blank on a sheet of paper that I’ve run off, and then they illustrate their page.  I collect their pages, put them into a booklet and read it to the class.  Many times what they are doing lends itself to a math extension and we graph their opinions.  In May we do a recipe book for Mother's Day as well as a Name Book.  I ask their mom via a letter why their family chose that name for their child.  It's another fun book. 

I also have books that the children work on individually like the fun  Very Hungry Student and I'm Thumbody Special books. Click on the links to view those free books. Rhyme Time: Moving Through The Months is also a wonderful whole-group project. Click on the link to view that entertaining  book that teaches months, seasons and a whole lot more!

 I hope you’ve gotten a few ideas to do with your students that will kick-start them into wanting to read and write!  Class books are also a great way to really learn about your students and practice the life-skill of working together!

Happy writing and reading!

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