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Holidays

Creating Christmas Magic

One of the things I love most about teaching kindergarten is the ability to go ALL out on every holiday. It’s like a built in addendum to our contract that in kindergarten, you must celebrate everything and anything! This year, I incorporated many fun, engaging and also educational Christmas lessons to spread the magical joy in my kinder room.

  1. Elfie –
    This is my third year using Elf on the Shelf in my classroom, but this year, I created letters from Elfie that encouraged acts of kindness throughout the holiday season. The first day our elf arrived, students spotted him immediately! Some of my kids had an elf in their home and knew the rules so I wasn’t surprised when one of my students shouted “don’t touch him!” Each day, students looked forward to seeing where our elf was in the room and what shenanigans he was into! I started our day by reading the letter from Elfie and discussing what act of kindness he challenged us to try. Find a full list of acts of kindness and what the elf does in my TpT store through this link.

               

  1. Polar Express – The last week before break, I’ve made it a tradition to celebrate Polar Express week. This is where I take a break from our language arts and math curriculum and incorporate different lessons all about the Polar Express. I purchased a few different TpT products to make this week happen. I use The Polar Express by Teaching in High Heels for our “write the room”, to compare and contrast the book and the movie and to describe our time on the Polar Express through our five senses. I use All Aboard the Polar Express by Free Falling in SDC to make our conductor or reindeer hats. Last, I use The Polar Express: Book Companion by The Curious Catfish for my North Pole tickets and my writing craftivity. I’ve also come across a few freebies on TpT that I incorporate into my week of everything Polar Express. My absolute favorite lesson I’ve used during this week the past few years is the sequencing activity from Erica Bohrer’s Polar Express Movie and Craft Activities – FREEI do this whole class first, then students sequence on their very own Polar Express train. This week is very language arts heavy, but this freebie Polar Express Doubles/Doubles Plus 1 by Studly Peaches is a fun way to incorporate math, with various versions of a five in a row game. The Polar Express has been one of my all time favorite Christmas stories since I was a little kid and bringing this love to my kindergarteners makes for a very magical week before Christmas break.
  2. Gingerbread House – I am so blessed to work at a school with the BEST co-workers. This year, our lower school team teachers (grades k-2) are some of my best friends. We planned a kindergarten through second grade gingerbread house decorating party! Parent volunteers brought in graham crackers, icing, and candy. The day before our party, our volunteers assembled our houses and then day of we had a few parents help pass out the candy or fill up student’s cups with extra icing. Every year, I am amazed with student’s creativity!

           

  1. Parent Gift – Each year, I’ve made a different parent gift for students to give to their parents. I’ve never been super impressed with anything I’ve had them do in the past so I turned to my favorite addiction – Pinterest. After browsing pinterest for what seemed like hours, I settled on a salt dough handprint ornament that the students paint to look like Santa. This was a very ambitious project but with only 15 students and the help of my assistant teacher, we were able to accomplish these gifts and they turned out AMAZING! Check out this link to see the full tutorial of how to make these ornaments. Students loved seeing their handprint after I baked the dough and felt so proud when they turned their handprint into a Santa ornament.

What kinds of traditions do you have in your classroom around the holidays? This time of year is very hectic but also extremely magical. I wish you and your students a happy holidays and restful winter break!

Turkey Tuesday

One of the most exciting parts of teaching kindergarten is being able to use your creativity (especially during the holidays)! By the time October hits, it feels like we’re off and running with nonstop activities until Christmas break. I try to incorporate art once a week to go along with a monthly theme or a holiday that is coming up. The best thing about kinder art is that they all look SO different by the time these little creators are finished.img_8298

To celebrate Thanksgiving, we made turkeys out of paper plates (half a plate), tissue paper and construction paper. I used parts of the turkey template in Kelly Morgan’s Thanksgiving Everything Pack. I’ve had this resource of hers for a few years now and have used this template in various ways throughout the years. Not only does this pack have this craftivity (love that word!) but she has language arts, math, social studies and other resources all related to Thanksgiving. Total TpT jackpot!

We pasted the tissue paper squares to the paper plate by painting over them with liquid starch.img_8292
Not only does the starch make the papers stick, but it creates a shiny coat for the turkey’s feathers. Creating the turkey’s feathers was all that my kinders could handle for one day so we let the liquid starch dry and saved the turkey body and parts for the next day.

In my first year teaching, when I did craftivities like this, I would hand out each construction paper separately and it would be hard to manage since all students were cutting and gluing at different paces. I would be stressing out, running back and forth, handing different pieces to different students. Now, I’ve found that handing out all papers at once is less chaotic and actually more fun for the kids because they can be a little more creative. I put my sample on the board incase students want a reference of what the end goal is but I’ve found that some students don’t want to look at the model; they want to do their own thing! Teachers all have different ways of leading projects depending on their style and their students. What works in your classroom? How do you manage art projects?

I love that the same art project can produce such different results. What types of Thanksgiving projects do you do in your classrooms?

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