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Monday, December 19, 2011

5 Easy Ways to Make Christmas Memorable for Young Children

December is going to be crazy! It can be crazy good, or crazy bad, depending on how we react to the craziness! Here are a few of the ideas that we do in December to make is a special time! If you can't beat them....join them! There are a few necessary supplies for any successful holiday--glitter, glue, and patience!!!!
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1. Make Special Crafts With Parents
I love making these class t-shirts. At the beginning of the year, we have a 3 pack of tshirts on our supply list. While not everyone brings them, I only have to purchase a few instead of a class set! I invited a few parent volunteers to come and help me make the shirts. Megan did the writing with puffy paint!
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2. Make Gifts for the Kids
These are the best Christmas presents....ever! We purchased a piece of shower board from Lowes. Andy cut it into equal parts to make the dry erase boards. I bought ribbon at Hobby Lobby, 50% off. I used a paint pen to write their names and decorate it up a bit. Then, I hot glued the ribbon around the edge. Finally, I added a Velcro dot to attach the pen! They LOVED them!
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3. Create ornaments they can hang on their trees at home...for many years.
When Megan and Tyler were at home, each year we would pull their ornaments from the box and remember that teacher, those friends, etc. When they married, I wrapped up all of their ornaments and gave them to them. Now, Tyler probably could care less, but I think Megan cried.  Those ornaments.  Melts my heart! Here are some of my favorite ornaments.
Pasta Tree: Cut a tree from poster board. Cut a hole in the middle to make the tree a picture frame. Invite the children to cover the tree with pasta...the more the better. After it dries, spray paint with green and add glitter. Megan made this ornament in her 3 year old Sunday School Class and we still have it!
Pasta Wreath: Dye pasta with red and green food coloring. Once dry, thread onto a pipe cleaner, making a pattern. Add a ribbon bow. Not sure of the name of this pasta, but it looks like a flower.
Rudolph: Paint the hand brown and print onto a piece of paper. Once dry, cut it out and add eyes and nose. Add pipe cleaner antlers.
Snowman Fingers: Purchase PLASTIC ornaments. You can use blue or clear.  Paint the three middle fingers with white paint.  Put the ornament in their palm and invite them to "hold" the ornament. This will print their fingers onto the ornament. When dry, use a  paint pen to add eyes, nose, etc.
Pasta Picture Frame: Make these just like the pasta trees.

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4. Plan centers that are both seasonal and standards based.
Who says learning can't be related to a holiday?  It isn't like we have to pick one or the other.  Each year, I send home a letter to parents before we head home for the holidays. I ask them to save me the stamps from their Christmas Cards. After about 10 years, I had quite a collection. The children love to sort, pattern, count, graph, etc with the stamps.Slide4
  5. Watch for great finds.
The Dollar Tree, The Target Dollar Spot, Walmart, etc. all load their shelves with Christmas and Holiday goodies.  I usually don't purchase too much in December. But, when January arrives, I grab all of those goodies for my Winter Unit or to put up for next year.
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

How Tall Are You?

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Five Christmas Writing Activities

December is a great time of year for writing. By this time of the year, many of our kids are able to put complete thoughts in text. Some are still labeling and a few are still drawing. But, they are ALL feeling like writers. You are starting to feel the reward of the hard work by both you and them! Here are a few writing activities that we did in December to make the holidays a little more fun!
1. A Visit With Santa
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I remember when we went to see Santa at the Mall on a field trip! When I first started teaching, we went on a field trip every single month! But, over the years that slowly become one field trip a year.  I wanted my children to write about going to visit Santa, but "had all of my children been to see Santa?" I decided to set up a visit with Santa right in my room. I purchased this large Santa from Oriental Trading Co.  I put him in my chair and sat on the floor behind him. Then, I called the kids up one at a time. They sat on Santa's lap and talked to "him".  It was hilarious! They actually look him in the face even though I am sitting right there!
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Now, they are ready to write. I had some stickers of Santa's head. They placed the sticker on their paper and drew a picture using the sticker as Santa's head.  I took a piece of construction paper and folded it down 1/3. Then, I cut the flap into three sections.  Under each section the kids could write what happened first, next, and last.
2. Memoirs of Christmas
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Save some of the pictures taken during your holiday festivities for the end of the year. Our last unit in writer's workshop is Memoirs. It is a way for us to revisit personal narratives now that they are able to produce text to convey their meaning.  I put the pictures in a basket and let each child select a special picture that reminds them of something from the holiday. Then, they write their memory.
3. A Book Of Lists
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I picked up some Christmas Bags from Walmart.  See the picture to see how to fold, add paper and staple the bag to make the book. Each day, the children cut magazine pictures from a given category. Maybe one day the cut toys, another day family members, another day food, etc. After cutting the pictures, they use them to make a list. We make a new list each day or so. By the end of December, they have a book of about 10 different lists.
4. How Families Celebrate
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Be sure and watch for the holiday napkins AFTER the holiday when they are on clearance.  Napkins make great books. In this book, we talked about all of the ways different families celebrate. This is great since all children might celebrate different holidays in December. Then, the children recorded 4 different ways their own family celebrates.
5. Holiday Cooking
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Each Friday we do a cooking activity. This picture, a little blurry, is our Reindeer Sandwich Cookbook.  It is simply a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with raisin eyes, cherry nose, and pretzel antlers. 
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After cooking, we used guided writing to write our recipe.
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