Christmas Crafts for Kids

Do you want to know what's been keeping little hands busy in my house this December?

It all started with a not-so-little visit to Pinterest:

My daughter likes window shopping from the comfort of home just as much as I do.  I love crafting with her, so I didn't mind that her wishlist was a mile long!  Over the course of about 10 days, here are the projects my daughter accomplished:

Reindeer Drawing
Materials used: white paper, pencil, a black sharpie (Mom), and watercolor paints.  

The idea she first picked from Pinterest came from Artventurous, but we combined the idea with a reindeer drawing from Jennifer @ First Grade Blue Skies.  

Reindeer Ornament
Materials used: popsicle sticks, small wooden pieces, brown paint, glue, googly eyes, red pom, and pipe cleaners.

This was a blending of two great craft ideas from I Heart Crafty Things and Crafts for All Seasons.  

Christmas Name Projects
Materials used: paper, pencil, sharpie (Mom), scissors, and glue.

These were inspired by Miss Kindergarten and The Roberts Gang.  

Paper Plate Santa Claus
Materials used: paper plate, scissors, paper, watercolor paints, googly eyes, red pom, and glue.

This idea came from I Heart Crafty Things.  

Photo Reindeer & Elves
Materials used: paper, paint, cotton balls, red poms, scissors, glue, and photographs printed in black & white.  My daughter decided she wanted to paint a "patter-en" (as she calls it) for the arms and legs rather than try the accordion fold.  I helped with the antlers, elf hat, and elf shoes.  We decided to make Little Mister a reindeer, too!

Both of these pins were dead ends.  If you know the original sources, please share!

Ribbon Wreath Plate
Materials used: paper plate, hole punch, and ribbon.  This was a great lesson in patience and weaving for her.  The plate was done just in time to hold the cookies we brought to share for her preschool Christmas program!

I found this idea links back to Simply Southern.  

Ornament Art
Materials used: paper, paint, plastic fork, scissors, glue, and sharpie (Mom).  She will be giving these cards to her teachers at school along with their gifts.

The inspiration for these cards came from Red Ted Art.  

I hope something caught your eye and you'll give it a try.  Now I'll leave you with this:

Merry Christmas!

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Odd & Even Practice with a Holiday Twist

By second grade, most students have a great grasp on odd and even numbers.  However, there is always a small handful who need a little intervention.  With December being a shorter month, it's a great focus for intervention groups.  Here's what I use to keep the interest level high with my struggling students while we practice, practice, practice!

I don't know about you, but I have had a small handful of students who can identify odd and even numbers, but cannot explain why (other than to recite one of the poems they have been taught). Here's a great tool I use to help students:

Draw and Find the Perfect Pair

During small group instruction, I like to keep students engaged with hands-on activities and games. 

Stocking Sort
I place the stocking labels on lunch sacks.  The sorting cards have numbers and pictures on them.  Students draw a card, identify it as even or odd, and place it into the bag.  Sometimes we'll do speed sorts to see if students can get faster and faster.

While I'm working with my small groups, the other students are working independently on games or practice pages. Here is what students might be doing: 

Stocking Spin, Tally, & Graph
Normally I place this practice page into a sheet protector and have students use dry erase markers so the page can be used over and over again.  However, I also use it as a one-time page for my small group:

The A-MAZE-ING Stocking Race
There are actually two versions of this page: one for odds and one for evens.  If you have students who tend to use their neighbor's brain instead of their own, you could alternate the pages to keep things interesting!

The Stockings Were Hung
This one is great for practice or for pre/post assessments.

All of the pages mentioned above (and more) can be found in my Stuff Those Stockings pack.You can read more about it by clicking here or on the picture below:

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When No One is Looking {An Entertaining Poem for Kids}

I don't know about you, but sometimes I just need to take a break from expository, narrative, and opinion writing and introduce poetry to my students to capitalize on their creativity.  While poetry is a great way for students to express that creativity, sometimes students need a gentle nudge to get started.  That's why I love using different poetry forms with my students.  Today I'm here to share with you a very entertaining poem template that my students love: When No One is Looking.  

"Can a dog twirl a baton?"
"Would a dog order a pizza?"
"Did you know dogs also like to cross the monkey bars?"
"Have you heard that dogs love to ride bikes with their friends?"

These are just some of the questions I ask when I'm getting my students started.  Yes, they look at me like I have lost my mind, but the sillier the statements, the more engaged and ready your students will be to write!  I project the template up on the screen and students write the poems in their journals.

After some revisions and editing, I type the poems for my students onto a single piece of paper.  Then I give them a second sheet of paper to illustrate their poem.  Finally, we mount the pages and combine everything into one entertaining class book!  Here are some completed poems:

Another benefit to this project is your students can really go wild with the subject of their poem.  Most students will start with pets like dogs, cats, or fish.  Some students branch a little further out and write about wolves, cobras, or dolphins.  But, I should warn you that your most creative students will come up with some out-of-the-box ideas like fuzzies, germs, and even molecules!

I've honestly tried looking to see where this idea came from since I've been using it longer than most blogs and Pinterest have existed.  The closest reference I can find online is a book called "What Cows Do When No One is Looking" by Bruce Thompson, but I cannot find this book in print.

However, I found (and now own) this book:
When No-one's Looking On the Farm by Zana Fraillon & Lucia Masciullo
(Published in Australia)

I love the word choice, rhythm, and rhyme of the text.  The actions of the animals are not the most predictable, but your students will be begging to know what silly activity the animals will be up to next!

Here's what Amazon has to say: 

"What do all those animals on the farm do when no one is looking?
 The ducks in the pond
swim and paddle all day.
They dip-dive and swirl
in fountains of spray.
But when no-one's looking . . .
 The animals on the farm can swim, stomp, and run. But when no one is looking, they have all kinds of fun! A charming lift-and-reveal picture book perfect for young children playing on the notion that animals are up to funny and often absurd activities when no one is looking."

I hope this sparks some entertaining writing in your classroom.  If you try this with your students, I'd LOVE to hear what they come up with!

Five for Friday

I'm back linking up with Kacey to share what's been happening in my little world since Thanksgiving.

First and foremost, have you noticed my blog is sporting a fresh, new look?  This updated design is courtesy of the talented Megan, from A Bird in Hand Designs,  She worked hard to get my design just the way I wanted and I love it!

I finished up a new pack for Cam Jansen and the Snowy Day Mystery. Let's just say this one jumped to the top of my pile as the temperatures have been dropping!  I don't know if we'll see snow this year, but I always hope for a white Christmas.

Christmas is definitely all around us.  Our elf, Candy Cane, arrived safely on the first of December.  Yes, we have an elf.  No, he is not naughty.  Mostly he just provides a fun hide-and-seek game for my daughter each morning.  At school she even started making Christmas crafts, starting with this one for Advent:

After Thanksgiving, my kids stayed with my in-laws for a couple of days.  My productivity was in high gear and I even carved out a chunk of time for some personal reading.  My friend recommended books by Sandra Brown to me.  Here's what's fired up on my Kindle right now:

So you know that productivity I mentioned above?  I recently updated all 20 of my Magic School Bus Chapter book packs! Each pack now includes a lined option for the comprehension questions along with a few other updates and additions.  Please go back into your TpT purchases and download the revised files.  You can click the image below to learn more about my Magic School Bus packs.

I'm hoping I can get some pictures of our house progress for next week.  Until then, have a great week!

Student-Made Christmas Gift Ideas

I have always wanted my students to make gifts for their families for Christmas, but those gifts have varied from year-to-year based on the budget I have.  If you're still looking for what to make for student gifts this year, here are some ideas I have used in the past.
This has been one of the easiest projects to make and each snowman's face is packed with personality.  These are clear glass ornaments with white batting inside.  The faces are drawn with sharpie markers and festive ribbon has been attached at the top.

I've also done fingerprint ornaments that look like this:
The biggest difference between the ones I have done and the ones in the tutorial are the materials used.  I have always purchased blue ornaments (saves a step) and used sharpies to add details to the snowmen.

Another great idea is a photo gift inspired by the book, The Best Part of Me.
This one probably takes the most prep time, but families love receiving photographs as gifts.  One year I even bought frames from the dollar store, but when I'm on a tighter budget, I've been more creative with mounting the photos on cardstock paper.

If you are on a super tight budget (aka if the school doesn't supply it, I can't afford it budget), these next two ideas are for you.
 My class usually makes 3-D trees and wreaths out of construction paper then students can decorate with crayons and yarn.  Here are some great tutorials for these crafts:
3-D Trees
3-D Wreaths

Finally, with directed drawings all over the Internet and TpT world, students (and teachers) are feeling more successful as artists.  If you've already picked your gifts, these would be terrific on the front of a Christmas card, too!
Some of my go-to sources for directed drawings:
Jennifer @ First Grade Blue Skies
Mel @ From the Pond
Art Projects for Kids

The last thing I want to share with you is a helpful tip.  If you don't want parents making their own Christmas gifts, find another teacher and see if you can swap parent volunteers for a day (or even a week).  You will both still get the help you need while keeping gifts a secret!

What gifts do your students make for their families each year?

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