Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
One of my very favorite teacher gifts with Cooper each year are Christmas Potpourri Jars.  They are simple, fun to make and EVERYONE loves them!  

Oranges, cinnamon sticks, and whole cloves (although I sometimes use ground at home if I am in a pinch! just packages prettier in the jars to use whole!) And sometimes I add cranberries and twigs of pine to my mom's recipe for more color for the gifts.

Slice the oranges in fourths.  I put them in the jar this way too...much prettier to me than just a whole orange!  And they fit better!

 Add a layer of cranberries (this year Cooper practiced counting to 25 as he added them! :) ), then the oranges to the jar, then 2-3 cinnamon sticks....

Then add the rest of the ingredients....and spread some smiling Christmas cheer along the way!  Such an easy thing for littles to help with too!  Bless my little long haired baby!  Where did he go??

Turn on the heat and enjoy!  Isn't it so pretty?

For teacher gifts, we used the small mason jars {I really can't remember what official size they are...they were ones I just had around the house!}

In each jar, we put...
*4 slices of oranges
*a handful of cranberries
*close to a Tablespoon of whole cloves {no official measuring here, though!}
*a small twig of pine
*2 cinnamon sticks

A little craft paper circle to add some ruffles under the lid, a string of raffia and a tag. Here's a pic of the jar with the Christmas tag I made.  Simple, fun to make!

This year, I just wrote our notes on top of the lids with a little washi tape.

Cooper is always so happy to give out his gifts.   And Mommy loves that he is learning at such an early age that, "God loves a person who gives cheerfully."
I'm so excited to start learning about the Christmas story with my preschoolers at church!  I only had 2 Sundays to do Christmas this year because of Christmas falling on a Sunday and vacation, but we still had fun squeezing in what we could!

Exploration Stations

My preschoolers LOVE our exploration stations for each of our Bible units.  And I love that their play is purposeful and connects to what we are learning.  I blogged in detail about exploration stations earlier, but here's a look at a few of our favs from our Christmas unit...

Christmas Story Ornament Match:

Nativity Pretend Play:

Christmas Sensory Tub:

Building a stable for baby Jesus...

Bible Story Time

During our bible story time, we read used the Bible story visuals from my unit to tell our story.

We had a key word to listen to {angels for this lesson} and they made a halo on their head every time they heard "angel" during the story.  I love adding in motions during story time to help our early listening skills! ;)

Retelling the Christmas Story

For this unit, we used the Who Am I? game from my unit to practice our retelling.  I put a character from our lesson in a Christmas gift bag and read the clues from the correlating cards to my preschoolers.  They had so much fun guessing who the Christmas character was and "opening presents" to find out if they were right!  {This would be perfect for older kids like first graders to do with partners once they can read!}


After our Bible time, we play games and finish our coloring {coloring is one of our exploration stations at the beginning of Sunday School}.  I love setting aside some time for coloring in preschool because it's so important for practicing those fine motor skills and holding a pencil that are so important in handwriting!  Since my class this year is almost all boys (!), I've started playing a short kids song during our coloring time to give them a goal for focusing on coloring.  I start the song and they try to see if they can sit and color during the entire 2-3 minute song.  This has worked WONDERS for my boys!  They love listening to the music and singing along and I love watching their fine motor skills grow!

This week, we listened to Hark! The Harold Angels Sing! since our lesson was about the angels.  They had a blast listening for our focus word and making their halos while we were coloring too!

And I can't wait to make these adorable ornaments this coming week as we learn about the birth of Jesus!

Check out all of these activities and much, much more in this 70 plus page Bible Unit!

The kiddos were so excited to get Santa's workshop in full swing... Making ornament gifts for parents gets giggles every year and I love that sweet sound of cheerful givers in my classroom!  Read to find out more about the two ornaments we made for parents this year!

I've been making this Rudolph ornament for a really long time...probably at least 6 of the 9 years I've taught.  I found it on a friend's Christmas tree at a party a while back and thought it was adorably simple and cute!  My first graders can make this entire ornament without any adult help...which is one of the things I love about it!

The other ornament we made, ribbon Christmas trees, was a new one I found on Pinterest and loved!  And unlike the Rudolph, it needs LOTS of adult help....but is perfect to work on during table station rotations or to do during small group time those last few crazy days before break!

First, I cut 6 ribbons for each kid:
*2 eight inch greens
*1 seven inch green
*1 seven inch red
*1 six inch green
*1 six inch red

I also die cut yellow stars out of laminated yellow card stock.  The last thing I prepped was cutting brown pipe cleaners in half and adding a loop to the top for hanging.
I called the kids back in groups of 4 kids at a time.  The rest of the class worked on letters to Santa while I did this.  It's also included in my Elf Packet.

Anyways, in our small groups, they each got one of the 6 lengths of ribbons.  They each ordered the lengths of their ribbons from shortest to longest {Hello, Common Core math standard!}.  Then, they worked with a partner to help each other tie on the ribbons, tying the shortest one closest to the loop and working down to the longest.
 Once all the ribbons were tied, I tightened them and then "trimmed" the edges with scissors to make the ribbons into even more of a Christmas tree shape.  Last we added the star on top with some hot glue! **TIP: the ribbons are cut extra long to make it easier for little fingers to tie.  You trim them down to a more appropriate size when you trim the edges! :)**

 By the end of the day we had a stack of ornaments on our back table ready to be gifted!

Gifts and Christmas cards were sent home Thursday afternoon...with one day to spare before Christmas break!  What are your favorite ornaments to make with kids?  (Read more parent gift ideas here).
Years ago, I taught with a precious girl who made these yummy smelling gingerbread ornaments with her first graders.  They smelled so good you could seriously smell them all down the hall!  Through the years, I've made them as parent gifts with my first graders and when we had my son, we started making them at home for our kitchen tree.  It's a tradition I look forward to every Christmas!

I can smell them just looking at the pictures!! :)

No Bake Gingerbread Ornaments Recipe:
*3/4 Cup cinnamon (1 tall spice bottle)
*1 Tbsp allspice (about 1/3 short bottle)
*2 Tbsp ground cloves (2/3 short bottle)
*1 Tbsp ground nutmeg (1/3 short bottle)
*1 Cup applesauce

Mix all of the ingredients together.

Roll on wax paper.


Repeat until you've used all of the dough.

Let dry on the wax paper...

Make a hole in the top with a tooth pick (when I made these in the classroom, the kids and I used a pencil to make the hole!)

It takes about 5-7 days for them to dry completely!  But man do they make your classroom and house smell like Christmas!  My first graders always loved the smell!

I added twine to mine this year for my tree, but you can add any yarn or ribbon you like!

This recipe makes about 12-15 so you will need to double the recipe for your classroom!

Wishing you and your family the happiest of holidays and a blessed Christmas season!  You can see them on our kitchen tree and the rest of our Christmas decorations HERE!

Earlier this week, I blogged about the content packed fun Christmas activities we did, but this little blog is devoted to all of those classroom celebrations for Christmas! :)

Parent Gifts

I love these gifts that the first graders make at my new school!  It's my first year for these and they turned out adorably!  One of my teammates got the 6 inch tiles donated from a local tile store so they were very little cost too!

And since one of my sweeties' moms is a first grade teacher at our school, he chose to do a different design to surprise her!

Didn't they wrap up so nicely? (One small group at a time.... *wink, wink*)

Cards for Parents

We made cards to go with our gifts this year and I love how fun they turned out.  I've done the Christmas trees before, but I wanted to give my kids a few more options this year.  I cut small strips of scrapbook paper.  I piled them by color on our back counter.  The kids grabbed the colors they needed and went to work.  I had my examples for them to copy, which most did....

But a few went off on their own.  One made a candy cane (which I didn't get a picture of) and another one made this present!

First Grade Gifts

So here's the teacher fail moment of the year....

I always get my kiddos the dollar book from Scholastic's December magazine issue as their main Christmas gift.  This dollar book to be found.  And let's face it, my teacher salary can't afford $2.00 books for 25 kiddos every year!

So, I had to get a little crafty.  Since we were finishing our Fables Unit and had been reading How The Grinch Stole Christmas, I decided to make some know, home-made green play-doh with a little glitter added in.

First of all, I'm in love with how they wrapped up!  We played pass the present {on the word "Grinch"} while reading the story again, and the kids were super excited about their gift!
You can grab the gift tags HERE.

Besides the fact that I *failed* to get my kids a book for Christmas this year, my play-doh gift *failed* too.  Oh, it looked super cute.  But my kids begged to play with it.

And it was messy.

Like super bad messy.

Like the kind of messy where play doh sticks all over 25 kid's hands and they can't wash it off.

And the carpet.  OOOOHHHH, the carpet had play doh all in it!

So, yeah, it was pretty much a bust, but hopefully I can make it up to them at the end of the year! :)

And, actually, looking back on it, it was really a great gift idea...but maybe I'll try buying the play-doh next time and adding the glitter into that to keep it from being so messy!

Christmas Phonics

The week before Christmas Break, we took a break from phonics and just did review.  So, I supplemented with some Christmas poems from my Year Long Poetry Pack.  We focused on ordinal number words and quotation marks with this one!

Class Giving Project

I saved the best for last!  I am SUPER proud of my class this year.  As part of our Fables Unit, we read the Giving Tree (read about those activities HERE) and decided on a class service project.  We set a goal of giving 34 cans of food to our local food bank through our school's food drive.  We ended up giving over 75 cans of food--more than double our goal! (The picture was taken before our final cans came in!)
It's the last week before Christmas break.

And it'd be super easy to cash it in this week and print off some Christmas color by number and busy worksheets and call it teaching.

But fluff stuff for the sake of fluff stuff is just not how I roll!  It's a waste of my kids' time, a waste of paper, and just flat out boring to this teacher!

So, we kept plugging away on our fables unit!  One of our last fables of this unit was Town Mouse, Country Mouse.  Even though this story isn't terribly "Christmas-y," I love doing it around Christmas time because it's so easy to talk about wants and needs with this book!

We started off reading the book and retelling the story, just as we did with the other fables.

Then, we reread the story and talked about wants and needs.  We charted what wants and needs mean and then after we read the story, discussed what wants and needs the mice had in the story. (I did not add any of the wants and needs picture cards until later...)

Students worked with partners or alone depending on preference to sort the wants and needs of the Town Mouse and the Country Mouse.

Then, we checked them together (notice the checkmarks and stars on this kiddo's work!) and I added the correct picture cards to our chart.

The next day, we extended this activity by writing about students' own wants and needs for Christmas....

I love activities like this that are Christmas friendly and fun, but still substantial in content!
My kiddos are in love with our fables and economics unit on life lessons right now!  Since each table group is named after a fable from our unit, the kids are on the edge of their seats waiting for us to read *their table's* fable!

The first part of this week, we read The Giving Tree.  Here's a look at all of the economics and life lessons we packed into this 3 day series...

Sequencing the Story

We read The Giving Tree.  We talked about the life lesson and posted it at the table group.

And then my firsties worked in partners to sequence the story with our sequencing cards during Readers' Workshop.

The Giving Project

We reread The Giving Tree and focused on whether or not the story was a fable or not.  We used our fable anchor chart to record whether or not we saw the elements...

(You can find this anchor chart template here.)

Then, we talked about the life lesson again and made a list of the things the Giving Tree gave to the boy {apples, branches, trunk} and I reinforced that the giving made him happy.  Then, we talked about the fact that the tree gave things she already doesn't have to mean buying things.

We brainstormed a list of things we can give that we already have...without spending money...

We chose two of those ideas {because we couldn't agree on just one!!} to work on as a class giving project: cards for a nursing home and participating in our school's canned food drive.  We will be working on cards later this week, but we started collecting cans on Wednesday!

To help my firsties understand how good it feels to give to others in need, we set a class goal for collecting canned foods!

Scarcity & Opportunity Cost

We reread The Giving Tree.  We reviewed our economic terms goods, services, and resources from our Little Red Hen series.  Then, I introduced the terms scarcity and opportunity cost.  We talked about the connections. {When resources are scarce, we have to make choices...which means we have an opportunity cost.}

We charted the scarce resources the tree gave {which we listed on Day 2} and then discussed the choice the boy made with that resource and the opportunity cost he gave up because of his choice...

Finally, during Writers' Workshop, my firsties wrote about whether or not they agreed with the boy's choices and why.

I love love LOVE this story during the Christmas season.  Even though it's not a "Christmassy" story, it's the perfect addition to our Life Lessons Unit during the holidays!  I love how it really brings out the true giving spirit in my firsties...and I'm quite sure they will meet their goal of 34 cans before Christmas Break!

Grab The Giving Tree mini-unit  or get the full 200+ page Life Lessons Unit with this plus many more fables and activities!
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