Showing posts with label end of year. Show all posts
Showing posts with label end of year. Show all posts
I love giving my kids a gift at the end of the year.  This especially worked well when we had our end of the year awards party! (Read about those parties here and here.)

One of the reasons why I love giving them so much is that I love the challenge of finding something memorable, fun, but on a budget!  After all, who here can afford to spend tons of spare cash on 25 littles?? #notme

Here are some of my favorite gift ideas for kids at the end of the year that won't break your cheap teacher bank! (And many are great for birthday favors or small random teacher gifts too!)
{affiliate links are included in this post to help feed my sweet tooth and support my corner of cyber real estate!}


This was one of my end of the year gifts the year we had a western themed awards party.  I just used rafia to tie the tag around the Root Beer bottle.  So cute and easy!  This one would also be perfect for a Root Beer loving teacher during teacher appreciation week! Find the tags HERE!

Krazy Straws

I actually used this one for Valentine gifts for my son's friends one year, but they work perfectly for the end of the year too!  I bought a bag of krazy straws for super cheap.  Then, we threaded them through the tag and they were ready to go!  Find these tags for all occasions HERE!  And krazy straws are super cheap too.  Find those HERE.


The year we had a Luau awards party, I gave leis as gifts!  The kids LOVED these!  Since then, I've updated these tags and you can grab them HERE!  Find packs of leis for cheap HERE.


Our summer countdown elf brought these one year as one of "his" gifts.  The kids opened them and wore them all day long as we worked.  It was a huge hit with the kids and helped keep learning fun those last few days before summer break!  Find these versatile tags HERE.  And get a dozen sunglasses for super cheap HERE.

What are your favorite class gifts for summer?
Today was our class awards party~~LUAU style!

Last year I kept with our classroom theme and did a western awards party.  Read about that HERE!

But this year, we decided to brighten things up with umbrellas, lemonade and leis! :)

Here's our setup...before cookies were added and lemonade was mixed and poured!  I had back-to-back specials in the morning so I got set up and took pics before our afternoon party!

Even Jingle celebrated with a graduation cap!

When I think about partying with my firsties I always think of simple and CHEAP.  Let's face it: I'm not a rich teacher {who is??} I have to be resourceful.

So, I think space fillers!

Space Filler #1: Don't stack the cups...set them all out and add a few drink umbrellas and lemons for decoration.

Anytime fresh food can be used as decorations it's a plus visually and for the pocket book!  I had 40+ cups set out and only used 3 whole lemons for the cup decor and 1 lemon sliced up in the lemonade. Lots of bang for the buck right there!

The one thing I did "buy" were the grass arm bands from Hobby Lobby.  There were 4 in a pack for $4.99.  I got it for less than $3 with my handy dandy coupon!  It took 2 of them to tape around my drink dispenser so you could even split it with a teammate and it'd be even cheaper!  I also loved that they were the *perfect* length.  I didn't have to cut anything!  Then I just untaped and packed away to reuse another time!

I bought a pack of 144 umbrellas for 6 buckaroos on Amazon.  I just used a few here and there so that's a long life that pack will have!

Space Filler #2: I brought over the countdown chalkboard we've been using and Jingle's palm tree to take up a bit more space!  And I had one lei left over that perfectly fit around my cookie platter!

Space Filler #3: These lei's were so fun and colorful!  And in a random pile they added a punch of color and took up a good about of space!  Hobby Lobby was my friend again here.  (But Oriental Trading has some leis that are solid colors and cheaper though, if you're really looking to go cheap.)

A quick label on these made them the perfect gift!

We had a great parent turnout this afternoon and the kids really enjoyed our celebrations!  Of course, I didn't get any pics of our actual ceremony and celebrations because we were too busy celebrating! :)  But for the 2nd year, I had the kids write their own awards {included in the Elf Packet.}  I loved reading their awards and the kids just beamed with pride!  And I'm kicking myself for not taking pics of their finished awards.  We copied them on card stock and the kiddos did such a great job cutting them out! They turned out so cute!

P.S. Our last day with Jingle will be tomorrow {kids still come on Monday though!}.  We are ending our celebration with Jingle with a Summer blockbuster party.  Movie theater and popcorn and drinks! Each teacher on our team plays a movie in their room and our kiddos get to choose which movie they go watch!  So much fun and a perfect ending to our year!
As I blogged last week, we've been having a blast counting down summer with our class elf, Jingle, who happened to resurface late in the year to help control the summer crazies! :)

Here's what Jingle the Elf has been up to since I last blogged about him.

On the 8th day til summer my elf brought to me....Sunglasses!
 We got these in the same packet with the beach balls and water guns from Amazon.

Even Jingle wore his own pair of shades!

The kiddos got their shades right off the bat and got to keep them as long as they weren't used for toys and they stayed on the "nice" list.  ...Boy, I should really try this more often.  They were the cutest and SO well behaved!

Brain breakin' with our kool kid shades...

What makes writing time even better??? SUNGLASSES!

Jingle, left a dress up page for my firsties to fill out to give him some ideas of how to dress for summer.  We brainstormed ways to dress Jingle and still keep him looking "elf-y."  They had so much fun with this and they turned out adorably!

...check out Jingle chilling on a beach towel!

Gotta love the umbrella with *jingle* bells on it!

Oh...wait a that Jingle the Elf or Where's Waldo?? :)
I loved the elf's bathing suit on this one.  And only one thing on his bucket list for the summer: rest.  Because, in the words of this sweet firstie: "He's gonna need a lot of rest to get ready for the next Christmas season!" #lovethosefirstiebrains

On the 7th Day Til Summer, my elf brought to me...WATER WARS!

Unfortunately, it was raining this day, so the kiddos just took the mini water guns home for their own water wars!

On the 6th Day Til Summer, my elf brought to me...OLAF!
 We did frozen time capsules the first week of school {read about that HERE}.  And lo and behold, Olaf kept them safe all year just as he promised!  He and Jingle returned them in the *cold* ice chest.  We filled out the end of the year time capsule printables and then compared our handprints, heights, writing, and drawing abilities from beginning to end.  Lots of "whoahs" from my firsties about how "messy" they were in August!  I love first grade for a lot of reasons, but one of the main ones is all of the growth they make in 9 short months.  It's amazing!

Here's the end of the year printables you can find in my Frozen Time Capsule Packet.

On the 5th Day Til Summer, my elf brought to me...BOOKS!  I Always get my firsties an end of the year book.  This year, Jingle brought them.  I added labels inside each book with the kids' names and signed by Jingle.  Once again, I forgot a pic of this one! :(  They have been glued to these books though...reading them all. day. long.  I just love inspiring young readers!

On the 4th Day Til Summer, my elf brought to me...ROOT BEER FLOATS!

Jingle brought the Root Beer and left a clue as to where the rest of the "frozen treat" was.  Luckily...after much searching...we found the ice cream in our cafeteria freezer! #Phew {Note, in the Summer Elf packet, the letter is written as a "frozen treat" so it can be as simple as a pop ice.  We just voted for floats this year!}





I'm so stinkin' excited about summer that I can't even contain myself!

And, clearly, I've had summer brain because I haven't even blogged about school in May...must. do. better.

We have 9 more days left until summer...and I'm feelin' it.

And the kiddos are feelin' it.

Like...big time.

Last year, on our last inservice day, we were reflecting on the summer crazies and decided that our class elf needed to make a special appearance for the last few days of school.  And then I had to wait a whole year to try it out on my firsties.
..and it's been SO. MUCH. FUN.

We are only 4 days into it and the kids are having a blast!  Here's a peek into what Mr. Jingle has been  up to for the last 12ELF days til Summer...

On the 12ELF Day til Summer...Jingle brought an "I'm BAAAA-AAAACK!" note along with a countdown chalkboard and a sunny palm tree.

On the 11th day...Jingle brought mini-beach balls for a beach ball party!

Love the tags and they make it so real for the kids!  They keep talking about how lucky they are that Jingle chose them to come back to!
And I really wish I'd taken pictures of the adorable beach balls blown up.  They were about 4 inches tall.  Perfectly elf-sized!  The kids thought they were totally adorable, because, well, they were!!  I also loved that they were easy for my firsties to blow up on their own! *wink* I set a 10 minute timer for our "party" and let the kids sign their beach balls with sharpies and play with them.

On the 10th day til summer...Jingle ended up with a sunburn { dry erase marker} all over his face.  So we stayed inside and had a paper airplane party.  At Jingle's suggestion of course!

Poor Jingle and his sunburn!

He even folded his daily letter like an airplane!

On the 9th day til Summer...Jingle is bringing a dance party!  And what's a good dance party without a hula skirt {made from brown craft paper... or you could use raffia} and a lei {the wrist bracelets from Hobby Lobby}??

I know the kids are gonna be pumped about this one!  Grab my Summer Elf Packet for all of the letters and bag labels, plus ideas for each of the 12 days and more elf fun!  I'll be blogging about the other 9 days later on {HERE} so follow me on Facebook or Instagram to check back in!
Welcome to the {for me anyways!}  We have finally made it!!

Today was our Class Awards Party.  In the past, our school has always done grade level awards ceremonies, but with 860+ kids this year, it just wasn't practical to do it that way...imagine telling 175 first graders to sit completely quiet and still after they've received their exciting awards! *wink*

So, this year, our principal asked us to do our awards in our classroom.  I think this worked out great! I've seen ideas on Pinterest in the past of people doing awards in their own classroom and I was excited to be able to make our awards celebration a little more personal!

I set up our room by making a "red carpet" right down the middle of our carpet area...

I made a backdrop for our Promethean Board that I thought would be fun and be a good backdrop for parents' pictures. {I took the red carpet picture before I had turned on the back drop...}

The kids sat on either side of the red carpet facing the carpet and I called out each kid and their awards.  Since it was just our class, I was able to add a few personal comments that I wouldn't have been able to add at our grade level celebration.  In addition to their award certificates, each firstie got their finished memory book we have worked on during our writing time the past two weeks or so.  I have always made some sort of scrapbook for my kids.  The first several years my kids wrote a narrative story about a school event each month and I bound those together. It was an awesome collection for the kids and a great way to show their growth in writing.  BUT...because my school is so highly mobile, some of my kids ended up with only 2 pages in their book.  So, when I found this adorable and **FREE** memory book, I knew it was just what I needed!  We work on 1-2 pages a day.  I only do 10 pages of the memory book.  Then, I make a cover and back page with card stock, stamps, and scrapbook paper.  The front page has a class picture and titles.  The back page has each student's picture {although that hasn't been added in this pic will be on the top left corner.} We get free sticker pictures from Lifetouch, our yearbook photography company, and I use those!  I also type a personalized note to each of my kids and then decorate it with a few stamps!

And while it turns out so SOOOOO cute, it takes a lot of time.  Like hours.  Over a few days.  So this year, while I was putting them together, I decided that next year, I will be making a digital version of the cover and back page so that I can just update information and print!  I use MPix to print a lot of my color pages because it's fast, super cheap and on thick paper.  That's what I plan on doing next year.  They are customizable with step-by-step instructions on how to customize them. Here's one design I've already worked on that matches our school colors...

I think the digital version is just as cute, if not cuter...and I will get back TONS of hours in May!

One way I was able to make our awards celebration more personal this year was by doing a "I'm proud of myself for..." award.  I wanted to be able to say something special about each kid and I thought it might be special if part of that came from the kids! So, this morning before our awards, the kids reflected on our year and wrote about one thing they have accomplished at school that makes them proud.  I told them it could be a project they completed that they weren't sure they could do, or even a character trait that they worked hard on this year.  We also brainstormed encouraging phrases to write on the "award" on their paper.... some of our ideas were: I rock! First grade rules! #1 first grader! And the list goes on....they had a blast coming up with encouraging phrases!

Download the "I'm proud of myself for" award for FREE here:

I got so busy getting our party ready that I forgot to take pics of some of the awards kids wrote for themselves.  Boo! There's always next year though...

After all the kiddos got their awards, they took their parents back to their desks and showed them their IB portfolios.  Part of our school being an IB school is keeping portfolios on kids from kindergarten through 5th grade.  The portfolios have writing samples and work samples from each of our 6 units we teach throughout the year.  The kids love getting to show their parents their hard work!

Then, it was time for cookies and punch! Since my room is decorated western, I just decided to do a western celebration this year!  I brought some burlap from home and resused some bandanas to decorate my back kidney table with punch and cookies.  No fancy punch recipe...just ginger ale and strawberries!

Before I sent my sweeties on their merry way home, I gave them one last end-of-the-year gift.  This is a new one for me this year and one of those ideas that just literally popped in my head in the middle of wal-mart.  The problem was, I was already in the parking lot headed home, so I had to make another trip.  Darn, my poor timing issues!! ;)  But I think it was totally worth the extra trip!

Hop on over to my store to get the labels to make your own!

It really has been a "Rootin' Tootin'" year and I've had a blast with this sweet first graders.  Sure will miss 'em!
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