Category Archives: Ideas šŸ’”

DIY Children Ornaments

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Every year, I have my students make ornaments to decorate the classroom Christmas tree. On the last day of school before Christmas break, I pack all of the ornaments for each child and send them home as a gift for the parents.

This year, the students enjoyed creating a few different ‘classroommade’ Christmas decorations. Some were used as ornaments to hang on the tree while others were used to decorate our classroom walls. All decorations encourage fine motor development and creativity!

Ornaments

So far we’ve created two ornaments for our Christmas tree. Below you will find the materials needed, the steps involved, and the skills practiced for each.

Knotted Christmas Tree

Materials:

  • Tree twigs (medium size)*
  • Various ribbons
  • String
  • Decorative item for tree topper (we used snowflake scrap-booking stickers)
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Scissors

*No trees were harmed in the process of creating our ornaments; dead twigs were picked up from the ground.

Steps:

  1. CollectĀ medium size twigs and have childrenĀ choose one. [This itself could be turned into a nature scavenge hunt activity.]
  2. Have childrenĀ cut out 3 to 10 pieces of ribbon with predetermined lengths. Also have students cut out a piece of string to be used to hang the ornament to the tree. Or have these already cut out and ready for childrenĀ to tie on twigs. The fewer the amount of ribbon pieces, the easier the activity will be for the children. Think of your child’s ability when deciding.
  3. Have childrenĀ tie the ribbon pieces to the twigs. ChildrenĀ may create patterns for added practice with this skill.
  4. Have children choose their tree topper and glue it or stick it to the twig.
  5. Help children to hot glue their string to either side of the top of the twig. (Hot glue in this step will ensure a lasting ‘hanging’ ornament.)
  6. Finally, let glue dry for a few minutes and enjoy hanging your homemade/classroommade ornament on the tree.

Skills:

  • Fine Motor
    • Cutting
    • Gluing
    • Tying
  • Math
    • Pattern making
  • Creativity!

Magnetic Work Display Clippers

Clipper Ornament Sample 2

Students truly enjoyed this project! Redirections to complete the project were very minimal and they wanted ‘more’ when the coloring was finished.

Materials:

  • Clothespins
  • Christmas erasers
  • Small Magnets
  • Markers

Steps:

  1. Have childrenĀ choose their eraser. [I found the erasers at our local Dollar Store!]
  2. Have childrenĀ color their clothespins (hopefully to match their eraser).
  3. HelpĀ children to hot glue their erasers to one side of their clothespin.
  4. Help childrenĀ to glue or stick magnets to the other side of their clothespins. [We ended up needing three small magnets per clothespin. Place clothespin on magnetic surface to ensure the amount of magnets glued will be enough to hold up your ornament.]
  5. Write child’s name and year on the side or back of the clothespin.
  6. Finally, clipĀ your beautiful ornament toĀ the Christmas tree or stick on the refrigerator to display works of art.

Skills:

  • Fine Motor
    • Coloring
    • Gluing
    • Pencil Grasp
  • Creativity!

 

These were very fun and easy to make! My students and parents will definitely enjoy the ornaments. These will also serve as beautiful memories of their first grade. Are you willing to give it a try? Share your homemade ornaments!

 

It Feels Like Christmas in our Classroom!

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It Feels Like Christmas in our Classroom!

Christmas season is here! And while so much is happening in our classroom… lessons to teach, classwork to complete, reevaluations to schedule, strategies to implement, data to record, etc., etc., etc…. there is always time to join in the holiday fun and make memories while we deck the [walls] šŸ™‚

So here is a collection of some of the things we do in our classroom during Christmas time. Many ideas have been taken from Pinterest, while others have been a compilation of ideas that Ms. Crystal (my wonderful paraprofessional) and I have put together over the years (whether individually or collectively).

Ornament Making

We have our students create their own ornaments to decorate the classroom tree. There is nothing better than bragging about how my students made their own ornaments šŸ˜‰ Plus, for our Family Christmas Activity, these go home with our kiddos so that they can be displayed in their own home. {More info on the ornaments we’ve made coming soon…}

Christmas Artwork Displays

Creating Christmas art is the best! Better than lights and red + green pre-made decorations, is student-made work. These help to create the Christmas atmosphere in the classroom while displaying colorful student-made artwork. (Notice the ‘light it up blue’ light bulbs had to make an entrance in December!) {More info on the artwork we’ve made coming soon…}

Christmas Group Effort Decorations

Every year there are special Christmas displays that require group effort. This year, we created student mistletoe[s] which hang from the ceiling above each corresponding child, a wreath using student hand-print cutouts, and stockings made out of paper which students had to lace with yarn (displayed above from left to right, respectively). {More info on the collective decorations coming soon…}

Teacher-Made Displays

I am absolutely in love with this chimney made completely from paper that Ms. Crystal made years ago. She has kept it for many years and it has adorned our classroom the last two years. Last year, it was displayed on the wall under the “Student Work” board. This year, for lack of space, we were ‘forced’ to think outside the box and placed it on our big book furniture. What an excellent idea it was! It gives this paper display more dimension and adds character to our small classroom. Of course the Christmas lights hidden behind the chimney fire also help to give it life šŸ™‚

Christmas Pictures

Utilizing the our Christmas tree and chimney, we created our very own Christmas photo shoot display! This is new this year. We plan to print these out and gift them to the parents. Aren’t they adorable?!

There is always something due or things that MUST be done. However, we should never forget to take the time and create with out students and children. Their [unique] artwork and [super cute] pictures are memories that you can turn to year after year. Years pass, children grow, seasons change, but the memories you create with your little ones will last a lifetime! šŸ™‚

Our Classroom Rules

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This year, I wanted to truly review our classroom rules daily. In order to get my students’ d r i f t i n g attention, I decided to use 3D visuals.  

 

I went ahead and used multiple Mr. Potato body parts as visuals for each rule (I stuck them to the vertical surface using sticky putty). I saw a few versions of this on Pinterest. After seeing a couple of ideas, I was able to add my own twist.

I added the mustache on the top left corner (“Mustache you to follow the classroom rules”). I also changed the typical “quiet mouths” to “talking mouths”– with my students with autism, I need to constantly prompt the use of words. The first week, I only had the first 5 rules and then couldn’t believe I left out the one my students typically have the most trouble with- SITTING (“bottom in chair”). 

I really love our classroom rules! This particular display has been the most successful in getting student attention and in having them refer back to it when rules are broken. 

To My Sunday School Class…

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To My Sunday School Class…

I remember my anxiety levels and the nervousness that would take over me when I first started learning English at the age of 12. I was terrible at public speaking; hated the thought of a crowd with their staring eyes burning holes through me. The idea of being a target of their unknown, cruelĀ and judgmental thoughts, horrified me! And then one day, my pastor asked me to help teach Sunday School! Me! Plain Jane teaching a group of googly-eyed, 5 to 12 year olds when I, myself, was only 16. Or perhaps, more like Plain Juana- I was on my 4th year of English speaking experience and my accent was not the best, to put it nicely.

At first, I began simply helping the person who was originally in charge, then it became a co-teaching effort until I was finally on my own. Thinking back now, 10 years later, this was the genesis of my teaching career. This is how I slowly fell in love with the one thing that terrified me and made me lose sleep at night.

When I started taking classes at the College of Education in Florida International University (Go Panthers!)- my Sunday school students became my guinea pigs. I began implementing strategies I had learned during the week. I began creating teacher-made materials to bring up the level of interest in my lessons. I even spent hours on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings on the floor of my room planning for my once-a-week chance to be a teacher, even if my chance was only for a couple of hours. I remember doing so much with them! And then, I became a public school teacher.

I don’t mean the latter in any negative way. I still teach Sunday school once a week. I am perhaps not as enthusiastic as I once was. I may be a little more tired, a little less creative, and a lot more to-the-point. But I love teaching! Aside from their parents, I am perhaps the first teacher at least half of my students ever had. And so, they are my children; my very first students!

Although I teach them about the Word and often advice them in real life situations, I am not sure that I have ever clearly stated how much I truly appreciate and love them. Childhood is such a crucial stage in life. I have read that often times the personality a child will have as an adult is fully developed by the age of 5. Honestly, I can’t attest to the veridity of this statement or to it coming from a trustworthy source; but I can’t help but wonder how much love, dedication and guidance, or lack thereof, make or break a child. I remember when I was in Sunday school, myself, how my teachers and youth pastors reached out to me and my peers and how much their words of encouragement meant for us. It is also not easy being a teenager in today’s day and age. I realized how much more open and straight forward I have to be about how much their lives matter, not just to God but to me.

As we began getting ready to return back to school this past week, I wanted to do something special for them. I had run across a couple of ‘candy messages’ on the Internet, but I never knew when to bring that idea out. After much deliberation, I figured this was the perfect opportunity. I went to the Dollar Store (yeah, best teacher-salary friendly store ever) and bought a couple of candies that could be used to write such messages. I currently have students ranging in ages 7 to 16! So, I figured incorporating a couple of funny-but-perhaps-not-totally-pew-appropriate language would be the way to reach out to them.


In the end, this was the message I came up with:

“My lovely Nerds, this message is for you! I know Reese’s is over and is time to go to school! I’ll make this message short and sweet so you don’t lose your cool. I just wanted to give you some advice because I love your guts, go give the best of you and Crush some homework butt! Sometimes you’ll be quick to think that you’re Air Heads and you’re Goobers. But don’t let people think you’re that! You do more than pick your boogers… Despite the Snickers you think you might get this new school year, remember if you work Extra hard, you’ll be sure to lose ALL fear. It doesn’t matter how many Sour Patch-es you may go through …even twenty! If you place the Lord above all else, you’ll see the Good & Plenty. GO and CONQUER the world my little Smarties. Mounds of Kisses, Annie.

I hope this post encourages someone out there to take the time to tell someone they love how appreciated they are. No matter how creatively, or plainly, your message is delivered, it will one day make a huge difference in the life of your little ones. So go and spread the Mounds of love.