Monday, December 17, 2012

Tis the Season {Parent Gift Idea}

Today my students made Christmas gifts for their parents.  I absolutely adore this project and am so glad that my friend H introduced it to me several years ago.   

Here it is:

Aren't they adorbs?  The best part is, they are so, so easy!  I'll admit, I was kind of lame at taking step by step pictures, but it is a fairly self explanatory project.

You will need:
  • 1 empty soup can per student (I prefer the "Family Size" taller cans, but any size will do)
  • 2 cans of Krylon white flat paint (do not substitute, I decided to try the cheapo Walmart brand this year and it was awful....I still ended up getting some Krylon to smooth things over)
  • 1-2 packages of 3/8 inch birch buttons (for the nose)
  • orange acrylic paint
  • wax paper
  • 1 glove per student (I usually get the packs of "mini" gloves from Target but this summer I scored some on clearance at JoAnns for 50 cents a pair!)
  • ribbon
  • strips of fabric (I buy 2 fat quarters and tear them into 1 inch wide strips.)
  • pink acrylic paint
  • Sharpies
  • Hot glue gun

I always have the kids bring in the cans and $1 to cover the cost of supplies.  Start collecting early, depending on your group it may take a while to get those cans!

1. Spray paint the outside of the empty cans.  This will likely take a few coats.  I lay a cheapo shower liner down in my backyard and get to spraying.

2. Put the birch buttons into a ziploc bag and place a few drops of orange acrylic paint into the bag.  Zip it shut and squish everything around until the buttons are coated in paint.  Set them out to dry on wax paper.

I do steps one and two at home, over the weekend. When I get to school, I prep things by completing steps three and four.

3. Place a glove on top of each can.

4. Tear the fat quarters into 1 inch wide strips. I always get a few different colors or prints so the students can choose.

Now it's time for the students to do their part.  I've found that it is easier to call students over a few at a time to my side table to put the details on their snowmen because they need help tying and trimming things.

5. Let your students choose a strip of fabric for the snowman's scarf.  I usually have them tie the scarf on themselves, but some don't know how to tie a knot.  They will be long, but that's OK, just trim off the excess once they are tied and knotted at the base of the can. 

6.  Let the students choose a coordinating ribbon and tie it around the fingers of the glove.  Don't bother tying a bow, just knot it in place.  You can get ribbon for pretty cheap around the holidays at Michael's.

7. Have students use a Sharpie to draw two eyes and a mouth on their snowman.

8. Then, have them "barely" dip their finger in pink paint to make cheeks.  I tell them to dab it in place and then rub it around a bit.

9. Hot glue the orange birch button nose in place for the students.

That's it!  We don't get fancy on the wrapping.  The snowmen will be placed in a brown lunch bag and tied shut with ribbon.  The kids already filled out a gift tag to put on the bag.

This project is super simple and the kids love it!  All morning long I heard, "Aww, they're so cute!" and of course, "Do we get to take them home today?"

What do you do for parent gifts in your classroom?

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Let's Write About Reindeer Food

Today, we were in the holiday spirit and made some Reindeer Food.  Don't worry, I threw in some academics too.  ;)

I put out trays with supplies needed to make this reindeer treat {oatmeal, glitter, spoons, small cups for scooping, and baggies}.  I walked the students through the process of making a bag of food and then we completed a shared writing entitled, "How to Make Reindeer Food." My apologies for not taking any pictures of this process.  Sometimes, the day just gets away from me.  Can anyone relate?

I do shared writing throughout the school year (not all the time, of course), but I love to involve the students in the process and I think it helps struggling writers to feel more successful.  I typically use strategies like "think/pair/share" or tasking students with writing ideas on their mini whiteboards as we write. These are easy ways to keep them engaged in the shared process.

Sometimes, I have the students write each sentence that we construct together immediately after I write it, but this experience was a little different.  As the students copied the complete paragraph onto their own writing paper, I walked around and stapled a cute little poem to their bag.

I found this cute little poem here.  The kids are very excited to sprinkle it on their "lawns" {in the desert, most of us have rocks, not lawns}!


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