30 Nov 2016 Leave a comment
20 Dec 2015 Leave a comment
We had a fun craft day at Nana’s house today! In case you are looking for a few festive ways to interact with your little ones and create keepsakes and memories, I thought I would share a few!
This was probably my favorite from today! I sent some recent photos to Costco and had them enlarged to 8 x 10. After trimming each face I glued it onto posterboard. The kids added gold hand print antlers, red noses, and their signatures! They are precious! Trying this with the 2 and 3 year old tomorrow!
I found these empty bulb shaped ornaments at a craft store. The kids filled them with glitter pom poms, curled ribbons, small pieces of scrapbook paper, sparkly pipe cleaners and foam cubes with letters on them.
I bought these red chargers at Dollar Tree. Regular acrylic paint worked great to make the reindeer handprint. The kids added black feet with their pointer finger in paint, and the face and antlers with a Sharpie. I think I might go over the Sharpie writing with glitter glue to make the black show up a little better. Also maybe a thumbprint tail? The kids used a small circle sponge in white paint to make the dots.
Each child took 3 tongue depressors (wider than popsicle sticks) and glued them together at the corners. The trunks are brown posterboard that I put through my crinkle machine.
Then they painted the “trees” green. After they dried the kids added buttons and foam stars on top.
You might have seen these thumbprint reindeer. We made individual ones for each child, but I wanted one with all 5 grandchildren on it. I started with a clear ornament and coated the inside with white paint. Details were done with a Sharpie.
Equal parts cinnamon (from a dollar store!) and applesauce makes a wonderful dough. After cutting out the shapes I used a straw to make a hole so these ornaments can hang on a tree. They take a couple of days to air dry. I borrowed this photo from Pinterest because I didn’t have one of my own.
I used to make these as parent gifts on white muslin fabric when I was teaching Kindergarten. I sewed a casing at the top and hung it from a small dowel. So cute!
These handprint snowmen have gotten very popular. You just paint the child’s whole hand white, then hand them an ornament and help them gently close their hand so each fingerprint can become a snowman. After the paint is dry details can be added with Sharpies.
Another photo that I borrowed from Pinterest, but I loved doing this craft with my Kindergartners too. I used to print them on light blue paper, then laminate them. Instead of drawing on the eyes we used to glue on jiggly eyes and a real pom pom on the hat.
It was a really fun day, making Christmas memories with my grandchildren. Owen really loved the crinkle machine. He left this crinkled sign on my door before he went home.
26 Nov 2012 5 Comments
Fairy Tales are one of my favorite kinds of stories to retell, and I especially love telling stories with a refrain that encourages the children to chime in. Of course these stories are also great for acting out. There are so many different versions of The Gingerbread Man, and so many take-off stories like Gingerbread Baby, etc. Here are a couple that I used.
The characters are often different, and sometimes the story ends in a different way, but the basic idea is that they bake a gingerbread man and he runs away.
Here are some pictures of the characters from one version that I used to make necklaces or headbands for kids to act out the story. Sometimes I reduced the size of the pictures and mounted them on popsicle sticks to make stick puppets too. You could also glue them onto an upside down paper lunch bag and make puppets that way.
Here is a little game that can be used to retell the story. After coloring and cutting out the Gingerbread Man and Fox, fold them so they stand up and can “move” along the gameboard.
Here are pictures that can also be used to sequence and retell the story:
Along with our reading, acting out and retelling of this story we made cinnamon applesauce Gingerbread Men ornaments (equal parts cinnamon and applesauce – then cut with a cookie cutter). We also cut out gingerbread men shapes and used paint and markers to decorate them. Afterward. each child would write a short sentence about something or someone that he or she could outrun.
I would make a display of this writing along with their paper decorated Gingerbread Men. On cooking day we sometimes made real Gingerbread men to eat too!
I know that I often felt like I was in this story right about this time of year saying Run, Run, as fast as you can!
I hope you are able to slow down and enjoy this special time with your children!
09 Nov 2011 2 Comments
Yesterday I shared some games that I liked playing with the whole class at parties or just when we had some time for a little fun. Today I am writing about a few activities that you might be interested in as a party center for a small group at a time. Lots of these activities can be changed a bit to fit different holidays or themes. Of course you might just choose to use some of these activities as a regular project instead of a party game.
1. 10 Little Indians
Copy a simple canoe pattern onto brown or tan paper, or have children use a tracer. Use a hole punch to make holes around the outside and give the children a long piece of yarn for lacing. I usually wrap the end of the yarn with tape to make it stiffer and easier to use.
2. Thankful Chest
Fold a 9 x 12 piece of construction paper and staple all but one long side to make a pocket. Copy a treasure chest on construction paper and have the children cut it out, then glue it to the front of the pocket. Give each child small pieces of paper to draw/write things they are thankful for. Put these inside the chest.
3. A similar idea would be for the children to make small books of things they are thankful for, you could use a treasure chest on the cover if you’d like. These are like the concept books I talked about under the writing category.
You can copy these back to back, then cut them in half to make an 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inch booklet.
4. Have children create a free cut turkey – give them real feathers, construction paper, vinyl, buttons, etc.
Vegetables and dip – remind the children the Pilgrims learned to plant and grow veggies.
Froot Loop necklaces – tape one end of a piece of yarn to the table, ask the children to create a pattern with their Froot Loops. When they are done you can tie the necklace around their neck.
I found lots of kinds of decorated turkey cookies online.
Cornbread and butter – Jiffy Mix is really pretty good! We shook whipping cream in a baby food jar to make butter. It takes quite a lot of shaking!
Apple turkeys –
We stuck one toothpick into the apple and put a gumdrop on it for a head. Then we put 4 more toothpicks for feathers, kids made a Froot Loop pattern on each toothpick feather.
Cut out a simple shape (maybe a teepee?) Fold it in half, then open it and put paint on one side. Fold it over and press to make a symmetrical design.
7. Use pictographs to decorate a bearskin shape or teepee.
8. Make a Thanksgiving placemat the children can take home to use. We used paper copies of pattern blocks to make a pattern around the edge of a 12 x 18 (or 9 x 12) construction paper. Then we made a handprint turkey in the center.
9. Melted Crayons
Give each child a picture of a turkey or cornucopia. Allow them to color it with peeled crayons on a warming tray to give a painted effect. Lots of fun! It dries right away too!
10. Drop the clothespin
Use a coffee can – or similar size container. Tape a picture of a turkey or Mayflower on the front. Children will kneel on a chair and try to drop clothespins into the can. Similar idea – Put the picture on a basket, children toss beanbags.
11. Pin the Hat on the Pilgrim (or whatever). Instead of a blindfold I taped large black construction paper circles over the lenses of children’s sunglasses. A little less lice-friendly!
12. Child Made Games
Have each child create his/her own board game. Give them a blank gameboard, stickers or clipart, markers, etc. Encourage them to “program” their game with numerals, letters, sight words or shapes. Or you could already program the gameboards and the kids just add decorations. And then play of course!
We made a spinner with a brad fastener and paper clip. You could also use dice – or give them numeral cards from 1- 5. They turn over the pile of numeral cards and flip one at a time to see how many spaces to move.
Here are some blank gameboards – sorry one is decorated with a dinosaur – just cut it off and recopy it! You can use these for any theme!
I hope you might find something fun that you can use! Happy Turkey Day!
08 Nov 2011 2 Comments
I really love getting comments and questions from people who have read my blog – it is so much fun for me! Rachel wrote that she is looking for some new games and activities for party days, and I am happy to share a few ideas. Of course every community and every school is different, the amount of parent involvement and support, whether you can ask for donations of money or supplies, the history of what has been done in the past all make a big difference in what you do for holidays and parties.
One of my strong convictions is that parent education is an important requirement of a Kindergarten teacher. I think the best way to show parents how to work with and play with their children is to provide activities for them to do together at school. Every year I had 2-3 parent/child activity days – usually one was during an evening. Sometimes the theme for this special day was Halloween or Valentine’s Day. These took the place of a traditional party. Sometimes I used a theme like Transportation or Dinosaurs for the parent/child days, and did more traditional parties for holidays. Check out the my posts on parent/child days if you are interested.
For Thanksgiving and Christmas (Winter Holidays) my children usually performed for the parents, followed by refreshments. I think that standing up in front of an audience helps children build confidence, and when they see the adults laughing and enjoying their performance it builds self esteem too. These were not elaborate performances, but each child had a chance to stand up with a small group while the entire class sang or chanted, etc. Check out my Nov. and Dec. posts for details. I invited all families to attend these performances, the amount of attendance varied from year to year. Often parents would stop in for our little show and then need to get back to work. We usually played some whole group games after refreshments.
When we had traditional parties I usually asked a few parents to come in to help supervise activities. Usually I asked each volunteer to supervise a small group of children as they went from center to center. Keeping the children in groups made it easier for them to play games at the centers. When I stationed parents at the centers and allowed the children to move independently sometimes they didn’t have enough for a game, or too many wanted to come to the center at once. One of the centers was usually creating their snack. At the end of the centers we usually gathered for some whole group games.
So here are a few ideas of games my Kindergartners enjoyed, most of them can be changed slightly to fit any holiday or theme:
1. This was usually the favorite game – I cut out a simple shape from felt – or used an object that went with the theme. For Thanksgiving you might use a felt cutout of a piece of popcorn.
One child goes where (s)he cannot see the circle of children but can easily hear – not far away.
The class is seated crisscross in a circle. I give the felt popcorn to one child and (s)he puts it down in his/her lap. All children put their hands down into their lap to make it hard to figure out who has the popcorn.
Then the kids chant:
Turkey, turkey! Come and see!
Who has the popcorn? Is it me?
The child who was not able to see (the turkey) comes to stand in the center of the circle. (S)he says the name of the person (s)he thinks has the popcorn. We use HOT or COLD to tell the child how close the guess is to the person who has the popcorn. The child has 3 guesses, if they don’t get the right person we tell them. Whether or not they guess correctly, the child who was hiding the popcorn is the new turkey, (s)he goes where they cannot see, the child who was guessing gives the popcorn to another child and they all put their hands in their lap again and say the poem again.
Another Thanksgiving version could be
Pilgrim, Pilgrim! Come and see!
Who has the wishbone? Is it me?
For Valentine’s day we used Cupid and heart, for Christmas – Santa and present; for Halloween – Skeleton and bone.
2. Here is another simple game they loved. The traditional poem goes like this;
Down around the corner at the bakery shop, there were 10 little cookies with sugar on top. Along came Timmy, all alone; and he took the green one home.
Obviously there were 10 cookies cut from different colored paper on the floor. Instead of colored paper, you could label them with color words, sight words, numerals, shapes, etc.
For Thanksgiving you could say
Down around the corner at the bakery shop there were 10 turkey cookies with sugar on top….
Then you could cut turkey shaped paper cookies and label them with numerals, words, etc.
Here is another version for Thanksgiving:
Late in November; on Thanksgiving Day
There were 10 little turkeys, who tried to run away.
Along came ___________________, all alone
And (s)he took the _________________ one home.
3. Have all the children stand up in a circle. Give one child a hula hoop. Have him/her hold hands with the next child and try to pass the hula hoop to that person without letting go of their hand. Then that child holds onto the next child’s hand and passes it again. They need one hand free, the other hand is being held by the next child.
4. Musical candy
Traditional musical chairs is a more active game, but you could ask the children to sit in a circle. You turn on a song and give the children a lunch sized paper bag containing individually wrapped small candies (I often used individually wrapped life savers). When the music stops the person holding the bag gets to take out one candy. I like this because no one is eliminated, everyone keeps playing. Once in awhile I let a child have 2 turns to keep the interest of kids who already got their candy. Sometimes after they get their candy they lose interest in the game.
5. Fruit Basket
Each child needs a piece of fruit – either laminated pictures or plastic fruit. It works best when you have 4-5 of each fruit, bananas, apples, oranges, grapes, etc. They all sit in a circle and you call out the name of a fruit. Kids with that fruit stand up and run to the spot that was just emptied by another child. After trying this with all the fruits, try calling out 2 fruits at a time. If you want everyone to move at once, call out Fruit Basket TURN OVER!
6. Relay Game
Take 2 paper lunch bags (you could decorate them with a turkey or seasonal picture)
Write out simple instructions like Jump 3 times.
You can draw/write the instructions with picture cues – or have an adult close by to help each child read their strip. Make 2 identical sets of instructions, cut them into strips and put one set into each bag. Divide the class into 2 teams. I would do this right at the circle, – half the circle one team, half the circle the other team. The bags are in the center of the circle. The first children for each team get up and take a slip from the bag. Then they do that activity in front of their group. When they go back and sit down, the next child gets up and pulls out a strip of paper with an activity. The team that finishes first wins.
Here are some ideas for the instructions:
7. Roll a ball
Pick a category like candy bars, or cartoons. Call out the name of one thing in that category (i.e. Snickers) and roll the ball to a child. That child has to call out a different item from the category (i.e. M & Ms), then roll the ball to another child who has to come up with another candy or whatever the category is. You could use Thanksgiving Foods as the category. When a child can’t think of an item you can either allow them to have a ‘conference’ with the child next to him/her – or you can change the category.
8. Count Down
This is a math game from Everyday Math but my kids asked to play it often. Everyone stands up around the circle and you choose a number. (I always chose something smaller than 20 to make the game go faster.) The children count each saying the next number – the child who says the chosen number sits down, and no longer counts. Example; they start to count – each child saying the next number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and the child saying 7 sits down. The next child starts over with 1 again, continue until there is only one child left standing. If you are working on counting through teen numbers you might want to choose a larger number. After playing it once or twice try to get the kids to predict who will be left standing.
9. Copy and Add
This is an old game, you say “I’m going to Thanksgiving dinner and I’m going to eat ________. First child says the sentence and adds a food. The next child (either go around the circle or call on a child by pulling his/her name) says the sentence, the food the first child names, and then adds another food. Continue until the kids can’t remember, it’s fine to let them help each other.
Here is an adaptation: Instead of just saying the food, have the child touch something or do a motion. The kids have to repeat the motion as well as the words.
10. Build a Tower
Have each child choose a wooden block (different shapes make it more fun)
Start with one child placing his/her block in the middle of the circle. Go around the circle and the next child stacks his/her block on top. When the tower falls, move those blocks away but continue with the next child starting a new tower
I hope the description of these games make sense to you, if not – please ask!
Tomorrow I will share some individual or small group activities that we did at parties. Thanks for reading!
12 Dec 2010 Leave a comment
Our Social Studies curriculum was made up of different strands – under the economics strand we had benchmarks that covered what it means to be a consumer and producer, and the difference between needs and wants. I thought that Christmas was a perfect time to introduce this topic.
I found this book:
Needs and Wants (Pebble Books) [Library Binding]
This whole Pebble series does a great job explaining many topics in a Kindergarten friendly way – using great pictures and simple language. (I also liked their book on Living and Non – Living.)
I usually introduced the topic of needs and wants by asking children why people had jobs – or why they worked. It usually took a few children before someone came up with the idea that people work to earn money to buy things for their families.
We discussed how every family has to make choices about how they spend their money. Then we talked about how we were so lucky in our class that everyone had enough money to buy things that they need. (Luckily in my community that is mostly true.) We listed things we need to have to be healthy and safe – food, clothes, a home, a bed, etc. Then we also said that most people do NOT have enough money to buy everything they would like to have; but don’t really need.
Sometimes I passed out magazine pictures that I precut and we sorted them by needs or wants (milk, shirt, shoes, bread = needs; doll, bike, candy = wants) You could also have the children find pictures that depict needs or wants in magazines by themselves.
After reading the Needs and Wants book we sang a song to the tune of Oh Christmas Tree. I always found that singing about a subject really helped children internalize the information.
Oh needs and wants
Oh needs and wants
We can’t have all the things we want
We really want
A lot of stuff
But sometimes there’s just not enough
Oh needs and wants
Oh needs and wants
We can’t have all the things we want.
This made a cute and funny addition to our Kindergarten Holiday Program.
I used an activity with the Polar Express to reinforce being a producer and consumer. I usually did this the last day before our Holiday Break. I would ask the children to do a task, maybe a writing assignment or math game. If they completed it they would each “earn” a quarter. Then during clean up time I went around with a clipboard, checking off those children who were working hard (everyone got a check mark) and they would earn a dime. Then I told the children that I was going to sell tickets to see the movie the Polar Express. The tickets cost 25 cents. I actually bought a roll of tickets – but you could use scraps of construction paper or run something off as a ticket. While the children were out of the room – at lunch or at a special, I arranged the chairs in rows to pretend our room was a movie theater.
I did not give them the coins ahead of time. I passed out a quarter to each child, reminding them that they earned it by doing their job. Then I took the class out to the hallway where they lined up to buy a ticket. As they went into the room I tried to have a parent helper there to take the tickets and seat the children in the rows of chairs.
We started the movie and watched part of it. Then I stopped the movie and told the children that I just remembered that they also earned 10 cents for cleaning up. I passed out a dime to each child. Then I told them that I had juice and popcorn for sale – 10 cents per child. I collected the dimes from children sitting in one row at a time and they went to their tables (there were no chairs at tables because I had used them as theater seats). At each table there was popcorn already individually bagged and a juice box or glass of juice. After they cleaned up again we went back to the movie. It is a pretty long movie – sometimes I substituted a shorter holiday movie instead. If I did not want to include a drink I let them eat the popcorn in their chairs, but that meant we had lots on the floor. The kids loved this – I turned the lights off so the room was dim, and they sat much better for the video than when they were all on the floor.
I loved doing special things with my Kindergartners, but I also felt like I needed to justify how all our activities fit into the curriculum. You could always do a follow up activity to a movie where the children made a connection to something that happened in the movie, retold the beginning, middle and end; or wrote about their favorite part. Sometimes we also compared a book with a video version of the story!
11 Dec 2010 Leave a comment
I loved celebrating a special Rudolph Day during December. A lot of children in my school were already familiar with the song, and often the TV special. I liked to start singing the song – but then stop to talk about the vocabulary and what was really happening in the story that is told in the song. It was a great opportunity to ask the children questions – “What color nose do most reindeer have?” “What do you think it would be like to have a shiny nose like that?” “What else do you know that glows?” “Why did other children laugh at him and call him names?”
Of course I wouldn’t ask all those questions at once – but they can lead to great discussions. I also read a simple book that told the story. I think that Rudolph is a great story to introduce – or reinforce – the idea of making connections. It was really common for children in my class to raise their hand and tell me they were making a connection to something we were talking about. At the beginning of the year most of their connections were pretty vague – if we were reading a dog story they might raise their hand to tell me about their dog, etc. As the year went on we talked about text to text connections – when one book reminded us of another we had read, and text to self connections – when something similar to the storyline had happened to ourselves.
The story of Rudolph gives lots of opportunities for children to make personal connections. Some children might relate to how he felt when other children made fun of him, or wouldn’t let him play their games. Some children might think that there is some way that they are different from other children, like Rudolph with his red nose. Other kids might relate to the idea of getting to do a very special job, like Rudolph when he got to lead Santa’s sleigh.
After a lot of discussion I asked the children to draw and write about a connection they made to the story of Rudolph. Please click for a copy of our writing paper.
The first year I tried this with my class, I really asked them to do too much! (I had a problem with this sometimes!) Here is a copy of the writing paper we used – it really might work fine if you spread it out and only wrote about one connection at a time.
We also made reindeer headbands to wear that day. I cut two strips of red construction paper about 2 1/2 inches by 12 inches and stapled them together for each child. Then each child traced one of their hands on brown or tan paper – I usually used 6 x 12 folded in half so they would get 2 sets of “antlers.” Then we stapled or glued to hand prints to the bands, and stapled them to fit around the children’s heads. I used red paint on their nose for anyone who wanted to be Rudolph. I made one for my grandson Owen too!
(Grandparents love showing off their grandchildren!)
I took a class picture of all the children wearing the reindeer headbands. I usually had some kids stand, some on knees and some on the floor. Later we used copies of that picture on our Christmas or Holiday card for parents. To go along with that I asked each child the question “What is Christmas?” and typed out their responses. It was very cute and personal.
We made several other reindeer projects – The children traced a large candy cane and painted on the red stripes. When it was dry they cut it out, added brown handprint antlers like the ones on their headbands, one jiggly eye and a big red pompom for the nose. This made a profile of a reindeer – I usually put those up in the hallway with a title “Mrs. Senk’s Little Deers.”
For a parent gift I made a reindeer wall hanging. I tore unbleached muslin about 12 X 18 inches, leaving the slightly raveled edges. I traced each child’s foot and cut it out of brown felt. I glued the felt footprint onto the muslin. Then I painted the children’s hands green and made handprint antlers. We added eyes and another pompom nose. I made a simple casing for a dowel and tied on a string for a hanger. I made one of these with my grandson Owen too – here is a photo of that one!
Owen was about 14 months old when I made this – one handprint came out fine, then he grabbed onto the fabric with the other hand! Kindergartners are usually more cooperative!
Occasionally I did the footprint project on paper instead of fabric. I glued the footprint on white paper and made the handprints. Then I bubble cut it out and mounted that on red paper. It was cute too!
I loved including a “cooking” project too – we made Rudolph sandwiches. The children put peanut butter (if we had no allergies) on a slice of bread. Then they cut it into a triangle, by turning the flat side of the slice of bread to the top, and starting to cut at each corner – basically cutting off the bottom two corners. We used small pretzel sticks for antlers, sticking them into the two top corners of the triangle. We used raisins or M & Ms for eyes and a maraschino cherry on the point at the bottom for the nose. Very cute and fun! I usually offered cream cheese as an alternative for the peanut butter – we called it brown reindeer fur or white reindeer fur.
Happy Rudolph Day!!