My husband and I have had several big discussions this year about what we're getting our kids for Christmas. It's made me really think about the gifts I got as a child and the ones I both enjoyed and remember the most. I was a fortunate child, and while I may not have gotten every item I wished for, Santa worked hard to make sure I wasn't disappointed.
One of my favorite and most memorable gifts came from one of my aunts. She and her husband were fairly newly married, and we had a really big family. (There were 9 nieces and nephews, just on our side.) She was always so creative and gave the most wonderful gifts. That year, she collected Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets, one for each kid. She recovered the outside, and filled them with crayons (loose), scissors and a variety of papers. Looking back, it was the most fabulous present and kept each of us busy and entertained many hours that following year.
I don't specifically remember any of the other gifts that year, but this one has stayed with me. It's a reminder to myself to make sure I don't get too caught up in the commercial side and really think about what brings enjoyment. It's good to remind myself that it's not always about how much you spend on a gift, but more about the thought you put into it.
Did you have gift that you remember fondly? Leave a comment and share it!
Christmas is such a magical time, and I definitely take advantage of it! We had so much fun making giant gingerbread people, that we made a few giant candy cane decorations for the classroom.
We made a couple of ornaments for presents for the parents. We made cute snowflakes from foam die cuts and added a picture of each child on one side and let the kids decorate with winter foam stickers, glitter and sequins on the other side. They turned out beautifully, but somehow managed to miss getting photographed before being wrapped.(Had the kids not wrapped the gifts themselves, I would have definitely unwrapped for a few shots and rewrapped! ) We also made these cute snowman handprint ornaments for the tree in our preschool lobby. On the last day of school, parents were invited to take their ornament with them to use at home.
I put seasonal items in our centers to make things fun.
And added a few props to change our scenery.
I saw this CUTE snowball toss game on Teaching Heart Blog in the post: Winter Party Planning Printables. It took me about 15 minutes to make and about $2 in supplies. I simply cut a few simple shapes from construction paper and stuck them onto clear contact paper and applied the whole thing to the front of the pop-up hamper. I ended up stapling the contact paper to the front of my hamper, as it didn't stick well to the fabric for long. We played this all week and will probably use it in January for our winter/snow and polar pal units, as well!
We made Santa Claus decorations from paper plates, cotton and a little red construction paper.
And these reindeer handprint puppets from paper bags and brown paper:
We did a lot of singing and dancing. Our favorite songs were The Tractors': "Santa Claus Is Coming On a Boogie Woogie Choo Choo Train" and Raffi's: "Must Be Santa".
The morning of our party, we made these reindeer cupcakes from chocolate frosted cupcakes, pretzels and a few candies. We saved them for our party later that day.
My absolute FAVORITE holiday idea this year came from The SEEDS Network. I found these adorable (and very yummy) melted snowman s'mores over there and immediately knew they would be perfect to include in my gifts to my students this year. I have shared this idea with every teacher I know! I am also making a batch to take to all of my nieces and nephews on Christmas Eve.
I never know exactly what to get my little friends. I usually try to get them a coloring book, because we don't do any coloring "inside the lines" in Pre-K (to find out why, read here). These are the goodies I finally decided upon.
Our final day before the holiday was celebrated in true Pre-K style! We wore our jammies and had a Polar Express movie party while drinking very cool hot cocoa. A nice way to end a very hectic season!
My holiday wish for you, whatever holiday you celebrate, is that your days are Merry and Bright!
We started by making some child sized gingerbread people with craft materials. After the kids painted the paper cutout, they sprinkled with cinnamon on the wet paint. Smells really yummy!
The kids used fancy scissors to make paper ric rac for trim with a few simple shape cut outs. One friend colored the eyes so they would be "more prettier". There was a great discussion about adding eyelashes, but the discussion went by the wayside by the time they'd finished with the other features.
On Friday, we invited parents to come in and help us make some gingerbread houses in small groups. It was a lot of fun, a fabulous creative, sensory experience! I am so thankful for such wonderful parents that came to help. (And they are all working parents, but still managed to find time to help us out!)
It turns out that the parents had the most important job of all--hold the house together!! (I promise, next time we'll read the directions well beforehand, and we'll know to let the houses set up for a bit before decorating! ;)
While the parents held the houses in place, the kids decorated like crazy!
I'll try to come back and post a pic on Monday of the one that collapsed before setting while we were outside at recess. By the time we returned, it finally had set--in collapse mode!
I have been teaching early childhood for about 20 years. I love what I do---it's the best job in the world!!! Where else can you go to work each day and do art, play games, have snack and get hugs regularly AND get paid for it?! I love to share ideas with other teachers and see what they are doing in their classrooms. Teaching is the best profession---we love to share!