Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Classics for the Classroom

Anyone that knows me, knows that collecting Children's picture books are one of my little peccadilloes. I love a good children's book! I taught in a Christian program for many years and most of my Christmas books were religiously slanted. When I started teaching in a more public setting, I had to broaden my range of Christmas lit to include mostly "seasonal" or "commercial" Christmas themes. I thought I would share some of the fun books we've been enjoying this season.

Jan Brett

The Wild Christmas Reindeer
Beautifully illustrated in the classic Jan Brett style, this is a story about a little girl helping to train the wild reindeer for Santa. It's a great story about cooperation and treating others kindly.

The Wild Christmas Reindeer

Christmas Trolls 
A cute story about a young girl teaching a couple of trolls about the spirit of giving at Christmas.
Christmas Trolls

Who's That Knocking On Christmas Eve?
A boy and his polar bear stop by a friend's house on Christmas Eve to help rid her of the trolls stealing her Christmas treats.

Who's That Knocking on Christmas Eve?

The Night Before Christmas

The classic story by Clement C. Moore, with Jan Brett's beautiful illustrations.

The Night Before Christmas

 And a few favorites by other authors:

How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Classic Dr. Suess---no Christmas would be complete without it!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Snowmen at Christmas 
The snowmen are back, celebrating Christmas in this fun rhyming book with beautiful illustrations.

Snowmen at Christmas 

Merry Christmas Strega Nona  
Strega Nona and her trusty sidekick, Big Anthony are back and working hard to make Christmas special for their little town. 

Merry Christmas, Strega Nona (Voyager Books) 

This is a fun book about a father moose who remembers everything, except the Christmas tree!

MOOSELTOE [ First edition ]

The Polar Express
We read the book then, later in the week, we watch the movie in our pjs and drink hot cocoa. I always give the kids a silver sleigh bell to help them remember the magic!

The Polar Express

Happy reading around the Christmas tree!

Christmas in a Pre-K Classroom

Here are a smattering of activities we did this week to prepare for the holiday season. Look for a post coming soon about some fun holiday related children's books.

A New Tradition
This year, I started a new tradition in my classroom, the "Elf On A Shelf". I tried to get one last year, but wasn't able to acquire one until the week after Christmas. Many families seem to be doing the "Elf On A Shelf" thing, and I thought it would be fun to carry it over to the classroom. This new tradition was great for our class, since we are practicing making good choices, the kids would remind each other that "Bells" was watching.

In case you're not familiar with this tradition, I'll give you a quick run down. The elf is sent by Santa to watch over the children and report the "naughty or nice" behavior every night to Santa at the North Pole. He returns to the home every morning to a new spot. (It's great fun for the kids to "find" the elf every morning!) You may talk to the elf, but he is not allowed to talk back to you. Also, naming the elf is encouraged. Our class voted and decided on the name "Bells".

Our "Elf", "Bells", liked to hide in our curtains! 

The set comes with a cute book with rhyming text that tells about the elf and the rules.

A Visit To The Grand Friends
Every other month, we visit the VA hospital to take part in a music therapy program called "Musical Bridges". We visit some of the veterans in the nursing home area and sing a few songs, do an activity and have juice and cookies. 

Our center has been taking part in this program for several years, and it is so beneficial for both the children and the veterans.  Our November visit had been rescheduled, so we made holiday cards to take to the "Grandfriends". 

 We rang bells while we sang. 

After our snack, The "Grandfriends" took turns reading "The Night Before Christmas". It was really great to see the elderly folks connecting with our little ones.

The Night Before Christmas
Some of these guys are far away from families and don't get any other visitors, so they really enjoy the little smiles.

Classroom Activities: Santa Paper Plates
One of our open ended projects was to give some of the kids paper plates and ask them to make a Santa. I provide items they might use, but any materials are open and students are free to use whatever they wish to make them. I put out the paper plates, some red paper, cotton balls and packing peanuts.

Classroom Activities: Pattern Blocks
We use pattern blocks quite a bit in our classroom and have quite a few picture mats, but I didn't have any seasonal mats. PreKinders posted these cute holiday pattern mats and it seemed to breathe new life into an activity the kids thought they were tired of. I love it when kids "re-discover" classroom materials that have been right in front of them all year!

Classroom Activities: Making Reindeer Chow
The best part of Christmas is the magic involved--reindeer fly, a jolly old fat man slides down a very narrow, dirty passage over and over again, all the while eating a snack at every stop. Our class made a snack for Santa's reindeer. (If Santa gets hungry, don't you think the reindeer might need a snack, too?

We scooped oatmeal into a brown paper lunch sack. This activity was great measuring and scooping practice! We added a handful of hay leftover from our fall activities.

 We sprinkled some "magic dust" to help the reindeer see the lawn by moonlight.

 We sealed the bag with string 

and glued this poem to the front of the bag:

 Sprinkle on the lawn at night
The moon will make it sparkle bright
As Santa's reindeer fly and roam
This will guide them to your home.

 As I stated earlier, this is only a handful of some of the fun things we've done recently. Honestly, we've stayed so busy that I never got around to taking pictures of many of our activities. 

Now, time to regroup and summon up enough magic to go back in January revived and refreshed!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holiday Bulletin Boards

As I've stated before, almost all of our boards end up covered in student work. As soon as we change the board background, we start posting new work. Student work is rotated, nothing more than 30 days old is displayed. While every teacher wants cute bulletin boards, there really is no sense in making really elaborate boards, since they are covered so quickly.

This board is the one board that doesn't get completely covered. We try to feature each student in some way---they are the "reindeer" here!

A couple of close ups on our adorable reindeer:

These are our holiday bulletin board backgrounds this year.

The children do help with these, too. For instance, the buttons on the snowman are cut from paintings the kids did. They sprinkled all the glitter on the mittens and crumpled and glued the tissue to the hat.

I am very fortunate to have a great assistant who enjoys developing and putting these boards together!

Thanks for stopping by!

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