Sunday, December 22, 2013

Simple Gingerbread Display

It's been a very busy month for me and it wasn't until last Monday that I realized I hadn't thought of a holiday class display yet. I've always done one in the past and I just couldn't NOT do one this year. So I did a very easy one that took hardly any time at all. I traced gingerbread boys and girls onto brown paper and the kids decorated them with markers, buttons and wiggle eyes.

I also printed out a coloring sheet of a gingerbread house (found here), but I made it poster size so it printed on 9 pieces of paper. After putting it together, I traced it onto a big sheet of white paper. The kids used markers and crayons to color it.
I printed out the words Happy Holidays and put them under the roof so I could trace the letters. (I don't trust myself to not screw up when writing free-hand.) I hung up the house in the hallway, cut out the gingerbread people and placed them around the house. So easy!

I've definitely done the opposite of easy before when I made this gingerbread house class display out of felt many years ago:
You can read more about that here, if you'd like!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Gift for Parents: Framed Stained-Glass Trees

My kids have been very busy this week making their Christmas presents for their parents. I combined two ideas that I loved. First they made craft-stick frames, like those seen on I Heart Crafty Things, except we used jumbo craft sticks. Then they made stained-glass trees, as seen on Pam's Drawing Board. Put the two together and you have a beautiful gift!
They added glitter to their tissue paper squares while the glue was still wet.
And when it was all dry, I drew triangles on the back of the paper and they cut them out, glued on a trunk and then glued the trees inside the frame.

When I made my example, I used three trees,
but I thought that might be a bit much for them, plus they were really small. So I gave them the option of one big tree or two slightly smaller trees. I told them they didn't have to be perfect with their cutting because trees aren't perfect either. I love how they turned out!
I also decided to add a ribbon at the top for hanging because they look beautiful in a window with the sun shining in!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Class Fairy Tale

For our Medieval Times Fairy Tale theme, my class made up their own fairy tale! I wrote at the top of a big white board, "Once upon a time" and at the bottom I wrote, "happily ever after." The kids filled in the rest! Each child who wanted to participate gave an idea, a sentence, or even just a name to the story. It was a lot of fun! I did discuss with them beforehand that we need to introduce characters at the beginning, have a problem in the middle, and solve the problem at the end. I think for the most part that went over their heads, but they did a great job! That night I typed it up into a little book. I left the title blank so each child could come up with their own.
The story wasn't very long, so I was able to make it into four pages. I read what was on each page and the kids drew a picture to go along with it. Our fairy tale involved a jaguar so I put out a few stencils for the kids to trace. But some chose to draw it themselves, which was great!
When they were done, they each had their own fairy tale book that they could "read" themselves!

See those lines coming from the jaguar's mouth? Yeah, it ate the princess. But don't worry -- a knight came along and pulled her back out!

I also did this a couple years ago, but left all the character names blank so each child could write in their own names to make the story unique.

I recently found these pictures and I had forgotten that one little boy chose me as the princess!
So sweet!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Prince Crowns and Damsel Hats

We are talking about fairy tales this week so I decided to take it up a notch and teach the kids about Medieval Times. I even made a "castle" in dramatic play by using large white paper. I put it up on one wall, cut out some windows and drew vines on it.
It was bigger, but I had forgotten about the intercom on the wall, so I sliced off a little from each side. It was actually very easy to make. I've made something similar a few times at my other center, but my room had drop ceilings so I was able to hang the castle wall from the ceiling. I would make two walls and hang them in the corner so the kids could actually play inside the castle walls and look out the windows. (Sorry there are no pictures. It was pre-blog!) But there's no way I could hang it from the ceiling in my current center so I did the next best thing by taping it to the wall. I also brought in some princess and knight masks for the kids to wear.
The masks came from on old computer game I had (Kid Pix Adventures) and I've been using them for years. The princess mask is actually a Cleopatra mask -- it has a snake on the crown!
Anyway, today the kids made their own crowns. I made the prince crowns with large construction paper and the princess crowns (or damsel hats) with the same big white paper I made the castle out of. We used some self-adhesive jewels that I received from
They were the perfect touch that our crowns needed. I also put out some foam heart stickers (and a few frogs, because a kissed frog might turn into a prince!).

I had to add a piece of scrap paper (that I saved when cutting out the crowns) so they'd fit around the boys' heads. Now, the damsel hats were a bit more complicated. I only have two girls in my class so I didn't mind the trouble. Many years ago I ordered damsel hat crafts from Oriental Trading Company and saved one for my template. It was too big for construction paper, which is why I used the big white butcher paper. However, the white paper was super thin and not ideal but I was able to work with it. Here's how it looks cut out:
The girls decorated the paper the same way the boys did.
Then I added a bunch of ribbon to the top. I just taped the ends in place. In the past I've also used crepe paper instead of ribbon. It works just as well.
Then all you have to do is roll it up and staple or tape it together. My paper was very flimsy which made this step difficult. I've also cut big circles out of paper and cut a slit halfway through the circle and then just rolled it into a cone that way. That was actually easier, but you waste a lot of paper when rolling it up and most of the decorating gets hidden.
The ribbon hangs down the back of the hat.
These hats don't stay on well so I added an elastic string to go around their neck. Because the paper was thin, I made the area that had the hole punch in it stronger by putting packaging tape over it. Does that make sense? All the trouble was worth it, though, because they all loved wearing their royal crowns!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Fingerprint Musical Notes

I have one last project to share that goes along with our music theme this week.
I got the idea from the 3-year-old teacher at my center. She had the kids make a bunch of fingerprints on a piece of paper and then she added the stems to them. I loved it. Since my kids are a bit older, I decided to have a little more structure to it by using music staves. So after a google search for blank staves, I printed one out and then enlarged it. The quality wasn't so great after a 250% enlargement, so I ended up tracing it with a Sharpie onto another piece of paper. I chose to make three. I put out some ink pads and the kids used their fingers to make notes on each staff.

Then, after washing the ink off their hands, they used markers to make the stems.

They turned out so cute! I even asked them to think of a song name for their music (real or made-up) and I wrote it at the top of the paper.

Thanks for the idea, Ms. Amanda!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Jeweled Egg Shakers

My kids love the egg shakers from our musical instrument collection. They fit perfectly in their hands and are easy to use. So I thought it would be fun if they made their own! I brought in some plastic easter eggs and stuck a bunch of sequins onto small glue dots. The kids picked the color egg they wanted and decorated it with the sequins.

Then I scooped up some rice into the bottom half of the egg. I didn't use too much rice because I thought it sounded better with less.
And then, to keep the rice mess to a minimum, I used a toothpick to apply craft glue around the rim.
It didn't work very well. You could still pull apart the egg, but I think the glue would hold it together if the egg was dropped. We'll see! I put them in an egg carton until they were dry.
It was another simple project that the kids absolutely loved!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Musical Bracelets and Some Painting

Okay, so they are just jingle-bell bracelets, but our theme this week is music so I decided to call them musical bracelets. These were so easy to make and the kids loved them! I put out pipe cleaners, beads and jingle bells and the kids got to work making their bracelets.
The beads we used were left over from our friendship bracelets, and were sent to me from The kids strung on some bells and some beads,
and then I wrapped the pipe cleaner around itself. I wanted it to be loose enough that they could take it off by slipping it over their hand, but not so loose that it would fall off.

We did a little dancing after this project and the kids loved how they jingled with every move!

Here is another activity we did for our music theme. I put our CD player next to the art table and played Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. The kids painted to the music.
We used neon paint and marbled paper, just for fun. The kids painted fast when the music was fast, slow when it was slow. They painted big strokes when the music was loud, small strokes when it was quiet.
Well, maybe not ;o) But that was my suggestion!

They turned out pretty, nonetheless.