Saturday, December 21, 2013

Embracing the Christmas excitement

You know the saying -- never fight a battle you know you can't win. Well, that's what the week before Christmas break is like in a kindergarten classroom. Do we abandon all learning, expectations, and routines? No. But, let's be honest -- if you try to ignore the Christmas madness, you will be fighting a losing battle.

So, I just embrace it! Build learning opportunities into themed activities. Teach compassion and model the spirit of simple giving by making, wrapping, and delivering presents. And, just remember, they are five- and six-year-olds. You, as a teacher, cannot compete with the hype of Santa. A child's kindergarten teacher is a rockstar in their eyes. Santa holds god-like status. Don't even try to beat him at the attention game.

Here are a few picture highlights of Christmas in our classroom. Not pictured (unfortunately) is my favorite Christmas tradition with my class -- caroling around the school. I play guitar and love playing with my kinders. They love to sing -- especially Christmas songs! So, we practice all month and then spread Christmas joy around the building by knocking on classroom (or office) doors and singing a song with the guitar. I can't decide what the best part is -- the sweet sound of their voices or the looks on the faces of our surprised listeners (especially the teachers!)

Dear Santa...

I picked a couple letters to share with you. They were all cute, but these ones cracked me up because these kids have some big demands. Santa, you have your work cut out for you on these ones.

This one was just funny -- [Dear Santa, I want a stocking. I want a stuffed animal Santa.]

[Dear Santa, I want a wolf. I want a digipet. I have been good.]

[Dear Santa, I want a dragon. I want a kitten. I have been good.]

[Dear Santa, I want a happy birthday. I want a beautiful world. I have been good.]

Sweetest journal ever -- "I am sorry Santa that some people don't believe in you."

"Star Word" Christmas Trees
Channeling Christmas fever into "star word" (high-frequency reading words) practice.

"Cookies for Santa plates" -- Parent gifts
The last couple years, I have made handprint calendars with the kinders. As much as I loved them, they were SO time-consuming. With only 3 school weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, we just didn't have time for them. In addition, in the past couple years, I have received two thank-yous (verbal or written) from parents for the incredibly time-consuming gifts. 

[Side note -- to the parents out there, if your child brings home a sweet gift for you, please thank your child's teacher. Many people may think these supplies were bought by the school or that making a parent gift is an expected aspect of the job. Both are untrue. Teachers come up with the ideas, buy the supplies (remember, a $2-3 gift x 20+ students is not cheap!), and in some schools (not mine -- thank goodness!) risk getting "in trouble" with administrators for taking time away from curriculum to create presents. Just a little side note!]

So, this year (thanks to my teammate's idea!) we tried something new -- Cookies for Santa plates. They turned out SO CUTE! I honestly love them so much... I couldn't wait for the kids to bring them home to their moms and dads. I wrote the words around the edge of a ceramic plate with a thick-tip Sharpie marker. Then, the kids drew their pictures (I gave them a few choices/ideas) with permanent markers. I baked the plates at 350 degrees for 20 minutes to set the drawings. Adorable!

Thumbprint Light Cards
Cute and simple. My kinders used watercolor paints to add their "thumbprint bulbs."

Merry Christmas from Mrs. A's kinders!

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