My children Keelyn and William were very lucky this Christmas and received many new toys. No duplicates and things that they both are genuinely interested in a lot of cross over things that they can enjoy together. We are appreciative towards our family and friends. It was quite a large pile of gifts though but that’s what happens when you have large families. I decided to deal with organizing and putting away the toys right away. It’s one of those tasks that the longer you leave it the more tedious the job seems to be. It also helps that I was consistently motivated by two little ones that kept requesting I “open it, open it!”
The kids have their own playroom space on the second floor just outside of Wililam’s room it is not a large space but we are very grateful for it. It’s painted a nice bright kid friendly green (not like the yellow you see in the photo). The organization is simple. Ikea shelves with bins, a small shelf which sections off the “house centre” as my kids say. And a low Ikea table that actually a TV stand but we use it as a building/puzzle table because the kids can sit on it, in front of it and there’s a shelf where we store puzzles under. Sometimes this table even acts as a stage! I organized the dress up clothes on the large shelf. My husband removed one of the “cubes” and then I used the 3M sticky hooks so that clothes could be hung. We also have a chest and bin of accessories.
Looking in the playroom. It is NOT this yellow!
I LOVE how the dress up clothes hang
Anyway the space is pretty simple and well organized so fitting in a pile of new things was going to be tricky. I also know from my Kindergarten teaching experience that the key to keeping kids engaged with toys is to swap them out every so often. And less is more! I’m sure you’ve had to manage the play space once every toy had been dumped not fun. I try to swap toys the first Saturday of the month but that hasn’t been happening lately so I needed a system. I went to the dollar store and purchased a ton of bins and baskets all toys were then opened up and placed inside a basket or a bin with a lid. Some bins went on playroom shelves, some on a shelf we have downstairs in our family room and the rest inside the playroom closet (yes our playroom has a closet it’s amazing). This way when it’s toy swapping day it’s literally a matter of pulling out new bins and rotating between the two spaces. It also makes tidy up really easy especially since Keelyn and William are use to Kindergarten and Daycare toys being organized in this manner. My next step is to make labels for each bin which will make tidy up time really easy!
The closet games on the top so William can’t reach them down 🙂
Just for fun our playroom rules! Wall Decal ordered from ETSY from seller LucyLews
Warning: If you are the parent of a child in our class you need to stop reading. You may return after December 25th to read this post.
Phew, now that we’ve straightened that out I can share with you what I had my students make for their holiday gift for their families. Please don’t roll your eyes that I’m calling it a holiday gift instead of a Christmas gift. I’m not trying to be politically correct but the truth is not all of the children in our class celebrate Christmas and we work hard to be inclusive so holiday it is!
Anyway I needed something different than my usuals as I’ve had a few of these kids when I taught Kindergarten. Of course I turned to good old Pinterest I wanted a gift that would be beautiful, an ornament that could be hung on a tree, door or window. I also didn’t want to spend a lot of money but rather use the craft resources I had at school. I came across a stained glue snowflake from Holiday Crafts and Creations and I knew it was perfect. Not only did I have all of the materials the site had easy to follow step-by-step instructions for m and the children.
It was a multi-step multi day gift and I knew it would be a challenge for some of them but I also knew that my kids are always up for a good challenge. I’m not going to repeat the directions because you can check out the link but I will share the results. The snowflakes were gorgeous. The kids yet again felt really proud of their accomplishments. I can’t wait for families to open their gifts. Hopefully some of them give me some feedback.
Speaking of gifts the families were very, very generous this year for Christmas. Basically, I was spoiled. Thank you to my awesome 3B parents and families you rock and it’s my pleasure teaching your children.
Check out this super adorable earrings. The card that went with them made me teary!
Today was the final day before the Christmas Break. If you work in a school or with children then you know that it’s a pretty crazy day. The children are so excited and it’s really difficult to get them to focus on any tasks. I’ve done the movie and popcorn on the last day, free time activities, games day. All which are pretty special things that the students enjoy but I wanted to end our 2013 on a real high. If you ask any of the students in the class what is their favourite thing about school they will likely tell you genius time. So I knew I had to something big with genius time.
My initial plan was to just let them go ahead and make their projects. But my wonderful colleague and husband Phil Young had his students engage in a genius time day and while it was a really positive learning experience for the students a few were left frustrated because they used their material to “practice” on but didn’t have successful results in the way that they wanted. With this in mind I realized that many of my students may not have ever baked, or sewn so that’s when I came up with Genius Trial Day. Basically I would supply the materials and group the students by similar topic. This left me with Bakers, Sewers, Builders, Gamers. I had a small handful of miscellaneous students but I let them join whichever group they wished. The groups had a component of working together (some more than others) and had specific materials and a set of instructions to follow. I expected to be really torn between the groups and frantic as I had raced between helping. But that wasn’t the case at all. The builders and gamers didn’t need me at all. Once I set the bakers up with reading and following a recipe and then how to properly fill a measuring cup and use the mixer they were good. The sewers felt frustrated at first but once they got the technique down they didn’t need me either. Except for the odd rethread. Having Mr. Edwards there was a huge help too. The room was busy, and a bit loud but not out of control loud. The buzz was a happy classroom community of students working together and creating something that they were all very proud of!
Their task was to bake chocolate chip cookies. Their recipe was easy and they organized themselves in an order to make sure they all had a fair share of the process. When it was their recess time they all decided to stay in and help me take their cookies to the staff room to bake and wash up the dishes. I don’t think I’ve even seen a group of 8 year olds so excited to bake. The smell wafting from the oven was amazing and they looked great! They tasted exactly as a chocolate chip cookie should. Right texture, right colour they were delicious. The smile on the Bakers faces was priceless they were so proud of themselves.
Their task was to create a mini stuffy out of a simple shape. I first had the students do practice stitches on scraps of fabric to get the hang of it. I purposely used stripped fabric so they could follow along a strip and told them to make their stitches not larger than 1cm (use their pinky nail as a guide). Once they had finished their practice they had to draw their shape on a newsprint, cut it out, trace it twice with a sharpie onto felt, cut out their felt and begin to sew their pieces together. Their instructions said to leave a thumb sized hole to stuff and then stitch closed. It was tricky for them at first and a bit of frustration but they really got the hang of it. Some of the sewers even made a second project.
They didn’t need me… at all. They split into two groups of 2 and their task was to create a lego maze. They had some initial planning and part of their instructions was to use kidrex (safe search engine powered by google) to search images of lego mazes. At first I asked them to use grid paper to plan out their maze but at the last minute I told them to forget it and just build. I’m so glad I did because they came up with really imaginative complex mazes. One was Zombie Apocalypse maze complete with little red lego zombies. The other had moving parts that could seal of accesses to the maze at any time. One of my students who is usually a reluctant learner was totally focused, engaged and immersed in the task so much that he was disappointed it was recess time. Normally he’s the first to jump up and get to the door when the bell rings. The other students when they had the chance to see what the builders were up to were amazed.
Admittedly I may have ignored the gamers but they REALLY didn’t need me. They had such a blast and they were creating games and sharing their games with one another and laughing and talking and it was lovely. The best part is the group consisted of three boys who are friends but don’t make great choices together and a fourth that doesn’t normally get along with the other 3. I was secretly happy that I could ignore them because they were collaborating beautifully I kind of didn’t want to wreck their momentum. The gamers created games using the iPad mini’s and an app called Sketch Nation. I first instructed them to use simple mode and then go onto advanced. They rocked it. For their actual projects I know they all want to create games and apps but I”m not 100% where to go with it but looking for suggestions for sure!
I for sure got my wish. To end the first part of our 2013 grade 3 year on a high. If you can only imagine the amount of fun AND learning that was going on on the last day of school before Christmas break you’d be totally floored. I can’t wait to see what these guys come up with for their individual projects.
Today I was home from work with my sick little girl. She was sick through the night and in the morning when I had to make the decision to send her to school or stay home with her the answer was clear. Poor little button! But I’m sure all of you can identify the need to be with your mama when you are feeling that way. My 6:30am riser slept in until 9:30 and then asked to be relocated to the couch. She tried to be up a few times but it didn’t last long as she told me she was feeling dizzy. A few movies later (thank you Netflix) and lots of snuggles she had started to perk up and that’s when I could see the boredom creep in. A quick Pinterest search later and I found a fast and easy salt dough recipe ornament that had 3 simple ingredients, flour, salt, warm water. I knew this would be perfect for my recovering 4 year old as she was doing somersaults on the couch. She could measure, pour, mix the ingredients independently and then use her mad playdough skills to roll and cut. She came up with the idea to make it colourful. She said purple and pink but I convinced her that red and green would be more Christmasy. It’s also a no-bake we just put them on parchment on the island to dry. We made 2 batches and it made about 30 ornaments. I think I might try this out with my students too! In a few days once they are fully dry her and her little brother William will paint them.
A simple, quick and easy gift for all of her Great Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents and a super fast boredom buster! I think I’ll try it again sometime but show her how to roll balls and make snowman sculptures!
This was her favourite part! My 4 year old loves to get her hands dirty!
It has a really nice consistency. Very soft and easy to knead for small little hands!
When I asked her if I could help her answer was “No mommy I know how to do this!”
- 24 Days of Christmas Activities for Toddlers! (onemotherofaday.wordpress.com)
- Christmas Sensory Box (thepinterestedparent.wordpress.com)
- Not Thankful of Being Sick (blurrredwords.wordpress.com)
Posted in Home
Tagged Christmas, Christmas Ornaments, crafts for kids, Decorations, Holiday, home sick, Netflix, ornament, pinterest, playdough, salt dough, sick day