Monthly Archives: December 2012

Celebrating Snow! {5 winter crafts}

by Diane Burdick, Ed.S.

Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card!

Thanks to the fun ideas in this article, your kids are sure to never look at snow the same way. Here are some great ways to enjoy real snow outside, as well as ideas to create “snow” inside, if your area doesn’t get the white fluffy stuff regularly enough to satisfy your little ones.

Colorful Ice Balls

frozen balloonsPlace two to three drops of food color inside an empty water balloon. Then, fill the balloon with water from the tap, and tie it off. Next, place the water balloons either in the freezer or outside on the lawn if the temp is below freezing.

Once frozen solid, pop or tear off the balloons to reveal the colorful frozen “ice rocks” within! Use the orbs to make patterns or fun shapes on the lawn. Think simple shapes, such as a heart, Christmas tree, rainbow or a sun.

A little tip, though: avoid throwing the frozen “water” balloons! They’re even heavier and more dangerous than a packed snowball. {Thanks, Hurrayic, for the inspiration!}

Water Color Snow Painting

Snow PaintWhat’s the winter equivalent of sidewalk chalk? Making water colors in the snow, of course! Fill empty condiment bottles with water and several drops of food coloring, shake it up, then let your kids squeeze the colors out on the fresh snow.

Children can practice their cursive writing in the snow, or create simple pictures like rainbows.

{Thanks, Really Quite Lucky, for this snowy idea!}

“Snowy” Glitter Play Dough

Glitter DoughHomemade sparkly play dough snowballs allow your child the fun of making a snowman (on a smaller scale) and staying warm at the same time!

Make your basic homemade play dough recipe (sans food coloring). Then, add a small container of white or silver glitter once the mixture has slightly cooled. Voila! Sparkly, beautiful, snow-like play dough!

{This idea came from The Marathon Mom}

Fluffy Snow Explosion! 

ivory soapKids love this one! You can make your own fluffy looking snow substance with a new bar of Ivory soap.

Cut the soap into large chunks, set on a microwave-safe plate, and cook it for about one minute.Watch as the air bubbles inside the soap expand as they are heated up, and create a fun fluffy snow-like substance. It’s great fun in the bathtub!!

Here’s a how-to video for this idea.

Happy Snow Days!

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Silly National Holidays {and how to use them in the classroom}

chocolate covered bacon!

Anyone want to celebrate Chocolate Covered Anything Day?

by Diane Burdick, Ed.S

Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card!

Thanksgiving and Christmas may be over, but that’s just fine by me because I recently discovered a new favorite holiday. And although I’ve been celebrating the spirit of this day for many (many) years, I didn’t know there was an “official” holiday for it until recently. It can be summed up in one glorious word: CHOCOLATE.

That’s right, December 16 is “National Chocolate Covered Anything Day.” So of course I celebrated it with gusto this past month. And it got me thinking: what other lesser-known holidays are out there languishing without celebration?

A little digging led me to discover the answer: quite a few! Many of these holidays are silly, most are funny, and almost all are downright perfect for a teachable moment. Here are a few lesson ideas, based on January’s wacky holidays:

January 10: “Peculiar People Day”

Look up the word “peculiar” in the dictionary. Have students copy the definition and then write their own definition in their own words below it. Younger students can then draw a peculiar person, and older students can create a description of a peculiar person.

Since peculiar people aren’t boring in the least, be sure to brainstorm a list of colorful synonyms and adjectives to describe peculiar people. For example, you could ask children to consider what would make a basketball player peculiar from his teammates (height, or lack thereof), or what might make a ballerina peculiar (clumsiness, huge feet, a mohawk, etc.). They can write a “peculiar person paragraph” and illustrate it. Or, better yet: have them trade paragraphs with a classmate and illustrate each other’s based on the descriptions! 

January 15: “Hat Day”

Provide magazines and have students search for hat pictures, cut them out, and make a “wacky hat” collage. Older students could research styles and fashions of different eras and see what types of hats were popular in each era. What was the purpose of each type of hat? For example, why are cowboy hats so different from baseball caps? Why did women used to wear hats to church? Why are Kentucky Derby attendees famous for wearing hats? Or add in a little math: What’s the average hat size in your classroom?

January 23: “National Handwriting Day”Girl writing with colored pencil

Practice using your best handwriting to write thank-you notes to people in the school. Brainstorm a list of seldom-thanked staff members (media specialist, janitor, cafeteria workers, front desk receptionist, etc.) who might appreciate a well-penned note.

January 25: “Opposite Day” 

Have fun with this one! Students can practice talking in opposites, or you can give instructions in opposites (“Stand up,” “Put your books away,” “Don’t write this down”). Give a sticker or small prize to the student who most successfully figures out and follows the correct instructions all day.

Here are some other wacky January holidays to get your creative juices flowing!

January 1: First Foot Day and Z Day

January 2: Run Up the Flagpole and See if Anybody Salutes It Day

January 3: Festival of Sleep Day

January 4: Trivia Day

January 5: Bird Day

January 6: Bean Day

January 7: Old Rock Day

January 8: National JoyGerm Day and Man Watcher’s Day

January 9: Play God Day

January 10: Peculiar People Day

January 11: National Step in a Puddle and Splash Your Friend Day

January 12: Feast of Fabulous Wild Men Day (couldn’t find a good explanation of this one…but it sounds fascinating)

January 13: Make Your Dream Come True Day (love this!)

January 14: National Dress Up Your Pet Day

January 15: Hat Day

January 16: Hot and Spicy Food International Day

January 17: Blessing of the Animals at the Cathedral Day

January 18: Winnie the Pooh Day

January 19: National Popcorn Day

January 20: National Buttercrunch Day

January 21: National Hugging Day (awww)

January 22: National Answer Your Cat’s Question Day (bizarre-o!) and National Blonde Brownie Day

January 23: National Handwriting Day, National Pie Day, and Measure Your Feet Day

January 24: Eskimo Pie Patent Day

January 25: Opposite Day

January 26: Australia Day

January 27: Punch the Clock Day

January 28: Rattle Snake Round-Up Day

January 29: National Cornchip Day

January 30: Escape Day

January 31: National Popcorn Day (just in case you missed it on the 19th! :)

Whichever holiday you choose to celebrate and integrate into the classroom, we’ll be excited to hear about it! Leave a comment about what you’ve already celebrated, or the holiday you plan on bringing into your classroom in the new year.

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Countdown to Christmas! {3 creative ideas}

by Diane Burdick, Ed.S

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Kids love counting down to Christmas. After all, it is one of the most exciting times of the year! But just how do you get ready for the season? If your answer is simply x-ing out the days on a calendar, might we suggest a few fun crafts to add to your classroom Christmas tradition repertoire?

Santa’s Disappearing Beard

Santa's beardThis idea, found here, is super simple to make!

1. Create a long Santa beard from lined paper (like notebook paper).

2. Add a face from construction paper.

3. Then clip off one line’s worth of the beard each day.

The shorter Santa’s beard gets, the closer you are to Christmas. Not only will kids enjoy snipping Santa’s beard, but it helps them visualize the length of time left before Christmas.

Merry Muffin Tins

merry muffin tinsMaybe instead of a traditional counting down calendar, you want give tiny gifts too. Sure, you could spend lots of money on a container, but consider repurposing something you already have around the house — a 24 count muffin tin — into the perfectly portioned gift container. Thanks to Heartland Paper for this ingenious idea!

1. Cut out circles of heavy paper (such as scrapbook paper, or cardstock covered with wrapping paper) slightly larger than the muffin tin openings.

2. Decorate each circle with a number for each day leading up to Christmas.

3. Attach a small magnet to the back of each circle, and cover each opening with the decorated circle.

4. Place a small trinket or piece of candy in each opening.

5. Display the new muffin tin calendar on the table, or tie a ribbon through the hole in the top of the tin and hang on the wall.

Chinese Takeout Containers

Chinese takeout adventIf you’re the type of person who loves to give gifts all season long, then garland made from numbered and decorated Chinese takeout containers will give you the perfect opportunity to tuck away gifts AND count down to the Big Guy’s arrival.

1. Purchase empty boxes at the craft store or online, and decorate each box with a number and bits of fabric or festive paper to make it look more Christmasy.

2. Fill each container with goodies— such as candies, freshly baked cookies, crafts or small toys.

3. Line up the containers on the fireplace mantle or clip to a piece of rope with clothespins for an enticing display.

This idea is courtesy of JustSewSassy.com. Find affordable containers in an array of colors here or here.

Any way you choose to celebrate the countdown to the most exciting day of the year, we hope you’ll find time for all the joys this season has to offer. 

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Top Three Family Games

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Oh the weather outside is frightful….so a cozy family game night sounds delightful!

Here’s a formula for a night of family bonding (and brain exercise…shhh!):

1. Don your snuggliest pjs. 

2. Get cozy! Light a fire or pile blankets on the floor…whatever seems most inviting to your crew. 

3. Pop some popcorn. Try this top-rated recipe for homemade caramel corn!

4. Bust out one of these top family games: perfect for a night at home by the fire or to wrap up under the tree!

Electronic Hot Potato

Toss the tater back and forth, up high, down low, around and around. Don’t get caught holding the spud when the music stops. If you’re caught, you have to collect a potato chip card. Once you have 3 chips, you’re out of the game. Includes Electronic Hot Potato, 13 Potato Chip cards, 2 “AA” batteries and instructions. For 2-6 players. $15.99. Buy here.

Sneaky Snacky Squirrel

Your forest friends are hungry and they need your help! Spin the spinner, squeeze the matching colored acorn with your Squirrel Squeezers, and squish it into your stump. Be the first to fill all the knots in your stump with delicious acorns and you win! You could also spin “pick an acorn,” “steal an acorn,” or “lose an acorn,” so be strategic, little squirrel! 2-4 players. Ages 3 and up. $21.99. Buy here.

Morphology Junior

Morphology Junior is a creative, challenging and fun board game where players use their imagination and know-how to create words out of pieces like wooden sticks, glass beads, colored cubes, wooden people and string, for their teammates to guess. Grades 2-8. $29.99. Buy here.

For more top family game ideas, click here. 

Happy playing!

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