December 29, 2019

3 Helpful Strategies For Going Back To School After Winter Break

After overdosing on Christmas cookies and family for over a week, it's almost time to go back to school!


Some teachers will be looking forward to going back to the routine and structure. Some teachers would rather have a few more days with Netflix and slippers! As for the students, they too can have a range of emotions about returning to school. Some will have missed you and their friends while others would be content sleeping in and playing video games all day for another week!

Here are a few strategies to make returning to school stress-free and enjoyable.

1. Have your lesson plans ready a few days in advance.

Waiting until the last minute is bound to cause stress and who wants to spend the last day of the break working? Try getting the plans done and materials prepped a few days before going back so you can chill that last day of winter break.

2. Plan for your students.

Plan some time to review classroom rules and procedures. It probably got crazy before the holidays, so now would be a good time to review the rules. This is also a good idea because it's common for new students to transfer around this time.

Of course, we have the curriculum to teach but do plan some fun interactive activities such as games and scavenger hunts as part of your lessons.

Here is a no-prep back from break activity that gets the kids up and moving!

 back-to-school-after-winter-break
Click HERE!

Try planning a winter craftivity for a holiday coming up such as Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The kids will like the crafts, and you will have a beautiful hallway display with one of these resources.

 martin-luther-king-jr-activity
Click HERE!

 martin-luther-king-jr.-craft
Click HERE!

3. Plan for yourself.

Have your clothes ready the night before. Maybe even splurge on a new outfit at one of those after Christmas sales!

Pack yourself a lunch the night before with your favorite healthy foods!

Get to school a little early to get ready for the day.

Plan a little me time for yourself after school. Maybe it's putting your feet up and sipping hot chocolate on the couch when you get home. Maybe it's a warm bubble bath followed by crisp clean sheets and a good book.

Once you have survived that first day back, the rest of the week will be easier!

Do you have any tricks for surviving that first day back after winter break? If so, feel free to share in the comments below!

December 16, 2019

5 Easy Parent Gifts for Christmas

Making holiday gifts with students can be fun...or a not so fun experience.


Remember when melted crayon ornaments on Pinterest were all the rage? The best part was that the materials were inexpensive and readily available. I purchased the clear plastic ornaments and gathered up unwanted small crayons from our extra supply containers. I made a sample at home, and my co-teacher and I brought our hairdryers to school. We had perfectly planned station activities scheduled for an hour where our students would visit with one of us during the rotations to create their melted crayon ornament with supervision. What could possibly go wrong with all this preplanning? Well...I didn't think about 2 hairdryers being used at once in a classroom with older electrical circuits. I didn't think about these 2 hairdryers being used on 18 ornaments when I created the sample.  The burning smell of the overheated hairdryer on the third ornament was our first indication that things were not going well.  Needless to say, the activity was promptly suspended. Now I'm sure there are teachers out there who have this craft down to a science, but my co-teacher and I decided to rely on a few old stand-bys.

Ornament making was rescheduled with new rotations consisting of 2 ornament stations.

1. SALT DOUGH ORNAMENTS

We used a traditional salt dough ornament recipe of flour, salt, and water to make these:


2. SNOWFLAKE ORNAMENTS

These snowflake ornaments were made with pony beads and chenille stems. This sample was made by twisting 3 chenille stems cut to 6 inches in length. Beads were added to each stem. A little bit of the chenille stem gets folded over to secure the last bead on each stem. These look great hanging in a window!



Here are other crafts that make great parent gifts.

3. GLITTER STAR ORNAMENTS

This easy glitter star ornament has been a go-to project since my first year of teaching! Students trace a star shape onto wax paper. Then they spread a thick layer of glue over the star and cover the glue with plenty of glitter. Dry them overnight. The next day quickly lift the wax paper over another empty sheet of wax paper to catch the excess glitter. Dry overnight again. Once completely dried, the star gets gently peeled off of the wax paper. Add a cord to make a shiny ornament to hang!



4. PAINTBRUSH SNOWPEOPLE

Students can easily make a snowperson out of a paintbrush. The steps for these ornaments need to be spread out over the course of a few days to allow for drying time. Cheap paintbrushes work just fine for these ornaments. Students dip the bristles into black paint and allow to dry overnight. The next day they paint the handle white. On the third day, they paint details. On the fourth day, they twist a chenille stem around the handle and add a ribbon for a scarf. The samples have a sequin star glued onto the bristles.



Not into crafting? Look no further...

5. CHORE COUPONS

Have students make coupons for the grownups in their lives. Handmade coupons are fine and will be appreciated. Brainstorm helpful chores that your students could write on their coupons such as doing the dishes, vacuuming, dusting, etc. Have students make several coupons and place in a festively designed envelope for gift giving.  Need a printable for this minimalist gift? Grab one here for only $1.00 and save yourself a trip to the craft store!

 parent-gift-for-christmas-from-students
Get this printable HERE!


Looking back, it was actually a good thing that the melted crayon ornaments didn't work out so well...This way, our students had 2 ornaments to take home. Since families come in all shapes and sizes, the kids didn't have to choose just one grownup in their lives to receive a gift. Rather, they were able to pick 2 grownups!

Do your students make gifts for their parents and guardians? Feel free to comment below with your own ideas!