Dec 31, 2014

The Last Days Before Christmas Break

Here we are on the last day of 2014, where has the year gone?  I am a little behind on my bloggin’, I have just been enjoying the extra time with my family and loving every minute I get to spend with them.  My boys are growing up so fast and I know in the blink of an eye they will all be off to college.

I know everyone is on vaca and that Christmas is over, but I wanted to recap our last week of school before we left for break.  Mostly for myself so I can look back and see what we did when doing future planning, but hopefully you can find something that you can use next year too.

I usually link up with Kacey at Doodle Bugs for her Five for Friday to do my weekly rundown, however she is on hiatus and it is nowhere near Fridaylolso here goes.

Our classroom elf, Chippy, pulled out all the stops and brought us a special gift everyday for our last 3 days before vacation.  When we came in on Monday this is what we found

He had a note letting us know Santa had sent some magic seeds (tic tacs).  We needed to plant them in sugar and if we were very good they might grow into something special overnight.  And wouldn’t ya know they did.  The next morning our magic seeds had grown into candy canes.  The kiddos were so excited. Thank you Kristal at Kreative in Kinder for this fantatsic idea. 

First order of business, we had to finish up our parent Christmas gifts.  We made wreath ornaments.  I got this idea from this pin by Traci at Dragonflies in First.  I had to modify a bit since we were short on time.  I usually make snowmen handprint ornaments, but now that I have a K/TK combo class I had quite a few kiddos from last year and wanted the parents to be able to get a different gift.

It is easy enough to mix the ingredients, however some of my kiddos had a difficult time molding the mixture into the shape of the wreath with their tiny hands.  Thank goodness my fantastic aide was there to help.

At my table we were working on our gift bags.  Step one is to sponge paint red and green shapes on to white bags.  I just cut kitchen sponges into a square and a rectangle, put paint in some bowls and let them get creative.  

We do one side and then let it dry overnight.  The next day we paint the back side.  Again we let it dry.  Then the kiddos took a black sharpie and made bows on their bags so it looked like presents.  They always come out really cute and it is easy and cheap.

For our cards we painted Christmas Trees with our fingers. This pin was the inspiration. The kiddos love anything involving fingers and paint.  Once they were dry they wrote a special message to their parents.  Most said “I luv you, Merry Christmas!” 

Then we put it all together.  We wrapped our ornament in tissue paper and put it in our bag and folded over the top.  Then using a hole punch you make two holes in the top of the bag and one hole in the corner of the card. Take a piece of ribbon and thread it through the holes and tie into a bow.  They came out very pretty.

To finish up our unit on Gingerbread we had our 5th grade buddies join us to make Gingerbread Houses.  The kiddos all had a blast and did a really good job.  It does take prep work to make it run smoothly but it is something the kiddos never forget.

The week before, I sent out a letter asking for donations for our project.

You can get my letter here, it is in English and Spanish, in case you need one. 

Then I gathered any additional supplies that we still needed.  I also had my wonderful aide collect milk cartons from our cafeteria.  I washed them and let them dry overnight.  Then I stapled the cartons shut and hot glued them to small plates.  This makes it so much easier when we begin.  I also covered all of our tables with large black trash bags that I had cut open.  When the kiddos came in from lunch I had a plate/carton, baggie of graham crackers, and spatula (large Popsicle sticks) at each students space.  I had one can of frosting for every two students to share, already open with the lid on. I know a lot of people make their own frosting, but it is so much easier to just open the cans. Then there were bowls and cups with all the goodies.  Sorry I don’t have a before pic.  I fully intended on taking one but it was just so busy I totally forgot.

I am a little, ok maybe a lot, of a control freak so we do the first part step by step together.  They all did a great job.

Several of my kiddos have older siblings in our 5th grade buddies class.  It was so cute to see them all working together on this project.

Once they were complete I put them into large zip lock bags, you do have to turn them a little sideways to get them in, so they could easily take them home.  It was a terrific day!

Tuesday was Polar Express Day, which means Pajama Day.  I think I love wearing my jammies to school as much as the kiddos.  Again, Chippy, had a small bag with a note waiting for us.  It was a special gift from Santa, but we couldn’t open it until after our movie.  He had brought us our very own bells, just like in Polar Express.

We had to do actual work in the morningawebut it was still fun.  We read the story of the Polar Express in preparation for our movie.  Then we completed this sequencing activity from Sarah’s First Grade Snippets. You can download it for FREE

We also completed several activities from this great Polar Express pack from Coast to Coast Kinder.  

Then during lunch I taped the polar express tickets to the bottom of their chairs and put them in two isles like on a train.  When they came in and sat down I said ok before we begin I need your ticket to board the train.  They all said but we don’t have one.  I told them Chippy told me he put the tickets on their chairs that they had better look around.  They were so cute, once the first one found it they were all turning their chairs over and they were just giddy with excitement.  Yelling...”I have one”, “I found it”.  I totally needed my camera. These cute tickets came from a great freebie from Mrs. Jones Creation Station.

Then I punched their tickets, I am clearly not as talented as Tom Hanks, I only made three holes in a rowlol.  We were ready for our movie to begin.

During the movie we had popcorn and Hot Chocolate.  I usually make the hot chocolate in my crockpot.  Which works just fine, but let’s be honest I hate cleaning that thing out and trying to ladle it into the cups without spilling. I saw where someone, sorry I can’t remember who, used their Keurig.  HelloV8 moment there.  Why didn’t I think of that.  We have a Keurig in the staff lounge so I just took it to my room and told everyone, “if you want coffee this afternoon, just come to my room”.  It worked like a dream.  Everyone had their cup of hot coco and could add marshmallows if they wanted.   It was well worth the price of the Swiss Miss K cups.

After the movie we did a quick Venn diagram and talked about what was different and the same between the book and the movie.  Overall it was another successful and fun learning opportunity.

Our last day before break we came in to find Chippy with a gift once again. Santa sent us the recipe to his magic reindeer food.  We had a great time putting these together to help out Santa on Christmas Eve.  Sadly once again in the hustle and bustle of things I didn’t get any pics snapped. This great idea is from MariaManore at Kinder Craze.

Then we had a special visitor.  Yes, Santa came to school and brought each child a gift too.  Our school is high poverty and we qualified to get a gift for each child from Toys for Tots.  My kiddos were over the moon excited.  They each got to sit on Santa’s lap and get their very own gift.  Once again my fantastic aide came to the rescue and had wrapped all of ours for me.  I don’t know what I would do without herI am totally spoiled.  Here is our class pic with the Big Man!

To end our day we decorated Gingerbread people.  Our fantastic cook, which happens to have a child in my room, made us gingerbread boys and girls and brought us all of the frosting too.  We had left over decorations from our Gingerbread houses so it worked out perfectly.  They had a great time and it was the perfect activity to end our week.

So vacation began and I wasted no time having fun.  First up I met with my two besties for a girls lunch, always at the same place.  We have been friends since we were 14.  Yes, it has been a long time, just don’t try to do the math.  We get together at least 3 times a year for each of our birthdays, no matter what.  We usually manage to squeeze in a few more but that is the bare minimum.  It was so much fun to catch up.

Then Friday my middle son had his Winter Formal.  He is so handsome don’t you think, I am probably a little bias.

Our cousin has a limo that he let us borrow and my hubby was the driver for all the kids.  They had a blast.  The hubby and I got to have a nice date night dinner while we were waiting for the dance to end, so it was a win, win for us all!

Hope you have all been enjoying your vacation.  What fun things have you been up to?  I would love to read all about it, so leave me a comment.  Best wishes to you and your family this holiday season!

Just by the way, I do realize I have two different fonts back and forth. My computer is doing crazy things and I gave up on fixing it for I am not a tech wizard.  Any sugestions?


  1. It looks like your week before break was amazing! It must be a blast for your little ones to be in your class!

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