Stress Free Holiday Party

Inexpensive and FUN ideas for a stress-free classroom party!

Holiday parties can be stressful for teachers - there's little time (or money!) and it can seem like planning a classroom party is just one more straw on the camel's back! I struggled with parties for a while, and then finally came upon a way to make them as stress-free as possible for myself! Here's what I did to plan a fun classroom party that didn't break the bank or leave me frazzled:

Before the party:
I bought a holiday pack of Solo cups that contained green, red, silver and gold cups. I arranged them on a tri-fold board in the shape of a Christmas tree and glued them in place with a hot glue gun.  

I filled them with little goodies - like holiday ducks from Oriental Trading, toy cars, holiday stampers, bubbles etc. I buy these on sale throughout the year, or at after-Christmas sales in January! I make sure to have more cups and prizes than I have students, just in case of any last minute additions to the class and to ensure that everyone gets a choice of which cup to open.

I traced the top of the cup on red, green and brown butcher paper, cut the circles out and used a hot glue gun to secure the paper "lids" to the cups. For the silver cup at the very top of the tree, I spray painted a piece of white butcher paper silver, let it dry and then cut out a circle. 

I used our very limited selection of holiday die cuts to cut out some decorations for the board, as well as a title and used a glue stick to put them in place. The children were so excited by this, and couldn't wait for our party to start to see what it was all about. 

I also prepped our Pin The Nose on the Snowman game. It came with only 9 carrots, and I have 20 students, so I just traced one of the carrots on orange paper and cut out some extra ones. I labeled each with a child's name, and put them in a bucket to draw randomly to see who would be next. 

I taped the snowman to our dry erase board with masking tape - it came right off after the party so I could fold it up to use again next year!

I had each child wear the blindfold that came with the game, and spun them 6 times before guiding them to walk forward towards the board. They had so much fun watching each other and giggling at the silly placement of the carrots. I didn't have a prize for the "winner", and that was okay because the whole point was to have fun playing the game with our friends!

On our back wall, I taped up some black butcher paper and used chalk markers to decorate it. I then added a $1.97 photo booth kit from Walmart. It came with a background poster and a set of photo props. Here you can see how our elf, Nick, used the photo booth the next day:

During the party:
 I had students come up and pick their props and pose with their friends. I will be sending these pictures to their families over Christmas break (using the Remind app)!

After Pin the Nose on the Snowman, we settled at our tables to make a foam Gingerbread craft kit from Oriental Trading. This was great because it gave the kids something to do as I took pictures at the photo booth. It was super easy for them to peel and stick the pieces on, and they came out so unique even though they had the same pieces! 

Each child was able to take their gingerbread person home at the end of the party too! 

After the craft was finished and the little pieces of backing paper picked up, I called everyone back to the carpet for some dancing! Here are some of the videos we did:

After getting our wiggles out, it was time to head back to our tables for our treat:

Our elf, Nick, chose to bring us some Gingerbread cookies that day, to cap off our Gingerbread Theme (we read and compared so many versions!). Each child got a few gingerbread cookies to munch on while we played the Pick a Prize game:

I drew random names and had my students come up to break through the paper and grab their prize. They LOVED it! Everyone was thrilled with the little toy they got, and it was totally worth the time I spent making the board. Plus, I can throw the board in the closet and use it again next year, cutting my prep time to just cutting out the circles and gluing them on the cups! 

Games, an easy craft and some dancing! The recipe for a stress-free classroom party! And the best part was that I spent less than $30 for everything, most of which can be reused next year! I didn't have to order pizza or collect money or even organize parent volunteers since everything was so simple! Hopefully this helps you plan your next holiday party!

FREE Gingerbread Activity and Ideas

Easy Gingerbread Man Activities

We have been enjoying all things Gingerbread lately - from multiple different versions of the story (see this post for a comprehensive look at all the different Gingerbread stories we read and compare/contrast!), to a ton of fun crafts from Oriental Trading. OT was kind enough to send me a few items to try out in my classroom, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

We were part of a Gingerbread Exchange and sent these cuties to Maine to our partner class:

These Silly Gingerbread Magnet crafts were super easy for the kids to make - although I did use a glue gun to adhere the magnets to make sure they would stay since they were being shipped. Honestly, I could have used a template and had the kids make their gingerbread out of construction paper etc., but I was way short on time! This craft took about 15 minutes from beginning to end, required no prep and very little clean up. Best of all, I didn't have to wait for them to dry before mailing lol!

We've made pattern bracelets using these cool Gingerbread themed beads and chenille stems:

 They thread onto the chenille stems so easily! My only qualm about these is that there are way more "candy" pieces than gingerbread men, but I just told my students they could only have 1 gingerbread bead per bracelet and it was all good! This is a great fine motor activity!

Today we wrote about which version of the gingerbread man story was our favorite and then made these cute hallway display Gingerbread peekers:

Again, super easy for the kids to put together, and an easy-peasy writing display for me to hang in the hallway! We have so many activities this week. including Ornament Night tomorrow where the families will be coming to make ornaments and have hot cocoa and cookies. I had to have fabulous, seasonal displays for the hallway, without a lot of time or money spent on them, and these will look fantastic in the hallway, only took 20 minutes to put together, and will showcase our writing skills - it's a win all the way around!
The sweetie on the right used her brown "hand" piece as her nose, but its all good, the pack has enough extra pieces that these "oops" moments are just fine! 

Oh and these stickers are heading to Writing Center to encourage some story telling - I can't wait to read their sticker stories!

Finally, check out these adorable gingerbread erasers!
Not only can my kids sort and pattern with them (I added a set of them to our Math Boxes) but I also made these super cute (and free!) ten frames mats and cards to go with them!

You can grab them for free by visiting my TPT store here!

Now I'm off to prep for our Christmas party which falls on Thursday - the same day my 3 year old has his Christmas program! This means we will have to have the fastest clean up in the history of Christmas parties everywhere in order for me to make it to his day care on time. Which means more activities and fewer sticky, sugary treats! Of course Oriental Trading is helping out with that too - just check out their Pin The Nose on the Snowman game!

Gingerbread Packs and a Target Mini Eraser FREEBIE

Do you do a Gingerbread theme in December? I love all the different versions of the gingerbread Story (read this post for more on comparing/contrasting stories with a FREE Gingerbread Venn Diagram) so we stretch our Gingerbread theme to last a few weeks. This year we have even more gingerbread goodness:
These Gingerbread Addition Clip Cards can be differentiated for ALL of your students because there are 120 cards with sums from 0 to 21! Do you love the mini glitter clothespins?! They're from the Target Dollar Spot!

My students need extra practice with reading CVC words, so these Gingerbread CVC Clip Cards are perfect for our Literacy Centers! Students look at the picture and then put their clothespin on the correctly spelled CVC word.

I have some students still working on number recognition and 1 to 1 counting, as well as subitizing, so these Gingerbread Counting Clip Cards will be great for our Math Centers! 


We have our Elf coming to visit us in December too! (read this post for more on why you should have an Elf On The Shelf in the classroom!) Our Elf always brings us little notes, presents and goodies, and I've created a whole pack of 24 notes, a request letter and response sheets so you can join in the fun with your class!
You can find these Letters from An Elf in my TPT store!

Finally, did you know that TPT is having their Cyber Monday sale tomorrow and Tuesday? My store will be set to 20% off and then you can get an additiaonl 10% off that by putting in the code when you checkout!

And, if you've checked out Target's Dollar Spot lately, you've probably seen these adorable erasers:

I hope you picked some up, because your students will LOVE using them with this Ten Frame freebie! Just click the picture to grab it for FREE in my TPT store!

Alright, off to find my Elf and wrap up the box for delivery on Wednesday! Have a great week!

Random Acts of Kindergarten Kindness

Have you been wondering about ways to encourage kindness in your classroom? Character building is a big focus of mine this year, so I decided to do a whole month worth of Random Acts of Kindergarten Kindness for December. Regardless of religious affiliation, ALL of my students will love doing these RAKK's.

I created a calendar to help them remember to continue to be kind on the weekends and once our Winter Break begins. Since I'm a teacher with 5 kids of my own, I made sure that all of the school activities were inexpensive and didn't require a lot of prep on my part (aren't we all so BUSY this time of year?!) I am so excited to share this with you - together we can make a world of difference this holiday season!

Go ahead and grab the calendar for free at my TPT store - I included a b&w version to send home for your students to color, as well as a full color version for you to print out for your reference. If you do the activities, I would love to see them - simply add the hashtag #RAKK2016 when posting to social media to help others find fun ideas for inspiring kindness in our students.

Need the calendar for other grade levels? I included a version without "kindergarten"!

Have ideas for other Random Acts of Kindness? I'd love it if you'd rustle up a comment below and share!

Red Ribbon Week Doors & Character Pumpkins!

This is our Red Ribbon Week, and we have some serious contenders for Best Decorated Door:

"Don't Be Afraid To Say No!"  The background really makes this door - but the cheesecloth ghosts are super cute too!

"Drugs Are a Trick Not A Treat" These candy corn are super simple and cute - just crumpled tissue paper!

"Elect Not To Do Drugs!" This Election themed door is particularly appropriate this year!

 "Tell Drugs Its The End Of The Road" This is a fun one for a car-crazy class!

 "You Only Live Once, Fly Above The Influence" These paper towel roll rockets were a blast for the students to decorate!
 "Mooooove Over Drugs" These paper plate cows come from our Pre-k class - they did an awesome job!

 "Don't Get Wrapped Up In Drugs" This mummy door is from our Counselor - love it!

"Slam Dunk, Drugs Are Junk!" I love the over-the-door hoop for this door, and the basketballs are Styrofoam balls cut in half and painted orange!

"Drugs Are Sticky Business!" This is a 2nd grade door with glitter spiderwebs - love the unsuspecting victim all tangled up by the spider in the top left corner!

"There's No Room On Our Broom For Drugs!" These brooms are made with sticks from the playground and paper bags! 

And, of course I saved the best for last! My class is full of Pokemon Masters, so of course we had to do a Pokemon themed door:
 "Drugs Can't Catch Us! We Are Having A Ball Being Drug Free!" 

We created the Poke-balls with 2 paper plates. We cut the first one in half and painted one half red. Then we added a long, skinny black rectangle, and cut out 3 different sizes of circles. We used a brad to secure the two halves to the 2nd plate. I had each child color their own Pikachu mask (from this site), and then took their photo as they showed me their best "Pokemon escaping" pose. I printed the pictures on card stock and cut them out. Then the kids glued their picture in the opening of the Poke-ball, so it looks like they're jumping out of the Poke-ball!
 The winners will be announced Friday, so we're crossing our fingers!

I also had some great Pumpkin Character book reports turned in! Here are some of my faves: 
Pete The Cat Character Pumpkin made with paint, paper and pipe cleaners!

This family went all out with their "The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear" pumpkin - when my sweetie brought it in, she showed me the exact page that this scene is from!

This Curious George pumpkin is so cute!

I love this Cookie Monster pumpkin - especially since he came with a chocolate chip cookie!

Alright, I'm off to enter grades into our computer program - Progress Reports get printed Friday! I'd love to hear about your Red Ribbon Week - rustle up a comment below and share your favorite door display or character pumpkin!

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