It’s December and for many teachers it can be a crazy time of the school year.
Kindergarten Christmas days are filled with glitter, glue, Christmas concerts and parties. School and home routines are often altered at this time and your students may be tired and easily upset.
For a happier classroom, provide lots of time to play and create in a calm, relaxed atmosphere. Remember the golden rule of teaching kindergarten so you, the parents, and the students all have fun, “Keep it Simple”.
For ideas to simplify your Christmas season, read the 5 Kindergarten Christmas tips below:
1. Make it easy for parents to help
Include “help with cutting out crafts” in the volunteer list you send home in September. There are usually parents that cannot help in the classroom and don’t mind cutting things out in the evenings. Here’s how it works:
- Create a Christmas cutting out list, for parents and save it for future years.
- Keep a finished sample, samples of the cut out pieces and a list of how many pieces you need for the class in individual Ziploc™ type bags.
- Give parents the baggies and the materials to cut out (see image above)
- Written instructions can be vague, so always supplement them with samples of the craft.
- Save a bag of each craft and some sample materials for the following year so it will be easy to hand the instructions and samples to new parents.
- Don’t worry if the crafts are not cut out perfectly, the kids won’t care.
As teachers of kindergarten children, we can take things like cutting out piles of shapes for granted. You may have to teach some parents not to cut out items one at a time and how to fold the papers to cut out a whole pile of items quickly. If your parents do not have good sharp scissors, lend them a pair or your crafts will have soft torn looking edges.
2. Use name labels
- Some children produce an abundance of crafts at this time of the year and it can be difficult for them to print their names on bumpy or small surfaces
- The novelty of name stickers ensures that items are correctly labeled so the children can take them home before the holidays begin.
- Teach kids to press the labels on firmly.
If you like, buy Avery Inkjet White Labels and then go to the Avery website and download a free template for the label size you have purchased. Small labels are big enough for names. Print sheets with about 6 of each child’s name and leave them on the craft table.
3. Make big tracers
- Make a pile of fairly large Christmas tracers that can be used over and over for years
- Mark all tracers with large Xs and teach kids that the shapes with big Xs are for tracing only or some children will cover them with glitter to make their crafts!
- Use medium weight cardboard and make shapes for candle holders (with candles), candy canes, Christmas trees, ball shape ornaments, bells, doves and stars.
- Some children spend a long time drawing on, coloring and decorating their ornaments, others will quickly cut it out, put a hanger on it and be off to build with blocks.
4. Make a Christmas imagination station
- Use two lids from photocopier paper boxes. The sides are high enough to keep the materials from falling out and they are easily available so you can throw them out when they get ratty.
- Small baskets placed inside keeps a semblance of order.
- Collect material throughout year, keep it in see through bags in a Xmas box and reload the imagination station every few days.
- Fill it with:
- a single hole punch,
- glue sticks,
- white glue in little jam jars with short stir sticks,
- 6″ lengths of twist tie wire and tape
- squares of wax paper (teach kids to place one under each craft or it will glue to the table),
- bits of Mylar plastic, reflective ribbon, colored tissue, light and dark
- transparent papers, cellophane paper in different colors,
- old glittery Christmas cards and sequins.
- Hangers for ornaments: use twist tie wire which comes in a roll, cut in 6” lengths or use pipe cleaners cut in half. The kids poke a hole in their creations, thread the wire through and twist the ends. With a bit of instruction, most can do this independently.
Setting up the Classroom Imagination Station
Create three zones for the kindergarten Christmas imagination station:
- Tracing zone – One with tracers, papers, and scissors for drawing only
- Decorating zone – the messy zone with the glues and materials
- Drying zone - Important to have this close to the decorating zone. If the craft is not too gluey it can go right on the bulletin board.
Glitter needs a bit more supervision and instruction or large mounds of glue and glitter quickly build up! Set up a time to use glitter and have a parent supervise the amount of glue and glitter that is used.
5. Get ready for January BEFORE you go home for the holidays
- Send all the children’s decorations, crafts, paintings, and such home before the last day of school in December.
- Have your Christmas party before the last day of the school year.
- Eat early on the last day of the year, so there’s lots of time to clean up the mess while the children look at books, do puzzles or watch a Christmas Dvd. I like the Dvds put out by Scholastic which are animated children’s literature.
- Take down all Christmas decorations before you go home (I’d take mine down as the children watched a video), put up January’s bulletin board basics and prepare an easy day activity for the first day back.
- Go home and do not think about school until January, except to visit kindergarten-lessons.com of course for more winter ideas!!