I can’t believe that the school year is half over! Time really does fly when you are having fun, and I have had so much fun this year teaching kindergarten students and learning from them at the same time.
It seems like yesterday I was closing the door to all the sad moms and dads and turning around to face them for the first time. How is this year going to go? was, and always is, my first thought.
Turns out, I have a pretty awesome class. They make coming to school so much fun. Even the dreaded week before Christmas!
In years past, the week before Christmas has seemed to drag by for me. The days stretch and stretch until I am a busy, fussy mess of a teacher. I’ve come to realize that I do it to myself. I get excited about the season and I throw away all sorts of routine and procedures during my day. Then I complain and fuss when my kids “act up”.
So last year my kids were really good at Christmas. I followed my routine to a capital T every day, never veering left nor right.
But that wasn’t special. And Christmas is special.
So I had this question on my mind…How do you make the Christmas season special in your room without throwing away the structure of your day?
My fellow kindergarten and preschool teachers and I have collaborated at length about this, and here are some ideas we’ve come up with. Now, as always, these are by no means exhaustive, and we always love to get new ideas if you’d like to share in the comments below.
The key for me is keeping the general structure and routine of the day the same. One of the truest things I’ve learned in my ten plus years of teaching kindergarten and preschool is that children do best with routine and structure. Children do BEST with routine and structure.
So take my “specials” and insert them within the routine of my day.
As shared in an earlier post this year about the Home Living station, I turn my kitchen/home living area into a Christmas station in December. I bring in a tiny tree and provide a basket of non-breakable ornaments. The children spend almost the entire time putting ornaments on the tree and taking them off. Seriously. They are getting to do what many of them have not been allowed to do before with the breakables at home! They simply love it. My friends Lori and Connie also gave me the idea of gluing plastic letters together to make sight word ornaments for the kids to read and hang on the tree. You can also write sight words on non-breakable globe ornaments. Don’t have any “safe” ornaments? Let your kids bring them in from home. Parents have always been so helpful in this area.
Parents are also helpful when it comes to Christmas crafts. This one is probably pretty obvious, but I’ve found that many parents are happy to come and do a craft at Christmastime, especially if they work outside the home and don’t get to volunteer very often. This is a fun opportunity for them, and it definitely helps me with craft time, since I’m not the craftiest kindergarten teacher.
And, now for the part I’ve been most excited about this year…the week before Christmas! My friends Tina, Tara, Rachael, and myself decided to do a special theme for each day of the week before Christmas. Now usually I’m anti-straying-from-the-routine. But this year, I have added special touches to my usual routine that go along with the day’s theme, thanks to ideas from brainstorming with my teaching friends. Here are our themes for the week:
Monday: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Day We encourage all of our students to wear red. We make antler headbands and paint noses red. We read, compare, and contrast different versions of the Rudolph story. We share youtube songs and videos with our students. Two of my favorites are here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lM6mDRhKAcA Rudolph Song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E48dJsivx7s Rudolph Hokey Pokey
We also make reindeer food and make reindeer handprints and ornaments. We visit websites to learn facts about reindeer/caribou. A good resource for this is pebblego.com.
Tuesday: Do You Want To Build A Snowman? We encourage students to wear white. We build snowmen in a variety of ways, including with paper plates, construction paper, thumbprints, and cotton balls. We read books about Frosty the Snowman and Olaf. We watch the clip of the famous song “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?” on youtube. We “build” snowmen using icing, marshmallows, pretzel sticks, and chocolate chips. (You could also do a melted snowman with vanilla ice cream instead of marshmallows.) We study how snow forms and the effects of snow. In Alabama, snow is a very exciting thing to us!
Wednesday: How The Grinch Stole Christmas We encourage students to wear green. We eat green snacks and make green koolaide and make green crafts. We read the story and watch the movie. We discuss where one “finds” Christmas.
Thursday: Polar Express Pajama Party Yes, by this time, we are tired. 🙂 We wear pajamas to school. We create our ticket for the Polar Express and eat cookies and drink hot cocoa. We read the story and watch the movie.
Friday: Let’s Party There really is no name for this day. While the first four days of the week seem to drag by for me, this last day flies by and is over before I can catch my breath.
And then they are gone for two weeks. And my prayer is always that they remember the special, magical, happy moments that happened during the week before Christmas in kindergarten. After all, for some of them, this may be the only fun and magic that they experience during the season.
What are your ideas? We want to hear them!!!
Merry Christmas, my teacher friends!