Kindercrafts

All posts in the Kindercrafts category

24 Books of Christmas – 2013

Published December 2, 2013 by Mrs. Malo

It has started again, for the 3rd year!  Our 24 books of Christmas Countdown.  This year I am really trying to keep it simple as my kids already have a pretty hectic life. I considered not doing it this year but they love it so much and started asking about it mid November.  I have compiled the list, collected most materials and we hit the ground running today.

As always our first book was “The Elf on the Shelf”.  You can check out what we did in 2011 and 2012, but we have to do this book the first of December every year as our elf Frankie comes back to visit.  My girls in particular have been very much looking forward to his return.  Kaitlyn was even invited to have a sleep-over at a friend’s last night but came home before sleep time because she wanted to wake up here in the morning to see Frankie.  In our house it is almost the excitement of Christmas morning.

To keep it ‘kid friendly’ and in the spirit of ELK Kindergarten I invited the kids to work together to make a house for Frankie.  I showed them a picture of an idea on spoonful.com and told them they could use whatever they wanted to make Frankie’s house.  I had been saving the boxes from all our winter boots so they picked their favourite and from there I let them use anything they could find in our craft centre and introduced them to the Christmas craft bin where I had put a collection of random Christmas craft supplies.

The most amazing part was how well they worked together.  For almost 1 hour my three children (aged 3, 5, and 7) work quietly together to build this house.  No one yelled, no one told someone they were doing it wrong, they were even complimenting each other – it was pretty amazing.  I gave no guidance and the only thing they asked me to do was glue the boxes together at the end.

Their finished project:

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Rudolph with a Candy Cane

Published December 5, 2012 by Mrs. Malo

With Day 5 the craft came before the book.  I was scouring pinterest one night, procrastinating of course, and came across a cute reindeer craft that I thought would be a good ‘weeknight’ craft.  I then went through our books to find a reindeer book.  In my school box I found Rudolph Shines Again.  I think it was from a scholastic package I got last Christmas.

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The book is not is no award winner but it is cute.  The illustrations are very well done (except for some reason Michael kept trying to find ‘the mouse’), and it is written entirely in rhyme.  After Christmas Rudolph returns to be mocked by the other reindeer and this leaves him feeling very sorry for himself and his nose loses it’s shine.

After reading the book we got right down to the craft.  You can get complete instructions by following the links here.  I found all of the things we needed at Michael’s and in our craft bins.  If you want to try it make sure you have very small pom poms for the nose.  This was one of those crafts that is was great to have a stocked craft centre.  I brought out the bin of misc. google eyes and bells and they picked their favourite.  Grandma is a knitter so we raided her stash of wool.  The only thing I really had to buy was the plastic candy canes.

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This was a perfect craft for Eileen.  Easy enough for her to do most of it herself and quick enough to keep her attention.  Michael even was able to do some of the wrapping himself.

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The finished result.  They are super cute and all unique!

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24 Books of Christmas – Day 1

Published December 2, 2012 by Mrs. Malo

Our 24 books of Christmas was such a hit last year that it has become a must-do for our family this year.  This year I feel it is even more important because it make me stop and do something fun with my children every day.  Since I have gone back to teaching full time and my kids have such busy schedules  our life has become a bit chaotic.  All of our books and activities are strategically planned and scheduled this year – with larger more time consuming crafts on slower evenings and weekends.

We of course started off the countdown with The Elf on the Shelf.  When the kids woke up on December 1st it didn’t take them long to find that Frankie (our elf) had returned for the holiday season.  To celebrate his return our actvities for the day were all elf based.  We re-read the book (well Grandma actually read it to them because I had an eye infection and reading was challenging).  I was searching for elf related crafts and ended up on the official Elf on the Shelf website.  If you go to “North Pole” and “Reindeer Stables” you will find a number of elf crafts.  I have also pinned them on my Pinterest Page.

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We started with the Elf Clock. I wanted to start the season off with a craft that we would add to our collection and would come out every year.  We took a trip to Michael’s Arts and Crafts where we found the Clock Movement Package.  It didn’t call for a specific size but we used 3/8″.  Grandpa also helped out by making us a box out of plywood.  This makes it more durable and more sturdy for saving for future years.  The girls started by painting it with red acrylic paint and colouring the elf template (we used pencil crayons, markers and silver glitter).

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We gave Granpa the job of attaching the clock parts – I didn’t want to mess it up!

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After it was all done it was the first item put on our mantel for the holiday season.

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For fun we also made the Elf table.  This was pretty easy, but I did all the gluing with the hot glue gun.  The instructions are very clear but make sure you get large tongue depressors for the large stick and mini sticks (smaller than popsicle sticks) for the small sticks.

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Our elf table took it’s place on the mantel beside the clock – maybe Frankie will decide to sit on it one day!!

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Awesome Chinese New Year Unit

Published February 24, 2012 by Mrs. Malo

This was my first Kindergarten unit I pretty much developed on my own.  I was so excited to do it and had been looking forward to it since we had our own Chinese New Year celebration at home last year.  We did this unit from the time we got back to school after the Christmas break and culminated at our Chinese New Year party on January 23rd, it was a total of 4 classes.  I had a number of picture books we used throughout the unit.

Day 1:

Book – Lion Dancer by Kate Waters.  This may seem like a strange book to start the unit with but I had a method to my madness.  Our biggest creation was going to be our own Chinese Lion costumes and we were going to make our own dance and musical instruments.  This was a great book to introduce the Lion Dance.  After reading we made a list of all the Chinese customs in the book.

After reading the book we watched a few youtube clips of lion dancing. Each group was going to make their own lion head. On this first day all they did was paint a base colour for their box.  The key for success is finding the perfect size box.  I happen to find 4 boxes all the same size that were perfect to fit over a 4/5 year old’s head.  My EA had pre-cut eye holes in each box so the kids didn’t have to worry about that.  We also learned our “Lion Dance Song” and  made up or own clapping pattern for our dance.

Before we left for the day we added Chinese New Year to our calendar and found China on our map of the world.

 

Day 2:

Book: Happy Chinese New Year, Kai-lan by Lauryn Silverhardt.  I am always hesitant using book based on shows the kids watch because sometimes the writing is forced but this book was pretty good – and had lots of great Chinese traditions.  I also tied in nicely to our Character Ed trait of Responsibility that we were learning about in January.

After reading this book we watched a few clips on youtube and compared the Chinese Lion and Dragon dances.  They are very different but both very important in Chinese culture.  We finished our Lion Head costumes this day and I attached a red strip of fabric to each for the tails.  Basically all I did was give them as many craft materials that I could find and let them explore.  For some reason I am missing a number of my pictures but when I find better pictures I will add them in.

We started working on our dance, which was pretty much just a marching pattern to match the clapping pattern we had created.  Now we added instruments instead of clapping.  We used small hand drums and small cymbals.

For fun the kids made Chinese spin drums using old CDs we painted red, doweling, string and wooden beads.  We didn’t use them in our dance as it would have been chaos but it was fun for the kids to make and take home.

Day 3: 

Book: My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz.  This is a very simple book but great at showing the variety of Chinese traditions around Chinese New Year.  Again we made a list while reading the book.

After reading the book we made a Venn Diagram (with pictures) comparing the traditions in each of the tree books we had read.

It was a crude drawing but showed how special food and red envelopes were in all the books.  From here I suggested that maybe we could use some of these common traditions to hold our own Chinese New Year celebration.

To finish off our day we integrated our patterning studies in math into our Chinese New Year studies.  In math we created patterns on strips of paper that were to be used as tails for kites.  At the end of the day our Big Buddies came to visit an helped us make dragons on diamond paper for our kites.  We used our handprints for the body, cut out the head and then got creative with the decorations.

Day 4: Chinese New Year!!

Book: A New Year’s Reunion by Yu Li-Qiong.  This is an awesome new book.  It was great for retell as we told what happened on each day of the new year celebration.  We also did a text-to-text connection picture where they made a connection between this book and one of the three previous books we read.

During math we made Chinese lanterns and decorated them with patterns using different colours and shapes.

During the last block we had our party.  Most of the party was spent eating.  We order Won Ton Soup, Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls and Vegetable Lo Mein from our local chinese food restaurant.  We bought small egg rolls at the grocery store and I made sticky balls for desert.  I was so proud that everyone tried everything and I didn’t hear any complaints.  After eating any students that wanted make dragon masks.

Day 5: The Wrap Up

 To summarize everything we learned on Chinese New Year every student completed a glyph.  I found a colouring page of a dragon and simplified it for our use.  You can find the instructions for the glyph dragon glyphs.  I know I took pictures of the bulletin board with the glyphs and when I find it I will add them to this blog.

Kindergarten Migration

Published January 4, 2012 by Mrs. Malo

We finished our migration unit in room 11 at the end of November but I hadn’t had a chance to blog about it yet so this is catching me up.  Being my first year in Kindergarten I didn’t want to rock the boat too much so with a few exceptions I have been sticking to the themes my predecessor used.  Between Halloween and Christmas we studied the topic of migration.  I really had no idea how to approach this and wanted to do more than just talk about he Canada Goose.  I started by getting some books – I simply used Google and the Indigo-Chapters website to look for picture books on migration.  I picked a variety and placed an order.  When my order came it I took a look at one book and easily decided how I would approach this unit.

“Going home, going home,

We feel the urge to go.

It’s time for us to travel on,

It’s something we just know.

Many of us look for food,

Others find a mate.

And when the weather starts to change,

There is no time to wait.”

Going Home: The Mystery of Animal Migration, by Marianne Berkes and illustrated by Jennifer DiRubbio is a must have book for any teacher doing a unit on migration.  Beautifully written with accompanying illustrations it tells of 10 animals that all migration for a variety of reasons.  Each page has an 8 line rhyming verse introducing the animal and it’s migration patterns, accompanying a detailed illustration.  On the facing page is also a small write-up giving more detail on the animals.  At the end of the book there is a map showing where each animal migrates. more detailed information on the migrating animals, a list of places to look for more information and tips from the author on activities.  On the first day of our unit I introduced the first page of the book to my class (seen above) and picture of all the 10 animals in the book.  I told them we would be learning about the Canadian Goose and Ruby-Throated Hummingbird because they both spend their summers where we live, and that we would also be learning about 3 other animals.  The part that really got them excited is that they would be picking the 3 other animals from the other 8 in our book.  I made a chart with pictures of each of the 8 animals and each student was given two stickers.  They were to put a sticker underneath the two animals that they wanted to learn about the most.  We talked about picking what you wanted to learn about and not worrying about what your friends and classmates picked.  We had just finished a unit on Data Management in Math so they were very familiar with tallies and graphs.  I still have the graph on my wall at school and when I go back into the school I will take a picture and post it here.

The winners were: Pacific Salmon, Manatee, and Caribou.

Day #1 – Canada Goose

In our study of fall we went on a walk in the neighbourhood around the school which included a visit to a pond near the school.  Here we saw a large number of Canadian Geese.

Canada Geese are not at all an uncommon sight in our town.  We actually have an over population of Canada Geese at our main park downtown.  I decided to start with an animal that the kids would easily see everyday.  I started by reading them the page in Going Home about Canada Geese, and we learned why they fly in a V formation (to conserve energy).  Then I read them Grady the Goose which also tied in nicely to our character ed trait of the month compassion.  There were some great text-to-text connections when Grady became tired very easily when flying by himself (didn’t have others to make a V formation).  Next I introduced them to our migration maps.  Throughout our unit we made two maps that showed the migration of the animals we studied – one inside the classroom and one in the hall to share with the rest of the school.  We also posted our crafts of the different animals and a cool fact on each on our board in the hallway.

My amazing ECE student Sheena prepared a craft station that was made available to the students during activity time every day.  They could make a craft of the animal that we learned about that day if they wanted to.   We borrow the Canada Goose craft from my teacher partner.  The students sponge painted colours on the Canada Geese that Sheena had prepared (a body outline and a rectangle for the wings).  When they dried she stapled the wings on the body.

Day 2 – Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

I have hummingbird feeders outside of my house but never seem to get as many hummingbirds in the summer as my dad does.  When we are over at my parents house we often see them at the feeders on his back porch.  I have seen them many times but never thought about their migration before.  Again I started by reading the class the page in Going Home, where we learned that they migrate to lay their eggs south of the Gulf of Mexico.  The EA in my room, Alison, showed the kids a cute YouTube video of a rescued baby hummingbird.  I didn’t have any books on Hummingbirds so I also read them Tree of Birds  by Susan Meddaugh.  This is a story of a boy Harry who rescues a tropical bird when she is hurt by a car but doesn’t want to let her go to migrate south.  The story is about a fictional bird but we made connections on the importance of weather for some types of birds.  One word of caution – if reading this book aloud you may want to change some of the language.  At one point Harry screams “Stupid, Stupid Birds”, which I changed to “Silly, Silly Birds”.  For craft Sheena helped the kids make their own hummingbirds using pom-poms, toothpicks, and muffin cups as I found in a blog post by Ramblings of a Crazy Woman.   They turned out supper cute.

Day 3 – Pacific Salmon

I was surprised when the students selected the Pacific Salmon as one of the animals they wanted to learn about.  In Going Home they learned that salmon migrate up streams to lay their eggs in the same place where they were born.  As a story I read them the classic A Salmon for Simon, about a young boy named Simon who desperately wants to catch a fish.  He lives on the West Coast of Canada and the Salmon approach shore when heading for the streams where they will go to lay their eggs.  I found a very cute video on the life cycle of Pacific Salmon I showed the class.  For a craft we made fish using construction paper outlines and contact paper that can be found at any dollar store.  The students torn up small pieces of tissue paper to stick to the contact  paper making their salmon.

Day 4 – Manatee

This was probably the most surprising selection by the class and the most difficult to plan.  In Going Home we learned that Manatees migrate to find warmer water when the temperature drops.  Books on Manatees are limited but I did read them portions of Dances with Manatees by Faith McNulty.  This is a level 4 reader that has tonnes of great information on Manatees, but it it way too long to use as a read-aloud so I only ready portions of it to the entire class.  I left it in the class library for students to explore on their own.  We were doing well with the videos so I continued the trend with another Youtube video, this time showing them what manatee looks like and why it is nicknamed the ‘sea cow’.   We were at a loss for a craft but we managed to find a pattern for a paper bag puppet that we made available in the craft centre.

Day 5 – Caribou / Reindeer

This was a great cross-over, our last day of our migration unit we learned about Caribou which are also called Reindeer in different parts of the world.  This was a great segway into our Christmas unit!  From Going Home we learned that caribou migrate south into the forest for protection from the wind in the winter but in the spring migrate north to fee on the tundra.  I showed them a final video, this time of the caribou migration.  To finish off I read them Jan Brett’s The Wild Christmas Reindeer.  Our final craft was not an optional craft but instead a handprint craft for our memory books that I create for the kids to take home at the end of the school year.  Every month we make a different handprints so our November handprint was a caribou.  I found the idea at Reading Confetti and modified it slightly to exclude the red nose (wanted to make sure it was more like a caribou and less like Rudolph) and excluded the bell so that it would lay flat in our memory book.  We used scrap foam for the nose and mouth.

Our unit turned out pretty cool!

Olivia Helps with Christmas

Published December 28, 2011 by Mrs. Malo

One of the book series that I love are the Olivia books.  There are two types: the true Olivia books, and those based on the television series.  The true books are much better. I couldn’t resist using Olivia helps with Christmas in our 24 books of Christmas.  It was our book on Day 20.

I think the reason I love Olivia so much is that she reminds me of Kaitlyn.  She is a precious young pig (that is where they differ), she thinks she is very proper and has the best of intentions, very creative and artistic but a bit of a drama queen.  To top it off the last page is a picture of Olivia dreaming of dancing in the Nutracker and only a couple of days prior to reading this book my dad and I took Kaitlyn to see the Nutcracker, the third year in a row.

Our original plan was to make Christmas cards on the 2oth but I came across a post on Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas on gift tags and thought these would be fun – and they could make more of them then if we made Christmas cards.  The 2oth was also the day of Kaitlyn’s mini recital in her piano class and the dress rehearsal for the school concert so we had Kaitlyn’s friend Maggie over for the afternoon.  We had an hour break between the two events so this was a good time for all 3 girls to make their gift tags.  I decided we would try 4 that were all painted: finger print Christmas trees, finger print Rudolph, finger print wreath and painted candy canes.

I set the girls up with one design at a time and gave them just a bit of instruction.  They were very creative and I was amazed how determined Eileen was to do hers all by herself.  I was bit nervous as I only had green acrylic paint but I have never seen her paint so neatly before.  They were not quite dry in time so Kaitlyn finished Maggie’s for her but they all turned out pretty cute.  These could easily be done with an entire Kindergarten class.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The many 12 Days of Christmas

Published December 27, 2011 by Mrs. Malo

The 12 days of Christmas was a big theme for us this year, at school – and at home.  It all started with last year for Christmas Eileen received a copy of A Porcupine in a Pine Tree from her Aunt and Uncle.  This is a great Canadian 12 days of Christmas.

I had mad the decision to use this book at Christmas in my Kindergarten class a long time ago – but once we got started it took on a life of its own.  I started at the beginning of December by reading them the book.  Each child was given a large bristol board Christmas Tree and was told we were going to make the 12 days of Christmas.  This activity has a lot of teacher prep but it was totally worth it.  I had pre-printed and cut out all the gift for Christmas.  On the JK pictures I had stencilled in the numbers and on the SK pictures I simply put and empty box for them to print in the numbers.

My teaching partner suggested doing something to make the porcupine stand out at the top of the tree so we painted small doilies and glued them on the very top, and then put the porcupine on top.  We started with 3 ‘days’ a class but when we got to the higher days we only did 2 a class.  For 11 and 12 I saved time by leaving them in a strip and they just glued on.  It was a very time consuming activity and took us many classes but it was a perfect way to reinforce our numbers up to 12 that we had been working on in the month of November.  Feel free to use the file I made for the activity: porcupine in a pine tree, you will need to print in the number stencils if you wish for JK students.

On the last day we sequenced the story on the back on the tree.  This helped reinforce the idea of story sequencing and gave me an opportunity to introduce ordinal numbers.  I had strips for each day and first they glued them in order.  As this was a new concept I only gave one strip at a time (we had done the same thing with our numbers on the front).  It was much easier to track everyone as a whole class this way.  The same day we added the ordinal numbers before the sentences (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc).  This I gave it them each in a pile and asked them to put in order themselves – it was a great way to see who had mastered their numbers and who still needed some help.

The best part was at the end when they took them home.  As we were learning each day we were also singing the song – complete with actions.  I found a youtube video from a class in Kitchener that I would definitely recommend checking out!!

To make some text to text connections I also read a few other versions of the 12 days of Christmas.  I found a treaditional version on the discount shelves of our local bookstore.  After reading it to them I played them the true classic 12  days of Christmas sung by John Denver and the Muppets!!

Next I read A Stork in A Baobab Tree: An African Twelve Days of Christmas. I would love to have done more time on this one in my class but we drew some great connections to what they do in African and how it is different and the same to what we do in North America.  For example “On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four market traders” – we discussed how many of us to to the market in our own downtown to get fresh food.

One book I ran out of to do with my class was A Pinata for the Pinon Tree.  This was our family book for December 15th!

This is the 12  days of Christmas in New Mexico.  When I picked it up I thought it would be a Mexican Christmas but instead it is a Southwestern Christmas.  The cool thing about this book is that on each page is shows one set of characters decorating for Christmas using the different items for the 12 days of Christmas but in the left hand part of the page is a grandmother character who is baking some sort of treat.  The treat is never mentioned in the story but at the end of the book is a recipe for Bizcochitos – a traditional New Mexican Christmas cookie.  It was very obvious that we had to make these cookies, but they called for a strange ingredient – aniseed.  The next Thursday when we went to market I asked the spice lady and she had aniseed!  We mixed up the batter and made a variety of Bizcochitos.  I let the girls pick from all of my cookie cutters so we had a wide variety of shapes.  These are a very different tasting Christmas cookie so not everyone may like them – but everyone we gave some to loved them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am looking for more great versions of The Twelve Days of Christmas to add to our library for future years.  If you have a favourite let us know!