Posted in Craft Thursdays, Kindercrafts, Uncategorized

Rudolph with a Candy Cane

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.


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.


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.


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


Posted in Books, Kindercrafts

24 Books of Christmas – Day 1

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.


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).

painting clock

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

attaching clock

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


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.


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


Posted in Books, Kinder science, Kindercrafts

Kindergarten Migration

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!

Posted in Craft Thursdays

Saving those Summer Treasures

My girls are collectors.  They love to find and collect treasures, and this multiplies in the summer.  I thought we could make some special boxes for them to store (and contain) their treasures this summer.  I drew inspiration from the awesome site Kiboomu.

This craft started with a trip to the dollar store.  Normally I take the kids with me so they can pick out their craft supplies but I was out without them for a meeting and stopped off on my way home.  They didn’t have exactly the boxes I was looking for but I found something that would work.  They came in many colours but I picked the light yellow ones so that it would be easier for them to paint them whatever colour they wanted.  I also found some cool shells.

The first step was to paint the boxes.  Kaitlyn’s favourite colours right now are orange and red so she painted the ends orange and the sides red.  Eileen decided to use 4 different colours and did an awesome job painting all on her own. For the lid Kaitlyn decided to paint the lower part brown for her sand and then the top blue for the water/sky.  The uneven painting created a great texture and the impression of waves in parts.  After letting them dry overnight we added real sand to the ‘sand’ portions of our lids.

To add the sand they put glue whereever they wanted the sand to stick and then sprinkled sand over top. To decrease the mess I found that working in a large baking dish was handy.  They simply poured the sand over top, then lifed the lid and shock off any excess and I poured the leftovers back in the bucket.  Other than the time when Eileen took a large handful and threw it on the table it was a relatively clean craft.  To finish off they glued on a number of shells and stones and then I added the titles for them.  An easy craft they could both do by themselves and they are now prepared for treasure hunting!

Posted in Craft Thursdays

Chinese Festival Family Style – The Crafts

Other than our Panda puppets we made one craft to prepare for the day and two crafts at the festival.

To decorate we made Chinese lanterns.  These were very easy for Kaitlyn and Eileen loved making them with a bit of help.  We followed the simple directions we found on Kaboose.

First I measured out and marked the lines for the girls.  I cut Eileen’s for her and Kaitlyn cut her own.

After our first one we learned that it was much easier to decorate the lanterns before assembling them.  I got out our craft bins and anything they could use to decorate their lanterns: foamies, stickers, markers, and crayons but their favourite was the glitter glue.

To assemble them all you need is a stapler and some string or wool to hang them up.

At the festival the kids did two crafts.  When all the kids had arrived we made dragon puppets.  I printed off a template I found online an each child coloured their own.  I put out crayons for them to use and let them do any colour they wanted.   After they were coloured the adults helped cut them out.  At this point we realized that this pattern is rather intricate and time consuming to cut out.  After cut out they were assembled using red construction paper and wooden skewers.

Our final craft was Chinese kites.  I looked online for patterns for making kites and settled on a diamond kite.  We followed the pattern exactly and the kids had fun making them but I don’t think they will ever actually fly.  It said to use strong paper so I purchased bristol board, but I think it is too heavy.  Again I got out decorating supplies and let the kids decorate their kites however they wanted.  If we had more time I would have introduced the concept of the zodiac or Chinese New Year and encouraged them to use their symbols on their kites.  Kaitlyn is a bit dissapointed her kite won’t fly so we are going to experiment with other materials and see what we can come up with.  We did manage to find wooden sticks of bamboo in the gardening section of Canadian Tire and they worked well. We have lots left over and will use it on our new kites.

Have you every had any luck making homemade kites that fly?  What are your suggestions?

Posted in Craft Thursdays, Family Adventures, Literacy Tuesdays

China Festival Family Style – Introduction & Research

If you have been following my Literacy Tuesday blogs you will know that we were reading a number of alphabet concept books.  One of the books we read was D is for Dancing Dragon – A China Alphabet by Carol Crane and Illustrated by Zong-Zhou Wang, and if you are interested in the book I commented on it at my library blog.  This book was the jumping off point for our China day.  From here we found a research idea, crafts and decorations to make, and food we had to include in our celebration.  I am not going to try an include everything in one  blog post, instead I am going to try and group what we did preparing for the day and on the day itself, into a few blog posts.

The past few years I have worked as a teacher-librarian and one of the main focuses has been to teach students how to learn for themselves.  This  was the first opportunity I have had to directly teach my own children research skills, well Kaitlyn was the only one actually researching, Eileen just was along for the ride.  We started by reviewing the letter P in our alphabet book – The Giant Panda.  We started this on a literacy Tuesday so I printed off some P worksheets and colouring pages for an introduction.  Kaitlyn particularly liked the P wordsearch and I appreciated that it was the perfect level of difficulty for her.  Eileen made an attempt to trace the P letter pages I gave her, which is a big step for her.  They both coloured a few printable pages, and Kaitlyn even made an effort to colour the correct colours in the correct places.

Because my kids respond to hand-on crafts, we made paperbag panda puppets.  I found many different templates online but we chose the one through Circletime kids.  They were very easy to make. Kaitlyn did hers all herself and I helped Eileen cut out her pieces but she did most of the gluing.  A quick and easy panda craft

The final part was to learn a bit more about Pandas.  I picked up a number of panda books at the library, both fiction and non-fiction but before I let the girls look at them I told them they had to come up with 5 questions they wanted to know about Pandas.  I first introduced the concept of an endangered species and the definition of extinct.  The example of the dinosaurs being extinct is easy for them to understand.

Kaitlyn’s Research Questions:

  1. Why can’t we have a panda as a pet?
  2. What do they eat?
  3. Do they live around people?
  4. Do they run or walk?
  5. How long do they live?
  6. Why are they endangered? (O.K. this last one was Mommy’s question)

I thought they were pretty good questions.  We used our books from the library to find the answers.  I read the books to the girls and Kaityn stopped me everytime there was an answer to one of her questions.  When we were done we made a Giant Panda poster and picked pictures that answered some of the questions.  For example she learned that Giant Pandas like climb so we made sure to include a picture of a panda climbing.

I decided to try and take it one step further and introduced some social awareness to Kaitlyn.  After discussing endangered animals and the possibilities of extinction we started to talk about what we could do to help.  We discussed the WWF and decided to have a donation jar at our Chinese festival.  She let our family who was coming know of the jar and she collected $13.87 in loose change and her Aunt & Uncle also made a symbolic adoption in her name.  Mommy and Daddy added to the $13.87 to make another symbolic adoption.  One small step to start raising the idea of making a positive impact in the world.  We even got a bit of a math lesson out of it sorting all the coins.

And what is a party without party favours!  I found a seller  through ebay who sold Chinese parasols.  For my cousin’s son who was at the party I got him a small dragon puppet.

Posted in Craft Thursdays

Using Nature’s colours in our Easter Eggs

This week’s Thursday craft was on Saturday.  For the past few years, just by chance, we have painted Easter Eggs on the Saturday of Easter weekend.  Unplanned, it has kind of become a tradition.  This year the change was that I was determined to use natural dyes.  It took a lot more prep work on Mommy’s part but I think the eggs look much better, and there was a much bigger sense of achievement – well at least on my part.

The first thing I did was blow out all the eggs.  Many people just use hard-boiled eggs but we like to keep ours.  Every year I let the girls pick their favourite couple of eggs and we add them to our basket.  Every year our basket grows a bit bigger and they can see how they progress throughout the years.  It takes a little time, and a long of breath, to blow out the eggs but I feel it is definitely worth the effort.  To blow out Easter eggs use a straight pin to make a hole in both ends of each egg.  The bigger the holes the easier they are to blow out but you will then have bigger holes in your eggs.  I like to save all the egg that I blew out and then we have omelets for lunch.

After you blow them out make sure to rinse them and let them dry overnight.  Be careful when putting them back in to the egg carton.  If there is residual egg they can stick to the carton and ruin all your hard work.

Next I had to prepare the dyes.  Gord’s Grandmother use to dye Easter eggs all the time so I called her and asked her what she used.  She told me to use onion skins, and she even helped by saving her’s for me for a week (she goes through a lot of onions).  I also found a Martha Stewart website that outlines what to use for a variety of colours.  We used onion skins for a browny/red, turmeric for yellow, beets for pink and red cabbage for purply/blue.  I followed most of the direction on the website but modified slightly as I was using blown eggs and not hard-boiled eggs.  All worked pretty well but I had trouble getting the turmeric to dissolve.  Next year I am going to try boiling the turmeric in the water to see if it helps.

After everything was made up I assembled all our supplies on the table, which was covered in our craft drop sheet and place mats.  We had our dyes, our eggs, spoons, pens, white crayons, and white vinegar with old baby face cloths.

Every child had to wear their paint shirt.  Friends who live in Ottawa were in town so their daughter Anika joined us for egg decorating.  The more the merrier – there was lots of dye to go around.

The first thing the kids had to do was clean their eggs.  They used white vinegar and an old baby face cloth to gently wipe off the eggs. This creates a clean surface and allows the eggs to dye evenly.  I put their first initial on the bottom of each of their eggs so they would know which ones were theirs.  Then they each had a white crayon and they gently created any pattern they wanted on their egg.  They key to this is  being gentle enough not to break the egg but pushing hard enough to leave the wax pattern on the egg.  Eileen needed some help from Mommy and Daddy and hers ended up being the clearest pattern once they were dyed.

Finally they dyed the eggs.  I had four colours and they each had four eggs so they put one in each colour.  We covered them with object to keep them submersed in the dye.  If you do hard-boiled eggs you don’t have to worry about that because they easily sink. We left the eggs in the dye for approximately 20 minutes.  Then we used the spoons to take them out and carefully place them on the egg carton.

Anika’s mom, Michelle, gave us a great suggestion to make marbled appearances on our eggs.  We took a bit of each dye and put it in a jelly jar and added a small amount of vegetable oil.  The girls also added a few more crayon marking to their dried eggs. We then added some of the eggs to the jelly jars.  This created a cool marble effect.  The best was the blue added to already yellow eggs.  A cool appearance we will definitely play around with more next year.

Our final step was to add our eggs to our basket with the eggs from past years.  It is really neat to see the progression year to year!

If anyone has any other suggestion on how to get great natural colours on your Easter eggs, comments are very much welcome!  Also what are your suggestions for us to add to the designs of our eggs?

Posted in Craft Thursdays

Paper plate Easter Bunnies

A few weeks ago I found these really cool Bunny Napkin Rings we could make for Easter Dinner.  The instructions seemed pretty easy but I would have to find Pony beads.  After checking out Walmart and Michaels I realized finding pink pony beads, not mixed with other colours would be a challenge.  I found a number of online beading sites but they were all American and had crazy shipping rates.  I thought I found a Canadian company that had exactly what I needed at BeadFx.  I placed my order and waited for everything to come in.  The beads arrived and they were the perfect colour but they were too small.  In hindsight I should have called and talked to a representative to make sure I ordered the right beads.  I have not given up entirely but I think this will be a better craft for next year.  That also gives me a year to find the right beads.  If anyone knows of a great company that ships pony beads to Canada for a reasonable price let me know.

So we needed a new craft for this week.  My goal was to find something easy to make that the girls could do by themselves (or at least mostly by them selves).  I can’t remember how but I came across a site with a number of great crafts to make with paper plates.  Upon further investigation I found YouTube video showing how to make simple Paper Plate Bunnies.   The best thing about this craft is that all the supplies are normal things that most people may have in their house and a craft bin.  To make one similar to us you will need: a paper plate, pink paint, pink construction paper, cotton balls, goggly eyes,  a pink pom pom, pipecleaners, glue, markers and scissors.  Kaitlyn was able to make her bunny all by herself and personalized it a bit for herself.  I had to cut out Eileen’s ears and her pipcleaners but she did the rest herself.

Posted in Craft Thursdays

A Very Cool Easter Craft – Pop-up Bunny Puppets

So last week when we were making our Easter Lilies Kaitlyn asked if we could make pop up puppets, actually she pretty much begged.  The results = this Thursday’s craft.  This one was another 2 day craft.  It doesn’t take that long but there is a lot of paint and glue drying time needed.  The most difficult thing with this craft was gathering all the supplies.

You will need:

Paper mache cones – these are difficult to find at this time of year but we found some online through Stockade.  We found the 7″ ones worked best.

Wooden balls or styrofoam balls.  We used wooden but styrofoam would probably have been easier.


Socks –  bright coloured adult socks work best

Felt, ribbon, paint, stickers, scissors, and tacky glue

Before beginning an adult needs to cut off the end of the cones.

Cut just enough to fit the piece of dowel.   Get everyone ready for painting.  For us this means the drop sheet is on the table, paint shirts are on and hair is tied back.  You can use simple tempra paints to paint the cones.  We (meaning Mommy) prefers to use these when we can because they are very easy to clean up when (not if) messes occur.  Paint your cones a solid colour.  You may need two coats of paint.  Mommy thought pink bunnies would be best for Easter but Kaitlyn declared that she doesn’t like pink. We couldn’t find orange socks so she settled for red socks with an orange base – an it was perfect for her.

While the kids are painting their cones a parent can glue the doweling onto the balls.  We managed to glue the wooden doweling to the wooden ball with simple tacky glue but you may have to use wood glue.  If you can find balls with holes to push the dowel in it may be easier.  Syrofoam would probably have worked well also but I am not sure how well they would glue together.

We left our cones and our heads to dry overnight.  In the morning it was assembly time.  First the girls decorated their cones with a variety of Easter stickers.  Next they pushed their heads into their socks.  I helped them tie a ribbon around the neck to keep the sock in place.  We then determined how far we wanted the bunny to pop out of his hole and we cut the remaining portion of the sock.  Use the glue to glue the sock to the opening of the cone and let it thoroughly dry.

The final stage is the decoration stage.  The girls added ears, eyes and noses on their bunnies.





Very cute pop-up bunnies.  They will work great with the puppet theatre Grampa is making them  for Easter.

Posted in Craft Thursdays

Easter Lilies

We have had some bigger crafts the past few Thursdays and the next couple weeks will be bigger as we get ready for Easter so I thought we would do a simple Easter craft today.  I found this cool website: “Artists Helping Children” an on this site found instructions for Handprint Lilies.  You don’t need many things for this craft: heavy weight white paper, pipecleaners, tape and scissors.  It called for white construction paper but we didn’t have any so we used cover stock and it worked great.  The best thing about this craft is that everyone could do parts of it, and needed minimal help from Mom (except Michale ofcourse).


We stared by tracing our hands on the coverstock.  Kaitlyn did her own and I traced Eileen’s and Michaels.  Kaitlyn tried to cut out her own but cutting was the one step they all needed help with.  We didn’t want any fingers/petals cut off.  When cutting out the handprints make sure to leave a bit of a section by the wrist to give room for rolling into the cone.




They then rolled their handprints into cones and taped them in place. Next was rolling down the fingers to open the petals. This step both of the girls were able to do themselves.  Kaitlyn actually seemed better than Mommy at this part.  We added our yellow pipecleaner (cut into 3 equal parts) to the green stem and inserted them in our flowers. This part created a whole new discussion.  Kaitlyn wanted to leave hers just as it was to use it as a puppet.  I convinced her that maybe we could finish these flowers and then next week we would make bunny pop-up puppets for Easter.

Each child made a bunch of 3 lilies and we tied a pipecleaner around as a ribbon.  Everyone chose orange so they all look very similar.  You can tell who’s is who’s by the size of the flowers (Michael’s are much smaller).  A fun and easy craft for this week!