Holiday Crafts and More
Holiday arts and crafts, ideas for a team-building field trip, and ways to liven up indoor recess.
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5
Inspire students with two uplifting, handmade crafts.
You're a Star
My students make capes to display their positive achievements for the year so far. The capes are beautiful keepsakes and help kids feel good about themselves. -Ann Wolff, Windsor, CT
Felt cut into large oval shapes, yellow paper stars, Velcro, scissors, black markers, glue
HOW TO MAKE IT
Step 1. Before beginning the project, cut an oval-shaped piece of felt for each student's cape. About one inch in from one end, cut out a smaller oval for the neck. Cut the narrow side of the neckline and fasten Velcro on each end.
Step 2. Make several star tracers for students to use. Pass out yellow paper. Instruct students to use a star tracer to trace and cut five yellow stars each.
Step 3. Next, have students write a sentence about something they are proud of on each star. Invite them to share what makes them happy: an academic goal they've accomplished, a subject in school they enjoy, or a nice gesture they did for a classmate.
Step 4. Finally, have students fasten the stars to the cape using glue.
A Winter Wishes Mobile
Encourage students to share their hopes for the holiday season with this wintry art project. Students may wish to write about their family traditions, thoughts for those who are in need, or simple statements about what the holidays mean to them. Hang the mobile by a window in your classroom for a lovely, student-made decoration, or use it to discuss relevant math concepts like geometry and symmetry. -Laura Kaesshaefer, Philadelphia, PA
white printer paper, scissors, glue, glitter (white or silver), yarn or ribbon, black markers, sturdy branches or wooden rods
HOW TO MAKE IT
Step 1. Pass around two to three sheets of white printer paper to each student. Show them how to carefully fold and cut a snowflake.
Step 2. Encourage students to write their winter wishes in the center of their snowflakes using black marker. Add white or silver glitter to the edges for an extra shine.
Step 3. Once the snowflakes are dry, collect and fasten them to colorful yarn or ribbon. Then, tie them to the branch or rod at different lengths so the snowflakes hang like falling snow.
Celebrate the change of season with five winter-themed activities.
Christmas Around the World
We learn about the holiday traditions around the world by making crafts that pertain to various countries. To represent Mexico, we make paper poinsettias. For Germany, we make 3D Christmas trees; for Holland, wooden shoes out of recyclable materials; for France, Noel banners; for Austria, glass ornaments; and for Israel, painted menorahs. We decorate the classroom with what we've made! -Pat Roth, Morresville, NC
Doves of Peace
Each December, my students make white paper doves to symbolize peace. To make the dove, have students trace the body of a dove and two wings on a paper plate and cut them out. Glue the wings to each side of the dove and add feathers. As a finishing touch, slide a pipe-cleaner olive branch through a hole in the beak, then glue on green construction-paper leaves. Attach yarn or string to the doves and hang. -Sharon Zarka, via e-mail
We read the book What Do Snowmen Do at Night?, then the students write a story about what they would do at night if they were snow boys or snow girls. They invent fabulous ideas like ice skating in Central Park under the moonlight while drinking cold cocoa. Then the students design their own snow people by covering empty glass baby-food jars in white cotton balls, felt clothes, pipe-cleaner arms, buttons, and glitter. We invite the parents in and have a snowmen party! -Elizabeth Kennedy, New York, NY
My kindergartners create leaf characters every winter. We go outside and collect leaves, glue them to construction paper, then use googly eyes, markers, and fabric scraps to dress and decorate the leaves. Then, we name the leaves and write a class story featuring all of our leaf characters. -Meredith Burton, Greenville, SC
My class loves this winter-themed craft and writing exercise. The students write a winter poem about something that they love around the holidays, like family traditions and holiday treats, in the center of a large piece of paper. Then, in red and white paint, they make candy peppermint swirls and add handprints on either side. To finish, the students present their "sweet" crafts to their "sweet" peers and read their poems aloud. -Katie McCann, Appomattox, VA
TAKE A TRIP TO...a ropes course!
Meghan Witt from Bennett Elementary School in Manassas, Virginia, took her fifth-grade class to a local ropes course for some outdoor fun and trust-building activities.
Three team-building activities students will love:
1. Welded ankles. Mark off beginning and end lines for the space across which students must travel. Have students assemble behind the start line and explain that the group must travel over the end line while maintaining continuous contact with one another's feet, as if they were "welded" together. If anyone in the group loses contact with his/her partner's foot, the entire group must start over.
2. Back to Back. Ask students to find a partner of equal height and weight to face back to back and lock arms with. With arms remaining locked at all times, the partners should try to sit down on the ground, kick their legs out straight, and then try to stand back up. Try with groups of four, eight, sixteen, and, eventually, the whole class together.
3. Human Knot. Break students into one or two tight circles. Each student should reach across the circle with his or her right hand to grab another group member's right hand. Students then reach in with their left hands to grab a different group member's left hand. The object is to untangle the group without letting go of hands until a complete circle is formed.
Teacher Help Line
"The snow has kept my class inside all week! What can I do to make ‘indoor recess' a real break?"
Our trusted Teacher Facebook fans weigh in.
Shadow puppets. Dark and rainy days are perfect for shadow puppets. We use the overhead to make animals and stories on the walls with our hands. -Sue Pearson
Balloon volleyball. We break into two teams and sit on the floor facing each other. The object of the game is to not let the "volleyball" touch the ground. It's a blast! -Betty Smith Blanton
Break out the board games. My kids stay engaged with classic games like Candyland, checkers, chess, Operation, and Chutes and Ladders. -Melanie Bennett-Sump
Wax museum. For this game, I appoint one person as the "guard," and when his or her back is turned, students can move around and dance. Once the guard turns around, all of the students have to freeze. If the guard catches you moving, you're out. The game requires them to be relatively quiet, too! -Tawnya Gipson
Peaceful painting. Here in Kodiak, Alaska, it tends to be below 20 degrees or pouring rain. For indoor recess we do watercolor. We use baby food jars for water cups and put newspaper down. It keeps them active but calm the entire recess! -Suzan Hailey
Sneak in learning. We continue learning with word searches, quiet reading, puzzles, pattern making with math manipulatives, origami, and more. -Venus Cole
Indoor exercise. We watch 5-minute and 10-minute dance videos for kids. We get fun and fitness all in one! -Elizabeth Dumas Dawson