First, plan the party. I have already planned the class Christmas party (we get out on Dec. 20th), printed the parent letters and sent them out, and solicited two parent volunteers. I've tried lots of different plans, from games to centers, but the one that works best in my classroom is to have a party making Gingerbread Houses out of milk cartons. My students love it, they enjoy eating all along while creating fun gingerbread houses.
For two days before the party, we collect our empty milk cartons, enough for everyone who brings their lunchbox also and doesn't buy milk. If you decide to do this, be sure to rinse them out well.
Just before the party, I have my parent volunteers cover the tables with bulletin board paper and put all the goodies in the center of all of my student tables. We give each student a paper plate with 5 squares of graham crackers; one for each side and one to be split in two for the roof. We put a large dollop of white icing on the side of their plate along with a craft stick to use for spreading.
In addition to the candy on the table, we have Christmas music playing from my ipod in the background and other goodies to eat: cupcakes, cookies, chips and juice. Gone is the day when I use cups or soda that I have to pour, get ice for, and hope that no one spilled. It is so much easier, and less messy, to just buy juice boxes!!!
When students are finished, we help them put their gingerbread house into a 2 gallon-sized Ziploc bag for safe transport home.
Second, buy the gifts. I have this on my list to do Saturday. (December is extra busy for our family, because two of my children have birthdays a week apart during December, so we're also planning birthday parties.) I remember back when I first started teaching, the first gifts I bought were coloring and/or puzzle books and crayons or markers. Then I discovered that I could use my bonus points at Scholastic to help off-set the cost of books for my kiddos. In the last few years, since my own children aren't so little anymore, I have a little more time to be crafty. Now I go to my local Lowe's store and buy a sheet of white board to make into individual dry erase boards. Lowe's has been great to cut them for me. I am pretty sure the board measures 9 foot by 12 foot, and I can get 25 rectangles measuring 12in. by 18in. When I go on Saturday, I'll check on my measurements and update this if needed. I use paint pens (Wal-Mart) to decorate and personalize each board. I buy Velcro and dry erase markers for each board. I attach a Velcro tab or dot to the marker and then to the board to secure it.
White Board $12
Dry Erase Markers $10
Total estimated cost: $25 (about a dollar per student).
Here is a picture of the ones I made two years ago. They were a bit smaller that year, because I was using a piece of whiteboard I already had. Instead of traditional wrapping, I just wrap a shinny ribbon around each one and put them in a bag behind my desk until I am ready to give them out near the end of the party.
Third, plan the ornaments for the kiddos to make as gifts. (To be discussed in the next blog post.) I must say, I love the ornaments we make.
Here is a December FREEBIE to enjoy, to celebrate this season of giving. Our opinion/persuasive unit is in "full bloom" at this time. I thought this might be the case with many of you, so here is a product that teaches several types of leads. Written examples are included for each.
Here is one of the types of leads included:
Enjoy, and keep checking back every day this month, to see when the next great FREEBIE gift is posted.