Another update from the library!
This time of year, as the holidays approach and the classroom parties begin, it becomes harder to engage kids for 45 minutes at a time… reading a book and applying some curriculum connections just doesn’t cut it, and the discipline problems multiply. So rather than fight the natural excitement of the holidays, we try to go with the flow in the library.
Last year I made the mistake of showing movies, but now I know that kids are much happier (and easier to manage) when their hands are busy. So as the holidays get closer, I steer toward crafts that go along with books we read aloud. It works pretty well to gather a class together on the floor, read a book and discuss for a bit, then group kids at tables of four or five to work on different activities. I try to group kids based on ability, behavior, and personality, but it’s pretty easy to move them around once seated. And, of course, there is always the “Sad Table,” where “I don’t want to put you, but if you make poor choices, you will be sitting there alone and writing until your hand falls off.” Oh, the things you say as a teacher that you never imagined you might utter!
But anyway, here are some quick and cute winter crafts that go along with some great picture books. (I should have saved the ones I made as examples… oh well, next time!)
The Mitten, by Jan Brett
This is a favorite, and I always make a big point of talking about how detailed Brett’s illustrations are, and how her sidebar illustrations show behind-the-scenes stories and a clue to what comes next. I always call on students to tell me the name of each animal that is coming next into the mitten. It’s a cute book, and after a week of reading it I can recite it by heart!
There are lots of cute crafts to go with this book, as any google search will show you. You can also go to Jan Brett’s website, which is where I found a lot of ideas. Here are the crafts we did:
Very easy: cut a large mitten out of construction paper (I used a template and made about 500 for the week). Using a hole punch, punch holes an inch apart around the perimeter. Cut a length of yarn, tie it to the last hole, and voila, a lacing card! The kids loved it. Not to stereotype, but after the first few classes, I learned to put girls at this table. Most of the boys either weren’t interested or they were just too clumsy to really get the hang of it. Some boys loved it, though. Again, not trying to follow stereotypes, just my observation!
Pair of Mittens
I used the die-cut machine to make two small mittens, and punched a hole near the bottom of each. The kids decorated the pair (I talked a lot about symmetry and making them look exactly the same to look like a pair) and then I tied them together with yarn. So they wouldn’t lose one like Nickki did in the story, of course. 🙂
I found some cute poems online about mittens, and students copied the poem onto a large mitten and decorated it. Simple!
(From this webpage)
I wiggle my left hand,
I wiggle my right,
inside of my mittens,
so warm and so tight.
I wiggle my pinkie.
I wiggle my thumb,
so when I make snowballs,
my hands don’t get numb.
Is there anything nicer
Than red woolly mittens
As fluffy and soft
As a blanket of kittens?
Red mittens to keep
My hands warm as toast
On cold winter days
When I skate or coast.
I also had some coloring pages from Jan Brett’s site, and some Color by Shape wreaths and candy canes that I made in Microsoft Word. Simple stuff, but the kids loved it!
Snowmen at Night, by Caralyn Buehner
This is a cute story about the fun a boy imagines that snowmen have at night. Funny, great illustrations, and the kids love it.
Cute winter/snow crafts to go along with this story:
Winter Tear Art
Construction paper of all colors is all you need. Use a black sheet for your background, and tear out shapes from the other colors to glue into a winter scene. Kids made Christmas trees, snowflakes, winter scenes, etc.
Another cute idea using black construction paper. Using colored pencils or crayons, draw an outdoor scene on black paper. Then use chalk to draw in snow on top of the scene. Chalk = Instant winter!
Cold Weather Wear
I found a template for a jacket in a teacher idea book, and cut it in half. I gave students a sheet of folded paper, and they used the template to draw half of the jacket on the fold of the paper. Cut out the outline and unfold for the full jacket. Then students decorated with stickers and crayons.
Very simple, and the kids enjoyed their activities. After a story, I gave them about 20 minutes to complete their craft, and if we had extra time we gathered in the center again to show off what they made. I also had extra activities for those who finished quicker than everyone else. I played some holiday music and tried to enjoy the high spirits of the kids!