Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas in the Classroom

Christmas has made lesson planning such fun that I am really going to be sad on December 26! I have had a ball coming up with Christmas-themed crafts, games, and even a short skit that I wrote about Rudolph (that was a HUGE hit with both the older kindergartners and E3-C). I have also been taking the opportunity to play Christmas music for the kids and am proud to say that I have created several new fans for Doris Day, Gene Autry, Bing Crosby, Nat "King" Cole, and Rosemary Clooney (my mom and half of my family are probably gagging at this very minute).

Most English Christmas songs have words that are a bit too difficult for most of my students to learn (or the songs are too fast), but I have managed to teach three classes "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "The Chipmunk Song." Sam, one of my older kindergartners, has a perfect little voice for "The Chipmunk Song" - he really sounds like a little chipmunk when he sings! I am hoping to teach "Jingle Bell Rock" to a few classes tomorrow (well, since it is 2:10 AM, that would technically be today).

Today (okay, technically yesterday), I had both kindergarten classes make adorable little Santa and angel ornaments that I found patterns for online. For the benefit of other teachers and future teachers (maybe even parents as well), click here to go to the site where I found them. Kudos to for having such great coloring pages and crafts freely accessible - their stuff is super cute and easy for kids. The only problem I ran into was time - I figured the right amount of time for coloring, but underestimated cutting time. At the end of my second kindergarten class, I found myself knee-deep in Santas that needed to be assembled!

For other teachers in need of Christmas ideas, let me suggest some of the ones I have had the most success with:

~~"Pin the nose on Rudolph" - That game is a huge hit with multiple age groups! In particular, it seems to work best with the seven and eight-year-olds. It's great for teaching the names of body parts.
~~"Christmas Tree Targets" - I draw a Christmas tree on the whiteboard with a star on top and six round ornaments on it. The star, the tree, and each ornament have point values written on them. I then divide the class into two teams and have them take turns throwing a sticky ball at the board. To make the game more educational, make them say a Christmas word in order to receive their points for hitting a particular target.
~~Skits - Kids love to act, so I wrote out a short skit about Rudolph (a character they are all familiar with and fond of). I wrote seven parts into my skit so that more kids could be involved at one time - kids that aren't involved tend to lose interest.
~~Christmas song mad libs - Take a Christmas song that the kids are familiar with and turn it into a mad lib. It helps the kids learn parts of speech and they especially love singing their new creations!
~~"Get the Presents!" - This is a game I created in which I draw two Christmas trees on the board (one for each team). I have Christmas presents that I drew and cut out, which I tape on the board. I then do a standard "writing race" game where the kids on each team race to write a word that I say first. The twist is that instead of awarding points to the fastest team, I put one of the "presents" under their "tree." The winner is the team with the most presents.
~~"Dressing for Winter" - I have several winter clothing items, like a hat, scarf, and gloves. The kids take turns racing to put on each item as fast as possible (I time them with my stopwatch), but the twist is, they have to say the name of the item before they can start to put it on. Even in a bigger class this works well, because the kids get so excited and have such fun just watching each other. You can also do this one in teams by adding the scores together. With one class, I added the twist that they had to dress another student, instead of themselves. That got pretty hilarious!

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"