It’s December first—let the countdown begin with this Christmas tree advent calendar.
Print the tree pattern on cardstock paper. Have your child or students number the ornaments from 1-24, color the tree, cut it out, and assemble it.
The children can color an ornament each day. Or they can place a sticker or craft item on the tree each day. We used small wooden stars, sequins, and pom-pons on our trees. Glue them on with a dot of school glue or use a bit of ticky-tack to hold them in place.
November is the obvious time to ask your students to reflect on the things that they are thankful for. Mostly, you’ll hear similar responses, “My parents, siblings, home, God, food, friends, my pet…” But every once in a while, you’ll get the more unique response. When my son was in preschool, the teacher created a “Wall of Thanks” bulletin board. There were colorful feathers on the board that included a word or two about what each 4 year old was thankful for. I noticed a few parents looking at the board and giggling. Their gaze was fixed on one particular purple feather. I immediately noticed it belonged to my son. The words on his feather were, “I am thankful for my intestines.” I have no idea why he chose to be thankful for his digestive system, but that, according to his teacher, was not just the first thing that came to his mind, it was absolutely what he wanted on his feather.
I pull that feather out of my Thanksgiving decorations bin every year. And every year, I am thankful for laughter and for my creative kid who always has a different answer than everyone else.
This quick and easy craft is perfect for a classroom party or for your own Thanksgiving table.
From Spiderman to Harry Potter – when you’re a kid, you often dream about the superpower you wish you had and the way in which you’d use it. When I was in second grade, I wished to have the powers of Samantha Stephens from the TV show Bewitched. To me, she was the most awesome superhero because she could use her magic to make anything happen. She could teleport, make objects appear, or move objects. Her powers were summoned with a twitch of her nose. My favorite thing she did with her powers was to instantly change outfits or clean a room. I was a lazy kid and those power seemed very useful!
Second grade was also the year I was introduced to Norman Bridwell’s book, “The Witch Next Door.” Most people know of this author because of his Clifford the Big Red Dog series; which is great, too. But I loved his witch series because it was so magical and the witch was so kind. When she first moved into the neighborhood, the neighbors were up in arms about their eccentric new neighbor, but as they got to know her, and experience her kindness, they warmed to her uniqueness. The books were filled with imagination and had a great message about getting to know a person before you judge them.
To make this craft, it’s best to color the pieces before you cut them out.
Below is an example of how the wizard and witch look before cutting them out.
We put ticky tack inside their hands so they could hold Styrofoam pumpkins.
New pencils have always been my favorite back-to-school item. There’s something special about sharpening a new pencil and watching the outer layer of paint and wood curl away in a long spiral that eventually reveals a sharp point. And that sharp point can then be used to convey ideas. And if you don’t like what you’ve written or if you make a mistake, there’s an eraser on the other end so you can remove the unwanted part. A pencil is the greatest communication tool ever!
The idea of the pencil was invented over 400 years ago. In the early 1500s, a huge graphite deposit was discovered in England. Graphite is a mineral. It is light and soft, but under extreme pressure and temperature it converts into a diamond; the hardest mineral. The first pencils were blocks of graphite carved into sticks. They were wrapped in wool. The tips were sharpened with knives.
Eventually, graphite sticks were placed into wooden sleeves to create the pencil we know and love. In 1858, erasers were added to the top of pencils. The most popular school pencil is the #2 pencil, which has fairly soft lead. A stronger pencil lead can be made by adding clay to the graphite.
The word pencil comes from a French word that means “small paintbrush.”
Pencils can write in zero gravity and under water.
14 billion pencils are produced in factories each year. About 170,000 pencils can be made from one average size tree. That means 82,000 trees are cut to make all of these pencils.
This pencil holder craft is made of paper, another product that comes from trees. You might want to print the pattern on a heavier cardstock paper to make a sturdier pencil holder.
There’s nothing like looking up at the sky on a warm summer night. It’s so much fun to stare at the stars looking for Orion’s Belt, the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper or the Great Bear. The constellations are nature’s artwork.
You can create a beautiful inside sky with this 3-D space ball craft. Have each student decorate the pattern. Then flip the paper over and color a design on the back, too.
Show your students how to cut a circle using short scissor cuts and turning the paper as they cut. After they have folded the circle into fourths, remind them to carefully cut each arc without cutting through the opposite folded side.
Punch a hole in each space ball. Tie thread through each hole and hang them from the ceiling.
On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress. It stated that the thirteen colonies no longer wanted to be ruled by the king of England. They wanted to make their own laws and rules. At the time, the colonies were fighting the Revolutionary War to protest British rule and excessive taxes. After they won the war, the representatives of the thirteen colonies got together to write the Constitution. The Constitution is the document that explains how the U.S. government will function. The Bill of Rights was added to describe the freedoms and protections of U.S. citizens.
Celebrate the Fourth of July with this noisemaker pinwheel.
Hang a basket filled with springtime fun on a doorknob.
Knock on the door.
Then run away.
May Day is a holiday that is celebrated in many European countries on May 1st or the first Monday in May. It probably came from an ancient Roman celebration that honored Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers. Modern May Day celebrations include dancing around the maypole and crowning the Queen of May.
When I was a kid, we made May baskets for our neighbors. The baskets had a handle that you hung over a doorknob. You’d hang it, knock, and run. The best part was hiding behind a tree or car so you could watch your neighbor open the door. At first they were annoyed. Then they’d see the basket and smile. It was fun!
I decided it was time to reintroduce May baskets. I created this craft last year, not knowing that this year would bring a pandemic that keeps us from knocking on our neighbor’s doors. Still, you could make this craft and surprise someone in your family by filling it with something fun and hanging it on their bedroom door.
We filled our baskets with homemade toys (zoom-zoom spinner craft, pinwheel craft) and paper flowers (flower pencil topper craft). One basket is filled with art supplies: markers, paper, and stickers. You could also fill your basket with food or sweets.
If you’ve ever had birds build a nest near your window, you know how amazing it is to watch a nest of eggs become a nest of fluffy little chicks.
This craft provides a fun way to kick off the spring season. Have your students look at pictures of their favorite bird before decorating the bird and egg. We used crayon and markers to color the egg to get the crayon resist look. Our bird’s eyes are eyeball stickers. When you are finished making the craft, place a small rock or a coin in the bottom of the basket to keep it from tipping over.
BIRD FUN FACTS
· Scientists have evidence that birds evolved from dinosaurs.
· Birds have hollow bones, making them light enough to fly.
· The Ostrich is the largest living bird. Ostriches have eyeballs that are almost the size of a tennis ball. Their eyeballs are larger than their brains.
· The smallest living bird is the hummingbird. Hummingbirds can fly backward.
· Owls swallow their prey whole. Then spit out the bones and pelt.
· Penguins can jump 6 feet into the air.
· An albatross can sleep while it flies.
· Most hummingbirds weigh less than a nickel.
· Woodpeckers hoard acorns in the tree holes they “drill” with their beaks.
· The starling, and many other birds, sing notes that are too high for the human ear to hear.
· Have you ever heard the expression, “Canary in a Coalmine?” Coal miners used to send canaries down into the mines to test carbon monoxide levels. If the canary passed out, the mine was too dangerous.
· The bald eagle builds the largest nest, measuring about 9 1/2 feet across.
· The cuckoo bird lays its eggs in other birds’ nests. It relies on the bird that built the nest to hatch and feed its young.
One of the greatest springtime activities is searching through clover patches trying to find one with four leaves…a lucky clover. Another is looking up into the sky after a rain shower and spotting a rainbow. This craft combines both of the greatest springtime activities.
If you make this craft on St. Patrick’s Day, you can put a surprise in each box while your students are out of the room. Something gold would be fun…a Rolo, gold coin, or a gold star sticker.
ST. PATRICK’S DAY…
IRISH LEGEND AND LORE
· Ireland is an island made up of 32 countries.
· Ireland is located next to the United Kingdom in the British Isles. Northern Ireland (1/6 of the country) is part of the United Kingdom.
· The capital of Ireland is Dublin.
· The shamrock and the harp are the national symbols of Ireland.
· Ireland Is called the Emerald Isle because it is a land of lush green fields.
· Ireland is a nation of storytellers. Many famous writers come from Ireland: Jonathan Swift, Bram Stoker, James Joyce.
· The Irish love nature and animals. They were the first country to ban plastic shopping bags and smoking in public places.
· Irish or Gaelic is the official language, but English is more commonly spoken.
· The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in the United States.
· Halloween began in Ireland as a Celtic festival called Samhain; a harvest festival that celebrated the end of summer.
· Some Irish families celebrate children’s birthdays by turning the birthday child upside down by their feet and gently tapping their head on the ground for their age plus one.
· Hurling is a sport played in Ireland since ancient times. The Irish excel in boxing at the Olympics.