Thursday, January 7, 2016

No More Stress! 3 Easy Kid-Made Gifts For The Classroom

A Word On Third: No More Stress! 3 Easy Kid-Made Gifts For The Classroom


Hi, Teachers!

It's scary to think about this but... Valentine's Day is right around the corner!! Are you already thinking about this? A lot of teachers are wondering about what gifts they can make for families during holidays. Winter holidays, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day... you name it, it's an extra thing for us to think about! I'm a little late for the winter holidays... but I'm early for Valentine's Day! WAHOO!!

Here are my 3 favorite gifts to share with parents on special occasions.

1. Shrinky Dink Poems

A Word On Third: No More Stress! 3 Easy Kid-Made Gifts For The Classroom


I LOVE SHRINKY DINKS! Let me say that again.

I LOVE SHRINKY DINKS!!! 

I used these all the time as a kid, but little did I know I'd use them as an adult too. Shrinky dinks are AWESOME and easy-to-use life-savers during holiday time. The things you can do with shrinky dinks are endless. I have my kids write "I Am" poems on them and then I bake them for a winter holiday gift to families. Shrinky Dinks can be bought at most craft stores or on Amazon here. Before shrinky dink paper is baked, it is the size of regular printer paper.

You can find a million "I Am" poem templates on Pinterest or Google. Click the picture below to be taken to one I like to use by Fabulous in Fifth!


Here's what I do with the I Am Poems. I keep it short. It gets done in 2-3 days depending on how much time we have to get this done.

  1. Model using the template with the kids and write my own I Am poem.
  2. Let the kids work in writer's notebooks or on writing paper to write their own.
  3. Have the kids re-write their poem very neatly on lined paper (this will set them up to publish).
  4. Have the kids trace their poem again neatly on the shrinky dink paper. (Paperclip or tape the shrinky dink paper and the regular paper together so they don't slide. This makes tracing much easier).
  5. Have the kids decorate their poem.
  6. Go home and bake the poems for a few minutes in the oven. I bake a few at a time to save time. Two or three go in the oven for a few minutes. Every poem will be done baking in 10 minutes. 
A Word On Third: No More Stress! 3 Easy Kid-Made Gifts For The Classroom

Read the shrinky dink directions before trying this. Some paper lets kids use colored pencils on it, other brands/types let them use sharpie markers. When you bake the papers, you pop them on baking sheets with parchment paper or brown paper bags underneath them. They will curl up in the oven, and every now and then you might have to fix them, which is easy to do when the papers are hot and still shrinking. EXPECT THEM TO CURL UP A LOT and then straighten out again. I had a fit the first time I tried this thinking I ruined everyone's poems. Not the case. Just pop them back in the oven until they straighten out and shrink. This year only one student had to be fixed. Just trust me when I say wait it out before freaking out. If something gets stuck on itself, use your fingers or a knife to separate it and then put it back in the oven.


2. Coupon Books
 
These really are as easy or as hard as you make them. You can find tons of templates on Pinterest and Google, or you can easily make your own. Some come with things printed on them (like "good for one free hug") and some come blank so kids can write their own idea on them.

Click the picture below to be taken to one I found on TPT. It even has a QR code on it so moms can scan it and see a special surprise!



Honestly? I like the blank ones better. I talk to the kids about writing coupons they will really do for their families. If mom or dad hate washing the dishes, can you do them? Don't say you will if you won't or don't know how to. Can you give a free hug? We brainstorm some ideas as a class and then let the kids make the coupons. Sometimes I just give squares of construction paper for them to design. They might not always look cookie-cutter perfect, but don't parents want something their kid made instead of something their parent made?

3. A Handmade Card

Think about it. I bet you've saved a lot more handmade cards than you've saved coffee mugs or boxes of chocolate. I have a box full of heartfelt letters kids gave to me. Those will be more meaningful to parents too. Guess what? I'm going to re-iterate what I said for the previous gift idea. Not everything has to be cookie-cutter perfect.  Give some kids construction paper and let them go wild. Do you have extra sequins, glitter, or foam stickers they can use? Can they use different colors of construction paper and glue things onto their cards?



Make this a valuable experience for them by talking about the components of a friendly letter first. Click the above picture to be taken to a blog called Mrs. Winter's Bliss which has a great anchor chart for this. Then brainstorm what makes a good letter. If it's Father's Day, get students to write more than, "I love you, Dad! Happy Father's Day!" Talk about other things kids can write, and maybe even list them on the board. Some ideas kids might come up with if you guide them are why they appreciate their dad, what makes their dad special, their favorite memories with their dad, etc. 

On Mother's Day and Father's Day, be mindful of students with unique family structures. Has a parent passed away? Will they write to a grandparent instead? Does a student have two same-sex parents? How will you handle that? Make sure to be inclusive with your kids so nobody feels left out.

So those are my 3 favorite EASY, stress-free gift ideas to use in the classroom. What are your no-hassle gift ideas? How would you use shrinky dinks? Comment below!

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