Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Best Things We Did This Week (12.5.15) & a gingerbread freebie

Hey, teacher friends! I hope everyone is hanging in there these last few weeks before break. I LOVE the month of December...but these three weeks or so seem to stretch on for forever! Being a first grade teacher in December is pretty magical because the kids are SO pumped about Santa and their elves and Christmas lists and Christmas decorations and presents and alllll the things that December brings. It's also pretty exhausting keeping up with And energy.

This past week we were working on our story elements standard so I ventured away from the basal (sorry, Journeys) and did some cute gingerbread things. I LOVE a fun week of gingerbread stuff and some may end up spilling into next week because I didn't get through everything I wanted to do.

For starters, we read three of my favorite gingerbread stories. Of course we started with the original! Then we read The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst. Last, we read my FAVORITE...The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett. There are other great versions out there but that's all I had time for this week. We read the stories and then charted the key story elements.

The kids glued their graphic organizers down into a little construction paper folder and added a gingerbread house to the front.

Easy peasy. These are now hanging outside of my classroom. If you want the graphic organizer and gingerbread house template, you can click here or on the pictures to download a free copy! I included a blank version of the graphic organizer just in case you want your kids to compare different texts than the ones we used. I would have liked to outline parts of the house in glitter but I couldn't face the mess that would ensue we ran out of time. (Truth: We are still recovering from the Glitter Pumpkin debacle from a few weeks ago!)

Yesterday we had fun chasing that silly gingerbread cookie around the school. I used this adorable FREEBIE from Teaching Hearts & Minds to create the clues.

We started with the envelope the crafty gingerbread man left taped to our door, then followed the clues all around our school building before we ended up in the principal's office, where he had left us a basket of yummy treats!

Most years I make my class their own set of teeny gingerbread babies that I have decorated, but this year I let Little Debbie do the hard work me. The kids loved this activity and it was a great way to spend the first few minutes of recess on a super cold day! (The day before I was literally running in place on the playground to stay warm. It has been so chilly this week!)

Then I tried a new activity. One of the stellar teachers in our building told me about an easy cinnamon ornament class. I love EASY crafts. This one definitely fit the bill! I found some directions online and I basically followed along with what the lovely blogger at The Kitchen Is My Playground did as my guide.

You need a big jar of applesauce, a big container of cinnamon (I got one for $7.99 at Kroger!), and a little bit of liquid glue. You will also need a rolling pin, big mixing bowl, gingerbread man cutter, and some aluminum foil or wax paper. Here are some basic directions for how I did it with my class. I did have both a parent and my parapro with me while we did it and the extra help was really nice, but I definitely could have done it solo.

1.) Pour about a cup of the applesauce into a big bowl. Add a lot of cinnamon. I started with 6 tablespoons and then shook in a lot more as I mixed. Add in about 2 tablespoons of glue. Start mixing (you can begin with a spoon, but I ended up getting in there with my hands to knead it all together). You're going for a dough that is the consistency of Play-Doh. If it still looks wet and more like the texture of applesauce, keep dumping in cinnamon. If it starts to get hard and clumpy, add in more applesauce and glue. Eventually you will end up with a ball of a dough-y substance. I did this about 3 times to make enough dough for my class of 24.

2.) Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough. I put my ball of dough between two pieces of aluminum foil to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin. That worked really well!

3.) Use a cookie cutter to stamp out the gingerbread men. I have a set of cookie cutters for a boy, girl, and a baby so I let the kids pick.

4.) Use a straw to punch out a teeny hole in the top of the gingerbread men. When they dry, we will thread a piece of ribbon through the hole to make it an ornmanet!

5.) Lay the gingerbread men/people out to dry. Before you go home, some of them may start to curl up a little bit around the edges. I mashed them back down flat. We'll see if they curly up again when I check on them on Monday.

6.) On Monday I will flip them and make sure they are dry. Later in the week, we will paint them with puffy paint (which will then need to dry) and add the ribbon.

So there you have it! This was our week of gingerbread fun! If you snag the freebie, I would love some lovin' in the comments! Hang in there friends...just a couple more weeks! We can do this!

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