holiday note gift idea for families: unique, thoughtful, and FREE

holiday note gift idea for families: unique, thoughtful, free | teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

Post originally published on 11/24/09 but republishing because I think it’s worth it.  

 

 

holiday note gift idea for families | teachmama.comIt’s so easy for our little ones (and even adults sometimes!) to lose sight of what the holiday season is all about.

So last year, when I saw this idea on a late-night, dvr’d Oprah, I knew I wanted to use it. With a little prompting, my family tried out Holiday Notes with both sides of the family.

Even though some interpreted the exchange a little differently, it was a success overall. Most have said they want to do it again, and with a little tweaking, hopefully it will become a worthwhile and cherished holiday tradition.

This Quick Trick is far from quick, but it’s something that seemed to work well for us, so I thought I’d share.

  • Holiday Notes: The idea behind Holiday Notes is that everyone takes a small amount of time to complete one of three different note cards for each member of the family. Over the holiday season–or at a holiday gathering–the notes are then delivered to each person’s special box, envelope, or bag and is read at another time.

Since our immediate family presented both sides of our extended family with the idea, we made special Holiday Note Card boxes for each person–as our small gift.

holiday note gift idea for families | teachmama.com

I picked up the small wooden favor bags at the craft store, and each maybe cost a dollar. Then over the course of two or three weeks, Maddy, Owen, Cora, and I worked on the bags.

First we painted all of them. Then we glitzed, beautified, and decorated. We added bows, glitter (glitter glue is easiest!), sparkles, ribbon, sequins, feathers, and anything we wanted, trying to make each one special for every person in our family.

After everything was dried, we added appropriate name tags.

 

Then we sat down together and wrote short messages. And I mean short. The three Holiday Note Cards each begin a sentence, and the note cards are tiny.

All our personal messages do is complete the sentence. One note begins, What I love about you. . . The other is My holiday wish for you. . . , and the last one is Thank you for. . .

The Holiday Note Cards can be downloaded here if you’d like: holiday note cards

(Please, if you choose to share them, link to this post instead of the attachment page! Thank you!)

Sure, some notes were longer than others. Some messages turned out to be completely hysterical, and others were more sentimental. Some were really long, and others were just one sentence.

holiday note gift idea for families | teachmama.commore note bags

Maddy and Owen (as a 4 and 3-year-old) were very excited about what we were doing. As we worked on the bags, I’d ask them what they wanted to thank their Nanny for or what they wished for their sweet cousin.

I was often surprised at what they remembered (Maddy wanted to thank her Great Grandma for letting her “ice” her own bagels with cream cheese, and Owen loved his Great Grandma’s great big loud laugh and wished that his Nana’s cats weren’t always hiding around her house).

We wrote Cora’s for her because she was so young, but no one was too young to appreciate reading the notes that were written to them. We read them over and over and over. My husband and I both read and re-read our own notes from family members.

Sometimes even a short note–one or two sentences–can mean so much.

holiday note gift idea for families | teachmama.com

 

We’ll do these notes every year as an immediate family, and maybe the tradition will continue for a few years with our extended family–or maybe this will be the last year. It can become a lot to do when there are many people involved.

But for us, the act of sitting down together, really thinking about what we are thankful for, what we wish for for our loved ones, and what we love about them is what the holidays are all about.

Toys will come and go, but these notes–and the bonds they will help to create–we hope will last for years and years and years and years. Happy Holidays!

Want a few more holiday-inspired learning ideas? Check out: 

 

 


fyi: affiliate links are used in this post

 

 

holiday baking with kids: eBook

holiday baking ebook for kids teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

holiday baking ebook for kids teachmama.com

 

This time last year I was scrambling around doing what I could to finish our holiday baking with kids eBook in time for the actual holidays. 

This year? Done and done.

And ready for you to use at Thanksgiving! Woo-hooooo.

And though it’s called ‘Holiday Baking with Kids’ I can’t tell you how many times through the year Maddy, Owen, Cora, or I reached for the book so that we could make our favorite muffins, cookies, and sweet treats.

A lot.

So grab it while it’s hot.

What better way of kicking off this exciting and joyous, sweet-filled season than by bringing our kids into the kitchen for some serious holiday baking?

The Holiday Baking with Kids eBook is here to save the day.

holiday baking with kids

 

Here’s the skinny. . .

Really. It’s pretty cool.

  • 15 kid-friendly recipes.  Fifteen.  Many never before shared on teachmama.com.

holiday baking with kids eBook teachmama.com

teachmama holiday baking with kids ebook

  • Favorites.  Like Kiss Cookies and Chocolate Chip and Sugar Cookies.  And Iced Pumpkin Spice Cookies and Death by Chocolate and Lemon Squares.  And? Our Christmas Morning Ugly Breakfast recipe.

holiday baking with kids ebook from teachmama

  • Made kid-friendly with large, clear font.  Created with attention to what early readers need as they learn and expand their reading skills, the font is large so kids can read it even the recipe book is on the counter and they are standing on a stool.

holiday baking with kids ebook ingredients

teachmama holiday baking with kids ebook

  • Layout that works.  Kid-tested for the last five years, this layout really works.

Recipe step-by-step instructions are large and are accompanied by a relevant photo to clarify instructions.  Kids can check off ingredients as they gather them, and if the paper is in a plastic sheet protector, a crayon or dry erase marker will easily wipe clean when finished.  Photos for every ingredient and recipe step.

holiday baking with kids ebook ingredients

  • Consistent format. Actions are in bold. Ingredients are underlined. Photos for almost everything.  The format is consistent. Kids especially thrive on consistency.

See? I’m looking out for you. We’re in this together. I got your back. Always.

holiday baking with kids eBook teachmama.com

teachmama holiday baking with kids ebook

Sure, it’s hard when kids are involved sometimes because the mess may be bigger, or we may be crunched for time, or we may just want to enjoy some peace while kids are watching tv and we can prepare dinner, but as parents, we must jump on these prime opportunities for learning and fun with our kids.

holilday baking with kids ebook print - 1

 

holilday baking with kids ebook print - 2

 

holilday baking with kids ebook print - 3

 

holilday baking with kids ebook print - 4

teachmama holiday baking with kids ebook

Ready? Let’s do it.

My friends, the Holiday Baking with Kids eBook is a sweet $4.25 through November 2014.  Then it’s all the way back up to $8.50.

You can print it as many times as you need, so really, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Mostly because my readers are rockstar and always read their email from me first thing. So I wanted to offer you guys a little gift.

The Holiday Baking with Kids eBook is quite the holiday deal.  Buy it now for only $7.97.

HUGE and happy thanks to my awesome mama for always inviting us into the kitchen with her when we were little. I would never be so welcoming into my own kitchen if I hadn’t learned from her as an excellent example.  Big *hugs!* to you, Mom!  Love you!

What about you?  How do you feel about kids in the kitchen?  Is there a favorite recipe I need to add to the next one? Let me know!

holiday baking with kids eBook on teachmama.com
http://holidaybakingwithkids

fyi: Affiliate links are used in this post.

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools

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5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

Between Election Day, parent-teacher conferences, and field trips, it always seems like things get nutty in November.

The novelty of the new year has worn off, and kids—and parents—start slowly slipping into the mid-year blues or pre-holiday anxiety.

And if things are crazy for our family, I can only imagine how difficult things can be for our teachers.

So November is a great time for us all to step back and extend a bit of thanks to those teachers with whom our children spend hours and hours each day.

I’m not saying that we need to spend a million dollars on our teachers right before the winter holidays; rather, I’m suggesting that we show teachers how much we appreciate their hard work and dedication.

We can do this in a number of ways, some of which won’t cost a cent.

I’m thrilled that my friends from Staples are eager to help us in this endeavor by offering another rockstar classroom decoration prize pack so that we all can do our part!

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 5 Ways Parents Can Show Thanks for Teachers and Schools:

November is a time of giving thanks. Let’s take a minute to show our children’s teachers how very much we appreciate them and their hard work.

 

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

Consider:

  1. Volunteering your time to support the teacher.

Drop the teacher a quick note or email saying that you have a few extra hours this month and would like to help him or her with anything needed in the classroom. You can copy, cut, sort, organize, or clean. Anything needed.

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

Call the teacher or drop him or her an email like the one below:

Dear [Mr. or Mrs. Teacher],

Hi! I hope you are doing well! I just wanted to take a minute to reach out and say thank you so much for all you do for our students; [child’s name] really enjoys your class and is learning so much.

I unexpectedly have 2-3 extra hours this month that I would love to ‘donate’ to the class. If you have any copying, sorting, organizing, or cleaning you need done in the classroom, I’d be more than happy to help.

Though I will do my best to come in at a time that works best for you, right now it looks like [insert date and time] will work best for me.

Please let me know if you could use my help!

Many thanks,

[your name]

All you can do is send it. If the teacher needs a hand, you better believe that he or she will be grateful for your offer!

*************************************

  1. Volunteering your time to support the students.

Do you feel like you’re particularly good at working with students? Let the teacher know!

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

Younger students and emerging readers can always use extra reading time or math-practice time. Most likely the teacher would really appreciate having an extra ‘ear’ in the classroom to listen to students as they read and work on fluency or a support for them as they work on math facts or sight words.

Want to see if it’s an option? Use the same note as above but change the second paragraph to:

I unexpectedly have 2-3 extra hours this month that I would love to ‘donate’ to the class. If you would like for me to listen to some of your struggling readers or pull small groups for sight word or math fact practice, I’d be more than happy to help.

The kids will love having an extra ‘teacher’ in the room!

*************************************

  1. Donate small prizes or goodies to the students. Teachers often could use small prizes or goodies for their students.

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

If you don’t have a whole lot of time—or any!—to donate but you have a few extra bucks in your pocket, consider purchasing some stickers for the classroom.

Seasonal stickers are always a hit on student work, and most likely if the teacher had them, he or she would use them! I love these sparkly fall leaves, and I don’t even think it’s too late for the pumpkins. Pumpkins are a fall fruit, right?

Thanks to my friends at Staples, I had a few of these cute fall bookmarks and pumpkin notepads, so I put one pack each in a little plastic bag, along with the fall leaf stickers and pumpkin stickers.

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

With a short note saying ‘thank you’ to Maddy, Owen, and Cora’s teachers, I think this little bag of ‘goodies’ will be truly appreciated.

When I was teaching, I kept jars of ‘crazy pens’ on my desk so that my students would be more likely to want to write. It worked! Kids came charging to the desk each day to write with the monkey pen, the crazy bubble pen, or the Disney pen.

And often parents sent in cool pens to add to our collection. It was always a fun and appreciated surprise when they did! The students loved it as much as I did.

*************************************

  1. Decorating a classroom board or area of the classroom.

Are you a crafty crafter with an eye for decorating? Give the teacher the gift of your mad artistic skills by offering to handle a classroom bulletin board or reading corner.

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

Ask how the teacher wants to use the area or board—to display work, to celebrate holidays, to promote a project, etc—and then offer to help.

November is such a busy month.

Taking this big element off of the teacher’s plate will be hugely helpful.

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

Offer to use a holiday-themed decoration like the Colorful Owls or Moose & Friends board set.

We love that each set comes with parts that can be changed according to the holiday or season.

*************************************

  1. Decorating a PTA or school-wide board.

Everything that the PTA does directly supports the school and teachers, so your helping hand will be appreciated no matter where you can lend it.

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

Often PTA boards are the first boards seen when people walk into a school. And often the PTA volunteers are stretched too thinly and are running a ton of different projects.

Offer to either help with one of the projects or take over the job of managing the PTA bulletin board.

Staples’ Seasonal Classroom Decorations make decorating these boards super-easy.

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

Maddy, Owen, Cora, and I used a Fall Holiday Decoration pack to do a hallway board in my husband’s school.

It turned out awesome.

We used the Thanksgiving Bulletin Board set and the Pumpkins borders and kept the background the same as last time—simple black. A few pieces of orange and brown construction paper added some pizazz.

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

Our goal with this board was to create something fun and festive but that would also encourage viewers to give thanks, and we love how it turned out.

First, we put up the pieces that came with the set: the turkey, the pilgrims, and the Native Americans.

Then we added the ‘We Are Thankful’ sign above them and the ‘I am thankful’ cut-out leaves and acorns that came with the Thanksgiving set.

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers | teachmama.com

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers | teachmama.com

Next, I printed out two copies of our simple Give Thanks Instructions (see below):

If you’d like to download and print the Give Thanks Instructions click here: teacher thank you poster | teachmama.com

(Please, if you share this resource–which I hope you do!–link to this post rather than the printable!)

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers | teachmama.com

And then I printed out about 20 copies of our little Give Thanks notes (see below) which we cut into quarters.

If you’d like to download and print the Give Thanks notes click here: teacher thank you notes FULL PAGE

(Please, if you share this resource–which I hope you do!–link to this post rather than the printable!)

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers | teachmama.com

Then we stapled some of the turkey cut-outs to the board. We didn’t staple them flush to the board; rather, we made them like little pockets.

Finally we placed our little Thank You notes into the turkey pockets, and we were finished!

Bam.

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers | teachmama.com

An interactive thank-you board for the whole school.

And hopefully—hopefully!—one of the students will look at it while they’re walking to class and will take a minute to pull out a slip of paper, write down a quick note to a teacher or administrator, and deliver that person a little bit of thanks.

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools full board | teachmama.com

Or maybe a teacher will take the time to write a quick thank you note to a student. Or maybe an administrator will take time to say ‘thanks’ to a staff member.

Who doesn’t appreciate a little ‘thank you’ note now and again?

*************************************

————————————————————-

GIVEAWAY: One classroom décor set for all seasons–and then some!–valued at $100.

Do you want to win your own classroom décor set to use either in your own classroom, to donate to your child’s teacher, or to use for your PTA, church, or homeschool??!  Yes, yes you do.  

——————————-

Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to throw your name in the hat:

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

By entering this giveaway, you are demonstrating your understanding of and compliance with the Official Sweepstakes Rules.

This giveaway ends Monday, November 24, 2014 at midnight ET and is open to folks here in the US only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 11/24/14.  Winner must respond within three (3) days of notification or forfeit the prize, in which case an alternate winner will be selected.  All Official Sweepstakes Rules apply.

——————————-

Check out the other posts in the #staplesclassroom series:

fyi: I am proud to be a Staples partner, and this post was written as part of the #staplesclassroom campaign; however, as always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my personal experience as a parent and educator–and, of course, my three little classroom decorators.

thankful door: reminding our kids to be grateful every day

thankful door: reminding our kids to be grateful every day | teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

thankful door: reminding our kids to be grateful every dayEvery year around this time, when the holiday catalogs start rolling in and fancy white lights and gold ribbons start popping up on our streetlights, my kids get a little starry-eyed.

I think we all do.

But like many kids their age, mine are thinking about what they want and what color they must have and how many they hope to find under the Christmas tree.

So it’s important for us to always do a little bit of reflecting and thinking about what we already have and how grateful we should be for it all.  Really. We all need reminders.

It’s easy.

And though it’s not perfect, our thankful door helps.

At least a little.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Thankful Door–Reminding Our Kids to be Thankful Every Day:

thankful door: reminding our kids to be grateful every day | teachmama.com

thankful door: reminding our kids to be grateful every day | teachmama.com

 

The way you do this can, and should, vary according to the size constraints of your home and what will work for your kids.  But the goal is to find some central location and run with it.

Use a door. Use a wall. Use placemats or leaves or your refrigerator.

This year, we kept it simple.

thankful door: reminding our kids to be grateful every day | teachmama.com

thankful door: reminding our kids to be grateful every day | teachmama.com

We used some simple red letter cut-outs for the words ‘thank you for. . . .’ and a poster board and some orange construction paper as a background.  

Cute turkey notepads and pumpkin notepads were perfect for writing down the things that we were thankful for.

thankful door: reminding our kids to be grateful every day | teachmama.com

 

It’s a work in progress, and we’re hoping that by the end of the month, our door will be filled with all of the things that our family is thankful for.

To begin, this weekend, Cora and I started with a few basics: God, our family, our pets, clothes and food, and our home.  We added items, we chatted, and we laughed when we wrote ‘Brady’ and he walked over to the door and stared at his name. He really did.

He is so smart.

thankful door: reminding our kids to be grateful every day | teachmama.com

thankful door: reminding our kids to be grateful every day | teachmama.com

 

I always appreciate seeing how the things that we are thankful for change year to year and even day to day.

After bouts of rainy weather, we’re happy for sun; after cold and windy days, we’re happy for warm coats.

I will do this as long as I can and as long as the kids are in the house with us. It’s a great reminder for every one of us as we walk out of our door to check our moods and to say a quick prayer of thanks for all we have.

It doesn’t matter if you read this today or two weeks from now–what matters is that somewhere, sometime during this busy month you take time to rally with your kids and give thanks for all you have.

Here are two quickie ideas of ways we’ve done this in the past:

our thankful tree | teachmama.com

 

give thanks graffiti door | teachmama.com

 

What works for your family? I’d love to hear how you guys remember to give and be grateful during the fall!

 

 

fyi: affiliate links are used in this post

movie-inspired costume contest: win $500 and movie tickets for a year!

movie-inspired costume contest: win $500 and movie tickets for a year!

sponsored post

 

 

affiliate links used in this post

 

 

movie-inspired costume contest | teachmama.comI love it when I can share things with my readers that are really, truly cool and easy.

We’re busy. We need easy.

And I know with quite a bit of certainty that many of us are gearing up for Halloween this week.

And I also know with quite a bit of certainty that many of us are dressing our kids as Minions, Elsa, Anna, Olaf, or the good ole storm troopers or Dorothy from Wizard of Oz standby.

Because we’re all connected, and we’re all snapping photos of our cutie-pies all decked out in their Halloween gear, why not share a photo with our friends from Fandango for a chance to win $500 and a full year of movie tickets for your family? 

Seriously. I’m not even kidding.

Easy peasy, and I’d love, love, love to see one of my readers win!

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Movie-Inspired Costume Contest–Win $500 and Movie Tickets for A Year:

Really, this is not the kind of contest where you need to film a short testimonial (who has time for that?!) or create a killer diorama out of Peeps.

It’s easy.

So do it!

movie-inspired costume contest:

Here’s how you can rock the movie costume contest:

  • Post your picture on Instagram.  (Need a little Instagram refresher? Got you covered.)
  • Use a category hashtag:  (Just include the hashtag # and whatever category your costume fits)
    • #FandangoFamilyContestOriginal
    • #FandangoFamilyContestSpooky
    • #FandangoFamilyContestSuperHero
    • #FandangoFamilyContestAnimated
  • Follow AND tag @Fandango on Instagram.
  • Have questions? Ask me! I want you to win!

That’s it!movie-inspired costume contest: teachmama.com

Any guesses as to which awesome late ’80’s movie we were rocking at a recent 80’s fundraiser?

Want to learn more about the contest and see some current entries? Check out the Fandango Family My Movie Costume page.

What do you think? If you enter, please let me know!

 

fyi: I am proud to be a part of the Fandango Family Digital Network and will share a movie-related post quarterly. 

Affiliate links are used in this post.

halloween party ideas for kids and classrooms

halloween party ideas for kids and classrooms | teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

halloween party ideas for kids and classrooms  teachmama.comI’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: we shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to Halloween class parties.

Haven’t these been held for years and years and years?

Right.

So why are we all searching around and surfing the internet and looking high and low for ideas?

Here’s everything you need for a rockstar Halloween class party.

All wrapped up in a pretty little package. Just click the links, add them to your cart, and it will all end up on your doorstep.

Print out the games, put on your witch hat (Come on. You better have a witch hat if you’re planning a Halloween class party for your kid!), and make your copies.

This party. Will. Rock.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Halloween Party Ideas for Kids and Classrooms:

You cannot do this on your own. You need help.

Unless, of course, you are lucky enough to have a huge budget and tons of volunteers at your fingertips, you’ll need to solicit funds and help and then get this party moving on party day.

Plus, it’s tons more fun when you have other great parents helping.

Here’s everything you need to rock this party:

1. Get in touch with the teacher.  Tell him or her that you are the Room Parent and that you’re ready to rock this party. (Just kidding. . . )

But ask the teacher:

  • the timeframe for the party;
  • what he/she would like to do and when;
  • about any food allergies in the classroom;
  • to tell you anything and everything you need to know in order to plan a great party for the kids.

Then? You’re good to go.

2. Send out a class letter. Send a note introducing yourself and asking for H-E-L-P.

 

halloween party ideas for kids letter - 3

 

halloween party ideas for kids letter - 3

 

I like to have a little part on the paper where parents can cut (or rip) and send back to me telling me how they are able to help.

Or if you’re tech-savvy and want to use a service like VolunteerSpot, send the link to your event in the letter.

Feel free to use our letter–just change it for your own dates/ info: halloween party letter BLANK  or a word doc: halloween party letter BLANK

(Please, if you decide to share, share this post and not the attachment page!)

 

3. Send out a second class letter requesting contact information. Not even kidding.

Some parents might not return the letter because they’re not able to help with the party, and that’s cool.  This is new for me this year, but I’m hoping that it makes communication streamlined like never before.

halloween party ideas for kids letter - 3

Because teachers in my kids’ school cannot share parent emails, this is what we must do.

Even if parents aren’t into volunteering time, items, or money for the event, I want to keep them in the loop. Right?

You can download the Wanted: Contact information here: parent contact request wanted _ teachmama.com

(Please, if you decide to share, share this post and not the attachment page!)

 

4. Make a plan.  A party plan. Because for all of the parent helpers and the classroom teacher, they need to know what’s going on.

halloween party ideas for kids letter -| teachmama.com

Some pointers that make the party move smoothly:

  • have an easy activity that kids can do at their seats while others are getting into costumes: coloring pages, mazes, word search, or guess the word;
  • find a fun way of dividing class into smaller groups: have kids pick one of three different foamy stickers, have three different spider rings, etc;
  • make sure parents put snacks on plates while kids are on parade so that snacks are ready quickly;
  • give kids snack first because really, that’s all that most of them want;
  • provide a goodie bag at each game station that kids take from station to station;
  • have at least one group activity: freeze dance, hot pumpkin, pumpkin match, etc.

Here’s the plan we’re using this year:

halloween party ideas for kids letter -| teachmama.com

Feel free to use our party plan–just change it for your own dates/ info: halloween party plan 2014 or a word doc: halloween party plan 2014

(Please, if you decide to share, share this post and not the attachment page!)

 

5. Get everything you need for the party.

Delegate if you are able because some parents really want a job to do; they like to pick up water bottles, prizes, or cupcakes, so let them!

halloween party ideas for kids and classrooms

 

halloween party ideas for kids and classrooms

Here’s our shopping list with links for you to grab and have delivered to your doorstep:

halloween party ideas for kids and classrooms

halloween party ideas for kids and classrooms | teachmama.com

 

6. Assign one volunteer to each game station:

 

halloween party ideas for kids and classrooms | teachmama.com

halloween party ideas for kids and classrooms  teachmama.com tick

 

Guess the Word: Play this while kids are eating.  It’s much like the one we did for our Valentine’s Day party last year, but this time it’s with Halloween words!

You can download Guess the Word (Halloween) here: halloween party word guess game

(Please, if you decide to share, share this post and not the attachment page!)

Game Stations:  (quick, 10-minute stations will keep the party movin!)

  • Stamp Games: Put the kids into pairs and let them play for this game station! Kids will grab a small Halloween stamper and use it as the pawn for the Bat Follow-the-Path game and then use it as a stamp for Tic-Tac-Toe!

 

halloween party ideas for kids and classrooms | teachmama.com

  • Tic-Tac-Toe: Just like the game we all know and love, but this one uses Halloween stamps!

Check out how we use Halloween Tic-Tac-Toe here: Halloween Printable Games

halloween party ideas for kids and classrooms | teachmama.com

halloween party ideas for kids and classrooms | teachmama.com

  • Bat Follow-the-Path Game: Players begin at the upper lefthand block and take turns rolling the dice to see how far they go on each turn. Winner gets bat to his family first!

Check out how we use Bat Foll0w-the-Path here: Halloween Printable Games

halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun | teachmama.com

  • Lego Match: Lego bricks and some Halloween inspiration is all you need for this one!

Check out the Halloween Lego Game post for more.

simple spider web craft: perfect for Halloween class party

  • Spider Web Craft: Paper plates, white yarn, and spiders. And crayon resist Halloween magic happens. No glue makes it super-simple, and if you encourage kids to use a little bit of water and paint on their brushes, the webs will dry fast enough to take home that day.

Check out the Spider Web Craft post for more.

pumpkin match game | teachmama.com | easy halloween class party fun gets kids thinking and moving

Pumpkin Match:  Grab some pumpkin cut-outs and some black 2″ letters and numbers.

So fun and this will get kids up and moving!

We cannot wait to get this Halloween party started!!

What’s your go-to Halloween party plan for kids? What works? What do you, the kids, or the teacher love? Let me know!

Need some more ideas? Check out:

halloween-class-party-ideas-cover

 

Want a few more fun halloween party ideas?

 

 

fyi: affiliate links are used in this post, which only means that any time you purchase something using these links, we get a teeny, tiny percentage. thank you!

pumpkin match game

pumpkin match game | teachmama.com

sponsored post

 

 

 

pumpkin match game | teachmama.com | easy halloween class party fun gets kids thinking and moving

This game was surprisingly more difficult than I expected it would be for my 10, 9, and 7 year olds.

I don’t know if they were just not in the pumpkin-matching mindset or if they need more matching practice or if the pumpkin faces were just a wee bit too similar–but it took them a while to match the 24 pumpkins.

Hoping that it’s not too tough for a Halloween class party later this month because I think it would be and ideal way to get kids up and moving and thinking and interacting.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Pumpkin Match Game:

Pumpkin Match is super-simple, and it took all of several minutes to create.

I used one pack of pumpkin cut-outs, a pack of letter and number stickers, and that’s it.

pumpkin match game | teachmama.com

pumpkin match game | teachmama.com

 

Though my initial plan was to create faces on the pumpkins using permanent markers, it didn’t work. The pumpkins were too glossy and the shapes got really grainy.

So instead I grabbed the letter and number stickers and went to work.

 

pumpkin match game | teachmama.com

pumpkin match game | teachmama.com

 

I used numbers for eyes and letters for mouths and cut here and there to try to make the silliest faces I possibly could. And they turned out super cute.

Then I cut the pumpkins straight down the middle. And I mixed them all up.

pumpkin match game | teachmama.com

pumpkin match game | teachmama.com

Maddy, Owen, and Cora all had an absolute blast trying to find pairs in this simple Pumpkin Match Game.

I will definitely use this for future Halloween class parties, though I may mix things up a bit.

pumpkin match game | teachmama.com

pumpkin match game | teachmama.com

 

Depending on class size, I may take the number of students, divide it in half and use that many pumpkins. Then I’ll give each student a pumpkin half and have them find their match.

pumpkin match game | teachmama.com

pumpkin match game | teachmama.com

Whoops! This pumpkin above is not a match! 

pumpkin match game | teachmama.com

Or I may:

  • give each student one piece of a pumpkin and have the other pieces hidden around the classroom to get them up and moving a bit;
  • use half of the pumpkins for round one and then introduce more pumpkins each round;
  • give each student two pieces and have them try to find the two people they ‘fit’ with;
  • take it outside and make it a pumpkin race–after they find their match, they race to put their finished pumpkin on the playground line or in a big circle: the pumpkin ‘patch';
  • challenge the students to figure out which numbers and letters are hiding in their pumpkin’s faces;
  • place half of the pumpkins all around the playground or classroom floor and hand out the other half to the students and have them match up their pieces.

The possibilities are endless! Halloween is so much fun!!

pumpkin match game | teachmama.com

pumpkin match game | teachmama.com

Want a few more fun halloween party ideas?

 

fyi: I am proud to be a #staplesclassroom partner and received my pumpkin cut-outs from my friends at Staples.  This post was written as part of the #staplesclassroom campaign. Please check out my Staples post about rocking some fall classroom decorations.  

fall classroom decor: quick and easy for teachers and parents

fall classroom decor quick and easy for teachers and parents teachmama.com

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fall classroom decor quick and easy for teachers and parents  teachmama.com

Fall is here! Already it seems as though the year is moving at light speed.

For many of us, whether we’re classroom teachers or homeschoolers or parent volunteers, now is a great time to put up some rockstar fall classroom décor. And the quicker and easier the décor, the better.

We need quick. We’re all busy. No matter what we’re doing, if we’re working with kids, we’re busy.

I’ve recently partnered with the good people at Staples–yes, believe it–and I’m throwing them some serious high-fives for the new line they’ve got. It’s chock full of classroom décor.

And though teachers will absolutely flip for this stuff, so, too, will parents.

Because not only are we talking about awesome decorations to brighten children’s classrooms, but we’re also talking awesome supplies for PTA boards, media centers, homework areas–you name it.

I’m really excited about it, so I’m giving one biggie classroom holiday décor gift set away.  It comes with décor for all seasons and then some.  Woot.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Fall Classroom Décor–Quick and Easy for Teachers and Parents:

 

fall classroom decor quick and easy for teachers and parents  teachmama.com

 

The coolest thing about any kind of classroom decorating is that kids–whether they’re your own children or whether they’re your students–love to help.  So my suggestion is to put them to work.

And though there are a million and one ways to decorate a bulletin board, the sets I looked at from Staples are pretty fool-proof. You don’t need a whole lot of ‘extras’ to make the board pop–and that’s a good thing.

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

Though I am not currently in the classroom, my husband is the principal of a local elementary school, so between our own kids’ school and his, we have dozens of classrooms at our fingertips.

When I first chatted with Staples about a teacher to whom I could lend my classroom decorating services, I knew exactly who I’d help: a busy mom of three who just got back into the classroom.

She was totally game.

 

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

 

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

 

So Maddy, Owen, Cora, and I got to work one day last weekend to ‘spruce up’ her room a bit just in time to celebrate the fall season.

We used a handful of the fall decorations from Staples new classroom décor line, four pieces of construction paper, a little tissue paper and curling ribbon to make it pop, and that’s it. Voila.

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

 

Because this is a math classroom, I knew I wanted the boards to focus on math. I also knew that because the classroom is for third and forth grader math students, I wanted to make sure we had a welcoming area complete with student names for both grades.

We used some fall leaf cut-outs and pumpkin cut-outs for student names.   Quick, easy. Super cute.

Elementary schoolers aren’t always used to ‘traveling’ from classroom to classroom, so it’s a pretty big deal when they do.

 

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

 

A lot of this line from Staples makes decorating super-easy: bright, bold, sturdy decorations and pre-cut letters.

Three-dimensional fall borders that seem to come to life with textured pop-outs. So cool.  And this little holiday moose? All you need to do is change its antlers each season, and you have a decoration that kids will love.

 

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

fall classroom decor: quick and easy for teachers and parents

 

This fall pumpkin puzzle bulletin board set can be used in a dozen different ways. Each of the puzzle pieces is sturdy and laminated, so you can write on them with dry-erase markers–and it wipes off easily.

And it comes with ‘We all fit together’ mini-poster, a second poster, and a handful of smaller pumpkins.

 

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

 

We contemplated writing student names on the pieces, but we settled on writing math problems.  That way, while students walk through the hallway to their math classroom, they can get their brains moving and start getting in the math-mindset!

Really, though, you could use the fall pumpkin puzzle for anything: student birthdays, teachers, alphabet letters, you name it.

 

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

 

fall classroom decor: quick and easy for teachers and parents

 

The classroom. Looks. AWE-some.

And it only took us about an hour or so–from start to finish–to get the job done.

Huge thanks to Staples for making more happen in the classroom with their expanded assortment of education and learning products. They’ve got basically everything you need for a rockstar classroom: classroom décor, activity books, teaching aids and more.

And Staples Teacher Rewards program gives participating teachers up to 5% back in Staples Rewards, free shipping on staples.com, 10% back in Staples Rewards on teaching and art supplies and ink recycling rewards. Bam. Who knew?

 

————————————————————-

GIVEAWAY: One classroom décor set for all seasons–and then some!–valued at $100.

Do you want to win your own classroom décor set to use either in your own classroom, to donate to your child’s teacher, or to use for your PTA, church, or homeschool??!  Yes, yes you do.  

——————————-

Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to throw your name in the hat:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

By entering this giveaway, you are demonstrating your understanding of and compliance with the Official Sweepstakes Rules.

This giveaway ends Friday, October 31, 2014 at midnight ET and is open to folks here in the US only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 10/31/14.  Winner must respond within three (3) days of notification or forfeit the prize, in which case an alternate winner will be selected.  All Official Sweepstakes Rules apply.

——————————-

 

fyi: I am proud to be a Staples partner, and this post was written as part of the #staplesclassroom campaign; however, as always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my personal experience as a parent and educator–and, of course, my three little classroom decorators.

halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun

halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun | teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 
halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun | teachmama.com

I’m always on the hunt for fun ways to keep my kids engaged and interested and thinking creatively.

And when I find something that works, and it’s unplugged, creative fun, it’s a serious win.

Today after school, while Cora was working on homework and Maddy and Owen were recharging, I put them to work.

Why not, right? They’re young.

A few days ago, I ran across something on Pinterest that got me thinking.  Would it be possible for kids to design and build simple holiday-inspired objects out of Legos?  Could I give them just a little guidance and just a little inspiration and have them take it from there?

I was pretty impressed with what they came up with.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Halloween Lego Game–Unplugged, Creative Fun:

First, I grabbed a ton of plain Lego bricks. I wanted just bricks.

halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun | teachmama.com

 

halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun | teachmama.com

 

No windows, flowers, wheels, or people.

Nothing fancy.

Just good, ole plain-Jane Lego bricks.

And really, this took the most time for me–separating Legos.

But I found some, and then I printed out two ‘inspiration sheets’. I grabbed one from my pal Allie’s site, on a post she wrote called Halloween Lego Challenge. The post is awesome, and I love the whole idea of building something for kids and having them do their best to build the same thing.

halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun | teachmama.com

 

halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun | teachmama.com

 

It’s a fantastic cognitive and fine-motor skill-builder, especially for little guys.

I also found inspiration from Geek Alerts; their Halloween Lego Set post actually shows the pieces they built from a set you can buy: Halloween Lego Set.

So I printed the sheets out and gave Maddy and Owen the challenge: build some Halloween-inspired things.

halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun | teachmama.com

 

halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun | teachmama.com

We talked about what those things could be–the objects on the sheets that I printed out or other things Halloween, like brooms, bats, hats, ghosts, monsters, ghouls, whatever.

And what they came up with was cute and simple.

I loved that they were using what was on the sheets as inspiration along with what we had to really come up with some cool things: a pumpkin, a ghost, a witch, candy corn, a hat, and a little Frankenstein monster.

halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun | teachmama.com

 

halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun | teachmama.com

 

Working with Legos in any capacity is a fabulous way for kids to get their brains moving and fine motor muscles working.  And whether they’re following instructions step by step or whether they are creating pieces on their own, it’s all good.

It all rocks.

My longer-term idea was to have this Lego challenge be a part of Cora’s class Halloween party–but that’s a whole other story coming a few days down the road.

But much like the inspiration sheets I printed and gave to Maddy and Owen to get them started, I want to do the same for the kids in Cora’s class.

halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun | teachmama.com

 

If you want to print out the Halloween Lego Scramble sheets–little pictures of Halloween items that just about any kid can make with just about any regular set of Lego blocks–you can print it out here: halloween lego game _ teachmama.com

Huge and happy thanks for sharing them if you’d like, but please direct folks to this post rather than the attachment page. 

My goal is to use it as an inspiration for small groups during the Halloween class party this month.

 

Some other ideas for making Halloween Lego-building fun: 

  • add a timer and make it a timed copy and build;
  • share a card and have everyone try to make their own version of the item at the same time;
  • take turns flipping a card and building the item;
  • have kids take pictures of their own Halloween items and add them to the cards!

 

 

fyi: Affiliate links are used in this post which means that many of the links will take you to amazon, and if you purchase the item, teachmama.com will get a teeny, tiny percentage. It all helps, and we appreciate it!

Huge and happy thanks to Allie of No Time for Flashcards and to the team at Geek Alerts for sharing their Halloween Lego posts. 

Want a few more fun halloween party ideas?

 

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

make easy candy corn desserts with kids (they're not perfect and still pretty)

make easy candy corn desserts with kids (they're not perfect and still pretty)Halloween’s almost here, but candy corn and tons of sweet treats have been in the grocery stores for what seems like weeks now.

Cora and I took that Halloween spirit and ran with it, creating our own, easy candy corn desserts.

It’s always fun to experiment in the kitchen, but when you can let your kids take the lead and use their creativity a bit, it’s all the better.

We wanted to have something fun and sweet here for when Aunt Katie and Asher visited this past weekend (so fun!), and that we did. Even though I can’t say that these were perfect for a toddler (we used our tiny fancy glasses–not smart!), he sure seemed to like what his mom gave him on his spoon.

Cora was uber-proud.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Make Easy Candy Corn Desserts With Kids: Really, when I say these are easy, I’m not even joking.

And they’re so pretty.

What I love most about these is that they’re totally imperfect. So far from the images on Pinterest and all over the internet of picture-perfect holiday treats, it’s laughable.

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

 

But we loved them.

Even though the marshmallows got really soggy and squishy on day two. But who cares?

All you need for these babies are a few things: orange jell-o, vanilla instant pudding, and marshmallows. Bam.

 

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

We pulled out our fancy glasses–the ones we used for our Royal Wedding party way back when and the ones we used for Cora’s Frozen birthday bash.

Cora and I knew we wanted to use pudding that we had already made for our treats–pudding that was in the fridge and wasn’t moving. We made it two days before, and no one seemed to go for it like I hoped.

So we drew a tiny candy corn on a piece of paper to keep us centered and focused on the task at hand–we wanted to recreate candy corn parfait-type treats using marshmallows, jell-o, and pudding.

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

 

Cora mixed the Jell-O, which she and I are both trying to each more frequently because our nails are total junk.

And doesn’t everyone want strong nails? We do.

 

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

 

Making the parfaits was easy. Cora decided that in order to make the treats look most like candy corn, we had to start with marshmallows, then put in the yellowish pudding, then put in the orange Jell-O.

So that’s what we did.

And it was a wee bit tricky.

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

What made it tough for us was our small, fancy glasses.

But I bet if you want to do these for a class party or Halloween get-together with lots of tiny kids, using a clear plastic tumbler would totally work–and then you could more easily pour in the orange Jell-O.

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

We put them all in the fridge.

And then we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

 

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

And though they all looked a little different from each other, they all looked so pretty.

We knew that Aunt Katie and Asher would love them–which they totally did.

 

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

 

Were they picture-perfect? Nope.

Did they taste like food of the angels? Not at all.

Was every single one of them gorgeous? Oh my gosh, no.

Did we love them? Sure did.

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

 

Because above all, my tiniest was way proud of her work in the kitchen–her creativity, thought, and patience.

And so was I.

And really? We all need to celebrate a little more of the perfect imperfections in life. It’s not all pinteresty-perfect, friends!

Want a few more fun halloween party ideas?

 

Let me know how you’ve gotten your kiddos involved in preparing for this spooky holiday–I’d love to hear it!

halloween word search

halloween word search teachmama.com

originally published 10/26/11 but republished today for you!

 

halloween word search  teachmama.com

Homework time over here this week and last has been a little spooky.

Just a bit.

Cora and Owen have been rockin the Halloween Word Search, which I made last year for Owen when he was on his crazy word search kick and which I made not a single change to this year.

Owen is much more into the ole word search halloween, but Cora did give it a go twice, never actually finding all of the words–or even caring that she didn’t. She did, however, love the idea that she had ‘work’ to do just like Maddy and Owen at homework time.

So while they worked, she worked. . .

Here’s the skinny:

  • Halloween Word Search: I didn’t get a chance to edit the document and that was actually fine because, like I said, Cora gave it a go for a bit but wasn’t in love with it.

It could be that it was too much for her–too many small letters all jumbled together–or that word searches just aren’t her game.  Perhaps a bit of both.

 

halloween word search  teachmama.com

halloween word search  teachmama.com

She was very excited at first, when I sat down next to her and read through each of the words she had to find.  I drew tiny pictures of each, right next to the word to help her remember each.

We talked about strategies for hunting for each word, like:

  • going line by line and searching for the first letter, then looking for the second letter once you find the first;
  • using a piece of paper to help guide you as you look at each line of letters;
  • saying the first letter over and over in your head so you remember; and
  • looking for double letters.

halloween word search  teachmama.com

word search halloween

We talked about different ways of identifying each word, like:

  • using a highlighter to highlight the word;
  • using a different color to highlight each word;
  • using water colors to paint each word;
  • circling each letter of the word;
  • circling the whole word.

She searched a bit, choosing to use her Hello Kitty pen o’many colors, but when Maddy and Owen were finished with their work, she was finished with hers.  She asked to finish her word search the next day, but she decided that coloring her tiny Mickey Mouse coloring pages was what she needed to do instead.

I bet if there were jewels in the word search, or sparkles or glitter, she’d be more game. . .

And that’s it–just a little bit of literacy-focused Halloween Word Search fun during homework time.  Happy Searching!

Want a few more fun halloween ideas?