“Giftedness is not what you do or how hard you work. It is who you are. You think differently. You experience life intensely. You care about injustice. You seek meaning. You appreciate and strive for the exquisite. You are painfully sensitive. You are extremely complex. You cherish integrity. Your truth-telling has gotten you in trouble. Should 98% of the population find you odd, seek the company of those who love you just the way you are. You are not broken. You do not need to be fixed. You are utterly fascinating. Trust yourself!”

Linda Silverman~Gifted Development Center Denver

Sunday, 13 December 2015

A Little Holiday Cheer....

Every single year I think to myself that I should post my holiday craft ideas leading up to the Christmas holidays...and every year, I run out of time, or I forget to take pictures or I get sick....

So this year here is what has been going on in my fifth grade classroom!

I decided to make the borax snowflakes with my class. We have just finished our unit on matter and materials and this fit in perfectly. 

Materials Needed:
  • One box Borax (I got mine for $4.50 at Great Canadian Superstore, but they also sell it at Metro and Walmart)
  • Large red cups (I got mine 18 per package at Dollar Tree)
  • Package of pipe cleaners (Dollar Tree)
  • Package of popsicle sticks (Dollar Tree)
  • Package of ornament hangers (Dollar Tree)
  • Boiling Water (I have a kettle for classroom use)  YOU MUST SUPERVISE THE USE OF THE BOILING WATER.  I poured it for each student.
  • Measuring spoons
  • Wooden spoons for stirring

After assembling all the materials needed, I gave each student a cup, a pipe cleaner, a wire ornament hanger and a popsicle stick. The students cut the pipe cleaner into 3 equal sections and then twisted to make the snowflake shape.  I had them hook the top part of the snowflake over the wire ornament hanger.  

I worked directly with the students to create the snowflake solution. Students were called up to the counter area in pairs.  I poured a cup and a half of boiling water into each cup.  Students did NOT touch the cups at any point.  Students measured 4 1/2 tablespoons of Borax into the hot water, stirring with a wooden spoon after each tablespoon was added.  They need to make sure each tablespoon is dissolved, before they add the next one.  After dissolving the 4 1/2 tbsp. of Borax into the hot water, students hung their pipe cleaner snowflake from the popsicle stick and lowered it into the solution.   I moved the still hot cup into our "snowflake nursery" and students left them over night.  

In the morning, I called up each student individually to unveil their special snowflake.  We placed them on paper towel to dry completely.  Above you can see the snowflake I made at home to test out my methods.  I think it turned out quite well, and I learned a lot about the process by trying it out myself first.

A sweet friend had given me these wonderful felt lined, silver tins (telling me she knew I would come up with some wonderful craft to do with them).  I realized they would be perfect for putting the finished ornaments in.  I know my students will be thrilled to give a special someone their handmade ornament for the holidays.

Another craft I like to do, and have done many, many times with students is to create a plastic canvas box which can become an ornament or just a keepsake.  I used to be able to find plastic canvas at most craft stores or at Walmart in the craft section, but for the last few years it has been impossible to find it in those stores. Dollar Tree to the rescue again!  I buy up to 10 sheets at a time when I see it, and I have quite a stash in my craft box.  

I have the students pre-cut the large sheets of plastic canvas into squares which are 15 by 15 holes.  They do the "sewing" using special needles created for crafting with plastic canvas.  Again, I have bought them when I find them and have quite a large collection available.   These needles are ridiculously expensive if you buy them online from the U.S. but if you can find them while you are travelling or if you find them in a craft store, grab them!

If you are familiar with plastic canvas, you will recognize the simple pattern I teach the students.  They create a different four square pattern on each of 6 squares of plastic canvas.  I allow students to choose the wool colours and designs they like.  After they have created all 6 squares, I teach them to sew it together using another colour of wool (such as black or another solid colour).  The lid is sewn in such a way that it has a hinge and can open.  We finish the project up with a festive pom pom (from Dollar Tree) and if it is going to be hung as an ornament, we add a ribbon loop.  This is a keepsake that the students love creating, year after year.

A final fun to do craft is the snowmen with the LED light up noses. I can't take credit for the photo or the idea...but you can find the instructions to make these super cute ornaments by clicking on the image above.  I changed up the instructions a few years ago by using "googly eyes" for the eyes on the snowmen and they look super cute.  I have purchased the LED candle tea-lights from Costco in a HUGE package several times, but if you cannot find them there, they are available at stores such as Dollar Tree in packages of two.

I just love the holiday season.  Here are some shots of my classroom so you can see how into the spirit I get each year!  

The door to my classroom.  Love this!

The "Tiffany" blue tree behind my desk.

 The little trees in my room (before I got the lights to work!).  I hang the critter ornaments you see below on these the week before the holidays.  On Friday, each child will get to take home their special friend.

I hope you have a wonderful week with your students leading up to the holidays, and enjoy your time with friends and family during your break.