Friday, November 24, 2017

An Easy and Inexpensive Christmas Gift for Coworkers, Neighbors, or Friends

Every year, I try to find something for my close coworkers and a few neighbors that is nice but won't break the bank. I saw this idea at a boutique but it was Thanksgiving/autumn mitts, so I thought I'd look around to find some that are nice for all year. I also used music ribbon and made my own tags to give it a music twist.

Dollar Tree had these nice mitts with great saying on them and they are only $1! You can't beat that! BTW- you can order from dollar tree online if you are willing to get a case of 12 and have it sent to the store close to you for free (home sweet home mitt and the second one in the picture is not on there).

I bought cookie mixes at Walmart. These Betty Crocker mixes are thin enough to easily fit into the mitt. They were $1.82. There were many different kinds.

I got some shredded red and white decorative filler at dollar tree for $1. I just use a small amount in the front of the mitt by the candy for decoration.

I got some small chocolates at Walmart. I will use 5 with each mitt.

Sam's Club has this wonderful ribbon every year (it only cost around $7 for 50 yards!) but you could get ribbon at a good price in many places, such as Costco or Walmart.

I put the cookie mix into the mitt, got some cellophane that I had in my basement for baskets and cut it in half. I just taped the back of the cellophane to make it work. You can get large basket cellophane bags (6  to a pack for $5.99 at Hobby Lobby- Search for "cello basket bags" and don't forget to use a 40% off coupon while you are there!). Just cut them in half to get two out of each bag or just forget the cellophane and put the candies and decorative stuff into your mitt and simplify. I just put the mitt inside the half bag and then folded the cut edge to the back and used some clear tape on the seam. I then tied the ribbon on the top and cut the edges of the ribbon at an angle. 

I made these tags for coworkers and made it different for some close neighbors. EDIT: I just added a third page of tags for friends. Later, I added one for family, in case you need a small gift when visiting your aunt or someone. Just print onto card stock and then cut around the heart. I just taped them onto the front of the cellophane.

The total price for these gifts was less than $5. You can't beat that! Have fun making these and I hope your co-workers and neighbors enjoy! Get the four different pages with 5 on a page tags here. 

If you need gifts for your choir or music students, check out my Music Joke Gift bookmarks you can make and give to your students or they can make for family members!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Silent Scream: Playing Fun Games while Keeping Your Sanity

Kids love to play games and they can learn so much from them. They learn social skills and how to follow directions. 

In Kod├íly teaching, these games help with important teaching concepts. In the song, "We are Dancing in the Forest", students can practice sol, mi, and la. They can practice the rhythms of ti-ti (two eighth notes) and ta (a quarter note). They can learn to read music and can play these songs on the recorder or on the ukulele. 

We play this game by having my person of the day choose a helper. He or she are the wolves (I like using two to make the game go faster). They stand on one side of the room in my designated wolf den. The other students sing and dance while singing the song until the "wolf are you coming?" part. They then stop and cup their hands around their mouth while singing. 

The wolves then either sing, "yes, we are coming" or "no, we're not coming". If they sing, "no we're not coming", the other students sing back, "why aren't you coming?". The wolves then sing back a reason. It might be, "we are brushing our teeth" or "we are cooking dinner". If they say yes, then they both tag the students. When students are tagged, they go lay down in the wolf's den. I also make the rule that if they run into the wolf's den, they are automatically dead, to keep the kids who are dead safe. The game ends when all of the kids are "dead". I like to remind the "dead" kids in my best "Disney pirate" voice that "Dead men tell no tales" because they can't talk.  

If you want to add tons of fun vocabulary and movement to this song, while the students stay in place, check out my "We are Dancing in the Forest" Song and Literacy Pack. 

Games are so fun and students love them, but if your students get too wild or out of control, they can drive you crazy and make students unhappy or even injure them. That is why it is so important to have rules and procedures in place to help students play safely and within structure. 

The Silent Scream

Students love the silent scream and it keeps my sanity.  I believe it helps them to be less crazy in their games too. I start this in Kindergarten. Kids are always amused by it. I just tell them that I don't like screaming and I want them to do a silent scream. I demonstrate it while acting like I am screaming and I wave my hands in the air but make no noise. It takes them a little practice to get good at it, but they really enjoy it. 

Other Rules and Procedures

At my past three schools, I have found it very useful to remind the students of the rules every time we play a game. I ask them to remind me of the rules. It only takes a minute but makes a huge difference. If students do not follow the rules, I stop the game and remind them again. It is rare that I have to stop a game. 

Rules for tag or running games

1. Don't run like crazy people
2. Watch where you are going
3. Tag gently if we are playing a game of tag
4. Be a good sport. If you are out, go out.
5. Don't use others as shields. 

Ways to keep kids from running like crazy people

1. Run on your heels- it really slows them down
2. Choose different ways to move during the game, such as "we are tiptoeing in the forest" or "we are crawling in the forest".

That one class

Every once in a while, I have that one class that makes playing games difficult. Last year, I had one class like that. I made a rule that if anyone got hurt (I had kids who seemed to always cry like they were hurt), the game would stop. That seemed to cure this class. There was a time for them where they were not allowed to play games, but not being allowed to play games cured them. 

More Fun games

Sandra Hendrickson, of Sing, Play, Create, has written a fun post about some benefits of playing games. Be sure to go read her great blog post! 

I hope that some of these ideas help you to be able to play fun games with your students while keeping your sanity! I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments!