Okay, I admit it...I'm a Christmas-oholic! I LOVE it and celebrations start on the 1st of December in our class! Below is our Advent calendar. Each day, there is a song to sing and dance to, a challenge or good deed for the day and a little treat or activity (sometimes a lesson we'd have been doing anyway, but a Christmassy one!). On the back are 2 names - children who get to wear a Christmas hat all day.
However, there is not a film day or Christmas Busy Book in sight. I try not to be critical on here, but the idea of a workbook full of Christmas wordsearches and mazes makes me grumpy! They are great...for indoor play! I completely get the time thing - there are times when some children are out rehearsing for plays or when you were supposed to watch the Reception Nativity but Borris was sick on the stage so it's been postponed, but surely we can do better than this!
My Tips For KS2 at Christmas
1) Have a few simple crafts with instructions ready to go. My children have table boxes with a zip-wallet in and they can have the equipment in there without it looking a mess. Here are a couple of mine:
Made just like the lotus flowers, but pull out the 'petals' from the top and the bottom to give a fuller look. Pretty hung up in the classroom or on the windowsills.
So simple to make! Instructions attached, thanks to Arian Armstrong for the instructions. I've made a printable version here:
2) Have a project on the go, something they can pick up ad get on with. This is best if it's something open-ended. This year, my class are making a website using Weebly. This has been a bit tricky because of the security settings on the children's laptops, but now I've got it susses, we're cooking with gas! I intended this as a bit of a consolidation task for our weather topic, but the learning is never-ending! Working in teams of 4, they choose a weather topic and planned out what they'd like to include and discussed whose skills suited which task(s). They then drafted and worked on the laptops. They have needed mixed amounts of support but have managed to get on well independently when necessary. There has also been a LOT of peer support and even some Googling to find out how to do what they want. They have worked on Microsoft Office and some websites, then have come to my desktop and imported their work, copied and pasted it into the appropriate places and figured out how to attach files etc.
I am overwhelmed by the success of this project! They have all done different things and used different skills, but didn't seem to feel at all restricted by what they already knew; they instead decided what they wanted to do and found a way to do it. Some examples include:
It's been a fab project that they can pick up and continue with in their own way. I haven't had anyone sat doing nothing or asking me what to do because they've finished; when they've finished, they chat to their team-mates about what would be good to add or what help they need. They are all active and all learning. I love it!
UPDATE: IT'S FINISHED!!! Click here to see Year 5's website!!
3) Involve them more in the Christmas production. I'm not going to lie, this one takes a bit of work and a lot of Pinterest trawling, but I think it's worth it. Let's be honest, the beauty of a project like the one above is that my planning reads "Website Work"... and that's pretty much all I can say! I have been involving them in the design and making of some of the costumes. There are some great ideas for easy no-sew costumes - check these out on my 'Sewing' Pinterest board (yes, I realise that I said no-sew, but I do sew so they're all mixed in, I'm afraid), especially tutus or tunics. I will DEFINITELY post some pictures of ours soon.
I also allow them to run lines in the little foyer to our classroom (we are in temporary port-a-cabin-style rooms so mine has its own little entrance, which is very handy!). The ones without a main part can help them, give them tips, direct and read the lines of those in other classes to prompt them.
The children without main parts who are quite interested in technology have been helping me to organise and trim the songs. We have bought-in a play that comes with all of the songs and sound effects, but some of the sound effects are repeated, so we have created a numbered playlist with them repeated as necessary to make it easy just to run though (you can do this easily by renaming them with a track number in front). Some of the sound effects were also way too long for us, so they have used Audacity to trim them and make them fade out.
Tip 2 helps with this kind of thing - some children are making costumes while others continue with their website.
Christmas in a primary school is exhausting, but still one of the best times of the year...if you make it be! Enjoy!
A sewing project?! With CHILDREN?! Argh! I know what you're thinking - 15,000 unthreaded needles, fabric sewn to their school trousers... the nightmare is never-ending. For all of these reasons, you may want to work with small groups. This project is probably best for a craft or sewing after school club, spanning a few weeks.
Turn the sock inside out and cut off the cuff. Lie the sock with the heel in the centre, facing you.
Draw on the feet just above where you cut off the cuff. and sew over through both layers of the sock with a basic running stitch (in and out).
Draw on the ears: 2 parallel straight lines dunning from just above the heel to the toe, about 1-2cm apart. Sew along them through both sides of the sock using running stitch, beginning and ending just as you did before. Sew each line separately, beginning and ending each line.
Cut straight down between the two lines until just above the heel. This will leave a hole where your stitching ends. Use this hole to turn the whole thing inside out, including the ears.
Sew the ears closed. Do this by sewing a running stitch around the base of the ear, sewing through one layer of the sock all the way around. Then, pull the thread and it should gather. Fasten off before sewing the second ear.
Tear the stuffing into tiny pieces. Stuff a little at a time, pushing the stuffing right down to the feet to begin with. When you've finished this step, it should look kinda like a minion!
Make the head: 'strangle' the bunny (feels mean!) to see where you'd like the head. Then, sew in the same way you did for the ears: attach the thread, sew a running stitch all around the body where you'd like the neck, then pull tight and fasten off.
Sewing tip: To hide the end of the thread, push the needle back into the finish point and out of the bunny a couple of inches away. Pull a little and cut the thread. The end will pop inside the bunny.
Close the head with ladder stitch. This is one of my favourite stitches because it's like a magic invisible stitch! Look at the pictures below really closely.
Make the feet. Pinch with your fingers to decide where you want them. Attach the thread on the back, then sew a running stitch straight through the bunny, pulling a little to create the shape. Hide the end of the thread as you did for the head.
Step 9a - optional
Optional: make the sweater. Take another sock. Cut off below the heel (make the cut nearer the toe than the cuff if you'd like a hood. Stretch out a little and slip onto the bunny before moving on to step 10.
Sew the arms in the same way as you did the feet, pinching to test first. Mine are a little wonky, but they usually are!) When you pinch, check that you have enough stuffing in the shoulders. If not, squash it around a bit to rearrange.
Embroider the face. You can do this however you like, but I like to keep it really, really simple. The face, particularly the eyes, can make or break a toy. They can look really creepy! For kids, you could just Sharpie them on if you're losing the will to live by this point, but it really is very simple. All you do is the starting stitch, so going over and over the same spot. I use normal sewing thread (so I don't have to buy embroidery thread) and go over about 8 times. Leave a long 'tail' on your thread at the start and end so it's easy to hide by pushing into the 'eye' and out of the other side, as for the head. I do the same for the nose and then just a couple of lines for the mouth.
Note: Button eyes are the creepiest thing I have ever seen. Seriously. No.
Congratulations! You've made a sock bunny!
Options and variations
This is a great, quick and impressive project to do with children. You could make them as gifts or as part of a fashion topic. In fact, it would be perfect for an environmental project on 'up cycling'.
Cut off the sleeves.
Cut the neck into a scoop. The deeper the scoop, the longer the handles. Then, turn it inside out.
Cut slits all along the bottom, about an inch apart and 2-3 inches long. Cut through the front and back of the t-shirt at the same time. Make sure you cut the far left and far right ones in two (along the seem).
For every pair, tie the front strip to the back strip in a single knot.
Look at your first three knots. Take the left-hand strand of the middle knot and tie it to the right-hand strand of the left knot. Then, take the right-hand strand of the middle knot and tie it to the left-hand strand of the right knot. (The ones I'm touching in the pictures). Then, take the right-hand strand of the right knot and tie it to the left-hand strand of the next knot. Continue this all along.
Turn it inside-out and voila! You have your very own t-shirt tote bag!
Hi! I'm Mrs P: passionate primary school teacher!