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For years I tried  different Christmas countdowns - Santa's beard cotton balls, daily cutting off a slice of Santa's beard, paper chains  - but none of them seemed to work for me. 

A few years ago, I hybridized (is that a word) a couple of seasonal crafts - a decorated cone tree and a painted paper plate tree

Add in some numbers and stickers - and I had a December project that I not only could manage - but the kids and I both enjoyed.

First step is to paint paper plate green. I find that the best ones, are the super cheap, will barely hold potato chips paper plates. 

I cut the plates into 3 triangles and glued them together to make a tree shape. If I was not madly painting and prepping in the last days of November, the kids could do these steps. 

When I first did this project with the kids, I did it as a countdown - if we had 15 days of school in December, I put numbers 1-15 on the tree.

The last couple of years, I have changed it up a bit. I printed the dates in December we would be in school. This year, we were in class December 1-4, 7-11 and 14-18.  I  put the dates on the trees randomly and in different places on each tree so that the children had to find the number, not just see where their classmates had found it. Except for the last day in school - that always goes at the top. 

In addition to number recognition, the kids were interacting with a calendar and seeing how it worked. 

Each day the kids add one sticky shape

I have chosen to use shapes stickers for the kids to cover the numbers - they are bright, colourful, but not associated with any holiday. The last number is different - that one gets a star (if the children want).

The kidlets will take home a beautifully decorated tree on the last day of school before the holidays. (And they have used number recognition and  numerical order skills, and have interacted with a calendar.)

No cotton balls. No loops. Minimal prep.  The kidlets like it.

I am a happy teacher.


How many pumpkins tall are you?

Today we measured in pumpkins.

Yup, orange, round things, grow on a vine, used to make jack-o-lanterns.

one of our prized pumpkins from the school garden

What are we learning?
numeral recognition
numeral printing
counting by 5s
counting on
non-standard measurement 
(a first step in learning measurement before using standard measurement tools)

First the kidlets measured themselves on the pumpkin measuring chart.  

Our very tall principal even got in on the measuring fun!

Each child recorded their pumpkin height.  

Click for your free download.  It make a great class book.

In the afternoon we measured with pumpkin measuring sticks.

Sometimes I put out a bunch of random objects from the classroom  for the kids to measure. 

Sometimes they explore the classroom to find things that they are curious to measure. 

Usually we find a "big" project that we need to work together to measure. Today I was the big project! Sadly (not really!!) there are no photos to share of that measurement experience! 

Click on the graphic for a pumpkin measuring stick free download.  

Print, laminate and measure.


As we were investigating snails, the children were surprised to learn that a famous artist was intrigued by the same garden snails that caught our imagination. 

Matisse's daughter said that her father made many drawings of snails, and that his work The Snail (1953) came out of these drawings.

Before we we ready to paint with scissors like Matisse, we did some reading.
a growing collection of play dough and loose parts invitations

play dough: play dough: kelly green Wilton food dye, green and blue glitter
underpants - laminated
cut garland, cut straws
pipe cleaners, strange shapes
wiggly eyes

play dough: yellow wilton food dye, lemon essential oil and gold glitter
lids, buttons, and a few clear and white gems
black, yellow and white pipe cleaners,
hexagon and long diamond pattern blocks,
sticks,small pieces of driftwood,
wooden beads,
rolling pins, honey dippers

play dough: red icing dye with red and gold glitter
red and yellow craft sticks
red, gold and black  cut up bead garland
red and black buttons
red gems and diamonds
red and yellow lids
gold coins (would love to get some Chinese coins)

make Chinese lantern art
create a Lunar New Year sensory bin
learn some Chinese writing

play dough: kelly green Wilton food dye, green and blue glitter
cut up garland
gold and silver decorations
mini cookie cutters
tree cookie cutters (many available at Bulk Barn)

play dough: purple food dye, purple and fuchsia  glitter, lavender essential oil
big dinosaurs
little dinosaurs
little rocks
bigger rocks
glass gems

make a dinosaur bones sensory bin

play dough: copper food dye, nutmeg and cinnamon, gold glitter
plastic leaves from the Thrift Shop
gold and copper garland
small sticks
fall coloured buttons
fall coloured gems 
fall table scatter/vase filler from Michaels

play dough: recipe from Mama.Papa.Bubba. with the addition of copper and gold glitter
cut up garland
mini cookie cutters
gingerbread friends cookie cutters
extra plates and trays for cooking and serving cookies

play dough: kelly green Wilton food dye, green and blue glitter
golf tees, rocks, caps, marker lids, pattern blocks
popsicle sticks, cut up garland, wooden cubes
in white (sharp white teeth)
purple (straggly purple hair)
yellow (little yellow eyes)
teal (long bluish-greenish nose)
red (big red mouth)
green (big green face)

Go Away Big Green Monster art and story activity

reused the gingerbread play dough
purple - lids, craft sticks -  prickles all over his back
green -lid, beads, buttons -  wart at the end of his nose
white - glass gems, rocks, shells, lids, golf tees -  claws, horns, teeth
orange - lids, glass gems - eyes
brown lids, beads, glass gems - fur
black - lids, spools, glass gems - tongue

enjoy some Gruffalo Crumble
learn story elements with The Gruffalo

green and nature play dough creations
play dough: green with bitter
cedar boughs
twigs (arbutus)
red twigs
cedar branches
nuts (with the shell on)

create a green sensory bin

play dough: purple food dye, purple and fuchsia  glitter, lavender essential oil
cut up garland
eyeballs and googly eyes
plastic spiders and critters

play dough: rose food dye, strawberry flavouring, lots of glitter in all colours
cut up garland
cut up straws
coloured blocks
gems and sparkles

play dough: blue Wilton's food dye
small aquarium rocks
assortment of Toob sea creatures
ocean coloured gems
laminated ocean pictures from Nurture Store

coffee play dough  - recipe from Kids Activities

play dough: bleached flour play dough, iridescent glitter
cut up bead garland
big bead garland cut into individual beads
small rocks
googly eyes
cut up orange pipe cleaners

play dough: black liquid watercolour and food dye, blue and gold glitter, tiny stars
space printables from Picklebums
plastic astronaut figures
cut up garland
glass gems, beach glass, plastic disks from Christmas tree garland
star cookie cutters

play dough: purple food dye, purple and fushsia  glitter, lavender essential oil
googly eyes
black, orange and purple pipe cleaners
cut up straws
laminated paper spiders
plastic spiders
next time will add small sticks and cut up bead garland

spider web art activity
another spider web art activity
spiders and spouts in the sand table

play dough: either gingerbread play dough or mud dough
sticks (a variety of sticks, driftwood, cedar and juniper boughs)
stones, and pinecones


play dough: buttercup Wilton's food dye, lemon essence and gold glitter
gems, buttons,wooden blocks, shells, lids and other loose parts
in yellow, green, black, brown and ivory

create a beautiful sunflower sensory bin
paint sunflowers like Vincent Van Gogh

play dough: blue food dye, blue glitter, lavender essential oil
recycled lids
building disks
cut up big straws
cut up garland
wiggly eyes
cut up pipe cleaners

more Todd Parr inspired feeling and faces activities

play dough: pink play dough with red and pink sparkles
cedar boughs
twigs (arbutus)
red twigs
googly eyes
glass gem hearts
cut up heart garland

Valentine's play dough invitation II


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