Our daughter recently had her first dance recital. Performing on stage was a HUGE milestone for her, but it also presented me with a whole new uncharted category of things to celebrate: a spring dance recital! It was so much fun to plan a small “after party” for our family to celebrate her accomplishment.
The song to which her class danced was “Someday My Prince Will Come,” so I decided the party should be a Snow White themed party. I was absolutely thrilled to find paper plates and napkins on Amazon that matched both the theme and her recital dress perfectly.
Snow White Dance Recital
The Snow White/Dance Recital theme had so many fun possibilities. I got out my artificial apples since apples are obviously a big deal in the Snow White story and collected various ballerina toys from around our house to use as decorations. It was a very simple party (just Jimmy John’s sandwiches and fruit since we were at the recital all afternoon and didn’t have time to prepare a big meal). However I still wanted it to look a little bit fancy since it was a very fancy event in our daughter’s mind (lipstick was involved, so of course that meant it was a fancy event), so I added gold doilies and gold plastic utensils.
Snow White Dance Recital After Party
Snow White Dance Recital Centerpiece
For dessert we ordered cupcakes from a local bakery and had them topped with apples and ballerinas to round out the Snow White/Dance Recital theme.
Snow White Dance Recital Cupcakes
It ended up being a very cute and fun celebration. Maybe a little too much fun – our daughter has decided she wants to sign up for dance class again next year. I just hope that I can find paper plates and napkins that match her recital song and costume again so perfectly next year!
It’s summer! And what goes more perfectly with summer than ice cream? I found the idea for these cute handprint ice cream cones on Pinterest and decided to make them with our daughter. They turned out so cute that we also made them at preschool with our class on Ice Cream Day. Besides, I love making projects with hand prints or traced hands. I think it’s so fun to have projects that preserve how big kids’ cute little hands are at different stages – especially at the end of a school year.
The ice cream cones are are very simple and quick to make. First I cut some triangles out of light brown construction paper for the cones. I had the kids draw lines on them with brown crayons or markers to make them look more like ice cream cones. Then we glued them onto a light blue background. Then I had several sheets of “ice cream colored” construction paper – pink, white, brown, lime green, yellow… The kids picked their favorite ice cream “flavors” for their papers. You can make one, two, three or even more “scoops!” I traced their hands and cut them out. Older kids would of course be able to cut them out themselves, but for little ones it’s hard to cut out hand shapes with all the ups and downs between the fingers without accidentally chopping off a paper finger here and there! We glued the hand “scoops” on top of the ice cream cones in whatever order the kids chose. Then they got to glue a cotton ball on the top scoop for whipped cream. The final touch was a little round circle punched out of red construction paper to be the cherry on top! All the kids, our own daughter included, enjoyed making their ice cream cones. All that was left to do was hang the ice cream project on the fridge and start enjoying summer!
The June project for the poems of the month is to compile all of the poems from the year into a little book. I liked to save all the poems the kids had written all year in a file for each kid. Then at the end of the school year I would punch holes in the top of each poem and tie them together with a ribbon. It made a really nice little keepsake to send home with the children at the end of the school year. I will admit it took a little time to file all the poems each month and then quite a bit of time to tie them all into books, but they are so special for the kids and families to have when they are all finished that it’s totally worth it.
May’s poem of the month is a sort of “year in review” to reminisce as the school year winds down. It is very simple – just list the months and describe each with an adjective. When I first started doing this with third graders, I had a bee theme for the month of May. We called our poems “A Buzzy Year.” They wrote their final copies on beehive shapes and decorated them with bee stickers. I also had a blank book with the same title available at a center so that the kids could write down their favorite memories from the school year in their free time.
Here is a third grader’s poem:
August was hottest
September was fallish
October was scary
December was Christmasy
January was cold
February was loving
March was lucky
April was rainy
May was beautiful
Goodbye Third Grade!
This poem works with any theme (when I moved to fourth grade and the focus was the Indy 500 during the month of May, we titled the poems “Fourth Grade Zoomed By!” and decorated them with race car stickers), and it is a nice year end activity to do even if you haven’t been doing poems each month.
Have a great last month of the school year!
So I know I said May was my final Author of the Month for the year, but I now present to you an Author of the Month Bonus Edition: Mo Willems! His books are wonderful at any time of the year. They are so fun, funny, and engaging that I especially like to tack them on either at the very end or the very beginning of the school year when kids are too keyed up to pay attention to much else. They are also perfect for summer reading, of course!
His books include the Knuffle Bunny series, the Pigeon series, and the Elephant and Piggie series as well as other fabulous stand alone books. They are all hilarious and so much fun to read out loud. Kids love to chime in as the books are being read. They are so relatable for people of all ages – you can’t help but chuckle as you read them. And I dare you to read the Knuffle Bunny books – especially the last one – without getting a bit choked up. Because of this, I don’t really use a lot of extra activities to accompany them – they are just a joy to read and stand on their own – another reason they work well for the end or beginning of the school year or for summer.
Learning about Mo Willems himself is great for kids (and grown ups) too. Be sure to look for his DVD on which he gives step by step instructions about how to draw Pigeon. Take time to Google him too. There are some great interviews with him out there – my favorite was when he drew cartoons with Al Roker – he has a great philosophy about how children learn and become excited about reading and learning through drawing and expressing themselves creatively. Such a refreshing perspective in this time of standardized tests and coloring in bubbles! My husband is even a huge Mo Willems fan and even follows him on Twitter – he is hilarious and has wonderful things to share for adults and kids alike.
So if you are looking for some funny summer reading, regardless of your age, please check out the work of Mo Willems. I know it will be a highlight of your summer!
The last day of school is quickly approaching! As exciting as it is, the last day of school can be tough to plan for as a teacher in my opinion. The day always seems to crawl by… Kids are wired, teachers are tired, all of the books and school supplies have been packed away or sent home for the summer… There is literally nothing to do all day! My mom always says that she thinks no one should know ahead of time when the last day of school is going to be in order to avoid the unbearableness of the last day of school. Instead, the principal should just come on the speaker at the end of the day and tell people not to come back anymore for the year!
However, since this isn’t exactly practical, I like to spend the last day of school making summer activity bags. Each kid gets a bag to decorate. I collect a bunch of things kids can use for summer fun and learning (summer reading logs, little notebooks for writing or drawing, plastic magnifying glasses, crayons, pencils) and add them to the bags throughout the day. We also make things for the bags throughout the day (design bookmarks; color blank puzzles; decorate sun visors; and my personal favorite – make bug catchers by punching holes in plastic food storage containers, decorate them with bug stickers, and attach pipe cleaners for handles.)
Summer Activity Bags
These summer activity bags are a great way to kill time on the last day of school, and they provide some opportunities for summer fun and learning for the months ahead. Happy summer!
It’s hard to believe it’s time for the May Author of the Month – the last of the school year! Mem Fox is my pick for May. Some of her books are geared toward younger kids or babies (and they are wonderful too!) but that’s ok since May is such a busy month and may require a shorter than usual author study. Her books are so perfect for May because they work well with both Mother’s Day and end of the school year activities. A word of warning though – some of her books are tearjerkers so practice reading them ahead of time!
For Mother’s Day I like Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild and Koala Lou (see my post about the Olympics for more information on Koala Lou) – 2 sweet and funny looks at mother/child relationships. Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild also works well to remind kids about using self control and following classroom rules just when they think they can’t possibly sit still for another minute of school before summer vacation begins.
For more end of the school year activities I like Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. It’s all about memories. Have kids make memory books or write top ten lists about the school year after reading the book.
So there you have it, a whole school year of Author of the Month activities. I must say, I always felt that doing Author of the Month was one of the most valuable experiences of the school year. I hope you are able to integrate author studies into your classroom or your home activities in some way. It’s a great way to inspire new readers to become enthusiastic lifelong readers!