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!
April’s poem of the month is a poem about signs of spring that uses one of my favorite poem formats because it’s fun and fairly simple for all children. First, have kids write their phone numbers down the side of a page. Then have them think of a sign of spring to go with each number. For example, 1 bunny, 2 flower buds, etc. Finally have them insert adjectives to describe each thing. 1 cute bunny, 2 tiny flower buds, etc. Here is a poem by one of my former third graders (don’t worry – I changed the numbers in the phone number!).
Signs of Spring
3 Little insects
7 Pretty flowers
2 Cold days
8 Big bikes
5 Good friends
7 Colorful butterflies
6 Tiny leaves
After editing, have the children copy their final copies on bright springy paper and decorate with spring flower stickers. There you have it – easy and quick for this busy time of year!
March always makes me think of St. Patrick’s Day and shamrocks. It also makes me think of rainbows – as in the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. So, rainbows are the inspiration for the March poem of the month: a color poem. I always love to read Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O’Neill to introduce this activity. Then we practice writing similes. I have kids choose an item of any color they like and write similes about the items. These similes become the color poems. They start out with the line “A ________ is as ________ as” followed by a list of items the same color as the first item. Then comes the line “A ________ is ________ like” followed by a list of more items of that color. The last line of the poem is “A ______ is ______!” This way children get to practice writing similes using both like and as based on just what they see around them – no one needs to get writer’s block because the kids simply need to look around to get their ideas. Here is a poem about the color blue written by a third grader:
A button is as blue as
A button is blue like
A button is blue!
After the poems are written, I have kids recopy them in the colors about which they are written, mount them on those colors, and decorate them with rainbow stickers. I like to display them on a board with a big rainbow – a nice way to brighten up the classroom and welcome spring!
My favorite new Easter decoration this year is this candy scene I made inside of a Ball jar. Or as my husband calls it, our Easter terrarium. He has pointed out that it’s even “sustainable.” I found the idea on Pinterest and fell in love with it because it not only appealed to my obsession with Ball jars but also reminds me of sugar eggs with tiny Easter scenes made of frosting and candy inside them that I used to have when I was little.
This jar was so easy to put together. I got a large Ball jar with an extra wide mouth to make filling it easier. I put a handful of green Easter grass in the bottom. Then I tried to put in a Dove chocolate bunny. This is where I ran into trouble. Even though I had tried to measure visually when I bought the jar and the bunny at Target, I was horrified to realize that the Dove chocolate bunny did not fit through the mouth of the jar. I panicked a moment until it occurred to me that the base of the bunny would be hidden in the Easter grass. So, in a move reminiscent of Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree, I cut off the bunny’s tail, enjoyed some delicious chocolate, and put the bunny in the jar. Best way to solve a problem ever! I added a couple of Peeps chicks and some candy eggs. I decorated the lid with a paper flower and spring ribbon, and it was complete! And now we get to enjoy our “sustainable Easter terrarium” all season.
We decorated for Valentine’s Day this weekend. As much as I love my January/winter decorations, I must say that I am really over winter this year (even though this winter so far has been a walk in the park compared to the last 2 winters), so switching to Valentine’s Day decorations felt like a breath of fresh (and not frigid, shiver inducing) air.
As a result, I was motivated to put out more Valentine’s Day decorations than usual. These Ball jars were one of my new additions this year. I saw the idea for these cute jars on Pinterest. All I did was get a white doily for each jar and attached them with glue dots. I punched hearts out of red card stock and used glue dots again to stick a heart on top of each doily. Then I took red and white bakers’ twine and wrapped it around each jar a few times and tied it in a bow on top of the each heart. I finished the jars off by filling them with conversation hearts and tulips – my favorite flower for Valentine’s Day. I even made a mini version with a heart on the lid to complete my collection. I love them – they make me feel happy and warm like spring is just around the corner… Come on Groundhog! Don’t let me down!
Doing seasonal activities in schools is frowned upon these days. However it was always my experience that whenever I would change my bulletin boards at the beginning of each month, the kids would rush in the next morning and crowd around the new decorations in the room. I never once pointed them out – the kids always found the monthly decorations on their own and got excited about them. Even if it wasn’t purely academic, it made the students excited to come in the classroom, and in my unscientific, not researched based opinion, enthusiasm definitely boosts learning.
To make it easy on myself, I collected 2 complete sets of monthly decorations. (Since we looped and I had the same kids for 2 years, 1 set wasn’t enough.) I got 1 big bulletin board set, packs of small accents, and 1 medium sized wall hanging for each month – mostly Carson Dellosa, but I supplemented with homemade stuff when I couldn’t find what I needed from the store. I would put the various decorations up on a wall by themselves or add them in with the calendar or other year round bulletin boards.
I found that the following monthly themes worked well – although as I look at current teacher catalogs it’s harder and harder to find seasonal decorations anymore. It’s worth it if you can find them though!
August – Suns
September – Apples
October – Pumpkins
November – Turkeys
December – Snowmen
January – Snowflakes
February – Hearts
March – Shamrocks
April – Butterflies
May – Racecars (we are in Indiana, after all!)
August – Sunflowers
September – School Supplies
October – Scarecrows
November – Fall Leaves
December – Mittens
January – Penguins
February – American Flags
March – Rainbows
April – Flowers
May – Bees
It’s officially my favorite season – Screened In Porch Season! Our house has a screened in porch. It was one of the few extras we splurged on for our new home, but it’s also one of my favorite parts of it! The builder said that ours was one of the first screened in porches in the neighborhood (evidently most people opted for sun rooms or covered porches instead). But he was pretty sure that after seeing how great ours is, more and more people would be building them.
The sun room vs. screened in porch debate is a familiar one in my family. My parents have a screened in porch that we all LOVE, but my mom has always been tempted to replace the screens with glass. My dad and I always vetoed this idea though. Sure, you can use a sun room in all four seasons rather than just three, but the enjoyment you get from being outside on the porch sans bugs during spring, summer, and fall totally makes up for losing the time out there in the winter. In my opinion at least! Happy Screened In Porch Season to all!
A few years ago, I used “bugs” as the theme to decorate our kitchen for spring and summer. I got the idea at first because I threw a high school graduation party for my very first class of second graders. (Yes, I am old – my first class of second graders graduated from high school. In fact I am super old because they have also now graduated from college. A year ago. Oh well.) Way back when they were second graders, our big thematic unit that year was about insects. We even put on a play for the rest of the school called “The Ladybug Ball.” So I thought that their graduation party just had to have a bug theme. We also used the bug decorations for a cookout we hosted later that summer.
The bugs made for really cute spring and summer parties. They were bright and fun and went perfectly with our checkered red and white checkered picnic napkins.
Bug Graduation Party
We made bug cupcakes topped with red m&ms with black frosting dots for ladybugs and yellow m&ms with black frosting stripes for bees.
We even had bug chocolates on the tables and bug favor bags for everyone.
Bug Favor Bags
One word of warning though – we (coincidentally?) had more pesky live ants to deal with in our kitchen that summer than ever before or since. My husband was convinced that the ants mistakenly thought our little ant decoration was some sort of tiny god that they all just had to make a pilgrimage to come visit.
So decorate with caution… 🙂
So excited that May is almost here – such a fun (and busy) month to celebrate the end of the school year and bring on the start of summer! For May I like to decorate our kitchen with daisies. They are cheerful and fresh, and they seem to capture the feeling in May that summer is just around the corner. I fill jars with daisies and put pots and vases of daisies out. They go with just about any color, so it’s a nice, quick update that works anywhere.
I even had our daughter make a craft with handprint daisies in a construction paper ball jar for the fridge. So easy and cute. So put out some daisies and welcome the month of May!
It’s been kind of a gloomy, cool, and wet spring around here so far this year. So when we had a nice warm springy Saturday in the forecast this week, I knew we needed to plan a fun springy outside activity. I had the bright idea that we should take our 2 and a half year old to visit a local dairy farm. Doesn’t that sound lovely? A visit to the farm on a nice spring day. Think Charlotte’s Web – everything about the farm in that story was delightful in the spring. I even wrote a paper about it in high school – the symbolism of joyful spring archetypes and new life in Charlotte’s Web. I knew our daughter would love a trip to the farm, right? Not so much. It was more like celebrating Festivus with the “Airing of Grievances” than celebrating a beautiful spring day by exploring a farm.
We told her she was going to get to visit a farm when we got up on Saturday. She squealed with joy. She couldn’t wait to see cows and chickies and eggs. All the way there she asked if every house we passed was the farm. She was so excited.
And the we pulled up to the farm. We got out of the car and she declared that the barn looked dirty and needed cleaning. (A girl after my own heart, I must admit.) Then we went in to get our tickets and started our tour. Just as I had hoped, the cows were right there waiting for us. She said that they were too smelly. She wished to see piglets instead because they wouldn’t be smelly. (Ahh, if she only knew!) However, there were no piglets at the dairy farm, so we moved on to see some darling spring baby chicks. She was offended that they did not have any eggs for her. (She loves her plastic eggs from her Easter baskets.) Then she decided that she wanted to see a tractor. To our good fortune, a tractor pulled in just down the path and began composting. Once again, she said that this was too smelly.
We decided to quit while we were behind and head back for ice cream samples – because, let’s be honest, isn’t that really the main point of visiting a dairy farm? She enjoyed the ice cream, but then started complaining that she didn’t want to go home because she was devastated that we wouldn’t let her take one of the cows (that 20 minutes earlier she had deemed to smelly to be around) home with her.
All in all, not the idyllic spring outing to the farm I had envisioned. However, I still stand by the notion that a trip to a farm has the potential to be a lovely spring activity. So try it for yourself – if you dare. I think I’m just going to stay in and reread Charlotte’s Web myself though.