The Olympics are here! I love the Olympics. We had fun at our house getting ready for them this week with the help of lots of neat ideas I found on Pinterest.
First, our daughter made a torch picture complete with Olympic rings and medals. We used foil and tissue paper for the torch itself, traced her hand and arm on construction paper, and wrapped the paper fingers around the torch. She glued on rings I had punched out of construction paper. I thought we were done, but then she added medal stickers she found in my old box of Olympics “teacher stuff.”
Olympic Torch Craft
But we didn’t stop there! Along with out regular cookout food for dinner last night we had Cheetos in ice cream cones to look like torches. How simple – yet cute – is that??
Olympic Torch Cheetos
And for dessert we had still more torches. We made cupcakes in ice cream cones and topped them with yellow and orange frosting. Admittedly not my most beautiful culinary creations ever, but still very fun.
Olympic Torch Cupcake
As I said, I really love the Olympics. You might even go so far as to say that I carry a torch for the Olympics! Ha ha. Go USA!
So obviously this is a little late in the game for this year, but I wanted to share my Valentine’s Day marquees anyway. If you want to make some, you could always plan ahead for next year, or if you aren’t unexpectedly snowed in like we are at the moment you could make a quick trip to Michael’s and make an impromptu Valentine’s Day decoration. On a side note, speaking of impromptu, seriously – what’s with this snow? Come on weather people! Get it together! This morning they said we would be expecting one inch of snow starting at about 2:00 pm. I checked again when the snow started in earnest at about 12:30pm and suddenly they were saying we will get 3-5 inches instead. That seems like a big change, right?? Also, I don’t understand how the county south of us has a “Winter Weather Advisory” and is supposed to get only 1-3 inches of snow but we don’t have any sort of advisories. Sigh. I guess I’m still bitter after the dusting of snow we were supposed to get 2 years ago on Valentine’s Day turned into something like 9 inches.
But back to the marquees. As with my other marquee decorations, I got arrow and heart shapes from the Heidi Swapp Marquee Love brand at Michael’s. I painted the outsides metallic silver and cut red glitter paper using the templates provided for the insides. Then I put the light covers and lights in and that was it.
Short and sweet – but now it’s time for me to start working on our family Valentine’s Day celebration. We always stay in for dinner on Valentine’s Day – a tradition we started due in part to the fact that there is usually some sort of snowy weather that makes going out a miserable option. My friend Sara is right – there always seems to be snow on Valentine’s Day – whether or not the weather forecast knows it.
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!
January’s card of the month is a birthday card. As I have mentioned before, I like to make several cards at a time assembly line style, and January is a good time to make sure I have a good chink of the birthday cards I will need throughout the year ready to go. Besides, making cards is a good inside activity, and I have been too cold lately to want to leave the house at all. Building up my birthday card inventory inside where it is cozy and where there is college basketball on the tv is a much more desirable option than venturing outside in the bitter cold for even just a few minutes and then spending the next 6 or more hours trying to stop shivering.
I rediscovered this balloon birthday card while looking through my card files. The colors on it reminded me of January so I decided to use it for the January card of the month. (Although any color scheme would work of course!)
January Card of the Month: Balloon Birthday Card
I cut out 3 balloon shapes using my Cricut. I used some fun papers I had in my paper scraps bin. One was a green velum and one was a pearlized pale green – both perfect for balloons! The third was a coordinating green and blue stripe. For the background I chose a light blue card stock that matched the striped balloon. I cut it to 5 1/2″ by 8 1/2″ and folded it in half. I attached strings to the backs of the balloons using glue dots. Then I attached the balloons to the front of the card with adhesive. After the balloons were positioned and attached the way I wanted them, I tied the 3 strings together in a knot at the bottom of the card.
Balloon Birthday Card Inside
For the inside I stamped some Happy Birthday balloons with light blue on white using a very old Stampin’ Up stamp and matted it with the green vellum and pearlized green from the front of the card. I finished it off with photo corners punched out of the green and blue striped paper.
A cute card and a fun way to use up extra bits of paper and experiment with different color and pattern combinations.
I found the cutest snowman cheeseball on Pinterest. I simplified it a bit (even though it was already really simple) and made it for a New Year’s Day lunch with my family. It was so cute I just had to share.
I used 2 boxes of Philadelphia Cream Cheese. I rolled each block of cheese into a ball. Then I rolled both of the balls in shredded mozzarella. I put a few toothpicks sticking out of the top of the bottom ball for extra support and then placed the other ball on top. I added a tiny carrot for the nose and peppercorns for the eyes, mouth, and buttons. So easy and super cute! Perfect for any type of January or winter party – or just to make an ordinary dinner more fun!
January’s poem of the month is a winter haiku. Haikus are poems that have a total of 17 syllables – 5 in the first line, 7 in the second line, and 5 in the third line. They are really good to do with kids because they help with practice finding syllables in words as well as solving a math puzzle in order to make the lines have the correct number of syllables. When I do them for January, the kids must write about winter topics. Traditionally haikus are supposed to be about nature, but our winter haikus have covered everything from cold and snow to snowmen to hot chocolate. Here is one about snowmen by a third grader:
I like snowmen lots.
Snowmen are like snow people.
Snowmen are so fun.
After copying their final copies onto light blue construction paper, I had kids decorate them with white construction paper snow and winter stickers before displaying them on our poem of the month bulletin board.
My blog post is a few days later than usual because we have been in the throes of undecorating after Christmas. It always makes me a little sad to take down all of our beautiful Christmas stuff, but I’m also always happy to get out the fresh new winter decorations. I was especially excited to get out the winter stuff this year because we weren’t allowed to put it out last year since our old house was on the market. It’s hard to believe that just one year ago we were getting ready to sell our house. Which made me start reflecting on everything that happened in 2015. And I have come to the conclusion that 2015 was just TOO MUCH. In our family we had 2 moves (3 if you also count moving my classroom at school the same week we moved to our new house), 1 case of pneumonia, too many cases of stomach flu to count (the most recent occurring on Christmas Eve, of course!), 1 major surgery, 1 broken nose, 1 bad playground injury (ironically for the husband not the kid), 1 anaphylactic allergic reaction, daily life with a 3 year old… and a partridge in a pear tree. Phew. Even though not everything (like daily life with a 3 year old and getting to live in our new house) was bad stress, even good stress is still tiring. Like I said – too much.
So needless to say, I am very excited about celebrating the New Year this year. We have our usual quiet, low key celebration planned to ring in 2016: appetizers and snacks and general assorted junk food and a viewing of When Harry Met Sally (assuming a certain little someone heads to bed early enough) followed by a herculean effort to stay awake until midnight while watching Kathy Griffin embarrass Anderson Cooper. I can’t wait! 2016 is going to be my year of recovery and relaxation. It can’t start soon enough! Happy New Year!
My favorite decorations to use in the classroom for December are mittens. They work well with the cold weather, they are not specific to any holiday so no one feels left out, and they go perfectly with the idea of helping hands which is so important during the holiday season. I used to have a free time center activity in my classroom where kids could cut out and decorate paper mittens and label them with the names of friends who had shown caring and been helping hands. We would string them together on paper chains until eventually all of the helping hand mittens would wind around the whole classroom.
To go along with this helping hand theme, we made wish poems for December. All children have wishes regardless of their religious, ethnic, or socioeconomic backgrounds. We would talk about how wishes could be big or small, and that some kids might need a helping hand to make their wishes come true. The format of the wish poem is shown here:
Wish Poem Sloppy Copy
We would write the final copies of the wish poems on mittens to remind us that by being helping hands we can all help wishes come true.
I’m exhausted right now, so I can only hope this post is coherent. The last 3 days were spent decorating our new house for Christmas. It’s done, it’s beautiful – a dream come true, but I’m pooped. It was a lot of fun though to see how all of our old decorations fit into the new house. It’s funny, but even though I loved them at the old house, it’s as if all of our Christmas stuff was just made for this new house all along! When in fact the decorations in just one room are new for this house.
Our living room has a whole new “White Christmas” theme, and I absolutely love it even though ironically “White Christmas” is not my favorite movie. (I much prefer “Love Actually,” but you can’t exactly decorate a room around it… Little Hugh Grant figurines dancing to “Jump?” Christmas lobsters in the manger scene? No thanks.) It’s all all white and silver and pale green and sparkly with lots of snowflakes and little trees and houses covered in snow.
White Christmas Village
I looked all over to collect the decorations for our living room.
White Christmas Shelves
Some are from Crate and Barrel, some are from Pottery Barn this year, some are from Pottery Barn last year, some are from Target.
White Christmas Tree
Some like the snowflake marquee and the signs on the long shelf are even homemade with supplies from Michael’s and the Silhouette Design Store.
White Christmas Snowflake Marquee and Jar
It’s a room that’s totally different from anything else in the house, but I must admit it might be my favorite.
But I still don’t like the “White Christmas” movie. I’ll stick with “Love Actually” for my viewing pleasure, thank you very much!
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