Saturday, December 22, 2012

Fun Candy Experiments for Christmas Break Camp.

The site Candy Experiments has some great ideas for things to do with Candy Canes.  If you buy the canes after Christmas you can get them way cheaper and the kids don't care, cause they are candy! 
Posted: 21 Dec 2012 11:04 AM PST
Whether you need a way to keep kids entertained during the holidays, or a way to use up all those extra candy canes, here are some Christmas classics from

Monday, December 10, 2012

Free Holiday Activities for Various Grades

I know how crazy things can be as we wind down the school year before Christmas.  The most important thing to do is to keep the kids EXTRA busy with fun activities. is a great place to find holiday tips and activities.  Some of the thousands of contributing teachers have put together packets with teaching ideas and activities to use.  These are mostly meant for classrooms, but blend well with After School Programs and Winter Break Camps as well.

2012 Winter Holidays Teaching Tips and Freebies: Grades 3-6 Edition
2012 Winter Holidays Teaching Tips and Freebies: Grades 1 & 2 Edition
2012 Winter Holidays Teaching Tips and Freebies: Grades: PreK & K Edition

I hate to see kids participating in a full day or full week camp and only have 5-6 different coloring sheets to pick from the whole time.  There is no reason we can't keep them occupied and secretly learning as well.  Don't make a million copies of these, just make 5-6 and keep a master copy in a notebook.  If kids liked one specifically and want to do it again, just get it out a make a few more copies. 

Nothing will tick off a school secretary more than seeing her school resources squandered by there being a ton of Christmas coloring sheets in the recycling at the end of Winter Break.  Be conservative with paper, be green, and keep a good relationship with your secretary!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fun Christmas Activity - Milk Carton Graham Cracker Houses

One of the favorite Holiday activities over the years has been Gingerbread houses.  They are lots of fun to make and the making is tasty too!

We have done one large house that goes home with one student at Christmas time, or individual houses.  Of course the individual houses are the most popular, but it depends on your budget and your ability to be okay with a big mess and lots of sticky fingers!!  :-)

Little "Gingerbread" Houses

  • Save milk cartons and clean them out so that you have enough for every child.
    • Keep a few extras because more kids always seem to show up on a day when you are doing a big project.
  • Enough Graham Crackers for each student to have 6 pieces to cover all surfaces.
  • Royal Icing, the kind that hardens.  You can use regular containers of frosting you buy at the grocery store, and add powdered sugar to stiffen it.  If you do that you have to glue the the graham crackers because they won't stick.  Hot glue works well but they won't be edible.  Kids mostly want to eat the candy anyway.
  • Miscellaneous candies to add to their house.
    • You can also be creative with snack left overs.  Raisins, nuts, carrot sticks, thinly cut celery pieces and more, work for add ons.
    • If you are working on a tight budget, ask parents to bring in a candy add on.  $2 per parent isn't too much to ask.
      • Give them a list of acceptable candies. 
  • A paper plate for each student.
  • A boat or bowl for their candies.
    • You know they will eat some and put some on, so give them individual pieces to avoid extra germs.
       The grown up part
  • Clean single size milk cartons well to avoid sour milk smell.
  • Glue or staple the top together.
  • Glue, or use royal icing, to adhere the graham crackers to the milk carton.  Squares of graham crackers fit the sides of a milk carton perfectly!
  • Use frosting to cover the milk carton at the edges.
  • The fold sides are a little trickier.  Either cut graham crackers to fit over them or add candies and frosting to hide the writing.
       The kids part
  • Give kids a clump of frosting, a plastic knife, and an assortment of candies and let them go!
  • It might also be a good idea to keep napkins or hand wipes to keep the mess in one area.
  • Cover the table in a long plastic cover from the Dollar Store.  That way you don't have to spend lots of time an effort cleaning up after this huge mess.  Just fold it up and throw it away.
    • I don't usually advocate throwing a large amount of plastic away, but the stickiness of this project is a big clean up and it still seems to be sticky the next time you try to use it!