The holidays are here! Last school year, I had students make and wrap holiday gifts for their family members. My colleague and I co-teach Special Activity Time each day and we did this project together for the first time last school year. Having students make and wrap holiday gifts for their family can teach students so many different skills, including organization, planning ahead and thinking of others. It is also a great opportunity to practice fine motor skills and learn life skills, such as writing cards or wrapping presents. Whether you are in-person or remote, now is a good time to start planning for holiday activities. Here are the steps my colleague and I took for getting ready to make holiday gifts with our students this year…
1. Plan Now
When planning for making holiday gifts in your classroom, there are many things to consider. You want to think of the functional levels of your students, how many family members they have and what holidays they celebrate. From there, you can think of the number and types of gifts your students can make. Student art on a canvas or put in a frame, always makes a great gift. I usually do a Google image search (“DIY gifts for kids to make”, “easy gifts to make”) to find out ideas or look on the Michaels website. You can also look at the supplies you have to get ideas for different gifts your students can make for their families. This year, we decided to have students make a watercolor painting on a canvas, beaded bracelets and an ornament.
2. Gather Supplies
Depending on what gifts you pick for students can make, this can look a couple of different ways. If you want to save money and have a well-stocked classroom, then you can start there. Since it isn’t easy for my colleague and I to get into the school building, we ended up just ordering and picking up craft kits and canvases at Michaels. We plan on mailing the supplies to our students (our students have watercolors at home from our beginning of the year supply pick-up). The kits were not expensive (on sale!) and everything students need is already included. While gathering supplies, make sure to pick up gift wrapping supplies-I got all of the gift wrapping supplies at the Dollar Tree. If you are teaching remotely, make sure you get the supplies now so you can schedule a supply pick-up or mail supplies to students.
3. Make the Gifts
Last year, we made gifts during our once a week art time and spaced out the projects for three weeks before winter break. This year, we plan to have a similar schedule, but we’ll be making them remotely. We chose projects that we knew students could do on their own and are counting on some at-home adult assistance that is usually available during the school day. Our students have gotten used to creating art projects remotely in their homes, so I think making the gifts at home should go pretty smoothly.
4. Make a List & Cards
While in person, we had students make a gift list so they could decide who they were giving their gifts too. This was a great way to teach students planning skills and we were also able to include the lists when we sent home their bags. We also had students write cards for the family members they were receiving the gifts. It was nice to be able to incorporate more writing and fine motor skills (putting a card in an envelope) in an engaging and motivating way. Students were able to put the card with the corresponding gift so they knew who the gift was for. This did take some extra time, so we did the cards also during our Life Skills time during the week.
5. Wrap the Gifts
This is another fun way to practice fine motor skills and a life skill. We are incorporating three different ways to wrap presents (wrapping paper, a gift bag and a box) this year. We bought tape to send with students and will precut the wrapping paper so they are more easily able to wrap their gifts at home. While I am a little nervous and feel badly that we cannot help them wrap in-person this year, I think it will be a great way to let students try it on their own and see what they can do independently.
I hope this gives you ideas for making holiday gifts in your classroom and the motivation to start early! Please share your ideas below for creating holiday gifts in your classroom. Stay safe and healthy!