Christmas comes but once a year but when it comes it comes with vigour! I must say that Christmas is one of my favourite times in a primary school – Christmas and Children just go together. But just like you prepare for Christmas at home you need to get organised at school as well. So here is how I used to prepare!
I must start this waffle by saying that I always engaged with the Christmas spirit in all my classes, no matter what the age of the children. If you look at the time span, there is only really about two and half weeks for enjoying the period up to the Christmas holidays – which leaves you roughly a couple of days to take everything down – there is nothing worse than returning to school after the holidays to see your Christmas tree still in the corner of the room! So here is how I prepared for Christmas the displays I used to create.
- 1st December – This was always my deadline for my Christmas prep for the classroom. I used to wait until the children went home on the last day of November and then, usually accompanied by my dedicated teaching assistant, the classroom was transformed! All the existing displays came down and the new ones were put up. I must admit at this stage that the displays were often the same every year – but I always used to justify this to myself saying that house decorations usually stay the same as well. Through careful packing, even the tinsel was already cut to the correct size! Not that I was OCD about such things :).
- Linked to learning – The activities and creations that the children did, starting very soon after the half term holidays, and were completed and packed away ready for the first school day in December. I always used to try and plan the activity to link to some form of learning – whether this was instruction writing for my Christmas boats, or mathematics for measuring and creating angels. Some were connected to art – yes I did teach art! and some were just for fun :).
- Angles and Angels – One the first display board – which was backed with navy blue from the start of of the term, had a black silhouette of the the ‘stable’ scene with the shepherds and wise men on either side (NB – before anyone says anything I know that the wise men came many nights after the birth). The children created angels to fly above the scene and we used to have the words “Hark! the herald angels sing!” across the top in gold lettering. It used to be a yearly joke that one of my colleagues would come in and change the word angels to angles 🙂 a common mistake that children make when spelling the word.
- Hands to make a tree! – On the second wall was a Christmas tree made of green hands. The children would draw and cut around their own hand prints and then these were used to create a Christmas tree by placing them upside down. The tinsel was already cut and the children made 3D tree decorations. These were made within a mathematics lesson about nets. The inside of the faces were removed and the outside ‘frame’ covered with different coloured foil. We used to then suspend a Quality Street sweet from the middle so that it ‘glittered’ inside the decoration.
- Jumping Santas!The final wall used to have Santa/Elf/Reindeer placemats on them – bursting out of a chimney. These were the size of a plate and were designed to look like the plate on the Christmas dinner table had been placed on the unfortunate ‘being’ resulting in a squashed Santa/Elf/Reindeer. The arms and legs used to be spread out and they often used to have unfortunate facial expressions.
- Window Lanterns – These were made from black paper with the coloured tissue paper on the gaps where the ‘glass’ should be. These were made double sided so they looked good from both sides and involved a great deal of measuring and careful cutting to create. They did provide a great effect on the windows.
Of course I also had a tree with lights that would flash and play Christmas music. A battery driven Santa Express going around the base of the tree among the presents. Parachuting Santas from the ceiling and a door mat that used to say “Merry Christmas – ho ho ho!” every time it was stood on. Around the doorway was the garlands of green tinsel – marking the entrance to the Christmas grotto! Although it was all very hard work – it was always worth it when the children arrive to the classroom and stood and just said ‘wow’! People often ask me if I miss teaching children – at this time of the year I definitely do! If you have any ideas for Christmas decorations/activities or just want to comment on mine, then please add comments below or give this a Like on Facebook.
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Have fun and catch you later!