Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Party in a Bag!

"The classroom holiday party." Do those words make you smile in festive anticipation or make you grab your aspirin bottle and just pray the end of the day comes quickly? When I first started teaching, I admit, I was one that loved party days. I enjoyed the break from the routine and seeing the kids get so excited really helped get me in the holiday spirit. But, as the years rolled by, I began to look at these days with less and less enthusiasm. The kids came in wound up at 8 AM and it only increased throughout the day. The shift in the daily routine threw everyone into another orbit. Even though I would post the schedule on the board and go over it, I swear every kid wanted to personally know when the party was. I would watch the multitude of junk food pile up on the table and it would make my teeth hurt just to look at it all! And then, without a doubt, someone would come in carrying those evil cupcakes with bright red and green frosting...just waiting to be smeared on 26 faces, desks, chairs, carpet, etc. Okay, so I know I probably sound like the grinch about now. However, I'm writing this because I wanted to share such a fun activity that I did with my class yesterday. I have to admit, it was not my own brainstorm. I stole borrowed the idea from my own 4th grade daughter's wonderful teachers and added a game I found by searching on-line. With a few added tweaks, I watched in amazement as it quickly became my new favorite holiday school tradition. Here goes..... 1. I sent a letter home with directions for bringing a Christmas Party in a Bag. It consisted of a white bag to decorate AT HOME (stapled to directions), a list of items to include in the bag, and a date when they were due. Having them due a day ahead of time allowed me to quickly make up several bags for the students who did not bring back anything and time to create a special bag for any peanut allergic children.
2. During our scheduled Christmas party time, I had the students take their own bag and stand in a big circle around the room. We talked about how they had brought in a special bag to share with someone else to brighten their day (I had a few who mentioned they just wanted their own bag!) Anyways, this was a perfect time to talk about feelings and appreciation. I explained the directions for the game we were going to play to distribute the bags. I had found a Twas the Night Before Christmas left/right pass game that was perfect! The kids loved playing it and it worked very well at mixing up the bags nicely!
3. My favorite part was after the excitement died down and the kids were looking at their goodies. I decided spontaneously to have each student stand up and tell whose bag they received. Well, I just happened to pick the perfect child to begin. He stood up and gave a little talk about how he really loved each item in the bag and wanted to thank the girl who had given it to him. He then preceded to wish her a very Merry Christmas. I couldn't have scripted a better model for those kids and, I have to admit, I was so touched by his sweet sincerity that my eyes got a little watery. Every child took a turn and, following his lead, gave very heartwarming and sincere thank yous. Such a change from the usual craziness that arises once kids are given sugar!
It just worked so well that I wanted to share it with other teachers. Here is the link to find this in my TPT store! It brought back that Christmas spirit to my room and I'm already looking forward to doing it again in the coming years. Merry Christmas!

1 comment:

  1. Hi there! Such a fantastic idea. Are you willing to share the Christmas in a Bag printable as well as the Twas the Night Before Christmas Left/Right Game page? If so, my email address is ugamler@boyertownasd,org.