Top 3 Christmas Presents for Parents December 01 2009

As a parent, I rejoice when my kids bring home presents that they've made in their classrooms especially for me (well, they're for my husband, too). I treasure these handmade projects caked with dried glue, and I display them proudly around my home during the holidays, year after year.

I've included below my personal Top 3 Christmas presents to make with your kids in the classroom for their parents or important family members. The projects are organized from simplest to most complicated. Some will take more supplies than others. Scrounge around in the dark storage closets in your building to find extra materials for these projects, and don't forget to ask your colleagues for supplies, too!

If you need a bit of money, put in a request with your school's Parent Teacher Association to cover the cost, or ask the business you're shopping with for a discount or donation. My least favorite option is to ask families or parents for donations of materials, but that's only because I like to keep the presents a complete surprise!

Photo Ornament

Kids grow so fast, and pictures capture a bit of each child's development. By far the easiest project, the photo ornament is perfect because you either already have the photos of kids or can take them now and get them quickly developed, and the project focuses on each child where they are at the present time.

In the previous post  Four Easy Photo Ornaments , there are four basic photo ornament projects. Most of these cost very little, and make use of art and craft materials you probably already have in your classroom.

Handprint Tile/Trivet

I like this project because it's unusual, and I've used this idea through the years with both younger and older students. First, get basic, white ceramic tile squares, one for each child. I chose 8"x8" for my older kids, but 6"x6" or 4"x4" might be cheaper and work for you, depending on what your kids will put on them. You can find them at the big Do-It-Yourself warehouse stores, like Home Depot. You're also going to need permanent markers and/or paint pens, found at craft stores. These can be expensive, so I suggest purchasing a few using store coupons (for example, Michael's has coupons almost every Sunday as well as online). Choose your favorite colors and guard them as students are working on their tiles!

I had kids working in small groups during a center time, a few each day, and the project goes in stages. You could have students decorate the tiles with a certain theme, or use tempera paint and have them put a handprint in the center of the tile. The handprints look really cool on the white tile, and I had kids practice a few times on newspaper before their final on the tile. The handprints will need to dry, then the next stage is decoration with permanent markers or paint pens by the students.

The last stage can be tricky, since it involves sealing the tiles with really foul-smelling spray sealent, usually found in the spray paint aisle. There's no good way to do this - you're going to need help, as well as plenty of ventilation. The most successful time I had was to take the kids out for an extra recess (that they earned, of course), carrying the tiles out with them. They lined their tiles up underneath the covered area, and parent volunteers and I sprayed the tiles while the kids played on the playground. After about 20 minutes, each child carried in his/her own tile and set it out to dry overnight in the classroom.

Scrapbook Page

I'm a pretty prolific scrapbooker, so this project is right up my alley. The project centers on the theme "5 Things About Me" and, like the photo ornaments, will require at least one photo.

What Are The Materials?

Traditional scrapbooking materials are all ACID FREE, including paper, ink, and adhesives. These can be expensive, and since the project will use a minimum of photos, unnecessary. If you still want to purchase acid free products, however, ask for donations of materials from local scrapbook stores; also, use coupons for larger stores, like Michael's and JoAnn's, that carry scrapbook supplies. Another way to save money on scrapbook supplies is to buy them in sets -paper, ink, stickers and pens often come packaged together, usually along a theme.

If you want to see some examples of layouts or slideshows, Smilebox is a good place to start. It's easy to use, you don't have to register to look around, and it's a simple download. If you get into it far enough, you might decide it's worth teaching your kids to use, especially since you can share your creations digitally or print them out.

Getting Started

If you choose to have each student make a scrapbook page, decide if you want the page size to be 12"x12" or 8"x8", and choose a heavy cardstock cut to the size you want. Have a collection of stickers of various kinds that kids can choose from.

Before your students get to create their final page, explain the theme: 5 Things About Me. This title must appear on the scrapbook page. If you choose an 8"x8" page, you'll only really have room for one picture, and the pictures students choose must feature them. If the page is 12"x12", two pictures can be used. Then students need to provide 5 phrases or sentences that describe them, and the variety is limitless. It would be a good idea to faciliate a discussion about what kinds of facts or characteristics to include on their page.

Provide a white sheet of paper, cut to the size of the final scrapbook page, so that students can sketch their design. Have them trace the picture onto the paper, indicating where it will go, and write in the information they want to include. I also have them draw circles indicating where they want certain stickers to be placed, and make sure they include the 5 Things About Me tagline.

Once the sketch is completed (and the spelling is corrected), your students get their final piece of scrapbook paper, stickers, markers and any other embellishments to make their final piece. When the pages are all done and the glue is dry, you could also laminate them to protect the students' artwork for years to come. Then your students can wrap their pages in tissue or wrapping paper, and they're ready for Christmas!

Any of these projects would be a good use of time and energy to help your students make an unforgettable present for their families to treasure for years to come!