Holiday Gift Tags

My students will be debuting holiday gift tags this year at our annual December market. They work throughout the Fall choosing a business name, designing a logo, and staying after school at workshops to produce a handful of holiday gift items. We have some favorite items like SIMMERING SPICES and LAYERED COOKIE MIXES that our repeat customers expect, but we also try to mix in new products each year too. This year, the new product is handmade paper gift tags.

DIY holiday gift tags

To make the holiday gift tags, we used white paper marking tags with a reinforced hole. I was able to buy a box of 500 at Staples. However, there are many options for gift tags. I found packs of twelve at Michael’s Crafts in different paper options, and I know there are large and small sizes. Once you have the tags, you can add a variety of embellishments. We used fine black pens and rulers, rubber stamps, buttons, washi tape, fancy hole punches, and a little creativity.

DIY holiday gift tags

Holiday Gift Tag Materials

  • 4 3/4″ x 2 3/8″ white marking tags with reinforced holes (any paper gift tag would work– you could even cut your own)
  • fine tip black pen
  • ruler
  • Elmer’s glue
  • buttons
  • washi tape or ribbon
  • rubber stamps
  • ink pads
  • fun shaped hole punches
  • any other embellishments– sequins, mini flowers, round gems…

DIY holiday gift tags

 

Holiday Gift Tag Ideas

  • Ornaments– With the ruler and black pen, make 3 parallel lines. Near the end of the drawn line, draw a bow by making a flower petal shape on each side of the lines. At the end of each black line, glue a button. Stamp a holiday message if you would like.
  • Snowman– Draw a short, wavy line near the bottom edge of the gift tag. Place two buttons, one on top of the other, on the wavy line to act as place holders. Draw two stick arms and a simple top hat (rectangle with line). Glue the buttons to the card in the appropriate spots to fit the arms and hat. Stamp a holiday message in the white space if you would like.
  • Decorative Strips– Using washi tape or ribbon and glue, place 2-3 strips along an edge of the tag. Stamp a holiday message or glue additional sequins, buttons, or small flowers in a decorative way.
  • Punched Shapes– Punch out fun shapes and glue small shapes to the gift tag. Another option is to make a band of washi tape and hole punch shapes in the washi taped section of the card. Remove the shapes from the puncher and glue them randomly around the card. Stamp a holiday message to finish.

DIY holiday gift tags

We are putting an assortment of 5 gift tags in bags to sell at our holiday market. They make a sweet little gift for a neighbor or co-worker or even a hostess gift at Christmas. They are also fun to attach to your own presents that you will be wrapping this holiday season!

DIY holiday gift tags

Holiday Simmering Spices

Holiday Simmering Spices are the perfect low prep gift to give friends this Christmas season. I used to throw an annual cookie exchange and would put together a little party favor for the guests. One year I gave each friend a bag containing the “Essence of Christmas”. This is something my mom always had simmering on the stovetop at our house during the holiday season; it makes your whole house smell like Christmas.

simmering spices

It is easy to make in big batches, and if you are already in cocoa kit or rosemary nut production, you should have a large supply of clear bags and labels– perfect for packaging these goodies. Share with neighbors, teachers, co-workers, or bring as a hostess gift to parties.

Simmering Spice Ingredients

  • 1 t. cloves
  • 4-5 juniper berries (can be hard to find, Whole Foods usually has these with the bulk spices from Thanksgiving to Christmas)
  • 1 whole orange (OPTIONAL, navel oranges– cannot use clementines or tangerines)
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks

simmering spices

Label Directions

  • Slice orange and add slices with spices to a pot with 4-5 cups of water. Simmer on the stove to emit a wonderful Christmas fragrance. Refill water as necessary.

Simmering Spice Notes

  • You can make bags with our without the orange. The bags last almost forever if you do not include the fresh orange.
  • CLICK HERE to download a sheet of printable labels. Print on cardstock and cut apart to make nice tags to attach to the simmering spice bags.

simmering spices

Student Pueblo Building Activity

My students completed a Pueblo building activity as a unit wrap-up for our study of the Native Americans in the Southwest. They used one centimeter grid paper to cut out a pattern that folded into a box shape. Students added a few details to the box, and then all the boxes were stacked together to resemble the adobe pueblo homes.

Student Pueblo Building Activity

Pueblo building homes were permanent dwellings made of adobe bricks. The multi-story structure was built around a central courtyard. The rooms were attached and resembled a modern day apartment building. Extended families would live in connected rooms, and as the community grew, new rooms could be added. People used ladders to get to roof top openings for access to rooms without doors or windows. Once we started stacking and connecting the student paper pueblo rooms, we were surprised how authentic the final product looked.

Student Pueblo Building Activity

Pueblo Activity Materials

  • cardstock paper (tan or light pink color looks more traditional, but white cardstock works too)
  • 1-cm grid paper template (many sites have free printable templates– do a quick Google search)
  • scissors
  • glue sticks and clear tape
  • skinny wooden sticks (collected from your backyard or playground)
  • hot glue gun
  • colored pencils or markers

Directions for Constructing a Pueblo Building

  • Copy at least one piece of grid paper per student on cardstock. I made copies of grid paper on regular copy paper and let students practice making boxes before giving them the cardstock paper.
  • Draw an outline shape of their box. I recommend measuring 6 boxes (centimeters) for the 4 walls. The part that will become the roof can be a variety of sizes. 6-10 centimeters work well for the roof. I shared THIS VIDEO with the students before letting them draw the pattern for their room.
  • Cut out the box pattern with the scissors. If students want to add any doors or windows, they should cut them out before folding and assembling the room. They should also add any color around the doors and windows before building.
  • Fold the edges where the paper will bend and crease firmly. If students do not press their creases and make the edges sharp, the rooms will not stack well together.
  • Fold together the box, add glue to the flaps, and press flaps to attach the walls together. If the flaps are not sticking well, add a small piece of clear tape to secure.

Student Pueblo Building Activity

Pueblo Building Embellishments

  • Some of my students added wooden roof beams using small sticks we collected. We unfolded a paper clip and carefully poked holes near the roof line on the front and back of the box. The holes should be across from each other. You can use the grid squares as guidelines. After holes are poked, we pushed sticks through the front of the building and out the coordinating hole in the back.
  • Students used hot glue to build ladders with small stick pieces. I put low temp hot glue guns on a big piece of butcher paper and added some small sized yard gloves with the hot glue guns. Students wear the gloves while using the hot glue to reduce the risk of burning fingers.
  • Make a few plain boxes to use as base pieces for stacking and creating the layers. Stack boxes side by side, to the back, and on top of each other to create the effect of an actual pueblo building. We leaned the ladders on the buildings at different levels to finalize the look.

Student Pueblo Building Activity

If you would like to extend this activity, there are options for math integration by calculating square footage of each building. Students can use the grid on the interior of the boxes to calculate the dimensions and area.

To purchase other supplemental materials for a study of peoples of the Southwest, CLICK HERE. To see all of my resources for Native people in North America, CLICK HERE.

Olmec Big Head Statue Activity

My 4th grade students recently completed an Olmec big head statue activity as part of our study of ancient civilizations in the Americas. I knew very little about the Olmec civilization before I started teaching it as part of my history curriculum, and students are typically not familiar with the group either. The Olmec settled in present day Mexico and were the predecessors to groups like the Maya and Aztec. They developed calendars, may have been the first to harvest the cacao bean, were wealthy traders, and carved giant head statues from basalt stone. To date, seventeen big head statues have been found along Mexico’s Gulf Coast.

Olmec Big Head Statues Activity

In order to help my students understand the concept of the large head statues, I planned a hands on activity that let them build their own model of a big head statue using air-dry clay and Play-Doh. We reviewed photographs of the real statues and noted details about the facial features, helmets, and carving techniques to try to duplicate some of the key traits. The students were really excited about the project and demonstrated much better recall of the Olmec civilization after completing the heads. The activity could be adapted to fit with a study of other cultures such as the Easter Island statues, Ancient Egyptian sculpture, or the Leshan Giant Buddha in China.

Big Head Statue Materials

  • air-dry clay
  • Play-Doh in bright colors
  • paper plates
  • sharp pencils, bent paper clips, toothpicks, or other pointy tools for carving details

Olmec Big Head Statues Activity

Big Head Statue Directions

  • Give each student about 1/2 pound of Air Dry clay. I have 18 students and bought two 5-lb buckets of clay. I divided each bucket of clay into 9 clay balls of roughly equal size.
  • Students put the ball of clay on a paper plate and molded the ball into a head shape.
  • Using a pencil or other pointy tool, they carved eyes, nose, mouths, etc. into the face. They also used their hands to pinch and form facial features.
  • After the basic design was finished, they took small amounts of colorful Play-doh and added details. According to researchers, the statues may have been painted with bright colors, so students used that detail from our readings to add to their statue design.

Olmec Big Head Statues Activity

In addition to the hands on activity with the clay, I added supplemental readings like THIS ONE to enhance our study of the Olmec people. We practiced finding topic, main idea, and details while completing the reading. To see more of my reading comprehension passages and procedure for correctly identifying topic, main idea, and details in reading passages, CLICK HERE.

Olmec Big Head Statues Activity

How to Create a Graphic Organizer

I use MS Word to create various graphic organizers. Since many schools use Word as the primary way to publish documents in the classroom, these are good technology tips for both teachers and students. Most Microsoft publishing apps like PowerPoint and Publisher have similar functions, so once you know the formatting options in one program, you can usually click the same buttons in other programs. Here are 5 of my favorite tips for creating a graphic organizer in order to make teacher materials to print for my students to use in class.

formatting graphic organizers in Word

1. Formatting Button (again)

  • The best tip I can give people using MS Word is to turn the formatting button on (see THIS BLOG POST). None of the background symbols appear when printing, but it allows you to see where you have pressed buttons and what types of spacing you have.

Next, insert a basic table with the needed numbers of rows and columns. Don’t worry if you want to add or delete rows and columns later; it is easy to do. Once you have a basic table in the Word document, you are ready to customize. Most of the functions you will use will be accessed under the LAYOUT tab. This tab is only visible when you have clicked your cursor inside a cell (one of the boxes) on the table.

2. Making the Table Larger

  • To make the table cells (boxes) larger, hover the cursor over the bottom line. When it changes to two parallel lines with an up and down arrow, left click, hold, and drag down.
  • To move any of the gridlines within the table, hover over the lines you would like to move, wait for the parallel icon with up down arrows to appear, left click, hold, and drag.

3. Making the Rows and Columns Equal Sizes

  • To distribute rows evenly, highlight all of the rows you would like to be the same height. Select distribute rows in the LAYOUT tab. To distribute columns evenly, highlight all of the columns you would like to be the same width. Select distribute columns. This is where the formatting function comes in handy. There will be a small circle inside each cell. You can see if you have grabbed the cells you need by making sure the little circles in the appropriate boxes are highlighted.

formatting graphic organizers in Word

4. Adding Rows and Columns

  • To insert additional rows or columns, click your cursor in the cell next to where you want to add the row or column. Choose insert above, below, right, or left depending on what you need.

5. Adding and Formatting Text

  • To add text, click in the cell where you need the text. Type your words (I like to add all words first then work on the formatting).
  • To change the font, make the size, bigger, center, etc. use the buttons in the HOME tab you use when formatting regular documents.
  • To change the text direction, highlight the text you want to flip and click the text direction button. Click multiple times until the text is turned the direction you need.
  • To align the text within the cell, click the text symbols that show different line spacing within a box right next to the text direction button.

Spend some time clicking around in the LAYOUT tab of your document. You can merge and split cells, turn gridlines on and off, and add background colors to each cell, row, or column. You can also click outside of your table and insert clipart pictures. Right click on the picture and choose wrap text/in front of text. After that, you can drag your picture anywhere on your page.

For a printable version of these table tips with step by step instructions and screen shots, CLICK HERE to download. For more tips about using MSWord in the classroom, CLICK HERE.

formatting graphic organizers in Word