Holiday market week is here! After working all semester, my students’ products are bagged, tagged, and ready for purchase. The first product we assembled back in September were these reindeer food ornaments to hang on your Christmas tree (we also made these BIRDSEED ORNAMENTS and several MASON JAR MIXES). On Christmas Eve, you open the bag and sprinkle the reindeer food on your lawn to attract Santa’s reindeer.
I originally received a bag of reindeer food from a grandparent in my son’s 3-year old nursery school class. I kept that original bag all these years and duplicated (modified) the pattern over the years. The original reindeer food is a little fancier than the version my fourth graders made this year. Mass production with a 10-year old work crew forced us to simplify a few of the steps.
- old fashioned oatmeal (not instant)
- glitter (we prefer silver, light blue, or clear colored)
- bead bags with ziploc top (3″ x 5″)
- tan or light brown cardstock or scrapbook paper (3″ x 4″ pieces, folded in half)
- dark brown cardstock or scrapbook paper
- googly eyes (10 mm)
- red pom poms (10 mm)
- jingle bells (3/4″)
- skinny ribbon (~12″ strips– curly ribbon works)
- Elmer’s glue or hot glue gun
- Mix oatmeal and glitter in a bowl. You will need 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of oatmeal mix per bag, so mix the amount you need and add the amount of glitter sparkle you like!
- Scoop sparkly oatmeal into a bead bag and seal the bag closed making sure the ziploc is secure. Don’t overfill the bags. I like the bags to be about half full and not overly plump. Set aside.
- Make an antler template. I cut up a manila file folder to make my template. The antler is about 2 1/2″ tall and 1 1/2″ at the widest bumpy part. Using the template, trace the antler pattern on the dark brown paper and cut as many antler pairs as you need.
- Fold the light brown 3″ x 4″ paper in half, so the paper is 2″ x 3″. Glue two antlers on the back and let dry. Watch that the antlers do not slide while the glue is wet. You may need to hold the antlers in place for a minute until they stick in position.
- Thread one jingle bell onto a piece of ribbon. Silver jingle bells were easier to thread than gold; they had a bigger “loop” on the bottom in the brand that I purchased from Michael’s Crafts. Move the jingle bell to the middle of the ribbon piece. Match the ends of the ribbon and tie a knot close to the ends. After the antlers dry, wrap the loop of ribbon around the folded piece of paper, so the knot of the ribbon sits up against the fold, and the jingle bell is above the paper near the antlers (like a handle for hanging).
- Slide the oatmeal bag into the folded paper and line up the top of the bag with the crease at the top of the paper fold. You may have to adjust the ribbon strip a little, so everything sits neatly. Staple the bag in place in the center of the paper where the mouth would be.
- Glue eyes and nose onto the front of the paper and let dry.
- If you want to dress up your reindeer food a little, see the picture below with embellishments like the bow on the front (to hide the staple) and pointed face. This one is my original reindeer food bag that I have been using as my model all of these years– and not letting my children open and use it!
I pulled out the turkey toilet paper roll napkin rings my children made when they were in kindergarten. I like to use them for a few weeks around Thanksgiving– not just on Thanksgiving day. The year my son built his, we made sets for all of the grandparents and extended family and brought them with us to our family Thanksgiving meal. My in-laws still have their napkin rings.
If you make the napkin ring at school, it’s a fun little craft students can take home to their family. If you are building these with a whole class, you may want to pre-make certain steps, and you will need two days to let paint and glue dry– or do some work at the beginning of the day and finish construction towards the end of the day.
- toilet paper or paper towel rolls cut into 2 inch wide rings.
- brown and yellow tempera paint
- brown pipe cleaners (for the feet, optional)
- red felt
- assorted colored feathers (we used red, yellow, and orange)
- googly eyes, 3 mm
- wood craft spoons ~3/5 inches in height (I used THESE)
- Elmer’s glue or hot glue gun
- Paint the wooden craft spoons yellow and the toilet paper roll rings brown. Let dry. (This step can be prepped ahead of time if you do not want the mess and clean-up of lots of tempera paint.)
- Cut the red felt into a tear drop shape about 1-inch tall.
- After the paint dries, glue the red felt tear drop shaped piece onto the middle of the spoon end of the wooden stick. Glue two googly eyes above the read waddle. Let dry flat.
- Glue the yellow wooden stick turkey face to the side of the painted toilet paper roll piece. You may need to hold the craft spoon in place for a few minutes, so the face does not slide to the side. ** Note: Hot glue might be a better option here since the Elmer’s glue takes longer to dry and hold.
- If you are adding the pipe cleaner feet, you will need an adult to poke two holes at the base of the wooden spoon. Thread the pipe cleaner through the two holes, so a loop runs around the inside of the toilet paper roll. Fold and bend each pipe cleaner end into feet shape with 3 toes. Cut any excess length of pipe cleaner off.
- Glue 3 feathers onto the back of the toilet paper roll and arrange, so the feathers are fanned out.
- Roll a napkin and slid into the napkin ring and set at each place setting for your Thanksgiving feast!
Since I teach 4th grade, the students are still at an age where they decorate a bag or shoebox and make Valentine deliveries to classmates in honor of Valentine’s Day. Many of my sweet students bring me a Valentine along with the Valentines they share with classmates. I like to reciprocate and give my students a cute Valentine too. This year, my teacher teammate and I are wrapping erasers with white tissue paper to look like a piece of taffy. At this point in the school year, the students have rubbed, chewed, or picked away every pencil eraser they own and desperately need a way to cleanly fix writing mistakes or remove stray marks from their papers, so this little Valentine is actually more of a gift for the teachers!
- rectangular erasers (I used PaperMate “Expressions” erasers, but you could also choose something like the classic “Pink Pearl”)
- white tissue paper, ~6″ x 3 1/2″ (wrap a test piece of tissue around your eraser to determine the best size)
- small stickers (I used Avery 5195, 2/3″ x 1 3/4″, 60 labels per sheet)
- Determine the tissue paper size you will need. I wrapped the tissue around one eraser, so the tissue covered the wide flat side two times. I had about 2 inches on either end of the eraser for twisting. Cut all of the tissue paper rectangles that you need first, so you can create an assembly line for wrapping the erasers.
- Wrap a tissue rectangle around each eraser and twist both ends.
- Put a sticker with your name and/or Valentine message on the side of the eraser with the edge of the tissue paper to keep the tissue from unwrapping. I had a tiny glitch with my labels. If you choose to print with a return address sized label like I did (Avery 5195), make sure your words or any images are not up against the edges of the label in the document. The labels are so small that if the printer does not grab the label sheet at exactly the right starting point, the labels print into the label below (see my cut off hearts in the pictures). Yes, the mis-alignment makes me CRAZY, but I ran out of labels and I am trying not to let the OCD side of me take over on this. I think little heart or Valentine themed stickers would be a good option too.
- Cut the edge of the twisted ends off a little if they seem too long and flappy.
- I tried parchment paper and wax paper before settling on the white tissue paper. The stickers don’t adhere, and the twisted ends with the parchment and wax paper do not stay twisted together as well.
Yes, we start planning class Valentines early at our house. I am sure that is no surprise to the readers who have been with me for awhile. I always need a Valentine of some kind for my students, and Miss Priss and Mr. Star Wars are still at ages where they bring in Valentines to distribute to their whole class. While it would be the most efficient to think of one type of card and mass produce it, the three of us usually make different kinds of Valentines for each of our classes.
This year, Miss Priss is filling small colored paper sacks with assorted jelly beans. We closed the little bags with a label that says, “Keep Calm and Eat a Jelly Bean.” To finish, Miss Priss signed her name at the bottom of each label.
- Celebrate It Mini Paper Sacks, 2 1/2″ x 4″ (coin envelopes or other mini bag would work too)
- assorted jelly beans in Valentine colors (we picked our own at the fill-a-bag Jelly Belly station at the grocery store)
- Avery 8161 labels (1″ x 4″)
- Fill each sack with ~one tablespoon of jelly beans (don’t overfill the little bags).
- Fold over the top flap and close with the sticker label.
I love Miss Priss loves to make new play scenes for her American Girl dolls. She has a Tri-Fold Project Board Display, the kind used for science fair projects, that we periodically change out for different doll activities. So far, we have made a Restaurant, a Dress Shop, an Art Gallery, and a Hair Salon with the project board. Last week, Miss Priss asked if we could convert the background scene to an office space. You don’t have to ask me twice, so we loaded up and headed to Hobby Lobby where all of my great crafty projects start.
- We used a hot pink desk organizer and tipped it on its side. The openings that would have held pencils, paper clips, or Post-it notes became shelves across the front of the desk.
- We found 5″ sparkly candlesticks and glued them to the desk organizer. I used E6000 Glue, which is a heavy duty craft glue. I did measure the distance from the edges of the desk organizer and center the candlesticks on each side of the desk organizer box before gluing to make sure the candlestick legs were evenly spaced.
- In order for the scale to be about right, desks and tables should be roughly 9″ tall.
The Bulletin Board
- Purchase a pre-cut mat for a picture frame. The interior dimensions of my frame mat is 4 1/2″ x 6 1/2″. I used the thin corkboard on a roll with adhesive back that I had from making Doll Sandwiches. Cut a corkboard piece a little larger than the opening of your frame mat. Run a line of glue around the front edges of the corkboard and press it to the back of the frame mat. The corkboard sheet rolls up a little, so I placed books on top of the mat and cork on a flat, hard surface (like a kitchen counter) until the glue dried.
- Once the glue dried, we attached the framed bulletin board to the science fair backboard. I put the science fair backboard flat on my dining table and measured the placement of the bulletin board before gluing, so it would be straight and centered. You can remove the sticky back paper to attach the bulletin board to the project board or attach with craft glue or hot glue.
- Map pins work well for attaching notes. Your pins will go all the way through the cork and the backboard.
- Look for mini plant containers at Hobby Lobby, Michael’s Crafts, or gardening centers. We purchased a block of that green oasis material that florists use to make flower arrangements and some fake greenery.
- Cut a chunk of oasis to fit in the bottom of the container.
- Cut pieces of greenery and stab the ends into the oasis block.
- We went through the art supply section at Hobby Lobby and found a 6″ x 8″ watercolor paper notepad with the spiral binding on the top (portrait orientation).
- Using Sharpie markers and a ruler, Miss Priss and I drew a few different graphs.
- We set the notepad on a small tabletop art easel.
- Using my paper cutter, I cut notebook paper, printer paper, and colored cardstock into 2″ x 3″ pieces of paper.
- Using mini rubber stamps and ink pads, we stamped designs and monogram initials onto the top of the papers, so it looks like personalized stationery.
- I also found colored paper clips that are smaller than standard size, and we clipped assorted papers together.
- Hobby Lobby has plain craft boxes with lids in a variety of sizes. We bought 2 boxes that measured 2″ x 3″ x 1 1/2″ and separated the lid from the bottom. The bottom parts of the boxes fit in the desk like a drawer and hold some desk supplies. I used an X-acto knife to cut a small half circle out of one side of each lid and then sanded the rough parts down with a nail file. The lids look like in/out desktop file boxes. Miss Priss has papers in the file boxes.
- We used a sparkly candle votive for a trashcan. Miss Priss wadded up scraps of paper to make the trash can look full.
- We found small folders (about 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″) that have the string to tie the folder closed like an interoffice mail envelope in the scrapbooking section of Hobby Lobby.
- We pulled several of our items from the American Girl School crafting binge like the pencil and pencil cup to add to the office play scene as well.
Miss Priss likes the office so much, we needed a second science fair backboard, so this scene can stay up permanently, and our second backboard gets traded out for other scenes. We have also recently become the proud owners of an original Samantha Oversized Book of Cardboard Scenes and Settings. The American Girl village happening in our TV room is quite extensive. I may need an intervention.