And speaking of school

By Mir
October 24, 2007

Today is International Ask The Internet Day. Didn’t you know? Ask the internet, they’ll tell you. Or at the very least, I say so. Largely because my folks are leaving today and I would rather go spend their last few hours here with them than tell you all about how well, I was SUPPOSED to go for an MRI this morning, but my SUPER FANTASTIC HEALTH INSURANCE decided not to pay for it. So I decided not to go! I’ll show THEM! Because they’ll be SORRY when I’m DEAD!


Internet, my daughter’s fourth grade teacher responded to my “What can I do to help?” query by saying, “You seem like you’re a crafty type! We need some sort of holiday craft for the kids to do, something they’ll enjoy and that they can bring home as a gift for their parents. Got any ideas?” And when I finished laughing (me, the crafty type? has she MET me?) I said “I WOULD LOVE TO! LET ME GET BACK TO YOU! WHY AM I SHOUTING?” and then I ran away as fast as my not-at-all-crafty legs would take me.

So. I need a holiday-friendly (all holidays! especially Christmahanukwanzakah!) craft suitable for 9- and 10-year-olds that I can do with them in about an hour, where the materials won’t be too costly and I won’t want to chew off my own arm to escape during the actual, um, crafting. Ideas?


  1. barb

    Mir – check out the pre-made kits from Oriental Trading Company. Projects average 50 to 60 cents a piece, with a normal dozen projects to a kit, and all the pieces are pre-cut. You just need glue and patience. Sometimes I even “borrow” ideas and modify slightly instead of actually buying the kit. One warning – the picture frames are ALWAYS more involved than you think they are going to be, so I’d stay away from those. Except… there is one really cute and non-religious one that involves snowflakes that I find myself tempted by this year. I can use our school’s digi camera to take pics and their high quality printer to print them out – this might be an option for you as well? And parents always love anything with a picture of their kid in it!

  2. Sophia

    Mir, Listen to Barb (1st comment). I rarely actually purchase craft kits from Oriental Trading but “borrow” ideas from them. They use A LOT of foamies which are pretty expensive but you can substitute for construction paper, which the school should have. Also, for the snowflake frame-I did this with my kindergarten class last year and it was SO MUCH FUN and WAY easy! Not at all intimidating. I would definately reccomend that one.

    Also, if you don’t want to spend the money to buy the foamie frames from Oriental, you can ask parents to bring in empty baby food jars (enough for each kid to have one). Then, you take white tissue paper and have them rip it up into small pieces and decopauge (glue) the tissue paper all around the outside of the jar, then get black tissue paper, have them rip it and glue the pieces on the top of the jar’s lid. Then, get small googly eyes and let them glue to the jar. Once it’s all dry (probably the next day), have them use markers to draw the snowman’s carrot nose (orange) and coal buttons & smile (black). Then VOILA! Non-denominational craft!
    We just did the same thing except we used orange and green tissue paper and made pumpkins for fall. After everything was done, I brought in candy corn for them to fill up thier jars with and take home. Perhaps you can fill thiers with tiny winter themed erasers? Or snowcap candy or another type of small candy.

    Hope this helps!! Good luck!

  3. tammy

    I don’t know anything off the top of my head, but Kiddley has some great ideas for stuff like that.

  4. Niki

    Snowmen are always good for non-religious holiday crafts. There’s the foam ball on the upside-down plant pot, painted white and decorated like a snowman. There’s also a cute melted snowman craft (good for Georgia!) – basically water in a baby food jar with some tiny black and orange pieces (a la coal and carrots). You could also do snowflake cutouts – since they’ve grown up in Georgia, most of them have probably never experienced this “craft” like the Yankee kids have – we made them every year growing up in MN, but my Southern girls have never made a cutout snowflake in school.

    Have fun, and don’t worry too much about it. They’re 4th graders – half will think it’s fun, half will think it’s stupid. It’s a given.

  5. tori

    My daughter’s class made candle holders out of baby food jars. They dipped their thumbs in white paint to make a snowman on each side of the holder, and when finished decorating, the teacher put a tealight inside. It was fast, easy and cheap. If you need to kill more time than that takes, have them make cards. That always takes my daughter a very long time to do.

  6. Andrea

    Family Fun magazine is a great resource! You can go online and check their holiday archives.

    Tammy–Thanks for the link! There’s some neat stuff on there!

  7. Megan

    I don’t know how many kids are in the class, but applesauce cinnamon ornaments are fun – it’s just equal parts applesauce and cinnamon (and you can throw in a little white glue for stability and… um, I dunno but we threw in a little white glue. Also you can add other spices like ginger or whatever). Roll like cookie dough, cut out with cutters (or glasses or whatever – round is good and non-denominational) and use a straw to make a little hole for ribbon to hang then let dry until hard. You can do the mixing, rolling, cutting and drying ahead of time (24 hours to dry usually – maybe more in Georgia? Dunno) and then let the kids paint designs on them. Bonus – they smell really good. Oh, they will shrink a bit as they dry so be aware.

  8. EmmaC

    Along the same lines as the snowman candle, you can tear (or cut, if one happens to be fastidious) pieces of tissue paper and glue them to the outside of a baby food jar, shot glass, or other votive-candle-sized-glass-thing. You basically shellac (sp?!) the tissue paper on by brushing the glue on top of it using a little water color brush or similar painting device. They look like little stained glass windows…er…candles!

    Another possible idea is making holiday cards (or thank you cards). The kids can fold construction paper in half and decorate with paper cutouts, paint, drawings, whatevah.

    If I think of any more ideas while I’m DEFINITELY WORKING VERY HARD WITH PERFECT CONCENTRATION AT MY VERY HARD JOB (heh heh heh), I’ll pass them along.

    Also, is it really time to start thinking about the holidays already? Crazy.

  9. M

    Construction paper, crayons (or other suitable drawing implement, scissors and glue. Have the kids trace their hands on construction paper (one for each year they’ve experienced the Holiday season). Let them cut out the hands and glue (or tape) them together in a circle to make a wreath. This is made easier when you take the time to cut the center out of a paper plate and then glue the hands around that.

    Another possibility? In advance either you collect an empty glass jar for each child (Think spaghetti sauce) WITH the lids, or ask each child to bring in one of their own. You can get thin foam sheets from any craft store for pretty cheap – Cut out shapes for them to draw on or let them cut out their own shapes (Snow man shapes, tree shapes, little house shapes) then let them color on them with NON-WASHABLE markers. YOU hot glue them, stick up, to the inside of the jar lids. Let the kids fill up the jars with water and then add glitter/sparkles. (Not necessary, but you can put a ring of glue around the lid edge) Then screw the lid on. Each child has their own snow globe.

  10. Amy

    I am a fourth and fifth grade teacher and I LOVE doing crafts with my kids. I try to use all natural materials when possible. (So I never use Oriental Trading. Ick. I don’t trust cheapie toys/junk from China.)

    I have made candles with my kids. I ordered a block of beeswax from some eBay seller and we dipped tapers. Email me for tips if you want. We’ve done balsam needle pillows (I live in the Maine woods). I made little pouches with festive fabrics, and the kids stripped needles off branches, stuffed the pouches, and handstitched them closed. You could read “The Night Tree” and have the kids make ornaments for the birds to hang on trees outside.

  11. LuAnn

    Oriental Trading ROCKS!

    You can also get like pre-cut foam holiday shapes in a plastic container for like $5. The kids could make cards, (foam) picture frames, ornaments, etc etc etc.

  12. jennielynn

    I had my class make hot cocoa mix and dry cookie mix. We put it in canning jars and paper lunch bags and decorated labels. They added fabric and ribbon, etc. to the actual containers. It was pretty cute. Email me if you want recipes and more details.

    Good luck, oh crafty one!

  13. M&Co.

    I agree that O.T. rocks. I wouldn’t “borrow” from them if you are talking a whole class full of them. After you’ve cut out/drawn the 100th snowman hand, you’ll begin to think you’ve died and gone to hell.

  14. Lynn

    I don’t have an idea for you this morning, but have to say I don’t like the Oriental Trading thing because the kids don’t get to do all that much, and everyone’s craft looks alike. I do a lot of work with Girl Scouts, and feel that crafts should serve a purpose, as well as being fun. Say, polishing cutting skills, using one’s creativity, thinking. Also, anything in glass probably can’t be taken home on the bus, so you might want to steer clear of baby food jars and such. A lot of baby food is in little plastic square thingies these days anyway.

  15. Sheila

    Whatever you do, the first step in the craft project should be Valium.

  16. RuthWells

    I’m with Sheila — I’ll bring the wine.

  17. All Adither

    Are they too old for God’s Eyes? I used to love those.

  18. Karen Vogel

    Another candle idea – get those sheets of colored beeswax and a bunch of wicks, and they roll their own candles. Easier than dipping…

  19. Margaret

    My daughter’s class did this last year and I was so touched when it showed up. They made cards out of dark blue construction paper and made two white handprints in the shape of a dove (the thumbs overlapped to make the head and the fingers were slightly spread to look like wings). There was some glitter sprinkled in the wet paint. Anyway, the best part was that they mailed them addressed to the parents to the home addresses from their kids. It was a total surprise and brought tears to my eyes when I opened the envelope.

  20. Heather

    I don’t know if her class is too old for ornaments, but it is easy and cheap. Pipe cleaners, beads and a ribbon for hanging. That is what we do as a little craft for give aways from my son as gifts.

  21. Ben

    I thought “ask the internet day” meant something like this.

    Sorry, I’m not crafty enough to help you.

  22. Sara

    I’ve done icicle ornaments/suncatchers with several classes and a Cub Scout den. Very simple with pretty results. It involves silver pipe cleaners and several sizes of clear plastic beads. Email me if you want instructions. I’ve always had good luck with Family Fun as well. Good luck.

  23. StephLove

    I’m just about the least crafty person on the planet and it looks like you have plenty of suggestions (that applesauce/cinnamon one sounded especially intriguing). I just wanted to say I hope you can get the insurance situation cleared up and get the MRI.

  24. Ani

    Ditto the hand wreath idea, with an alternate twist: the kids can dip their hands in tempera paint and put their palmprints on a circle drawn on a big sheet of paper. We have these of our kids for every year and it’s cute to see how they’ve grown.

  25. Felicia

    Christmas tree pinecones

    Green and/or white paint
    assorted gooodies and sparly things to glue on
    yarn for hanging

    Cheap, fun, creative!

  26. carrie

    I’ve done lots of the stuff already listed here with good success. My favorites, though, for the holidays are digital pictures of the kids in frames. The biggest hit was the year I brought in jigsaw puzzle pieces (I had tons from puzzles that were missing too many to pieces to use as puzzles again — I’ll bet an appeal to the parents would bring in hundreds!). The kids painted these (although you could just use them without paint). They glued their pics on cardboard (donated by my dry cleaner) and glued the puzzle pieces aorund them — came out great and I got tons of compliments from the parents.

    Also, we shallacked leftover puzzle pieces and made pins and barrettes that were adorable.

  27. kidzmama

    Lots of great ideas. Is this coming out of your pocket or did the teacher give you a budget? The OT ideas are good and cheap, but flimsy results. jennielynn’s idea for soup/cookie mix is great. You can buy in bulk and have each kid bring in their own jar. It could even be a plastic peanut butter jar.

    Last idea. If you have access to baby jars you can use modge podge to attach colored tissue paper to the outside in “festive” colors and put a tea light candle in it. I’ve received this from my kids and it’s a keeper.

    Good luck!

  28. Deb

    One thing I have done with my students is to use the clear glass ornaments and put a few drops of colored paint and white paint inside of them to make “marblized” ornaments. When you have swirled the paint in them, then you can just stand them in a disposable cup (with the hole in the ornament turned down) and the paint will dry and the excess will drip out. I have done this with all different ages (kindergarten and up).
    Another idea is to use the milk chug white bottles and have the students paint or glue on them to make snowmen. Just make sure you clean them out really well!

  29. Henrietta

    We did the soap snowmen from Family Fun. I would use a kitchen mixer and dough hook for bulk quantities and seal, pre-portioned, in saran wrap inside big ziplock bags to transport.

    You can precut the felt scarves by cutting strips from a craft square and let the kids fringe them in class. Buttons by the bag, beads & felt squares are available very inexpensively at big craft stores. Maybe you and Monkey could do one at home too so his feelers don’t get bent out of shape.


  30. lizneust

    No specific ideas, but two thoughts: I LURVE wandering through the discount aisles at the fabric store. Since they are all about fabric, they usually have things like felt, tulle and other fun fabrics for FAR less than you’d pay at a craft-specific store. Also, depending on the quality of your local dollar stores, you can frequently get buttons, pipe cleaners, holiday tinsel, glitter and a host of other stuff that can be used in crafts. Good luck!!

  31. ScottsdaleGirl

    Oy, 9-10 yr olds with GLUE. *shudders*

  32. dink(y)

    I kid you not, my favorite christmas ornament I made when I was in 3rd grade…

    Get a bag of those cheap plastic wine glasses from smart and final, the kind where you have to pop the base onto the glass to assemble it. Add some glitter and elmer’s glue.

    turn the glass upside down, tape a picture of the kid to the inside, have the kid glue up and glitter the inside of the cup behind the picture and all around.

    Then glue the “base” of the wine glass to the new bottom of the cup to make a “bell,” attach some ribbon to the stem of the bell, and tra-la-la… a Christmas ornament.

  33. Amy-Go

    Layer the ingredients for cookies into mason jars and attach a recipe. Good for all holidays, and simple to execute.

    Want a good laugh? Ask Jos about the time I convinced her to make Christmas gifts for out children’s assorted teachers and grandparents. Let’s just say it’s a good thing the lady can write books. ;)

  34. Daisy

    Do birdfeeders work in the south? (Pardon my northern ignorance) Pine cones rolled in peanut butter and then in birdseed, then hung in trees — high up and far away from the house to avoid rodents moving in.
    Open-ended: cut snowflakes. the low-level crafties will make simple ones. The high level kids will make complex beauties. I used to have my sixth graders teach their kindergarten buddies how to cut snowflakes. The littles love it.
    I like the gifts-in-a-jar that Amy mentioned, but it doesn’t allow for any creativity.
    One last option: teach a basic poetry form, then calligraphy. Let them write, then copy, then frame their best work, holiday related or not. Warning: this one takes patience.

  35. Jessica

    You like to cook and bake right?
    Could they make jars with the dry ingredients for cookies or brownies and decorate the jars and label?

  36. Melissa

    okay – this may have been mentioned before but I didn’t read all of the comments to check.

    If I’m duplicating, please forgive me.

    Visit where you can find wholesale, ready to make, craft projects for all age groups in all holiday categories (including Christmahanukwanzakah) that range in price from about $.28 to $3 per project. (I am addicted to this place for all sorts of goodies, party supplies, craft projects and novelties.)

    Simple, easy and you’ll be a total hero! (Though that may lead to being asked to coordinate this craft project year after year.)

  37. matinyoupi

    Tori’s idea is a good one, because I have the same one! My boys’ candle holders were made of empty glass yogurt jars that they painted over with special paint for glass and then they baked them in the oven, they put a tealight in it afterwards. It’s cheap and makes very nice decorations on the mantel. It’s really lovely and it’s easy art.
    Another idea is to make peelable window decorations with special glass paint (I’m not too sure whether you can find the brand I’m using where you live, if you can’t find that one, I’m sure whichever one is fine, as long as it says “peelable” on it. Mine is called Anitas Glass Paint and you need some Anitas glass paint Leadings too and a plastic sheet on which to create the decoration). First I either draw or copy a few designs (stars, sheeps, angels, christmas trees, Santas, etc.) on an A4 sheet of paper. I then insert the A4 sheet in a plastic sheet protector (a cheap one can do) and I start drawing the contour with leading paint. Once it’s dry, I can colour the designs with glass paint. Once it’s dry, I can carefully peel the designs and stick them on my windows. After the holiday season, you can peel them from your windows and stick them back on the protector sheet where you can save them for the next year.
    I hope it helps.

  38. Cera

    My absolute favorite has to be popsicle stick snowflakes. Paint popsicle sticks a variety of colors – white and blue for the Jewish kids, red and green and white for Christmas, and red black and green for Kwanza…. Glue them into star shapes. Dribble glue along the whole thing and add glitter. Let dry.

    Laminate small sized pictures of each child ( costs next to nothing, most schools have a laminator! ). Glue onto the cent of the star.

  39. julie

    For the ready-to-mix baking jars, the kids can do some customization by picking some “add-ins” to their cookies. So not just chocolate chips, maybe also have scoops of raisins, butterscotch chips, etc so they can make their own special blend. Probably have to stay nut-free, and make sure the more, um, creative types won’t end up with something horrible…but that’s an idea.

    Does it have to be a gift for their families? One idea, if you have a fabric store nearby that has sales/coupons (I’m thinking Joann’s) is to go get some fleece on a super sale and have the kids break into teams of 2-4 and cut the blankets into big squares/rectangles, trim a fringe onto the edges and then knot the ends of the fringe. You can then have them donate the blankets to a local hospital or nursing home. Or they can make smaller ones for baby blankets and donate them to a local hospital or shelter. If they want to keep them as gifts, you can also cut the fleece into “scarves” and then fringe those, take 2 colors and knot each piece of fringe together ot make a funky boa.

  40. Melissa

    Oriental Trading has some very reasonably priced crafts that the kids can make. I’ve been teaching 4th grade for a while now, and that is what my class does each year. Typically I have them make a really cute frame. :)

  41. Belinda

    What good ideas The Internets have!

  42. carrien

    Can they leave it over night to finish and take it home the next day? Because if they can, try this idea from Mary. They can make shapes appropriate for any holiday and it doesn’t have to hang on a tree,we usually put them in a window with those suction cup thingies. `they look really cool.

    Here’s the link.

  43. LadyBug Crossing

    How about gingerbread houses made from graham crackers and mini milk cartons? When my kids were in 2nd grade, we made them with the class. It was really messy, but it sure was fun!!! You’ll need a couple more parents to man the mixers for the icing, but it sure is do-able. We had each kid bring in a specific type of candy and it worked great!!

    You can do something else…

  44. Flea

    God’s Eyes are WAY cool, and 9 & 10 are just the right ages to do it. Kudos to that suggestion. But the parents will shoot you because the kids will go home looking for popsicle sticks and yarn to make more. And Michael’s almost always has dollar yarn near the back of the store. A site for instructions is
    You don’t need to do bells or tassels unless you’re feeling particularly crafty. Let Monkey make the test one. :)

  45. Angel

    I totally endorse Oriental Trading Company too–and if it calls for glue, GET THE GLUE DOTS. SO much easier.

    I get some kits for my kids to make gifts for family members. OH and search for free shipping codes, that’s my only gripe about them, shipping is a little pricey.

  46. Kate

    Caz’s sled is really great. Our son’s teacher put a spin on that and it is my favorite thing I’ve ever gotten. She took pictures of each child bundled up in their snow gear and sitting on a table with legs and arms extended – as if they were riding on a sled. They then cut out the kids’ pictures and glued them standing up on the sled.

    A bit complicated, but I asked for that teacher again this year specifically so I’d have one of those for my daughter! She is a great teacher too :)

  47. Carolyn

    The Cinnamon/Applesauce ornaments are terrific! LOVE the smell, and they are super-easy.

    But speaking as a recipient mom… my favorite gift was a class picture (either the “craft mom” or the teacher took it) from a field trip, inside a frame the kids helped to make.

    If you don’t have a field trip picture, you could pose them near the school sign, or by a statue on campus, or on playground equipment, that will remind both of you of that time in her life.

    I’m not kidding. That’s a great gift. Eventually the other crafts wear out their welcome, but I know I’ll never get tired of seeing that class picture!

  48. Kris

    Perhaps I’m a bit late, but I was in the hospital and all getting my Frankenstein scar. *snerk*

    Quick craft – they can air dry it overnight and take it home the next day.

    Pens, white Crayola Model Magic, fake fingernails.

    Form white Model Magic around pen in a bony, gnarly shape. Put marks in (with your own fingernail or a pin) to make wrinkles and/or knuckles. Push fake fingernail in end.

    Let dry overnight. Viola. Now you have a witch finger pen.

    Otherwise I have a science-y slime/goo recipe that the kids love.

  49. Betsy

    Not to be a Scrooge or anything, but I’d not go with a Christmas theme here, even if it’s not a particularly religious one – that means no wreaths, no ornaments, no trees, no angels, etc.

    I have made ‘snowman soup’ in mixes to send home – do a search for snowman soup for sample tags to use, the list of ingredients, and some cute packaging ideas. Snowman soup is basically hot chocolate mix, a peppermint stick, a Hershey kiss, and some mini marshmallows. To make one serving, drop a kiss into the hot chocolate, stir with the peppermint stick, and add mini marshmallows.

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