I hope you all survived the craziness leading up to break, and enjoyed your holiday parties!
My students walked into the room with their stockings on their desks (read more about this AMAZING community building idea here), and their gifts of winter break packets that I put together for them (free of charge I might add!).
Every year, in between the oh-so-over-excited about the holidays student chaos, I start thinking about a gift for my students.
In years past, I used up all my spare change and spent hours on personalized clipboards and whiteboards, recruited my fiancé's help to stuff 30+ goodie bags, and have even hand written 10 pages of coupon books for each student (that's 300 pages if you're counting). And then there was my first year of teaching, when each student received a pencil and a chocolate kiss! ;)
But do you know what? When I gave the personalized clipboards and whiteboards, my kids flipped with joy. When I passed out 30+ goodie bags, my kids flipped with joy. When I gave out hand-written coupon books, my kids flipped with joy (and mostly forgot to use them). And when I gave a measly chocolate kiss and a pencil, my kids flipped with joy.
For real...my kids probably couldn't have cared less what I got them, how much I spent, or how hard I worked on their gift. They were just thrilled that I thought to give them a gift. Pretty much every thoughtful gesture I extend to them has been met with so much love and appreciation, and I am always blown away by them!
So this year, I decided to put together a winter packet for them. I gathered together fun printable games, crossword puzzles, coloring pages, some free word problems I found on TpT, some reading passages, etc and made them into a little packet for them. At first, I was a little nervous that some of them would think it was a cheesy gift, but I have to tell you they were THRILLED! I had students that asked to skip the afternoon movie and instead start working on their winter break packets!
After the excitement of their gifts, we spent a good chunk of the morning reading through our letters from our stockings. It was such a great morning and I was so proud of my students for their kindness over the last few weeks. Seriously, my heart was happy!
(Yes, it was jammie day!)
I wish I could show you their faces because they were priceless! They all got out of their seats to share their kind letters with one another, and some even stopped to hug eachother! Seriously…my heart is full! :) What a great way to start break!
And below is a cropped picture of my desk (In poor i-phone quality! Sorry!). It's cropped so that you can't see the mess around it! This year I asked families to not purchase any gifts for me, and instead asked that if they wanted to purchase something, purchase and/or donate things their students need in our classroom. Some things I so generously received were tons of school supplies, extra mittens and hats for students that come to school without them, board games, and of course some sweet personalized gifts too! :)
We couldn't have asked for a better way to close out the year!
On a side note, I'll be coming out out with this ELA freebie very soon! And plan to have a few giveaways on my Young Teacher Love Facebook page, so don't unplug too much this break!