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5 Teacher Tested Tips to Simplify Christmas in the Classroom

Looking for some simple classroom Christmas ideas to help save your sanity this December? Try one of these 5 teacher tested tips to simplify your classroom Christmas! Includes student gift ideas, tips to simplify your classroom holiday party, and FREE Christmas themed printables you can use for centers, fast finishers, or holiday choice activities. Perfect for 2nd, 3rd, or 4th grade classrooms this Christmas! #christmas #education #classroomchristmas #freebie #studentgifts

Looking for some simple classroom Christmas ideas to help keep you sane this December? Try one of these 5 Teacher Tested Tips to simplify your classroom Christmas! During this crazy month of Secret Santa, ugly sweaters, staff parties, reindeer headbands, wrapping paper, goodie exchanges, jingle bell necklaces, glittery crafts, and last minute gifts galore, keep it simple and save some sanity with one (or more!) of these Teacher Tested Classroom Christmas Tips!

Classroom Christmas Tip #1: Simplify Student Gifts

With 27, 28, 29 (dare we say 30?!) students per class, finding a budget friendly gift for every student can be overwhelming! The sooner you get these done and the less they cost the better. For a FREE (minus ink, but hopefully you have some secret school color printer skills) option, try classroom coupons or top ten lists! You can read more about budget friendly student gift options HERE.

Another option for very reasonable class gifts is to host a pencil exchange. The day before break, every student brings enough pencils to give 1 to every student in the class. Then, you're only on the hook for 25-30 pencils and every one of your students should have enough pencils to last them through Spring Break. A word to the wise - if you do a pencil exchange, have students sharpen at least 2 of their new pencils BEFORE they leave for winter break! If you don't, you will have a mad rush to the sharpener in January.

Bonus: If you do a pencil exchange, one useful (and time consuming) activity is to have students use masking tape and Sharpie to label their brand new pencils. This will keep them nice and busy for at least 30 minutes! {But it also includes entails students Sharpies, so use caution.}

Classroom Christmas Tip #2: Engage Students with Special Seasonal Options

Seasonal centers or special holiday fast finishers can be just the thing to motivate students to . . . calm . . . themselves . . . down . . .  so they get the privilege of working on something special this month. Settled students get Christmas perks!

Mix and match 3-4 of these easy ideas:
*Make a Word - give students letters to HAPPY HOLIDAYS, MERRY CHRISTMAS, TIS THE SEASON and have them find as many words as they can that can be made from the letters
*Picture Spelling - students write holiday words or spelling words they need to practice from their writing in a picture of a reindeer or snowman
*Add to Drawing + Writing - students get a page with a squiggly line or a few triangles drawn on it, they then create a holiday picture around the original shapes/lines and write a few sentences about what is going on in the picture (This project also works well as a whole class art activity)
*Letter Writing - students write holiday letters to family (bonus if you let them mail them), friends, classmates, or staff members at the school
*Compliment Writing -(see Tip #4 for RACK sack compliments)
*Story Starters - Write the first line of a holiday book on the board. Students then write a story using this sentence as the beginning of their story.
*Mentor Texts - Students choose a favorite Christmas book or story and use it as a model to write a similar story of their own.
*Partner Reading - You know those Christmas books you've been buying for years? Let the kids read them with partners! Call it something fun like Reindeer Reading and let the kids wear a red nose or antler headbands (watch the lice!) while they do it. It's all about the details.
*Partner Games - Try the triangle tree game included in the December FUN Printables Freebie below.

For four FREE holiday printables, download the December FUN Printables at my TpT store. If you want more holiday printables you might also like the activities in the December Third Grade Homework pack. The 40+ printables in this pack can be used for in-class centers and fast finishers too!

Classroom Christmas Tip #3: Schedule your Party to Save Stress

This tip is simple. It's all about timing! If you have party planning parents or a big holiday shindig that must take place, avoid having this on the last day before break. If you schedule your class party two days before the break, that will give you one day to get rid of all the dishes/trash/pot holders/extra leftover treats rather than scurrying around trying to send these home on the last day of school in December.

Plus, as an added bonus, you won't have visitors straggling around your room while you're trying to get cleaned up and ready to go for your holiday! Even the most meticulously planned teacher ends up with 1,000 things to do on that last day, and no one wants to go in to school during the holidays. {We know we will, but let's pretend we won't.}

Classroom Christmas Tip #4: Find Ways to Focus on Kindness

Of course students should always be thinking about kindness, but the Christmas season is a perfect time to really ramp up the kindness and giving talk. Finding easy ways students can participate in RACK (Random Acts of Classroom Kindness) is a nice way to keep them busy with something meaningful {that they love!} this month.

RACK sacks are my favorite month-long classroom kindness activity! You can read more about RACK sacks and download a freebie HERE. You can also have students create bookmarks for students in other grades, write letters to reading buddies, create Top Ten lists as gifts for loved ones, or have students brainstorm other ways they can spread kindness and cheer.

Once you've decided on your "go to" RACK activities for the month, throw these in your holiday centers or fast finisher folders (see Classroom Christmas Tip #2).


Classroom Christmas Tip #5: Create a Calm, Cool, & Collected Final Day

This tip seems like common sense, but how do you go about making the last day a calm oasis of non-insanity?!

Try this:

If you are planning any food or treats, try having a breakfast instead of afternoon goodies. That way, the food portion of the day is done before lunch and you won't have kiddos asking you when the holiday treats will be dispersed. If you take care of the eating extravaganza early, you will be able to divi out leftovers throughout the day and will also have time to clean. {Plus it will give you the excuse to pick up donuts on the way to school.}

Instead of crazy party games, put on a Netflix fire, let students bring blankets/stuffed animals/jammies, and have a lights off read in. Students won't actually read you might be thinking. Mostly true, but some actually will, and if you give the direction that blanket fort building must be silent, you will have a much calmer classroom than you would if playing Minute to Win it games.

Break up the day with guest readers. Get 4-5 adults (awesomely engaged parents, or wonderful teacher/other school adults if awesomely engaged parents are sparse) to spend 10-15 minutes reading a favorite holiday picture book to the class. This will break up the read in time and give a clear structure to the day. Breakfast - Read In - Listen to Guest Reader - Read In - Listen to Guest Reader - Repeat. Schedule guest readers every hour to hour and a half for best results, and make sure you have 1-2 extra holiday picture books in case one of your volunteers doesn't get the memo to bring their own.

Do you have any other simple strategies for making December a little less chaotic? Tell me about them in the comments!

Have a fab (holi)day Super Teacher,

Want more Christmas ideas and resources?
Try these holiday posts:
*5 Simple Holiday Student Gift Ideas from Teachers
*10 Amazing Amazon Gift Ideas for your Favorite Teaching Teammate
*Santa Scramble Math Challenge: A Festive Freebie Download
*Focus on Kindness at Christmas with this Easy Classroom Tradition

Focus on Kindness at Christmas with this Easy Classroom Tradition

Are you looking for a meaningful (yet easy to prep) Christmas classroom activity you can use for the entire month of December? Try RACK sacks! These are a simple way for your students to practice kindness during the holidays and all you need is paper bags and copies. Introduce this activity at the beginning of December and then use all month as a center, fast finisher, or writing activity in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade classrooms.

An inexpensive, easy to prep, Christmas classroom activity you can use for the entire month of December! RACK sacks are a simple way for your students to practice kindness during the holidays and all you need is paper bags and copies! Introduce this activity at the beginning of December and use for the whole month as a center, fast finisher, or writing activity in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade classrooms. #christmas #rack #free #freebie #christmasintheclassroom

A RACK Sack is simply a paper bag you put student-written compliments in throughout the month of December. RACK stands for Random Acts of Classroom Kindness and what better time to focus on kindness than the holidays?!

RACK Sacks - An easy idea to bring kindness into your classroom for the holidays PLUS 3 Holiday Freebies to make your life easier this December!  

Here's all you have to do to get RACK sacks started in your classroom:

1. Get a paper bag for every student to decorate.
2. Give students time to decorate their RACK sacks in class.
3. Hang (think staple) RACK sacks on your classroom wall where they will act like brown paper stockings.
4. Make copies of compliments (you can find a free compliment download at the bottom of this post)
5. During centers, writing or as a fast finisher students can write compliments to one another.
6. Have a parent helper deliver compliments to RACK sacks throughout the month so you don't end up with a crazy stack of unsorted compliments on the last day before break.
7. Students see their RACK sacks filling up with compliment kindness and will wait with anticipation to read and take them home.

RACK Sacks - An easy idea to bring kindness into your classroom for the holidays PLUS 3 Holiday Freebies to make your life easier this December!  

The RACK sacks will stay in your classroom until winter break when students will take them (plus all their classmate compliments) home. This can also be a nice spot for any holiday gift you have for students or treats they collect from a class party. Just stock up the RACK sack and send that baby home!

The kids love reading their compliments and it's an easy center activity ALL MONTH LONG!  Keeping a cup of sticks or paper slips with all students' names to draw from helps to spread out the compliment giving more evenly if one or two RACK sacks start becoming way more full than the others.

RACK Sacks - An easy idea to bring kindness into your classroom for the holidays PLUS 3 Holiday Freebies to make your life easier this December!

Word to the wise: ALWAYS read the compliments before delivering them (or letting a student/parent helper deliver them) to RACK sacks. Most of them are so sweet and melt your heart (see compliment above), but a small percentage of students think a backhanded compliment counts as a compliment. As we all know too well - it does not! You do not want a nasty "compliment" making its way home resulting in an angry parent e-mail {Happy holidays!}, so just read the compliments! If you want to use the same compliments I do, you can get them for free when you download these Simple Student Holiday Gifts.  Easy peasy!

RACK Sacks - An easy idea to bring kindness into your classroom for the holidays PLUS 3 Holiday Freebies to make your life easier this December!

Want more Christmas ideas and resources? Try these holiday posts:
5 Simple Holiday Student Gift Ideas from Teachers
10 Amazing Amazon Gift Ideas for your Favorite Teaching Teammate
Santa Scramble Math Challenge: A Festive Freebie Download

Happy Holidays Super Teacher!

Santa Scramble Math Challenge: A Festive Freebie Download

If you are a 2nd or 3rd grade teacher looking for a FREE Christmas math activity, try this Santa Scramble December math challenge. It includes a math word problem printable focused on addition with multiple one-digit numbers, a lined page for students to write about how they solved the problem, and an answer key, so you can just print and go!

This December Math Challenge is perfect for your high flying 2nd and 3rd graders. You can use this printable for math centers, homework, problem of the week, small groups, or as a choice activity during a holiday party. Fun for kids and NO PREP for teachers! 

A FREE Christmas math activity. Just print and go! This December math challenge worksheet is perfect for advanced 2nd and 3rd graders. Use for math center activities, homework, problem of the week, small groups, or to get a breather during a holiday party. Fun for kids and NO PREP for teachers! Click for the free download. #christmas #free #christmasmath #education #math #secondgrade #thirdgrade #differentation

Download the free December Math Challenge HERE.
(or by clicking on the picture above)

If you would like more information about how to use math challenges for your advanced 2nd and 3rd grade mathematicians you can learn about SUPER simple differentiation using math contracts HERE. {There might just be another freebie there for you!}

Need more Christmas math challenges & brainteasers to engage your little sugarplums all month long? You can purchase 26 additional December math printables with Christmas themes HERE. {The printables pictured above are just a few from the December Math Challenge & Brainteaser pack}

Happy Holidays Super Teacher,
These free math challenge and brain teaser activities for elementary students can be used for centers, weekly challenges, small groups, or whole class problem solving. Fun for kids and easy for teachers! Perfect for 2nd and 3rd grade.
If you would like to have a set of 5 EXCLUSIVE math challenges + Super Teacher ideas delivered right to your inbox, please sign up for my newsletter to get exclusive freebies & super classroom tips to save you time and make learning fun!  

10 Amazing Gift Ideas for your Favorite Teaching Teammate

Looking for the perfect gift you can get for that super cool elementary teacher or teaching teammate? Whether you're on a budget or looking to spend a little more, you can find the perfect teaching work-spouse gift somewhere in these 10 teacher teammate gift ideas. Check out these ideas you can use for Christmas, back to school, birthday, teacher appreciation, end of the year (We made it!), Valentine's Day, Halloween, or any time you want to treat a deserving elementary teacher to that perfect cute and useful gift! 
Looking for the perfect gift idea for your favorite elementary teacher or teaching teammate? Check out these teacher gift ideas for Christmas, back to school, birthdays, end of the year, teacher appreciation or any time you want to treat your favorite educator to something cute and useful! Even if you're on a budget you can find the perfect present for your favorite teacher in these 10 teacher teammate gift ideas. #teachergifts #christmasgifts #teacherappreciation #giftideas #giftsforher

If you're more of an Amazon Prime teacher than a make-it-from-scratch teacher, all of these gifts are perfect for you since they can all be ordered right from the comfort of your couch on Amazon! No trips to the craft store needed here! Whether you're shopping well in advance (way to be a planner Super Teacher!) or last minute (I feel ya, and will also be there), most of these items can be sent to your home or school (wrapped!) in 2 days. Thank you Amazon Prime! {This post includes affiliate links.}

Teacher Gift #1 Personalized Lanyard and Whistle

How perfect is this Wonder Woman lanyard for your super teacher bestie? Get a set of lanyards and some new whistles (you know it's time to retire your nasty old one), and be recess police twinners until you have to blow that (shiny new) whistle and head inside.

Price: $10 for lanyard + 2 whistles

Teacher Gift #2 Comfy Slippers for Under her Desk

After a day on your feet, and most likely a long night of grading and planning ahead, slipping into a nice pair of cozy socks or slippers is the best. These polka dot slipper socks are so, so cute and have great reviews! Add a wrapped pack of Airborne for the perfect "Welcome to cold and flu season" gift (you know you'll both be needing these come January).

Price: $10 slippers, $15 Airborne (large pack)

Teacher Gift #3 A Cute Bag (with bonus bag inside!)

You know her old bag is frayed and worn from toting all of those guided reading books and folders full of grading home and back every night.  Replace her old bag with this cute hobo (personally approved by my stylish mother-in-law!) This super darling bag is large, comes in multiple colors, and even includes a surprisingly large matchy bonus bag perfect for carrying Flair pens, your cell phone, or field trip First Aid Supplies in style. 

Price: $25ish (surprisingly reasonable!)

Teacher Gift #4 Electric Kettle & Teapot

Not only can you use this kettle and teapot after school or during planning time to whip up a nice hot cup of yumminess, but an electric kettle is so nice to have around when you need hot water FAST. (Think science experiments or hot chocolate read-ins where your parent volunteer sends powder sans water). Add some loose leaf tea and a bag of chocolate to replenish her chocolate drawer. You'll end up getting at least half of that chocolate back during an after school vent session anyway, so think of it as a gift for both of you.

Price: Kettle $25, Teapot $25, loose leaf tea $15

Teacher Gift #5 A Piece of Jewelry you know she'll love

These green and silver cuff bracelets reminiscent of Wonder Woman are the perfect chunky wrist-wear for your favorite Super Teacher Teammate. If she's more of a necklace gal, this hammered metal interlocking circles necklace is a sleek piece of statement jewelry. Plus the cute interlocking circles are a metaphor for your fantastic friendship {I call gold circle!}. 

Price: Bracelets $8.50 & $13, Necklace $65 {Yes, this one is spendy but can be the perfect teammate gift for a special occasion. I used it as a goodbye gift. Love you Mrs. Villecco!}

Teacher Gift #6 iPad Accessories

If your teacher bestie is a pro at creating workshop conferencing notes on her iPad, or is always playing around with the newest educational apps, how about getting her a new iPad cover that  comes in a variety of colors (and actually stands up like it's supposed to)? Add a set of colorful styluses to keep her looking good while getting her tech on. Plus, with a set of 6 she can have a stylus in every one of her teacher bags! Add a little ribbon, and the styluses alone can make the perfect techy teacher bff gift!

Price: $15 case + $9 styluses

Teacher Gift #7 Picture Book + Stuffed Animal

If your teacher bestie is always adding to her mentor text library (who isn't?) then try a picture book with matching stuffed animal she can use to brighten her classroom shelves. If she's a teacher mom (bless her!), she can also add this to her little one(s)' room instead. Finding Winnie + Classic Winnie the Pooh, Knuffle Bunny + Plush Knuffle Bunny, We are in a Book + Elephant and Piggie, Dragons Love Tacos + Dragon, Don't Let Pigeon Drive the Bus + Pigeon, and Olivia + (the one and only) Olivia are my faves.

Price: $30-50 for hardcover book + plush

Teacher Gift #8 One of your favorite books that you know she'll love too 

Wanna go serious? Try The Glass Castle. Need something to make you both giggle? Try Tina Fey's Bossypants or anything by David Sedaris (Me Talk Pretty One Day is a personal fave). Want to stay within a teaching theme? Try 32 Third Graders and 1 Class Bunny. Phillip Done's confrontation with the school laminator will make you glad you don't have to wear a tie to work! Make sure you inscribe the inside of the cover thoughtfully so she can look back on your fabulous teacher teammate-ness for years to come.

Price: $10ish per book (All of the above titles are available in paperback)

Teacher Gift #9 Single Cup Coffee Maker

Go big or go home! A single cup coffee maker she can keep in her classroom along with a variety pack of K-pods is the ultimate "Let's chat over a warm cup of something yummy during our planning time instead of updating our data wall" gift. The multi-colored Keurig machines can compliment any classroom decor. Before paying full price, make sure you check Ebates for coupon codes and use their links for cash back. This seriously works! Just make sure you click through Ebates or activate their browser button BEFORE you put items in your cart. (This is my Ebates affiliate link. I love them!)

Price: $65-80 for coffee maker (depending on color), $25 for set of 40 K-cups

Teacher Gift #10 Journal and Flair Pens

It's hard to go wrong with something pretty to write in and something colorful to write with. (Your super teacher senses just tingled a little didn't they?) You'll be hard pressed to find a single elementary teacher who doesn't love a good journal and Flair pen combo.  This is a useful and inexpensive gift that every teacher will love! 

Price: $12 for Journals (set of 3), $8.50 (8 pack)-$20 (24 pack) for Flair Pens

BONUS Teacher Gift #11 Gift Cards!

So many perfect gifts, it's hard to choose just 10! If in doubt - everyone loves gift cards! Get one for a place you both love to shop so you can make an after school activity of it together (Homegoods! Target!), or a card to a favorite restaurant where you can take your non-work spouses for a fun night out.

Before paying full price, make sure you check out Cardpool, where you can buy unused gift cards and sell ones you don't need (this is my affiliate link).

I ALWAYS go to Cardpool when I'm buying restaurant or popular chain store gift cards. My most recent Secret Santa partner loved shopping at Barnes & Noble and I purchased a $25 gift card for $20, so she got more moolah and I looked like I overspent on the Secret Santa daily budget.

You won't always be able to find what you're looking for at Cardpool, but if you can you can get a few bucks off while looking extra generous. (This is also a very helpful site if  you get gift cards for holidays that you really won't use and want to exchange them for cash.)

Price: $1-Whatever you want!

Do you have an amazing gift idea that your teacher besties have loved?  Tell me about it in the comments!

Have a fab day Super Teacher,

*If you like my blog please consider using the affiliate links in this post for your online shopping. This means when you click on these links I earn a small percentage of any purchases you make, but the prices stay the same for you. Thanks for helping to support my blog!*