Archive for the ‘Teacher Resources’ Category

Craft Stick Reindeer

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

Craft Stick Reindeer

It’s that time of year again! Christmas is almost here and we’ve been creating fun holiday crafts for the classroom. The Craft Stick Reindeer is a popular holiday craft that requires very little prep work and uses materials that you may already have in the classroom.

Craft Stick Reindeer Steps

• 2 ½ Craft Sticks
• Brown Paint
• Paintbrush
• Small Red Pompon
• 2 Plastic Wiggly Eyes
• Glue
• 2 Brown Pipe Cleaners (optional)


1. Paint the craft sticks brown.
2. Once the paint is dry, glue the two long sticks together to make a V.
3. Glue on the half stick to make an upside down A.
4. Glue on the two wiggly eyes and the pompon for the nose.
5. Attach a pipe cleaner on both ends of the upside down A.

More Ideas
• Instead of using craft sticks, you could make the reindeer out of small twigs.
• Turn your craft stick reindeer into a Christmas ornament by tying brown yarn where the sticks meet and tie a bow at the top.
• If you would like your craft stick reindeer to have a body, cut an oval and two short legs (one in front, and one in back) from a brown paper bag or brown construction paper.

To see the Craft Stick Reindeer activity and more classroom crafts, see the Art for All Seasons E-book.

Thanksgiving Photo Booth Props for the Classroom & Free Template

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Thanksgiving Photo Booth Props Free Template TCR

What better way to celebrate and capture what Thanksgiving is all about than with a fun classroom photo session. Create playful Thanksgiving photo booth props using borders, accents, and decorative items that you may already have in the classroom. You can use the free pilgrim hat and feather headband template here to trace and cut.  A great lesson idea would be to discuss the history of Thanksgiving, engage students in conversation about what they are most thankful for, and then end it with a fun photo booth and photo props session.

For each prop you will also need scissors, glue and a wooden dowel rod or any long stick. You can easily find them at any craft store.

Thanksgiving Photo Booth Props TCR Blog

Pilgrim Hat

Pilgrim Hat Photo Booth PropMaterials:
Black Construction paper
Zebra Chevron Dot Ribbon Runner
Orange Sassy Solids Double-Sided Border

1) Use the free pilgrim hat template to trace and cut a hat out of black construction paper
2) Cut Zebra Chevron Dot Ribbon Runner into a 5” strip and glue to hat
3) For the buckle, cut Orange Sassy Solids Double Sided Border into a 2” square and cut a smaller square within it and glue to ribbon runner
4) Glue pilgrim hat to wooden dowel rod


Feather HeadbandFeather Headband Photo Booth Prop

Black & White Chevrons Double-Sided Border
Purple Sassy Solids Double-Sided Border
Orange Sassy Solids Double-Sided Border
Yellow Mini Polka Dots Scalloped Border Trim
Lime Colorful Circle Scalloped Border Trim

1) Cut the Black & White Chevrons Double-Sided Border so that it is about 8” long
2) Use the free feather template to trace and cut four feathers out of border trim
3) Glue all four feather to the Black & White Chevrons Double-Sided Border
4) Glue feather headband to wooden dowel rod


Pumpkin Pie Photo Booth PropPumpkin Pie

Orange & Teal Wild Moroccan Pennants
Chocolate Polka Dots Scalloped Border Trim
Chevron Frames Mini Accents

1) To make the crust, cut Chocolate Polka Dots Scalloped Border Trim into a 6” strip and glue to the edge of the Orange Wild Moroccan Pennant
2) Turn the Chevron Frame Mini Accent over and glue to the middle of the pennant
3) Glue pumpkin pie to wooden dowel rod

Gobble GlassesTurkey Glasses Photo Booth Prop

Turkey Accents

1) Cut a 1” hole into the middle of two turkey accents and glue edges together
2) Glue Turkey accents to wooden dowel rod

Note: You could also use Turkey Mini Accents for mini gobble glasses


For the Bow props, we used these Bow Accents.

For the Gobble Gobble Word Sign we used Speech Thought Bubble Accents.

For the I’m Thankful for sign we used Green Sassy Solids Name Plates.

Have your class take photos behind a white wall or decorate the wall with pennants and border trim to create a photo booth area. Use the props to take solo Thanksgiving photos as a gift to parents. Don’t forget to take a silly class photo all together! Check out our Holiday & Seasonal Projects Pinterest Board for more Thanksgiving classroom activities.

STEM Design Process Simplified

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

STEM projects can sometimes be challenging to incorporate in the classroom. Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of attending the annual CUE (Computer Using Educators) conference. I learned ideas for projects if a teacher has no budget, a low budget, or if they are fully funded. This proved that there are budget-friendly STEM resources available. Teachers can use project-based STEM books to incorporate activities year round. There are also various websites that students can use to help in the researching process.

Many of the sessions at the CUE Conference were full to bursting, and the “Integrating the T into STEM Design Challenges” session was no different.  The presenter was Cari Williams from the Tustin Unified School District.  She has been designing STEM for years, and focuses on grades 3–5 curriculum design, specifically robotics programs. Here is the simplified Engineering Design Process model Cari uses in the classroom:

STEM Engineering Design Process Simplified

Indentify the Problem

Cari mentioned that in younger classrooms, the teacher would define the problem and give specific instructions. Older students should come up with their own problems to solve.


The students should brainstorm without a computer first, as otherwise they will just find pictures of other peoples’ solutions and will make their design just like what they see.  This limits creativity.


Another creativity piece is to have students draw and/or use other art mediums during their design process, thus incorporating the “A’ in STEAM.  It is important for those students who want to give up and might not otherwise have a lot to show for their project.  At least this way they have this component.

Students can integrate the “T” in STEM by doing research online, and this is where programs such as Haiku, a site where teachers can organize their content online, come in handy. The teacher can set up sites all in one place for them to research.  Another program that helps is Simbaloo, a bookmarking site, or even making a wiki page.

The students then develop ideas by sketching with pencil and paper. (They can move on to CAD programs such as Auto Desk or Google Sketchup, if budget allows.)  They then choose the best idea from their group by creating a survey/decision matrix to vote.  This includes the necessary criteria for the project:  can the project be made by the deadline, which one takes the most expertise, which one has the lowest cost, etc.  This is great not only for teaching about how projects are decided upon in the real world, but it’s also good for teaching social skills.  Some students just want their own project no mater what, and this helps force them to think about it from a group’s point of view.

Build, Test & Evaluate, Redesign & Share Solution

Once the project is decided upon, the students build a model or prototype, and then test and evaluate it.  They must write down their process, and this can be done in journal entries in a notebook or online, or using a program like Excel to organize the different trials, etc.  The students then work on improving the design, and can have an online discussion about it, take photos of it, and graph the results.  They must communicate the results in some way, not just by building the finished product.  They also create a presentation for it at the end.

I really liked how technology was incorporated into each project, even when the budget is smaller.  I think as time goes on, more and more resources will be available to teachers online that will be free to low-cost and immeasurably helpful for integrating STEM in the classroom.

Fall Crafts: Leaf Fox & Fall Tree

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Fall Fox Craft TCR Blog

Fall is in the air in Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, and we’ve already started making tons of creative fall crafts!

Leaf Fox

To create this fall leaf craft for preschool, kindergarten, and first grade students, I picked some leaves from my yard. My students made foxes just like this using different colored leaves. The fox head was made out of a maple leaf. The fox ears were made out of rose leaves, and the nose was made out of a clover leaf. The students added some stickers for the eyes. For older students, you could have them make all sorts of different animals out of leaves.

Fall Tree Craft TCR Blog

Fall Tree Craft

Another easy fall craft is making a fall tree craft out of pretzels and crumpled pieces of tissue paper. Each student glued a pretzel rod to a piece of paper to make the tree trunk. Then they glued smaller pretzel sticks coming out of the tree trunk to create the branches. The leaves were made out of small pieces of tissue paper in all the warm fall colors-orange, red, and yellow. See more fall activities and ideas here.