-(Activity)Gluten Free Ornament Making; a sensory activity that requires kiddos to press down salt-dough, make an imprint with a cookie cutter, and peel away the excess; we added glitter to make our batter extra sensory! Next, you bake the ornaments--don't forget to poke a hole for the string! Microwave the dough on high for 2 minutes, flip it over half way through and be careful, it gets super hot! Kids practice waiting, and maybe eat a holiday treat or two. Equal parts salt and gf flour, add water gradually until you get the right consistency.
-(Theme)Candles: Candles are a universal sign for the holidays, and happen to be an important component of Kwanza, Channukah and Christmas; similarly for Diwali, it is customary to light lamps (just ask Miss Stephanies class, they have learned ALL about it). For our concert we will be singing several songs about Candles, and have decorated our classes with Menorahs affixed with all the necessary candles; we use these to practice counting 1-8. I cannot stress enough that candles are best not lit; they provide tons of colour without being overly stimulating and often evoke conversation and important terminology in our kids.
-(Decoration) Iridescent Winter Streamers: You know those streamers that change colour depending on the way you look at them, we found great ones at the Dollar Store and they are complete with Santa, Penguin and Snowman. We hung them from a re-purposed drying rack turned mobile (we are very thrifty) and hung the mobile from the tiles in the ceiling; the kids love to look up and watch them twirl and spin. Add a slight freeze from a fan and it is even more exciting.
-(Decorations, Activities)Dreidels: Dreidels are a game traditionally played at Channukah; the simple fine-motor game involve turn-taking, waiting, and most importantly involves at least one period where every child gets to be either ahead or behind (both important skills to practice being gracious about). We have decorated our classrooms with multi-coloured dreidels, also purchased at the dollar store and used to increase reciprocal play (hint: provide a guide so that everyone can remember what each Hebrew letter means for the person who rolls it).
-(Decoration, Theme, Activity) Snowmen: If you walk into the office, a snowman will greet you on your way in; in our classroom, we have snowmen chair covers on select chairs, also purchased for $2 at the dollar store...such a bargain. I find myself calling upon snowmen a lot as a theme during Natural Environment Teaching (NET), I think this is because it seems to be on the minds of my kids...in everything they do. Look Miss Alley (we made a)* snowman! (Out of yoga balls in the gym!) Look Miss Alley, (I made a)** snowman (out of Glorb in the fine motor area); not to mention it also came up in Circle time (weather) and math (shapes). *was not included in original statement :P **was not included in original statement :)
-Bean Bucket On-hand: Kids sometimes feel the stress of the end of the year...can you believe it?
No matter the season, sensory meltdowns happen and when they do, you need to be ready to redirect and deescalate. One way we do this at work is by having a bean-bucket on-hand, to be introduced systematically and carefully, as not to reinforce undesired behaviours.