Looking For A Last Minute Holiday Project?

Looking for a last minute holiday art project? Check out these easy, adorable activities that require minimal prep while keeping students actively engaged in learning.

Make a 3-D Christmas Tree: Follow the directions included in our new Winter Holiday Art Projects unit to make this neat 3-D tree. Students fold, cut and tape to assemble the tree and then decorate with markers, sequins and pom-poms. Read more

Olive the Other Reindeer to the Rescue!


There are still a few more weeks until winter vacation, but Santa, stockings and sugar are the focus of children’s minds! Olive the Other Reindeer is coming to the rescue! Our adorable  Olive the Other Reindeer Unit will capture students’ attention while engaging them in integrated reading and writing activities aligned to Common Core Standards.  Olive the Other Reindeer is one of my favorite holiday books and my students always come to love Olive each year too!

Activate background knowledge and build excitement: To begin the unit, make a foldable reindeer KWL. Discuss why it is important to think about what we know before starting a lesson, ask questions about what we want to learn and summarize our learning at the end of the unit.

Introduce key vocabulary terms: Teach key vocabulary terms using vocabulary anchor charts and accompanying graphic organizer.

Olive the other reindeer vocabulary

Make predictions with Peter Predicting Possum: Teach students how to make predictions using background knowledge and text features and use textual evidence to confirm or revise predictions.

Making predictions with Peter

Introduce Peter Predicting possum and read his poem to teach predicting strategy. Explain that good readers make predictions before and during reading. They stop to confirm or adjust predictions based on evidence from the text. This makes reading more enjoyable and helps build comprehension.

Peter Predicting Possum Poem

Model prediction strategy by using the cover of the book. Think aloud as you explain, “I’m reading the title, Olive the Other Reindeer and looking at this picture. I see a dog hanging from a sleigh, but I know that reindeer guide Santa’s sleigh. I think that Olive is a dog who will serve as a reindeer on Santa’s sleigh. I will have to read to see if my prediction is correct.As I read, I will look for clues and evidence that support my prediction or will help me change my prediction. Then read the first two pages of the text and discuss. “Based on what I’ve read, I am going to confirm my prediction. Olive thinks the song says, ‘Olive, the other reindeer’ and so she thinks she is a reindeer.

Make predictions on the following pages:

  • Read until Olive gets to the North Pole just in time. Make a prediction–will Olive join the sleigh? Ask students to support prediction using clue from the text. After confirming that Olive will join Santa’s sleigh, brainstorm a list of dog behavior and discuss how these behaviors might be helpful to Santa.
  • Read until the sleigh crashes into the tree. Have students read the first 3 paragraphs of the page and discuss. Refer back to dog’s behavior list and ask what behavior might be helpful in this situation Students will make a prediction and then pull Post-It to read, confirming or revising prediction.
  • Turn the page and show students only the picture of falling gumdrops. (You can cover the text on opposite page with a large Post-It.) Use background knowledge about dogs to help make a prediction about how Olive will keep the sleigh safe from falling gumdrops. Remove Post-It, confirming or revising prediction.
  • Turn the page and have students stop right before, “Olive had to howl louder than the wind instruments. Cover this sentence and rest of text on page. Repeat prediction process using background knowledge.
  • Read the first paragraph on the page with North Pole Fog (the rest of the text should be covered). Repeat prediction process. Lift Post-It, read and confirm or revise prediction.
  • Read the last page and have students stop right after, “There was just one present left. It was for Olive.” (The rest of the text should be covered). Repeat prediction process.

Cover text with Post-Its

Remove Post-It to reveal answer

Students’ reactions are priceless as they reveal the Post-It to confirm or revise prediction.

Prediction reactions

Prediction reactions 2

Integrate informational text: Each student uses his/her question from KWL reindeer and records it on the question and answer reindeer printable. I set up a reindeer research center with key vocabulary terms and leveled reindeer text where students can read and research to answer the question.

Reindeer research

Reindeer question and answer

Have fun: Students can read and follow directions to make Reindeer Munch while practicing key measurement skills.

Reindeer munch

Wear your hair in a bun and add googly eyes, pipe cleaner antlers, and a red pom-pom for a festive hairdo.

Reindeer hair

Download our complete Olive the Other Reindeer unit and Reindeer In The Room Holiday Behavior System to bring these ideas to life in your classroom.


Glitter 101: How to Survive Glitter in the Classroom

For most, glitter evokes the holiday season, but for elementary teachers, just the thought makes their toes curl and sends shivers down their spines. Glitter is messy, time-consuming and ever-lasting (hence those few pesky sprinkles lingering around at the end of the year). The messiness discourages many teachers from incorporating glitter into art projects, but it is something every child should experience. Here are 6 tips to help you survive glitter in your classroom:

1. Set up space: Determine a large, easy-to-clean space that allows children to spread out during the glitter process. Plan a drying space within steps of the glitter location. I use my large, rectangular table by my classroom library. I pull the table away from the books, stack the chairs and place needed materials on the table. I set up a large canvas drop cloth at the carpet area (right next to the glitter table) where children place their masterpieces. The drop cloth catches any loose glitter and prevents children from walking across the room to the counter space, which is a glitter disaster just waiting to happen.

Set up space

2. Use glitter grabbers: I provide children with the leaf trays (as shown in picture) or large plastic tubs to shake off extra glitter. Lunch trays, copy paper box lids, and dish pans (found at Dollar Store) are all perfect glitter grabbers. Plus they stack easily for storage.

Glitter grabbers

3. Make glitter dispensers: Avoid flying glitter by creating these inexpensive glitter dispensers. Simply purchase clear, squeezable condiment or paint bottles and fill with glitter. Cut the tip at the base to make a wider hole. Children squeeze glitter over desired area, providing more precise distribution of glitter.

Glitter dispenser

3. Organize by color: I have 4 different colors of glitter on my rectangular table and each color has its own glitter grabber.  This allows you to recycle extra glitter without creating a large container of ‘rainbow’ glitter at the end of each project.

Organize by color

4. Modeling is a must: This week when I mentioned the words, “add glitter” my second graders squealed with joy. One child shouted, “I’ve never used glitter!” Shocked, I asked the rest of my class if they’ve used glitter before and only half raised their hands.  While planning this project, I assumed that all had used glitter, thus assuming that they all knew how to use it as well. However, as teachers we must never assume that children have required background knowledge or previous experience. Glitter, like anything else, must be modeled explicitly. I first show how to use the Elmer’s glue by saying, “Dot, dot, not a lot.” I then show how to gently shake a SMALL amount of glitter over the glue and gently shake to cover all glue spots. Then I carefully tap excess over the glitter grabber. I talk aloud through each step so children thoroughly understand each step.

Dot Dot Not a Lot

5. Set a limit: I only allow 4 children to glitter at a time; this gives students plenty of space and access to all of the necessary materials. I also set a timer and give a reminder half-way through to ensure that every child has equal glitter time. If you don’t limit the time, you will have a few who will try to spend all day there.

Set a limit

6. Thank your custodians: Even with these tried-and-true tips, children can get a little zealous with the glitter, causing a little extra work for your custodians. Let’s face it, school vacuums aren’t the most powerful machines out there. I always give my custodians a small, special treat to express my gratitude. They love this gesture and it prevents them from cursing my name after glitter sessions.

Thank your custodians

Have a glitter tip? I’d love to hear from fellow glitter gurus.


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