Christmas is the season of giving, but giving in the classroom can be a bit tricky. I remember doing a traditional $5.00 gift exchange when I was in school - everyone would bring in a present and the teacher would have a game to determine who got to open which present. Gift exchanges are lots of fun, but pretty stressful for parents who have to buy the gifts, teachers who have to prepare back up gifts for the students who do not bring in a present, and for students who may have to pretend they like the gift they received.
Gift Exchanges Gone WrongI learned this the hard way when I did a classroom gift exchange my first year of teaching - it was a nightmare! I had the best of intentions, but the game I chose entailed students to choose a gift based on a number drawn. Students could choose an unopened gift from the pile, or take an already opened gift from another student. I actually had students crying when their gift was taken or when they opened something they didn't like and no one would take it! Plus, the game took almost the entire Christmas party and we barely had time for the other games and food. I felt like such a failure! So I vowed to find a better solution to the traditional gift exchange.
The Stocking Stuffer SolutionMy teaching partner at the time (thank God for mentor teachers!!!!!) shared with me her stocking stuffer idea and I still use it to this day!!! It's simple for everyone, fun for the students, and makes your classroom look festive at the same time. I'm going to share this life-saving tip with you to make your last week before break Merry and Bright! You can also download this FREEBIE HERE.
The first thing you need to do is find a space in your classroom to hang stockings for each student in your room. I cover my already existing bulletin boards with red paper. I staple the paper right over the anchor charts. That way when I take it down, everything is still up underneath and I don't have to put it back up before leaving for break. (I don't know about you, but on the last day before break I do NOT want any extra work after the party.)
I usually purchase FREE book certificates from Scholastic to stuff in each stocking. The students love getting to pick out their FREE book from me before they leave for break. I've also saved up the FREE books Scholastic sends out to teachers with each order, and used bonus points to buy the monthly dollar books to make up the difference. This way I was able to stuff each stocking with a brand new book.