I always love the look in my daughters’ eyes when we open up a handmade, crafty gift that was made at school for the holidays. It is the one “secret” they can usually keep from us until Christmas. Most of the time, gifts they pick out for people or help to wrap up, they can’t help but give away some sort of clue before the big day. (My teenager still can’t keep it in!)
Teaching fifth grade in middle school, you tend to think of your kids as being “too old” to spend the time to make these crafty gifts. However, it didn’t occur to me until this year how important it was that they make something heartfelt for a loved one at this time of year.
I share a team of 40 students with my partner teacher, Penny, who teaches them English/Language Arts and History. (I teach Math and Science.) Because they were studying metaphors, she came up with the idea of each student painting a beautiful rock for a person who is “their rock” and writing an essay about why they felt this way as a Christmas gift. Her idea then expanded into making this a cross curricular project. She says “You could make 3-D gift boxes for the rocks in Math class!”
Oh boy. My 21 years of teaching told me that this sounded better in theory than what the actual execution would look like. Giving a classroom of 10-year-olds explicit instructions for accurate measurements, emphasizing the importance of drawing and cutting straight lines and demonstrating how to correctly fold a geometric net of a rectangular prism to make a box right before the holiday break….sounds fun!!
As frustrating as the day of the “box making” was, the entire project came together in the end. The kids were so excited to take home their heartfelt essay and beautiful rock in their own unique box for someone special at Christmastime. I can only imagine the look of excitement in their eyes when it was time to give their special gift. -E