Building Community Around the Holidays

Happy Mid-December! We’re almost there! I hope you’re all enjoying your kids these last few weeks before break, and that they aren’t too “excited” for the holidays!

I’m here today to share with you this amazing Stocking Stuffer Community Building idea we did in our classroom from Susan Moran Jones of the blog T.G.I.F! Susan is a first grade teacher, and when I saw this idea last year, I was a little hesitant about how well it would go over with my 5th graders.  I decided to try it anyway and was pleasantly surprised.

The idea is that students get to make their own stockings and write positive notes to each of their classmates and put them in their stocking each throughout the month of December. Then, on the last day before break during our party, they get to read all of the notes their classmates wrote for them! So much fun!

In Susan’s freebie, you will find everything you need to easily implement this in your classroom– including an actual printable stocking you can print on card stock. Since my students are a bit older, I created a tracing template of the stocking parts instead of just printing out the stocking parts, in order to give them more independence.

Each student received a piece of white printer paper for the top of their stocking, and a red piece of construction paper for their stocking sock.

Building Community Around the Holidays Freebie- Young Teacher Love by Kristine Nannini

They traced each part and cut them out.

Building Community Around the Holidays Freebie- Young Teacher Love by Kristine Nannini
Building Community Around the Holidays Freebie- Young Teacher Love by Kristine Nannini
Then they glued the top and bottom of their stockings together. I then took a white letter envelope, sealed it, and cut it in half, and then students glued the envelope onto the back of their stockings. I got this idea from Denise over at Sunny Days in Second Grade! This is where students insert their letters, and it would give the stockings a “stuffed” look!

Building Community Around the Holidays Freebie- Young Teacher Love by Kristine Nannini
Building Community Around the Holidays Freebie- Young Teacher Love by Kristine Nannini

Then, students wrote their names on the top of the stocking in large letters, and a few even asked to decorate them, too!

Building Community Around the Holidays Freebie- Young Teacher Love by Kristine Nannini

Everyone one of my students asked if I was going to have a stocking, so don’t forget to include yourself!

Then, hang your students’ stockings in an area of your room that all students have access to.

Building Community Around the Holidays Freebie- Young Teacher Love by Kristine Nannini
Building Community Around the Holidays Freebie- Young Teacher Love by Kristine Nannini

Don’t they look adorable!? By the way, has my crazy font obsession rubbed off on my kids?! ;)

I printed out a class list for every student in order to keep them organized. I taught them how to check off a name once they finished writing that student’s letter in order to make sure they didn’t forget anyone. We also talked about different things to write to students, and how sad a student would be if they received a hurtful letter, or didn’t receive a letter at all. I even gave them the idea of writing personal things to their classmates, instead of the general “you’re a great friend!” They really liked this idea!

I printed out a bunch of copies of the little notes included in the freebie, and placed them in a little bucket near the stockings. This way, students had the freedom to grab them and write their notes during indoor recess, a break, first thing in the morning, at the end of the day, etc.

Building Community Around the Holidays Freebie- Young Teacher Love by Kristine Nannini
Building Community Around the Holidays Freebie- Young Teacher Love by Kristine Nannini

I kept a second basket on the shelf for students to put their finished letters in. I decided it was easier for me to put them into the students’ stockings, but next year I may have my students put them in the stockings themselves.

Building Community Around the Holidays Freebie- Young Teacher Love by Kristine Nannini
Building Community Around the Holidays Freebie- Young Teacher Love by Kristine Nannini

Some of the notes they wrote were SO sweet! The kindness is overflowing!!

Building Community Around the Holidays Freebie- Young Teacher Love by Kristine Nannini
Building Community Around the Holidays Freebie- Young Teacher Love by Kristine Nannini
Building Community Around the Holidays Freebie- Young Teacher Love by Kristine Nannini
Building Community Around the Holidays Freebie- Young Teacher Love by Kristine Nannini

Do you love that these two students put math problems on my notes?! Ha! Dying!!

I stuff the students’ stockings each day with new letters. It’s soo fun to see them all fill up!

Building Community Around the Holidays Freebie- Young Teacher Love by Kristine Nannini
Building Community Around the Holidays Freebie- Young Teacher Love by Kristine Nannini

I’ll be back closer to the Christmas break to share with you the excitement of opening the letters! This simple idea makes me so happy and fills me with so much joy! It’s such a good feeling when your class becomes a little family, and you see your kids being extra kind to one another! Head on over to Susan’s blog to snag this freebie yourself!

Below are some great books for upper elementary students that touch on topics like kindness, gratitude, helping others, compassion, and caring. They are a perfect way to introduce this activity!

I’m also linking up with the fabulous Mary from Teaching with a Mountain View for her Holidays in the Upper Grades linky! Head on over to her blog to link up!

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Speaking of community building, and random acts of kindness, we are coming up on the one year anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook. As we approach this date, the people of Sandy Hook have asked that people commit random acts of kindness to honor the loss of their precious loved ones. Remember to continue the kindness all year long, and to share your random acts of kindness this week (and all year!) to remember Sandy Hook. #love4SH

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4 Comments

  1. I so love this idea. Just downloaded the freebie! Planning on starting this with my 5th graders tomorrow. Thanks for sharing.

    Kim
    Quinnessential Lessons

  2. I am with Kim! I am having a pajama day/Polar Express day with my 5th graders tomorrow and needed an activity beforehand. This is absolutely perfect! Thank you for sharing. I love it!

  3. I missed out in this for this year, but I’m thinking of adapting it for Valentine’s Day and making everyone a heart instead of a stocking. Thank you!

    1. Kristine Nannini says:

      That is SUCH a great idea, Michelle! Thanks so much for sharing! I’d love to hear how it goes!

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