Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Making Holiday Ornaments

Can you say PROCRASTINATION?! Last year, my class made their parent gifts way back at the beginning of December. Here it is, almost time for break... and we just started them! Oops. At least the craft that we make is super easy... I have included lots of pics to make it easy for you to follow if you are interested in making these too! I really wish you could smell the "goodness" of these ornaments through the computer... they are delicious. As we were making them we had at least 4 staff members stop in our room because they could smell them from the hallway!! Oh and did I mention... they are super cheap!? A teacher's dream right?
You will first need to gather your materials. You can make the dough ahead of time and store in an airtight container so it doesn't dry out. I made all of the dough at home the night before so it was easier clean-up. Plus, then you don't have to haul everything in to the school. You will need: flour, salt, cinnamon and water. Yep. That's it!
To make the ornaments at school you will also need a variety of cookie cutters, a rolling pin (if you don't have one- the kids can just squish the dough down with their hands) and a spatula. If you mix the dough at school you will also need a measuring cup, a bowl and a spoon.

The recipe is super simple:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup cinnamon
3/4 cup very warm water

As you can see in my picture above, I went totally generic and cheap with the ingredients. I have found that buying quality products doesn't give me any different of a result... so cheap it is!
Add all of your ingredients together in a bowl and mix well. If the dough seems sticky, add a little flour. If the dough seems crumby or hard, add a little water. The consistency should be like play-doh. After mixing it a bit with the spoon, you might have to just dig in and mix with your hands!

Sprinkle some flour on your work surface so the dough doesn't stick and roll out a chunk of it. I would give students a chunk about the size of a tangerine (weird comparison?). Have them roll it so it is between 1/2" and 1/4" thick. If they get too thin... they can easily break. If you go thicker... they will take a little while longer to dry. 

Use the cookie cutters to cut the shapes. Here are a few pictures of my kids working on cutting them.

If the dough is stuck to the counter, use the spatula to gently scoop it off. Use a straw to put a hole in the top of the ornament so that a string/ribbon can be tied through it. Make sure the piece of dough is completely removed from the hole. (Note: if the hole is too close to the edge, the ornament will probably break.)
I had my students place their ornaments on a tray that was covered in wax paper. They put their names on a post it note and stuck it near them so when they were dry we could easily hand them back out. They take between 24-36 hours to dry. After they are dry, I always write the student's name on the back and the school year.
As you can see in the picture, as the dough starts to dry it turns into a lighter tan color. Now the choice is yours. You can either leave them the color they are and put a ribbon on them or you can have your kiddos paint them. We painted ours using regular acrylic paints. (Don't laugh at my example. I painted it under the document camera and it is UGLY...)
Allow some time for the acrylic paint to dry, tie a ribbon or string through the hole and BOOM you are done! The kids absolutely love making these ornaments and each one is so unique. Each one of my kiddos makes two ornaments (unless they have what we call in my classroom a "perfect situation" which means they have more parents to make ornaments for). We wrap them up and make some cards to send home with them. So simple and they smell SO GOOD! If you are procrastinating with parent gifts this year... try making these! :)

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