Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Winter Party Ideas and 2009 Recap

SO I know everyone's holiday parties are over, but if you are looking for some winter projects for January/February or ideas for next year below is a few. For our classroom party this year I had parents bring in bottled water, a veggie tray, fruit tray, cookies, cupcakes, and a few salty snacks. I supplied a "hot chocolate bar" which included zoo pals children's cups with LIDS, homemade hot chocolate, fresh whipped cream, homemade marshmallows and crushed peppermint for toppings. The children decorated winter themed bags from Oriental Trading (to then take all their goodies home in), made bookmarks and penguin thermometers from Oriental Trading, scarves (see pic below) and snowmen out of powdered doughnuts.

Homemade Hot Chocolate
Really the powdered stuff just won't do after you make the real thing!! Plus it's much better for the kids and it's not difficult to make!
3 cups Whole Milk
2 cups Half & Half
1/4cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/4 cup Milk Chocolate Chips
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
Combine the milk and half & half together in a pan and heat until it starts to simmer (watch the sides of the pan and when the milk begins to form tiny bubbles pull it off the heat). Whisk the chocolate into the milk and when it's melted add the vanilla and sugar. Gently reheat and serve. TIP - I actually have a great thermos/dispenser I bought at Target a few years ago. You just press a button on the top and the hot chocolate squirts out. If this isn't something you want to invest in then once the milk is reheated pour it back into the carton and wrap with foil to transport to the school.

Fresh Whipped Cream
2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream
1/4 cup Sugar
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
The colder the cream the faster it whips so make sure you store it in the back of your fridge. Pour the cream into your mixing bowl and turn your mixer on high. Whip the cream until soft peaks begin to form (this means you can see the ripples the beater makes in the cream). Add the sugar and vanilla and whip a bit longer until the sugar is incorporated. Make sure not to whip it too long or it will turn into butter.

I'll be posting a more detailed "tutorial" on these later this week.

Prior to the winter party we also did food crafts the 2 Fridays in December before break. The first Friday we made gum drop art (pictured at the top of this post and then right below is a peppermint snail, a butterscotch bug and a gum drop tree lollipop)which were inspired from the Martha Stewart site.

You make these using gum drops, peppermints or butterscotch candies, licorice rope and candy perils or jimmies for the eyes. The dollar store is a great place to purchase cheap candy. This is definitely a project for 2nd graders and older. Have the children use their scissors to cut the gum drops in half, then use the sticky side to attach the gum drop to the peppermint or butterscotch candy. If you want your bugs to have antennas then have them cut the licorice rope and attach it to the sticky side of the gum drop before they press it onto the peppermint. We then just used baby wipes to clean the scissors and it worked really well. If you want to make gum drop trees just have the children push the lollipop sticks (available at any craft or candy making store) through the gum drops. Cut another gum drop in a different color and attach the pieces with the sticky sides to the green gum drops and finish it off with licorice rope as garland. The kids also made gum drop snowmen and some even made their own little people. Let them be creative. NOTE: Your teacher will love you more if you bring cute bags for the children to take their candy art HOME in.

The second Friday we made graham cracker houses. I pre-assembled these houses at home the night before so it would take less class time and so they would be dry and ready to decorate. I know there used to be a project like this that used milk cartons but that's too much trouble for me. I just bought Great Value brand graham crackers and Betty Crocker White Cookie Decorating Icing in a bag (you can find this in the cake aisle of the grocery stores and Walmart). This icing is worth the splurge because it works like glue and sets in a matter of seconds. You just squirt some on the side hold it together for 5-10 seconds and then work on another side. I actually made little boxes and let them dry for ten minutes before adding the pitched roof. Below is a picture of what they looked like when I was almost done making them. I then just took the left over bagged icing and other canned icing and let the children use M&M's, gum drops, mini candy canes, fruit by the foot and little cookies & pretzels to be creative and decorate the house. Again, Martha Stewart's site has some great ideas. I do find though that when you give the children a picture or an example they get stuck on making it exactly like the example. If you just give them the house and the supplies they are far more creative.

Some other great ideas I received from my daughter's teacher and friends:

  1. Let the kids unwrap Hershey Kisses wearing mittens.
  2. Have the children try to wrap presents wearing mittens.
  3. Have the children in pairs decorate each other like snowmen using toilet paper, scarves, hats and folded orange cardstock with ribbon to attach as the nose.
  4. Using a straw and two dixie cups have the children move M&M's from one cup to another sucking the M&M onto the end of the straw. The first one to move all their M&M's wins.

1 comment:

  1. I've had this hot chocolate. It is gooooooood stuff!