TIPS FOR SUCCESS:
1. Add water to your paint bottle to thin the paint. Thinner paint is easier to stamp and much easier to wash off. The paint also dries quickly and the paper flattens more easily as well.
2. Always make two handprints at a time so students wash two hands at a time and speed up the process.
3. Use the same color on hands to make multiple prints (the shamrock and Christmas tree can be made from the same hand and then the other hand can be used to create another single hand design, creating three months in one round!)
4. Assign a student as the "soaper" and another as the paper towel helper. This eliminates the mess and makes the process into a clockwork like system. The water stays on and kids move through the line quickly! I had another student that was the "paper transporter" moving painted papers to a shelf space for drying.
5. Do all of the "extra" painting while you are creating the handprints. (When students make their September tree, have them wash their hands and add the fall leaves. When students make their American flag, have them add the white dots for the stars after washing.). I dried the paper and then had students add details creating twice the drying time and twice the work.
6. Assemble the calendars and allow students to use a box of sharpies to decorate each page on their own. Show them examples of how to embellish each page and then let them get to work. I worked with groups of 4 to 6 and walked them through each page. I could have just as easily put out a big bag of sharpies and let the kids work at the same time, taking turns with the different colors and working on different pages. It would have taken the whole class about 20-30 minutes to embellish their calendars all at one time.
7. The last step is to add computer label poems. I should have printed all the poems on a single sheet per student and let them match each poem with the correct month. I printed the poems by month and it was a labeling nightmare. If each child had their own sheet of stickers to work with the task could have been accomplished in a few minutes. The kids new which poem went with each month and didn't actually need my guidance with this. If only I had done all 12 months on a single sheet. Feel free to download the full set of poems that I adapted from the cute poems on The Sharpened Pencil blog. I wanted my poems to fit on a smaller labels (to save on cost) so I made the poems each just four lines long.
8. When a set of month papers are dried, stack them under a pile of dictionaries to flatten. It will help them to bind more easily.
9. Paint hands as students come in during arrival. You have tons of energy to power through the process while making it enjoyable and meaningful for each student... and they'll be dry for you to stack on your lunch break.
10. The different color papers for each month were cute, but make it easier and more cost effective by simply purchasing a ream of off-white/tan/cream card stock. It will save you time on planning and eliminate counting out sets for each month's specific color.
Here's a great order that I will use next year when/if I create these adorable handprint calendars again.
Day 1 - green and red paint: March shamrock with palm print, May caterpillar body with palm print, and December Christmas tree with palm and fingers (no thumb), red palm print for caterpillar head (use other hand), and half of the February heart (be sure to note which hand you are using and then begin with red on the other hand tomorrow).
Day 2 - white and red paint: February heart (be sure to paint the correct hand for the remaining side of the heart), January snowmen with palm prints, and March rabbit with palm and fingers (no thumb)
Day 3 - light and dark purple paint: June butterfly with light purple, and calendar cover with dark purple (paint over students light purple hands swirling the colors to make the darker shade consistent)
Day 4 - black paint: October spider with palm and fingers
Day 5 - brown, red, orange, yellow, and green paint: September tree with one hand, November turkey with brown on palm and thumb, and other colors on each finger for turkey feathers
Day 6 - red, blue, and orange paint - July flag with palm blue and fingers red, and August fish with orange handprint (you could also begin with a red palm print and make an August apple instead of a fish...)
This was such a special gift to so many of my families this year! I hope your students and their families will enjoy it as much as mine did! Happy holidays and happy handprinting!