paper house craft

At my work I am in charge of planning activities for the after school Kindergarten-6th grade kids we have at the daycare.  This means drawing, coloring, playing games, having movie time, putting together crafts, and whatever else you can think of to keep a group of energetic kids busy and happy until their parents come pick them up.  Sometimes I feel like I can't come up with anything new or interesting for them to do.  Other times I stumble across a neat idea on Pinterest and think to myself, "Duh, this is so simple but yet different enough from what we've been doing lately!  Why didn't I think of this?!"

On the days when the kids are dismissed early it's helpful to have an extra activity or two planned to keep them occupied.  We're finally far enough along in the school year and have had enough of those super early dismissals (12:30!) for me to know how best to keep the kids occupied.  One of our recent 12:30 dismissal day schedules went like this:

Played outside for about an hour.
Moved to the gym and got out the hula hoops and some basketballs.  Some of the girls helped me put together a huge paper chain (made out of fall colors) to hang up downstairs.  We had made paper chains the previous day for the kids to take home and there were enough leftover strips to make another for decoration at the school.
Snack time!
Finished the last twenty or so minutes of the movie we had been watching that week (Mulan).
Went out on the playground again (but not for as long as earlier because it was cooler).
Then we came inside to make cute little paper houses (more on that shortly) followed by watching a bit of Spy Kids while a few of the kids helped me make a "Happy Thanksgiving" sign to go along with our massive paper chain.

On normal dismissal days the kids get to the daycare at 3:30, so adjusting the schedule for their early arrival takes some finagling.  The kids get thrown off by the change of schedule too, so it just takes a bit of patience and flexibility from everyone to help things run smoothly.

Now on to these cute little paper houses.  (The smaller one is white because I didn't have time to color it.)

I like doing folded paper crafts with the kids because they're usually simple enough to be done without much help but it's still more involved than coloring or drawing, so it holds attention better.  I think the kids like them because something is created right before their own eyes and it's something they made on their own.

These little paper houses were discovered at Design Mom.  There are two templates: A School House and a Little House.  According to the instructions they're supposed to be little gift boxes, but I had the kids fold over the two tabs on the top and tape the top shut so the roof was closed.  One of the girls told me though that she's going to cut open the door so she could put her Polly Pockets in there.  :)  It was mostly the Kindergarten and 1st grade kids who needed help cutting out and folding up their houses.  On the super early dismissal days we have less kids than we usually do which made handling this project pretty easy.  There's no way I would attempt this craft if we had over thirty after school kids.

That's part of the challenge with finding things for the kids to do.  We typically have more than thirty kids in the Kindergarten-6th grade group so coming up with an activity to keep them busy without driving me insane can be difficult.  This challenge pushes me to get creative and sometimes change plans last minute to accommodate a changing schedule or the needs of the kids.  I really enjoy my job and and doing activities with the kids.  It's fun.  :)