The Candy Cane Workshop!

One of the most fun things we do all year is the "Candy Cane Workshop". This is a one day get-together with kids to "shop and wrap gifts" for their families with Santa dollars that they earn by doing school work. The kids actually buy things for their parents (without their parents watching!). 

November and December seem to be months filled with holidays and weeks that are unconventional. To keep our school efforts going I came up with a fun approach to keep kids motivated.

The first year we did this, we involved five or six families...and it turned out terrific, we've tried to do it ever since.

Here's how you can join in on the fun:

1. Sit down and write out different "projects to earn Santa Dollars". I choose reading, writing, and history projects, but you can choose topics that fit your family. Write them up on a chart so kids can see exactly how to earn money (see a sample here).

2. Present Candy Cane Workshop project chart to kids. Go over each project and answer any questions.

3. Start collecting wrapping paper, tape, and used items. We ask around the neighborhood and friends, and any family that was involved.

4. Help kids to start working on projects. Help them keep track of projects they earn. *Kids are pretty quick to figure out how to earn the most dollars in the fewest/easiest ways. Encourage them to also work on harder projects.

On the day of the workshop:

I try to have older kids help with setting up, wrapping and clean up. If you have enough help, parents can go and enjoy an afternoon off. If not, have parents not be in the room when their child is shopping.

1. Set up the  "Candy Cane Gift Shop" with tables and all the gift items that you've collected. Price everything with stickers, make sure to have a dollar table for those small things. Have shopping baskets available.

2. Set up a "Wrapping Area" where kids will wrap all presents (with a little help from older kids) and label them. Have large bags for the kids to take their gifts home in.

3. When kids come to the Candy Cane Workshop, they must go to the "Candy Cane Bank" to show their list of completed projects and receive the money they have earned. The parents are the ones that checked off the list, the banker's job is just to give money (download play Christmas money here in $1$5$10$20 and $50denominations. To print them out, set your printer to landscape mode.).

4. We give paper and pencil to each child and have them write down the people in their family. This helps them remember that they are shopping for others and not themselves.

5. Line up youngest to oldest. We split the group into 2 groups and let them shop at the "Candy Cane Gift Shop" for 10 minutes. Then, they pay the cashier for their purchases. They can get 2 items on this first shopping trip.

6. Let the older shoppers go shopping for 2 items.

7. Let the younger group shop again for 2 items.

8. Younger group goes to "Wrapping Area" and starts wrapping. Older group goes shopping.

More hints: After about 2 shopping trips we allow everyone to buy something for themselves. We also slash prices near the end of the day.

This is a great way to learn about shopping for others, money management, making change and learning to wrap presents.

It is a crazy day of fun and bustle without all the mall crowds. Everyone gets to clean out their "used treasures" and the kids get to shop for new (gently used) things.

On the following pages you will see the Candy Cane Workshop handouts for the year we studied The Middle Ages.  The kids went to work and did lots of projects to earn their Santa Dollars! It was great self-motivated learning! Kept the kids learning and Mom happy!

You can leave your thoughts, comments or suggestions here on my feedback page. Thanks!

- Kari