November 14, 2012

Thanksgiving Vests

I am knee deep in Thanksgiving in my classroom. We have all next week off, which is great, but I have to be DONE with Thanksgiving in THREE school days. I am almost in freak out mode!
We still have to create our necklaces and drums, finish the place mats and laminate them, add feathers to our headbands (see this post on how I do this in my room), and we have to tape what we are thankful for to create a video! That is a LOT to do. 

{Why oh why did I plan this on THURSDAY not Friday!}

The only reason I am NOT panicking is I FINISHED THE VESTS TODAY!
(Okay, my assistant was a huge help too!)
 They are DONE!
Here is how I make our vests.
{I had NO CLUE how to do this my first year so I hope this helps you guys out there!)

First- I buy XL t shirts and dye them tan (or light brown) in my washing machine. I think this size works best for everyone. Once they are dry... I write each students Native American name on the back with a Sharpie. The big key here is putting a thick sheet of paper in the middle so the marker and paint do not go through to the front.
Then I draw the symbol for that name. (Please no not laugh at my drawings... I am no pro!)
Next, we stamp pictures on the front using craft paint. We put three on each side, but  leave the middle empty.
Last, We cut the sleeves and bottom of the t-shirts. (I personally do not bead them, but I know many who do! This is your choice.) I leave the girls shirts just like this... so they look like a dress. I cut the boys shirts up the middle so they look like vests.

If you need some FUN and meaningful Thanksgiving Activities for the remaining days of school, please check out this unit. 
Do you make Native American vests for your class?


  1. Yes, I do a Thanksgiving program with Indian costumes. We make vests from grocery bags and sponge paint patterns on them. We make headbands with feathers and macaroni necklaces. We sing several little songs and recite a couple poems. Kids are very excited for their first program and parents love it.

  2. I love the tutorial! Does it not mess up your wash with the dye in there?? We do paper bag vests from the grocery store. I might need to try those though.
    Kindergarten Korner

    1. It does not mess up my washer. I run bleach through it afterwards, which is good to do from time to time anyways. They are a HUGE hit!

  3. I have taught kindergarten for twenty years and I picked up many activities like this from the other teachers in my class. We also used paper bags for many years before dying shirts like you do. I ask parents to send in one of the dad's shirts which makes it more personal and also saves me $. We also make headbands and the kids earn feathers too. We've always had them learn their phone number, address, birthday and extra bonus feather for tying their own shoes. We dyed noodles for necklaces for many years and had the kids put the noodles in a pattern. I've changed things over the years and last year I decided I had dyed my last noodle ... We gave the children one bead for each sight word they could read. It sounds like a lot of beads, but a package from Walmart has 400 beads. I always have enough. We've had 62 sight words so far this year and I am very pleased with how many have that many beads on their necklaces. This is one of my favorite holidays and I love doing all this stuff. It certainly can be stressful, but somehow we get it all done in time.

  4. Oh, I also wanted to add that I would always make my own children a vest every year and even one for myself as sleep shirts. My darlings wore their shirts for years and years. They are now very precious to me and I'll probably keep them forever. My youngest is now 15 and hasn't worn his for several years, but I will be dying my grandson's tomorrow night. :o)

  5. Some activities are universal, I think. Yes - I did the grocery bag vests and dyed the noodles too for many years. Love the idea of dying tshirts since the kids can have them forever! Renee