This month marks a different pace and atmosphere in the classroom. It’s the last month of the calendar year and the last few weeks before a long-awaited winter break. The whole month may feel like “Holiday Eve” in ways that can be fun, but also distracting. However, it is an opportunity to roll with the excitement and use ways to keep kids happy to be at school when they may be counting down to the special holiday festivities with family. Here are some ways you can integrate some holiday cheer and traditions so that your students don’t feel like you are a complete Grinch!
Share the diversity of winter holidays
Start off the month with making students aware of the wonderfully diverse ways people celebrate the winter holidays. Wonderopolis has great background information and activities.
Jump on The Polar Express
It doesn’t seem right to start December and the winter months and not involve Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express. Read the book to your students yourself with hot cocoa and gingerbread to go around or play this video reading by Teacher Reads.
Integrate holiday cheer in every shape and form
Kids love food. This time of year, they LOVE festive food. Here is a lesson plan based off of Common Core standards on having students decorate a holiday tree cookie.
Elves are not just parent helpers in guiding behavior. Here are some creative ideas for using Elf on the Shelf in the classroom!
You can integrate holiday themes, graphics, stories, and more within worksheets, lesson plans, class activities, etc. Here is how one kindergarten teacher uses Christmas math centers and activities in the classroom.
Get students to express gratitude
Let’s not forget the art of letter writing. Have students practice their writing skills and social-emotional learning by writing and designing holiday cards for someone they’d like to show gratitude for. To get ideas, have students look through the holiday cards from the archives of American Art.
Bring that Dickens’ essence to your classroom
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a classic for the holidays and the perfect study for literature. Here is a curated collection of free resources for teaching A Christmas Carol that includes the full movie, curriculum units, lesson plans and more.
Want to bring A Christmas Carol to the next level? ReadWriteThink offers a lesson plan and ideas on throwing a “Dickens-themed party” in your classroom! That for sure will keep students engaged right until the bell rings for winter break!
Get kids thinking productively for the new year
You are never too young to create New Year’s resolutions.
Here are templates to help students map out what they would like to accomplish or improve within themselves in the coming year.
Whatever you do, recognize that the winter break and possible celebrates are on students’ minds. Why not bring some of these in your classroom? What holiday traditions do you implement with your students?