When students come back from their Thanksgiving break, chances are Christmas is quite the topic of conversation. Students who celebrate the holiday may have already started to help with decorating the tree, hanging stockings, or even developed the lists they plan to mail to Santa. Here are some fun ways that you can incorporate Christmas themes into your classroom. If your school does not allow Christmas to be celebrated because of religious connotation, some of these themes can be changed to a winter or holiday celebration.
Greeting cards can be used regardless of the religion, whether it is to wish someone a merry Christmas, a happy Hanukah, or just a great New Year. In the classroom, they can help develop grammar and writing skills, spelling, handwriting, foreign languages, art, or even computer skills. Depending on the skills you want to focus on, you can have students draw or use computer art programs for the artwork, as well as practice different writing styles for the message. For instance, they can practice a style of poetry you have been working on, include your winter-themed spelling words, write in a foreign language, or use cursive writing instead of printing. Consider spreading the good cheer by sending the cards to a local hospital, nursing home, or orphanage.
Depending on the age level of your students and your core curriculum, there are a variety of Christmas stories available. Older children can read "A Christmas Carol" and discuss the themes behind the three ghosts. Religious classes can delve into the original Christmas story in the Bible. You can even read "The Night Before Christmas" and discuss the poetry and older vocabulary words during that time. For writing assignments, have students write a modern day version of classic tales.
Nearly everyone loves giving and receiving gifts for the holidays, and most children have at least a general concept of money. Use this opportunity to create basic math problems, design budgets for how much they can spend per family member, or come up with computer spreadsheets to track their holiday spending. You can even bring in ads from various stores for children to price compare favorite holiday items.
If your students are ready to talk about sizes and shapes or surface area, you can use gift wrapping as an illustration. Give students different-sized pieces of wrapping paper and have them measure the item and paper to see if it will fit.
For students that are just learning their numbers, counting can be an excellent way to reinforce the concept. Create a calendar counting down the days until Christmas, the last day of school before vacation, New Year's, or other important winter events. Have students practice counting by 5s, 10s, or backwards. Older students can take this a step further and figure out how many hours or minutes are left.
If you have access to an oven, baking can be a great way to talk about measurements and time. Or you can have students bring in a favorite family recipe and talk about how it was passed down through the years. You can even look and see how different flavors came to be used in cookies and where different spices originated from.
With many houses hanging twinkling lights up for Christmas, or lighting candles for Hanukah, this can be a great way to start a look into basic electricity and how it works. It can also be a jumping off point for safety discussions like how to prevent fires or disaster plans.
Then you have an excellent opportunity to talk about weather and climates. You can teach students how to measure precipitation, discuss factors like how cold it has to be to snow, or compare and contrast the climate in different parts of the country.
If you live in a location that is quite inclement in the winter time, you can use this as an opportunity to discuss wildlife and pet needs. Make bird feeders or treats to hang in the yard. You may also talk about the importance of bringing animals indoors when it gets too cold outside. You can even use this as a discussion how in some areas of the world the farm animals live in the house with their owners.
For some students, the holidays may be the only chance they get each year to see relatives that live out of state. This can be a great way to introduce map reading skills, discuss different climates, or learn to read airline schedules. Older classes can use the internet to plan imaginary trips to far off countries and discuss flight plans and what to pack for the weather.
The winter holidays can be a great way to incorporate Christmas into your classroom. Beyond the annual Christmas party, these are just some ideas that you can use to make Christmas last the whole month long.