Hooray!!! December is here! This month is about to fly by! Are you ready? I’m here this week with some ideas to keep your kiddos engaged during this exciting, busy, and festive month.
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I’ll never forget the conversation I had with a colleague one year about celebrating holidays at school. She told me that she was doing curriculum up until the very last day before break. I looked at her like she was crazy. “But you don’t want to have fun with your kids?!?” She replied “Oh, we have fun! But we are still doing curriculum.”
You can actually hear us talk about that in a recent podcast episode.
But let’s be real, this time of year is crazy. If you are in the States you most likely just got back from a nice, relaxing Thanksgiving Break. Then you have to kick it into high gear for three and a half weeks.
We’re tired. Our kids are tired.
This is the perfect time of year to add some really fun engagement into your lessons that not only allows you to continue to teach the curriculum, but also allows you to teach about other holidays and cultures.
Listed below are a few things I have done in the past to celebrate the month of December.
Rotations for Holiday Celebrations
Our second grade team is notorious for doing rotations during the last week before Christmas break. By this point in the year, the days are dragging on and your students are pretty much done. Heck, YOU are pretty much done. So rotations has always seemed like a fun way to change things up.
Jan Brett Rotations
This set of rotations really isn’t even holiday related. Jan Brett’s books are books set in the winter, some of them do have Christmas themes. Each teacher takes a different Jan Brett book and creates some kind of lesson/craft to go with the book. This is a SUPER EASY way to incorporate writing (which always seems so hard for us to get in!). The kids also get super excited about getting to create something with their hands.
You could read “The Hat” and do a directed drawing of one of the animals from the story and then have the kids write about the characteristics of that animal. (Okay..I think I just came up with my Jan Brett plan for this year!). *Pro Tip, record the directed drawing steps on the iPad once and hit play for each group. Less directed drawings for you! You’re welcome!
It’s also great because a lot of her books are on YouTube as a read aloud. Typically I’ll read the book two or three times during the day, but some rotations I just pop on the YouTube video so I can work on lesson plans or finish grades.
World Holiday Rotations
This is a fun one too! Each teacher takes a different country and researches how that country celebrates the holidays. You could even get books from the library and have each group that comes through your room do the research! (Hello reading TEKS!)
Again, you can come up with a simple craft or writing prompt for students to do to respond to what they learned.
I have also done this same concept with New Years Eve celebrations around the world! Some of my kids don’t even know about the ball dropping! So America’s NYE traditions is definitely one to be on the list!!!
Other Holiday Celebration Ideas
Looking for things to do in your classroom on your own? Here are a couple of my ideas for that!
December, for us at least, is a crazy busy month because you are having to complete MOY testing, get grades in, finish up end of unit tests. Bahhh…so much!
In years past I have read two to three Christmas books (How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Polar Express, Night Tree, etc.) Reflecting back on this, I can see that a better strategy would be to read books celebrating various holidays- not just Christmas. However, in my school, most of my students celebrated Christmas or didn’t celebrate holidays at all.
Anyways, after reading we talk about each story, the characters, setting, problem, solution, etc. Then I give each student a pack of paper. All of the pieces make a dodecahedron (which is a 12 sided 3-D Shape).
Each page tells what the students are to do (write the setting and draw a picture, choose a new word and write the definition and draw a picture, etc.).
Then, when they are all done they cut out all the pieces and I staple them together. Then we can hang them in our from the ceiling for some fun decoration! This is one of those fun projects, that takes a lot of time and is ACTUALLY making them use their brain and review concepts taught so far this year!
Grab your dodecagon packet in the shop. ALSO!!! It is BILINGUAL! Thanks to my gal pal Google and work buddy Robert!
Holiday Read Aloud/Play
One of the most fun things I have done in all my years of teaching is a holiday play. This actually wasn’t even my idea! One of my sweet girls came in one day and asked if we could do a Christmas play cause she was really into theater. I could not tell her no. So I said yes. And then I scoured the internet for a read aloud that would allow for fifteen students to participate. I found this read aloud on TPT. And it was perfect!
I broke up each of the narrator sections so that each student had one to two lines to memorize. We practiced all the Christmas songs. We sent home invites to parents and we had ourselves a Christmas show! The kids loved it! The parents loved it! It was a lot of work for sure…but SO worth it!
Celebration of Work
I LOVED the idea that Ginger shared on the podcast about inviting parents to a “Celebration of Work” on the last day of school. Parents are already coming to school to celebrate with their kids, so why not show off some of the hard work you have been doing with them?
Plus, it allows you to combine the celebration + a party (if that’s your thing!). And then, after the celebration, parents can take those kiddos HOME! That’s what we all really want anyways, right?!?!
You can listen to our conversation about intentional lesson planning and then towards the end we talk about celebrating the holidays at school.
These are just a few ideas for holiday celebrations. One thing I did with my kids last year was a Random Acts of Kindness Challenge. It is twelve days of random acts of kindness leading up to the holiday break. What a great way to get your kids to look for the small in the middle of our busy days! Want to do it with your kids? Visit my TPT store and download the freebie!
Until next time,