Louise Blake comes back to us once more for some great ideas that are seasonal and practical. Let us know if you try some of these activities. Enjoy! ~EMP
Christmas and the Holiday season is one of the best times to be a teacher – the plays, the music and the kids’ excitement couldn’t create a more festive environment. The only problem is, all this excitement can make for hyperactive kids that find it difficult to concentrate on your lessons.
So, how do you motivate your class over the holiday season? As the enthusiasm for the time of year is already there, the best thing to do is to harness this and try to focus it on the task at hand – which means lots of festive activities!
First of all, make small changes to make your working environment more celebratory. Swap your usual reward stamps and stickers for festive ones, and dress up the classroom with a bit of tinsel. You could also have an advent calendar that counts the days until the school break, and pop a fun activity in each pocket to start the day off on a good note. It could be anything from a sing-along to a seasonal song, a reading from The Night Before Christmas, playing a quick game of dreidel, or a small winter wordsearch.
The History of the Holidays
Try centering your history lessons around learning about Jesus and St Nick, but also about other great people who sacrificed a lot for the better of the world – Ghandi, Martin Luther King and Buddha. You can invite students’ parents to come in and talk about their traditions and the histories of those traditions including Hanukkah, Ramadan, and Kwanzaa. Many children aren’t aware that the true meaning of these holidays is about giving, and it can be an interesting topic to engage in discussion about; what do they think about these figures who gave up a lot so they could give back to everyone else?
Teaching about these holidays throughout history can also be an absorbing topic, especially if focused on what it was like for children of your class’s own age. Think about the Puritans who effectively cancelled Christmas, outlawing it in several settlements, and what Christmas and other holidays would have been like for servants.
Geography and Christmas
Geography lessons can provide a great basis for learning about holiday traditions around the world. Put up a big world map on your classroom wall, and get students to draw pictures and then cut them out to stick them onto the map as you learn about each country.
Another idea is to go through the geography of the North Pole – what’s the climate like, and what animals live there? You could even turn this into a mixed media project, and create a mural.
Festive English Exercises
There are numerous festive writing exercises you can get your class to participate in – why not ask them to write a short story from the point of view of a child celebrating Christmas in another part of the world, or in one of the areas you covered in your History lesson? You could also have them write a Christmas letter to Santa, though asking for things not for themselves, but for others in the world that need more than they do.
For younger children, counting and math skills can be practiced with festive objects, like Santa hats, stars, snowmen, dreidels or Christmas puddings. For older pupils, rewrite math problems into holiday scenarios, for example, “If you bake two dozen Christmas cookies, and Santa eats six, how many cookies will you have left?”
Do you have any more inventive, festive activities to keep your class motivated in the build up to the holidays?