Celebrating and Learning About December Holidays, Part 2 — Christmas
- Grades: 1–2
The mall is playing Christmas songs; at home, trees are decorated and lights are hung. The weather is chilly, and Christmas is on the lips of every child old enough to talk.
The day I put up the December calendar in my classroom, students started asking, "How many more days until Christmas?" Every day, when we work on our morning calendar activities, we make counting down to Christmas a part of our routine. Join me with my class as we get into the Christmas spirit by reading Christmas books, and making ornaments for the trees and cards to send to our families and friends.
The month of December is a short one, and there is so much to do! I know that many teachers feel the pressure to stay on their pacing plan with their curriculum, but there is always time to squeeze in some Christmas fun along the way. For instance, Scholastic has an excellent Winter Holidays site that will help you start planning for the holidays. The site includes clip art, an interactive scrapbook for each holiday, and some wonderful, concise holiday history tidbits. There is also a great teacher activity guide for winter holidays that you can download or email.
I always plan my classroom Christmas party for the last Friday before we go on Winter Break. This year, we are planning a Polar Express pajama party. The children and I will dress in our pajamas and pretend to board the Polar Express to go to the North Pole. We will sing songs, play games, sip hot cocoa, and watch the movie. Our parties usually last an hour or so and take place after lunch. We have an array of snacks such as popcorn, a veggie tray, a fruit tray, and some cheese and crackers. The students have their normal lunch and recess before our party while the parents set up.
Cards and Ornaments
Every year, we make a card and gift for our Little Buddies, a card and gift for our parents, and some cards for our school staff. As a teacher, I am always racking my brains and stalking craft blogs for easy new ideas for holiday cards and crafts. Here are some of the cards and ornaments that we enjoy creating year after year.
Directed line drawing Snowman, Santa and Rudolph Card: I draw with them step by step for each of these cards. Then we trace our pencil lines with sharpie and watercolor. The results are beautiful.
Reindeer Hand and Foot Card: The children partner up to help each other trace their shoe once and their hand once onto a folded piece of brown paper. We cut out eyes and a nose, then a sprig of holly with berries.
Snowman Snow Globe Card: We draw a snowman in a forest with crayon. Then, we watercolor the background blue and glue a base of brown to it. Finally, we create a frame around the snowman snow globe with scrap gift wrap paper.
Reindeer Faces Card: Have each student dip their fingertip into brown paint and press it onto card stock in three spots. Once the spots are dry, take brown and black markers and add details. Glue on a small red pom-pom and googlie eyes to create Rudolph!
Snowman Ball Ornament: A kindergarten teacher at my school makes these cute ornaments for her kids to take home. The photo is from the step-by-step tutorial I found at the blog Full of Great Ideas.
Calendar Art: Some of the teachers create a calendar for their parent gifts. The students work on twelve art projects, one for each month. Then you mount the art into a bound twelve month calendar. The results are cute, but getting twelve art projects finished before Christmas is challenging. Other teachers have modified this project so that it's four art projects, one for each season, glued to a poster board with a blank, rip-off calendar stapled to the bottom.
Frame Ornament: I bought these paper coasters in the dollar section at Michael's. They come eight in a package. You can get free coasters at many restaurants, but those generally soak up a lot of paint and need several coats. The ones that I have purchased from Michael's are lightly varnished. Kids glue pasta shells to the very outside edge of the coaster, and then I spray them gold or silver. I take their picture and trim it to fit into the center, and they have a lovely ornament to take home.
Rudolph Ornament: Use a regular size candy cane, a brown pipe cleaner, googlie eyes, and a red pom-pom to create this easy ornament. We usually make these for our Little Buddies to go with the reindeer card. Check out the tutorial on elmers.com.
I have tons of Christmas books in my personal stash. Here are some of my favorites. I especially love reading Santa Who? by Gail Gibbons because it has historical facts about how the legend of Santa has evolved in different cultures. Be prepared to answer questions and mediate arguments about whether Santa is real or not.
Well, I hope that you found some fun ideas that you can use in your classroom for your holiday celebrations. Join me next week as I conclude my December holidays series with a unit on Kwanzaa.