December in kindergarten can be a wild ride! Students are just coming back from Thanksgiving break, and they know that their winter holiday break is right around the corner. This can make planning for December seem like a daunting task. After all, how are we supposed to keep students engaged and learning when all they seem to care about is the upcoming holidays? Hopefully, these simple December planning tips for kindergarten will help you get to planning learning activities that will do just that!
Include the Holidays
This may seem obvious to some, but if all students can think about is the holidays, you might as well include them in your lesson plans. One of my favorite ways to do this is by teaching a Christmas Around the World unit. Throughout the unit, your students can read about how holidays are celebrated in different places, you can share holiday read alouds from around the world, and your students can even write about different topics pertaining to the different holiday traditions. Basically, you can take care of your entire literacy block through a Christmas Around the World unit. This is a great way to include the holidays and still keep students learning all December long!
It is also super easy to include the holidays in your centers or morning tub activities. In my December Morning Tubs, I have both winter- and Christmas-themed activities that include things like snowmen number puzzles, gingerbread ten frames, and hot cocoa beginning sounds! Including the Christmas theme, which students are already focused on, just brings an extra element of engagement to centers and morning tubs!
Keep Activities Hands-On
Another way to keep students engaged as winter break approaches is to keep activities as hands-on as possible. Even better, combine this tip with the last one, and expose your students to activities that are both hands-on and Christmas themed! One option for doing this is by incorporating Christmas STEM activities into your December plans. Students will love hands-on challenges like building a marshmallow house for elves using only marshmallows and toothpicks!
You can also keep students engaged with some hands-on Christmas crafting! Reindeer, Christmas trees, Santa crafts–the options are endless! To give the fun Christmas crafts an educational aspect, you can pair them with writing prompts! Even better, when complete, you can use these Christmas crafts to create an adorable bulletin board to help decorate your classroom!
Don’t Stress More Than You Have To!
My final tip would be not to stress more than you have to. I understand that behavioral issues, classroom commitments (classroom Christmas parties anyone?), and just general holiday stress can all spike during December. Don’t feel like you have to do ALL the things! Your classroom will be just as magical this time of year for your students, even if you aren't a perfect Pinterest teacher. I promise!
Instead, choose the activities that are most meaningful and important for keeping your students engaged and learning. And when all else fails, and you feel like you can’t plan and prepare another hands-on Christmas craft, STEM challenge, or center, then turn to some no-prep activities that your students will still love!
When finding no-prep activities, I like to turn back to tip #1 if possible, and keep them Christmas themed. In my Holiday Helper product, students can work on skills like addition, counting, patterns, cvc words, sight words, and more–all with a fun Christmas theme!
I would love to say that Christmas in kindergarten doesn’t have to be stressful, but unfortunately, the holidays are typically stressful in and out of the classroom with all of the added commitments they bring. However, hopefully these December planning tips for kindergarten will help to reduce some of the stress, so you can make some great holiday memories with your students AND keep them engaged and learning!