The holiday season is quickly approaching, and what better way to celebrate it in your classroom than by teaching how people around the world celebrate the holidays! Let’s face it, the holidays are on our students’ minds anyway, so we might as well use it to our advantage and incorporate it in our teaching. There are also so many fun ways for students to stay engaged in learning through these lessons.
There are tons of ways to integrate teaching holidays around the world with your regular content areas. This allows you to still hit your standards but in a way that is both exciting and engaging for your students. Here are some of my favorite ways to teach my students about the holidays in each content area:
Teaching holidays around the world is probably the easiest to integrate into social studies. Within the TEKS standards, we give kindergarten students a basic understanding of why we celebrate certain holidays. Other states also have similar standards.
In my Christmas Around the World unit, I include short reading passages that teach what the holidays look like in different parts of the world by sharing about their traditions, the important figures and symbols associated with each holiday, and any treats or snacks associated with it. Learning about winter holidays around the world is a great way to make connections about why and how we celebrate holidays in the United States, but it also helps students to make connections with people in different places.
It is also really simple to integrate the holidays into your reading plans. As mentioned before, in my Christmas Around the World bundle, I include some nonfiction passages about how different countries like England, Australia, and Sweden celebrate the holiday, but you can also bring in read alouds. Students can make connections between the information in the nonfiction passages and the read alouds, as well as work on other reading comprehension strategies.
For example, after reading about the tradition of St. Lucia in the nonfiction passage, you can read “Hanna’s Christmas” by Melissa Peterson to your students. It is about a little girl who moves to America from Sweden but wants to keep their old traditions alive during the holiday. Students can easily see how the traditions mentioned in the passage are reflected in the story. There are numerous other read alouds that tell the story of how the holidays are celebrated in different parts of the world.
Students can focus on making connections as they write about holidays around the world, too! Not only can they write about how other traditions compare to our traditions in the United States, but they can also write about the traditions they have in their own home. They can even write opinion pieces about if they would like the treats associated with the holidays like England’s Christmas pudding or Russia’s Vzvar.
In my holiday unit, I include templates for these writing prompts, as well as more for all of the countries covered in the unit. Students can write about what they would do on a hot Christmas, like in Australia, or if students think they are on the naughty or nice list. Students love making connections with other holiday traditions and sharing their opinions!
Although it is not really a content area, craft activities are a great addition to your plans for teaching holidays around the world. Not only can you use them to decorate your classroom and bulletin boards for the holiday season, but they also serve as a great reminder of the information students learned about each countries’ traditions throughout the unit.
For example, students can make a St. Lucia craft for Sweden, a poinsettia to remind them of Mexican holiday traditions, or Christmas crackers to remind them of this fun English tradition.
Throughout a holidays around the world unit, students have a great time learning about how the winter holidays in other parts of the world relate to our own traditions. Plus, you can bring in read alouds, writing prompts, and cute and meaningful crafts for your students to do. Even better, you can feel good about diving into a holiday unit, knowing that focusing on the holidays doesn’t mean that the focus has to come off of academics!