The holiday season is quickly approaching! So, what better way to celebrate it in your classroom than by learning about different holiday traditions around the world! Let’s face it, the holidays and winter break are on our students’ minds anyway. This gives us the perfect opportunity to incorporate fun learning into our lesson plans.
There are tons of ways to integrate teaching holidays around the world with your regular content areas. This allows you to cover all your lessons in a way that is exciting and engaging for your students. So, if you're stuck and can't figure out a fun way to teach about different celebrations around the world, keep reading. This article will cover 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 different 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. For example, this unit talks about the different holiday celebrations. In addition, this unit goes over the important figures and symbols associated with each holiday. Lastly, this unit discuss the traditional food associated with the holiday. Learning about winter holidays in various countries is a great way to connect why and how we celebrate holidays in the United States. In addition, it helps students to make connections with people who have different backgrounds.
It is also really simple to integrate the holidays into your reading plans. For example, my Christmas Around the World bundle includes nonfiction passages about how different countries like England, Australia, and Sweden celebrate the holiday. However, you can also bring in read alouds for further learning. Students can make connections between the information in the nonfiction passages and the read alouds. In addition, they can 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. This story 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! For example, they can write about how other traditions compare to our traditions in the United States. In addition, they can write about family traditions they have in their own home. They can even write opinion pieces about foods associated with different winter 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 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 option for teaching holidays around the world. For example, you use them to decorate your classroom and bulletin boards for the holiday season. In addition, crafts 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. I love incorporating a fun craft for my students to do because it makes the perfect resource for them to refer back to and is a nice keepsake!
Purpose of Teaching Holidays Around the World
Through activities like read alouds, writing prompts, and cute and meaningful crafts, students can learn about a variety of cultures and their different traditions. Moreover, learning about the Christmas traditions of different cultures is a wonderful way to give little learners a well-rounded cultural appreciation. In addition, students have a great time learning about various holidays in other parts of the world and how they relate to our own traditions. You can feel good about diving into a holiday unit, knowing that focusing on the holidays doesn’t take away from your academic lesson plans!