December is packed with excitement for children in Australia. It marks the end of the school year and the beginning of the long summer, often called ‘Christmas’, holidays and, of course, Christmas itself.
Once final assessments for the year are done, it can be difficult keeping children focused on learning when their thoughts are turning to imminent adventures.
However, it needn’t be so, and here at readilearn we have a variety of lessons that keep the children learning while having some Christmas fun.
For me, the real meaning of Christmas is being kind and generous in spirit. But of course, those values are not confined to Christmas and hopefully children have been developing their friendship skills and ability to get along throughout the year. Maybe you’ve used some of the readilearn friendship skills lessons to support their development.
Who celebrates Christmas?
Before you dive into Christmas activities, a survey will help you find out which children in the class do and do not celebrate Christmas. While you will already have an idea of which children do, it can be an interesting way to begin the discussion of different cultural traditions celebrated by children in your class.
The main ingredient in any of these discussions should always be respect, and it is important to find ways of making classroom activities inclusive. A generosity of spirit develops when we see that what we share is more important than the ways in which we differ. Learning about each other is an important way of developing understanding.
Count down the school days
Use a calendar to count down the last fifteen days before the end of term to provide children with an opportunity of presenting information about their family’s traditions. The Countdown Calendar can be used to count down the school days remaining until Christmas or, for inclusivity, until the holidays.
Focus on friendship skills
Friendship trees are easy to make and keep the children thinking positive thoughts about each other when the combination of excitement, heat and a year of working together may see some starting to niggle.
The activity helps to build self-esteem and confidence as well as friendship skills. Each child makes their own friendship tree (referring to them as friendship trees makes them inclusive for all children).
Every day children write anonymous positive notes of friendship and affirmation to place in each other’s trees. At the end of the term, children take home their trees filled with positive messages to read over the holidays.
A 3D classroom tree display is a fun way to decorate the classroom while encouraging children to work cooperatively. While children are proud of their individual contribution, they recognise the importance of everyone working together and the tree becomes a visible reminder of the importance of team work. It can be the focus of a beautiful classroom display.
There are many wonderful Christmas picture books and stories available to read to the children. I’m sure you have your favourites and your librarian will be able to suggest others. New Christmas stories are added to our bookshelves every year. These are just a few of my (Australian) favourites.
Who’s Hiding at Christmas is an interactive digital story to read on the interactive whiteboard. The repetitive structure encourages children to join in with the reading.
Familiar Christmas characters are hiding behind the Christmas tree. Children select baubles to reveal clues and the star to reveal choices. When a correct response is chosen, the character responds with a brief action when tapped. Children can join with the characters in singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” as a surprise on the final page.
The resource may also be used as a stimulus for the children’s own writing and a printable template to assist with formatting is provided.
There is a range of other resources that support learning based on the Who’s Hiding at Christmas story, including:
a printable version of the story for independent or small group reading
Christmas character descriptions with words and phrases children can use in their writing
Christmas character cut-outs with many uses including display boards or as props for plays or oral language
Another great follow-up activity to reading the story is the printable Christmas crossword puzzle. Children read clues similar to those in the story and use the resources Christmas character descriptions and Christmas word cards to help complete the crossword.
Christmas poems are fun to write and become personalised verses for the inside of cards or posters to gift to others. This interactive resource is ready to teach on the interactive whiteboard. Choose the type of poem you would like to teach, read the sample poems and use them as a model for writing a poem together. Print out the templates for children to write poems of their own.
Five different poetic forms are included in the resource:
- Sound poems
- I love poems
- Shape poems.
The poems and templates are also available individually or together as part of the collection Christmas poetry —writing with children.
Be sure to consult the resource Writing Christmas poems for additional information and suggestions.
Turn on the Christmas Lights is a Hang Man-style game in which children guess letters to solve the word puzzle. If they can solve the puzzle in ten guesses, they turn on the Christmas lights.
Christmas domino cards can be printed and laminated and used for lessons with the whole class, group work or independent activities.
Hang the Baubles – Repeating patterns is an interactive lesson or series of lessons ready to teach on the interactive whiteboard. The lessons can be used to introduce or review repeating patterns.
Logical thinking and problem solving
Logic puzzles are great for developing thinking skills, and they involve the use of other skills in an integrated way.
Which gift? Playing Secret Santa consists of two logic puzzles; Secret Santa boys and Secret Santa girls. Great for reading comprehension and creative thinking; and for collaboration in a paired activity!
The story children play a pretend game of Secret Santa. They take toys from the shelf, wrap them in Christmas paper, and give them to each other as pretend gifts.
The children’s job is to work out who gave what gift to which child, and what paper it was wrapped in.
The puzzles can be used with the whole class to introduce children to the steps involved in completing logic puzzles. They can be used in conjunction with each other or independently; or use one to introduce children to logic puzzles and provide one for practice.
Alternatively, they make a great independent or buddy activity if children already know how to complete logic puzzles on their own.
The interactive 9 square Christmas puzzle works like any other 9 square puzzle, with 9 puzzle pieces arranged to form a 3 x 3 grid. The picture-pieces on the sides of each square must match to make a whole. Children simply drag and drop the puzzle pieces onto the mat to complete the puzzle. While it is easier than paper or cardboard puzzles as the pieces are already correctly orientated and do not need to be rotated it is still quite challenging to complete and may require a number of attempts.
When used with the whole class or small groups, this puzzle provides opportunities for problem solving, discussion, and development of vocabulary related to position including: left, right, top, bottom, middle, centre, above, below, between.
The printable version of the 9 square Christmas puzzle provides a challenging activity for fast finishers or waiting times, or can be given to students as part of a Christmas gift to use at home. Not just for fun, these puzzles help to develop problem solving, persistence, and a willingness to have a go. Children can discuss alternative placement of pieces and work together to solve the puzzle using positional language.
Other Christmas resources
A cute printable 2021 calendar featuring Santa and Mrs Claus from the Who’s hiding at Christmas? interactive story. The calendar makes a lovely, but inexpensive, gift for children, their parents, or classroom helpers.
The calendars are also available as printable 2021 calendar bookmarks.
A set of Christmas gift labels, also featuring the Who’s hiding at Christmas? character are available to download and print.
Fine motor Christmas activities suggests six Christmas themed fine motor activities that can be used both in the classroom and at home. Most are suitable for small groups or independent work and some can even be used to decorate your classroom and share the festive spirit!
You can find all readilearn Christmas-themed lessons and activities here.
Remember to check out the complete readilearn collection of
over 440 teaching resources for the first three years of school
Resources beyond worksheets – lessons for teachers made by teachers.
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