Preparing for holidays

  • Published on November 25, 2016

At this time of the year, people around the world are preparing to celebrate a variety of holidays. Christmas, celebrated by almost half of the world’s population, is perhaps the biggest holiday of the year. While traditionally a Christian celebration, its focus for many is now more secular than religious and is celebrated by both Christians and non-Christians. Even within the Christian community, there are many ways in which the festival is observed.

In addition to Christmas, children in Australia are preparing for the end of the school year and their long summer holidays from approximately mid-December to late January. While not as long as that of some of our northern cousins, the six-week break challenges parents in thinking of ways to keep the children occupied, while ensuring that the achievements of the year are not lost before the new school year begins.

In this post, I share some suggestions and readilearn resources to assist in preparation for both.

Learning in the holidays

readilearn resources designed for printing and distribution to assist parents with entertaining their children while supporting their learning include:

reading suggestions for holidays

21 suggestions for maintaining reading momentum during the school holidays

let the children write free preview

Let the children write! 20 suggestions for parents

25 ways thinking mathematicall free preview

25 ways to keep the children thinking mathematically during the holidays

These resources are available to registered users and subscribers and are free to download and distribute. They can be found in the individual subject categories or in Classroom Management – For Parents.

Requirements for the activities are mostly readily available in the home, and involve very little expense. The greatest expenditure is time; and the best return is to the parent-child relationship and learning gains.


Cooking is a fabulous holiday activity. Learning is integrated across many subject areas, and it occurs almost imperceptibly; with the result its own reward. Children are engaged in reading the recipe, perhaps writing a shopping list, measuring ingredients and time, and sharing what is made.

Planning for outings can also integrate learning across the subject areas. Children may consult brochures or guides to find opening hours and prices, then calculate the cost for the entire family. They may consult transport timetables or calculate travel times. They may read maps to determine the best route. Deciding which day to attend may require consultation of weather reports and maps.

Children find these activities fun and engaging. They are learning real-life skills.  The purposeful activity camouflages the learning and makes it fun.

December celebrations

Not everyone in your class will celebrate Christmas; and not everyone who does will do so in the same way. This is a perfect opportunity for discussing important traditions and celebrations observed by the families of children in your class.

Family traditions and celebrations - parent sheets - printable preview

If you have previously shared information using questionnaires such as  the Family traditions and celebrations – parent sheet you already have access to some of the information.

Start by inviting children to talk about their festivals and describe how they celebrate. Invite them to bring in photographs or artefacts from home to add to a display. See if parents and grandparents are willing to talk to the class.

Recognising the uniqueness of each family’s tradition, even in the ways Christmas is celebrated, helps to appreciate and celebrate diversity; for example:

  • some families stay at home on Christmas day, some visit relatives or friends, some volunteer at homeless shelters, some dine at restaurants
  • some families exchange gifts in the morning, some in the evening, some on a different day
  • some families eat their Christmas dinner in the middle of the day, some do so in the evening
  • some families are visited by Santa Claus, some by Saint Nicholas, some by Father Christmas
  • some families leave out cookies and milk for Santa, some leave out carrots for the reindeer

Once the conversation is started: “What happens at your house?” the discussion should flow.

How to make a friendship tree

Regardless of the diversity of cultural backgrounds represented in the class, a friendship tree is a great way of celebrating friendship.

Look what's new

Christmas activities

This week I have added to the readilearn collection of Christmas resources. There are two interactive resources and one printable.

who's hiding cover

Who’s Hiding at Christmas? is an interactive Who am I? story with a repetitive structure that encourages children to join in with the reading. Familiar Christmas characters are hiding behind the Christmas tree. Children select baubles to reveal clues. When a correct response is chosen, the character responds with a brief action.

interactive 9 square Christmas puzzle

The Interactive 9 square Christmas puzzle is a great way of introducing 9 square puzzles to the whole class. Like any other 9 square puzzle, with pieces arranged in a 3 x 3 grid, the picture-pieces on the sides of each square must match to make a whole. With pieces correctly orientated, the puzzle is easier than paper or cardboard varieties, but is still quite challenging and may require a number of attempts.

9 square Christmas puzzle

The printable 9 square Christmas puzzle is a fun activity that can be used to challenge fast finishers or during waiting times. Personalised with children’s names, it is a nice little extra that can be given to students as part of a Christmas gift to complete at home over the holidays.

I hope you and your children enjoy using these resources. I’ll see you next week with some other end of year suggestions. In the meantime, enjoy the weekend.

welcome gift

Remember, if you haven’t yet subscribed, an introductory discount of 20% is available to all who subscribe this year. Just use the coupon code welcome at the checkout before 31 December to receive your discount.

Thank you

Thank you for reading.

Happy teaching and learning!



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    We have a much shorter break here but I love these themed ideas. Even in a short amount of time, kids can get antsy and “bored”. Ha! Bored. Silly gooses. (Geese just doesn’t sound as fun.) Anyway, great activities: measurement, probability, statistics… Have always liked your friendship tree but you know I would love your list of ways to appreciate and celebrate diversity. 🙂 Dad can do the cooking bit with the kids.

    Thank you for your comment, Sarah. Silly gooses, indeed, being bored. I used to think it was impossible to be bored; that it just meant that something to do hadn’t been thought of: read a book, play a game, draw a picture, look for pictures in clouds, imagine . . . That was back in my childhood days when life wasn’t as regulated, scheduled and pigeon-holed as it is now.
    I recently read a suggestion that children need time to be bored, time to have freedom to think, and to not have every moment of their waking day allocated to one activity or another. I wouldn’t have thought of it as time to be bored, though that’s an interesting way of putting it. I would have thought it was just time to be.
    You mentioned a list of ways to appreciate and celebrate diversity. It sounds like a great idea, though I’m not quite sure just what you intend. I didn’t think my list of holiday activities specified gender?

    Children do need time to be bored. Or to just be. I like that phrase. Just be. That’s when they come up with all these things you’ve mentioned. Finding shapes in clouds (one of my favorite), imagining…
    Oh, I just meant your mention of talking about different family traditions and celebrations. 🙂 Love that.

Please share your thoughts. I love it when you do.

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