The holiday season is on its way here again and you know what that means, teachers will be scrambling to keep their students focused on their work instead of the excited times of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is the time when teachers must be creative and turn to fun activities to keep their students entertained, yet still learning. There are many resources that help educators find educational lesson plans during the holiday season, yet let the children have fun and not get overwhelmed by learning new material.There has been a lot of controversy over whether schools should be allowed to celebrate holidays due to various reasons such as some children celebrating different holidays or having religious differences; however, schools have done a good job letting students still have fun and celebrating through “fall” or “winter” activities. One good thing about taking a break from the typical curriculum material is that students can focus on a variety of art whether it is creating music, making arts and crafts, or watching educational videos.For Halloween, many schools host a costume parade where all of the students walk around in the hallways showing off their costumes for the entire school. Others actually allow students to dress up and go trick or treating from classroom to classroom. Have students bring in a bag of candy for their classroom and while they go around the school, the teachers will stay in their classrooms passing out candy. Other schools have fall festivals on Halloween night with rides, games such as bobbing for apples, face painting, pumpkin carving contests and more.
If schools do not want children to wear traditional costumes, have them dress up in their favorite book character and have them present a short presentation on the book and why they chose to dress up as that character. You can also do a history lesson about how Halloween came about, or why children began trick or treating. Another fun activity is teaching your students about different textures. Have six or seven different materials that each students touches. Each student writes down their guesses on a piece of paper, such as a human brain (a bowl of noodles) or a werewolf’s fur (a furry piece of fabric).During Thanksgiving time, teachers can create a number of education activities for their students besides the traditional turkey hand or pilgrim hat. This holiday gives educators the perfect opportunity to have students focus on their writing skills. Have them write letters to their parents or relatives about what they are thankful for, or have them write a story about what they think it would be like being a pilgrim on the Mayflower. History lessons are always a must during Thanksgiving. Teachers have students act out various events of what happened during the First Thanksgiving.Older students can also have fun celebrating the holiday by playing a survival game in class. Teachers split their class into groups of four or five and have them choose a certain number of items to survive on from a given list, then have them draw cards giving them various situations. The group that is the most successful at the end of the game wins. This lesson teaches older students how hard it was for the pilgrims to survive during that time.Another great idea is to join up with other classes around school and start a canned food drive. Teach students that there are some families that do not get a normal Thanksgiving dinner and so it is our job to help them. Have students bring in cans from home and at the end of the drive have students count the cans and separate them buy food groups. This will give students some work in the math and health subjects and they will be helping the community out.Now Christmas time is near and almost all students have checked out for winter break, but you still have a year of school left. Many schools do not celebrate Christmas as a holiday anymore, but rather the “winter holiday”. There are so many ideas that teachers can use in their classrooms and many of them can be very educational.One of my favorite Christmas activities, as a young child was making Christmas crafts for my parents. Students make snowmen, stained glass pictures, ginger bread men, picture frames and so much more. It is a great way for students to get in a little creativity and get their Christmas gifts for their parents. Sometimes, schools set up a store for students to go and buy small gifts for their families. I bought my grandmother a pot holder one year from my classroom Christmas store and she still uses it to this day.
Some teachers have their students take traditional Christmas carols and have them change the world of the song. For instance, a Florida class changed the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and turned it into “The Twelve Days of Florida.” Reading books are also a favorite for many students. Stories such as The Polar Express are always popular for young children. Once teachers read the books, many have students watch the movie and then have them make comparisons between the two.Many teachers also take the opportunity to teach students about the different holidays that people all over the world celebrate during Christmas time. Teachers can turn it into a geography lesson by focusing on a certain country and what holiday they celebrate. A fun way to get students involved is to assign a country or a holiday to each student and have them do a small presentation on the details of what they celebrate. Have them make a small picture of their assigned holiday and once they are done presenting connect their picture to the pictures of other holidays. Once all of the pictures are connected, hang it up in the classroom.So no matter what holiday you are celebrating, there is always an educational activity that students can do to keep them motivated and excited to learn. Be creative and strive to create a fun learning experience for your pupils this holiday season!
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