Best of Works4Me: December Holidays
Teaching Tips, Ideas and Strategies for the Holidays
Works4Me is a free weekly e-newsletter, showcasing practical classroom tips written and submitted by the readers themselves. For over 10 years we have been gathering great ideas, and here we present you with a collection of holiday-themed teaching tips from the real experts, educators like you.
Winter Holiday Rotation
This team of five first-grade teachers developed a plan to teach about a variety of winter holidays. In this special day-long event, each teacher covers a single holiday in depth, while the children rotate among classrooms.
Ms. Hostetler has a great writing lesson that takes advantage of the holidays. Her 7th-grade students write four different types of paragraphs around a common holiday theme, gift-giving.
Irregular Plural Nouns with a Bit of Holiday Spirit!
Ms. Hyler, a learning disabilities specialist and fourth-grade teacher, has created a unique version the song The Twelve Days of Christmas. With costumes, signing and movement, it is not only memorable but provides multi-sensory approach.
Holiday Gift Exchange
Ms. Crockel has a unique twist on the traditional holiday gift exchange. Students are not matched in pairs, and the entire class participates, even those who are not able to buy gifts. In the end, the whole class enjoys the gifts for the rest of the year.
Easy Chocolate Gift
Ms. Junkin, a food and nutrition teacher, has an idea for holiday a gift. Without making promises about calories, we can say that it is fast (only 5 minutes of baking), easy (only a few ingredients) and delicious (trust us).
Ms. Crisafulli has a method for building gingerbread houses with her kindergartners. Using a small milk carton, a piece of heavy cardboard, and an assortment of candies, snacks and cereals, her students take a hands-on approach to holiday decorating.
Cards for Family
Ms. Rochwick creates a fantasy holiday shopping spree for her kindergartners. Using gift brochures, magazine catalogues and other direct mail pieces, her students shop for gifts and use pictures to create a keepsake for parents or other loved ones.
Gift Bags Serve as Practical Decorations
Like many people Ms. Stoklas has a surplus of gift bag. And like many teachers, she struggles with organizing and decorating her classroom. Find out how she organizes, decorates, and finds practical use for all those gift bags.
After Holiday Sales
Ms. Bergman has creative ideas for using holiday leftovers (ribbons and bows, party favors, etc.) and inexpensive sale items in her classroom long after the holidays are over.
Instead of exchanging gifts with amongst each other at school, this school conducts a service project to benefit the local humane society. With a wish list in-hand, students buy, make and collect items, and then deliver them.
Holiday Homework Pass
To accommodate the busy holiday season, Ms. Kasse awards students (and their parents) one free pass, which not only helps her students but builds good will with grateful parents.
Writing from Catalogues
Ms. Landis uses holiday gift catalogues as the pretext for a writing lesson. Students use an imaginary sum of money to shop for gifts, and then write a formal business letter requesting various items, computing costs, and choosing payment.
Old Cds Make Good Picture Frames
Elementary school teacher Suzanne Piercy has a nifty arts and crafts idea, using old or damaged compact disc cases. This project is quick, easy and can be used to decorate refrigerators or Christmas trees.
If you live near a beach or have access to a collection of large sea shells, this is a great holiday craft idea in which students make personalized tea lights as gifts for a loved one.
Using supplies readily available at the local home improvement store (ceramic tiles, acrylic paint sealer, felt squares), Ms. Stumpf works with her 2nd-grade students on a fun, practical holiday craft project.
Filling a New (or Veteran!) Teacher's Stocking
Over the years Ms. Sunderland has collected a list of great suggestions for stocking stuffers, some are her own ideas, others she borrowed, but all the ideas are good.
In this holiday writing activity, Ms. Carswell has her students taste-test a variety of gourmet candy canes, write descriptive paragraphs about them, and then rename the candy canes with holiday spirit.
Magic Reindeer Food
Kindergartners will love this arts and crafts idea. With small amounts of oatmeal and glitter, along with enough sandwich bags for the whole class, everyone makes a gift for Santa and his reindeer.
Writing Checks for Holidays I
Ms. Golomb has developed a math and money skills lesson in which her third- and fourth-grade students develop a budget, shop gift catalogues for holiday presents, and then practice writing checks.
Ms. Murphy has a great bookmaking activity for the week leading up to winter break. Based on the popular Chicken Soup book series, the project includes writing essays, poems and word puzzles. The finished product makes a great gift for a family member.
This holiday arts and crafts project comes from 5th-grade teacher Denise Muto, whose students use acrylic paints and fingerprints to create a variety of fast, easy, inexpensive gifts and decorations. Find out how she they do it.
Letters to Santa
This holiday writing project matches high school students with first graders. Younger students write letters to Santa Claus, while older students assist them with their writing and then answer those letters.
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Whether it was a single crayon or a side of beef, educators who participated in our recent Facebook discussion all agreed with the old adage: it’s the thought that counts.
Lessons & Resources
Celebrate the holiday season and learn how others celebrate with these lessons and resources for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ashura, Pongal, and New Years.