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Best of Works4Me: December Holidays

Teaching Tips, Ideas and Strategies for the Holidays

Found In: Advicee & Support

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.

  • Holiday Writing
    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.
  • 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.
  • Gingerbread Houses
    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.
  • 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.
  • Fingerprint Stationery
    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.
  • 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.
  • Children's Handprints
    We're all familiar with the turkey handprint for Thanksgiving, but Ms. Murphy says the handprint can be used EVERY month's theme! Read about her tip here!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Present
    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.
  • Shell Candles
    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.
  • The Santa Debates
    Who can keep your AP English students on task right before Winter break? Santa Claus! Here's a tip that incorporates the magic of the holidays and helps students stay engaged in learning.
  • Old Cds Make Good Picture Frames
    Elementary school teacher Ms. 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.
  • Naming Canes
    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.
  • My Favorite Dish
    To teach process writing, Mr. Grider cooks up something that students and parents both love. Read about the his tip, and why it bcomes the gift that keeps on giving.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Humane Gifts
    Instead of exchanging gifts with each other at school, classroom throughout Ms. K.’s school conduct a community service project that benefits the local humane society. Find out how they do it.
  • Hot Gifts
    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.
  • 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.
  • Winter Holiday Rotation
    This team of first-grade educators developed a plan to teach about a variety of winter holidays – Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year, and Diwali – that brings all of their students to each of their classrooms.

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Lessons & Resources

December Holidays Lessons & Resources

By Phil Nast, retired middle school teacher and freelance writer

Celebrate the holiday season and learn how others celebrate with these lessons and resources for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ashura, Pongal, and New Years.

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