The holiday break is almost here, but first, there’s the December marathon. Antsy and excited students. Extra school activities. And probably some kids who are struggling with the season. Maybe they don’t celebrate the same holidays—or in the same way—as most of their classmates. Or perhaps they have a learning disability that’s extra challenging during the December chaos. So how do you choose holiday classroom activities all your students can enjoy? We’ve rounded up four ideas to make everyone feel included. The more, the merrier.
1. Throw a Record Snowfall Party
Skip the overt holiday references and get into the holiday spirit with a bit of weather trivia. Find out the record high snowfall for your city and create a party around the theme. If there was 11 inches back in 1983, use it as a jumping off point for fun and learning. Break into groups and stack marshmallows 11 inches high. Write essays about what you’d do if that much snow ever fell again. Research who keeps these weather records and how. Dress like the year when the record snowfall happened. It’s easy to adjust for different ages and needs—or spread out activities over a week to keep it from becoming overwhelming.
2. Create a Holiday Break Countdown Calendar
Playing off the concept of an advent calendar, create a holiday break countdown calendar on the wall. Make a card or envelope for each day until break and write short, fun 5-minute class activities inside them. Let students take turns opening them up, reading them out loud and setting the Time Timer PLUS® 5 Minute to keep everyone on track. A few ideas: Make up and write about an imaginary holiday. Find a partner and tell each other about your favorite holiday foods. Even make one surprise free time or bring in a special treat.
3. Craft Your Students’ Holiday Traditions
Instead of the standard trees and snowman, invite your students to craft something that’s meaningful to their family’s holiday season. This might take the form of a drawing, crafting with construction paper or even a top 10 list of favorite holiday activities. Offer two or three choices that allow each child to match the end product to their interests and skills. If some students are struggling, give more specific prompts: What’s your favorite activity at the holidays? What are you looking forward to doing over break? Do you have a favorite holiday memory? Invite students to share their holiday traditions with the class if they choose.
4. Make Your Celebrations Global
The winter holidays are the perfect time to open your students’ eyes to how families celebrate around the world. Talk about eating grapes at midnight for New Year’s in Spain – or even try out that tradition with your students! Read about Lunar New Year celebrations in Asia, Christmas boats in Greece, eating KFC for Christmas dinner in Japan or explore the science behind the winter solstice. Making some international holiday foods for a class party can be fun and inclusive, too.