Whether you choose to celebrate the holidays during the month of December or not, it is hard to ignore the excitement and sense of anticipation that lingers in the air. Your students feel it and their behavior often reflects their distraction. Some schools have strict policies about acknowledging holidays, religious or not, but the fact of the matter is that for many of your students the thoughts of wrapped gifts and flickering candles are just too overwhelming. Instead of fighting their excitement, embrace it by breaking out the crafts.
Unfortunately, some schools even have policies about students being creative and making crafts unless it can be tied in with the curriculum. Thankfully, there are activities that can be done that can align with the Common Core State Standards as justification of their presence in lesson plans. Ideas for everything from family gift crafts to community service projects to lessons about multiculturalism are just a few of the ways that crafts can bring joy and creativity to your classroom this holiday season.
Activities and Crafts for Winter Holidays
Winter Holiday Crafts
Focus on the joy of giving when working on crafts in the classroom. Students can create gifts for their family members while also working on standards. Creating a mail sorting box requires measuring and planning skills while also being a creative and practical gift for mom or dad. A bookmark made from beads and a pipe cleaner encourages reading, but also gives students’ a fun gift for their siblings. A calendar made of family photos or students’ drawings of favorite memories, is a great way to capture their creativity while providing a useful gift for the whole family.
Community Service Inspirations
Community service projects can range from everything from adopting soldiers overseas to providing care packages for nursing homes. Decide with your class what or who they would like to “adopt” for the holiday season. Are they interested in helping a local animal shelter? Have them write persuasive letters to potential adopters about why a shelter dog or cat is a great choice and include a handmade ornament with the dog or cat’s photo. Do you have a relationship with a local assisted living community? Have students create calendars for the residents with cut-out pictures from magazines or their own creative drawings for each month. Not only will it brighten residents’ day, but it will also allow students to practice their calendar and math skills.
The holidays offer a great opportunity for students to learn more about geography, cultures, and customs. A lesson on how different cultures celebrate Christmas, the history behind Hanukkah, or the hows and whys of Kwanzaa teach students about different traditions and people. Break out the map and create calendars that feature different cultures and places from around the world while practicing geography skills and reading informational texts. Assign students different countries to study and create travel brochures for those countries that can be presented and shared with the class. Stressing how people are more alike than we are dissimilar is a wonderful way to nurture respect and understanding for others’ traditions and celebrations during the winter holidays.
Creativity and learning go hand-in-hand. There is value in allowing students to color, draw, craft, and create, just as there is value in having them practice multiplication and study language arts. As teachers, our goal should be to help develop the whole child and give them resources and tools to problem-solve, be creative, and develop independence. There is no better time to do that when students’ eyes are wide open to the wonder of the holiday season.