You know it, I know it, we ALL know it.
December = Christmas = crazy!
You’re tired, your students are wired, and elves on shelves are popping up all over the place (provided you can remember to move them around, of course).
Did I mention we are all tired??
In my blog post last week, I mentioned that you should try to give in and embrace the Christmas crazies throughout the month of December.
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!
In my classroom, we celebrate all month long!
I try to choose activities to help us cover some of our outcomes, and I find when I incorporate some holiday spirit, my students stay pretty engaged.
(Plus you can always *gently remind* them Santa is watching if they get off task, haha!)
Read on for five of my favourite December activities I do year after year!
1. “Gingerbread” houses
I have made these every single year with my students since I became a teacher! They are pretty simple and SUPER fun.
The kids are always engaged, and (knock on wood), I haven’t ever had any problems while doing this activity.
These gingerbread houses are my FAVOURITE Christmas activity to do with my maternelle students!
We usually get 50$ from our Home & School for a Christmas gift, and I use that money to head to the Bulk Barn and load up on icing* and candies.
I buy two boxes of graham crackers, paper plates, tin foil, and plastic knives from the grocery store.
*If you have any allergies in your class, check with that student’s parents about things from the Bulk Barn first!
I invite parents to join us for this activity. Lots of them can’t make it, but I can almost always count on 1-2 parents at each table, which allows me to float a bit and help wherever needed.
I cover the tables with (affiliate link) plastic tablecloths and provide each student with a paper plate, a plastic knife, and six graham crackers.
You could get picky and ask all your students to try and make cubes, but I pretty much let them have fun and build whatever they like – some kids can get frustrated if their houses fall down!
I get parents to help divvy up the candy and place it on the tables. My students aren’t allowed to eat their houses at school, so when we are finished, I also ask the parents to help us wrap our houses in tinfoil for the ride home.
I always do this activity the last day before Christmas break. “Gingerbread” houses are a GREAT way to kick off vacation (and I don’t have to deal with the sugar rush, hehe)!
2. Decorate a Christmas tree
A Christmas tree in our classroom adds a festive touch, and my students LOVE to make it their own.
I have a little artificial tree that used to belong to my parents, but it turns out there aren’t any fire regulations in my province that say you can’t have a real tree, so you might want to look into that option, too.
Then you wouldn’t have to worry about storage!
We make paper chains to decorate it (hello, patterning practice!) and we also make a variety of other ornaments throughout December.
One year, I had two parents come in and we did Christmas ornament centres so we could use hot glue guns. This activity was a huge success, and I might see if I can get some parent volunteers this year, too!
During Boxing Day sales, I often go to Michael’s and grab their pre-cut foam ornaments for super cheap to use the next year.
Students LOVE to decorate those with markers and stickers during centres and/or free play.
Pipe cleaners make perfect ornament “hooks”!
|May not be how I would decorate my own tree, but it is still very festive ;)|
3. Write Christmas cards and lists
I don’t think there’s any other time of year that lends itself as well to authentic writing lessons as Christmas time!
My students LOVE to make Christmas cards for friends and family, and I love to teach them the correct way to write a card, with a salutation, message, and signature.
December is also a great time to talk about lists, and how useful they are in real life – Santa needs naughty and nice lists, and we can make lists of what toys we want, and the presents we will buy for the people we love.
It’s also a great time for grocery lists, as many children will do Christmas baking with their families.
|These cards were so easy – students drew squiggly lines with a black Sharpie, and then used coloured paint to stamp their fingerprints for lights!|
4. Random Acts of Kindness
I have an Elf on the Shelf in my class, but I am not super creative with her. While she doesn’t get into many crazy positions or shenanigans, she does leave us a little note every day.
Often, these notes include ideas for random acts of kindness or things we could do to help out the people we love.
She also encourages us to think of something kind to do for our school admin assistant, our custodian, and other support staff (aka the glue holding our school together!!).
I love to use our elf as a way to guide my students to think about gratitude and how they can show their appreciation for important people in their lives.
|This set up included a note with an idea to make a Christmas card for our cafeteria lady!|
5. Christmas-themed centres
I can’t lie, I go all-out on the Christmas centres this time of year!
We play Christmas Bingo, do Christmas write the room activities, build Christmas predictable sentences, solve Christmas alphabet puzzles, use Christmas clip cards, do Christmas-themed light table activities, read Christmas stories, and more!
I have a TON of Christmas-themed literacy centres all ready to go each December. I prepped them over the years and store them in gallon-sized Ziplock bags.
One of our favourites is EEK! La veille de Noël.
We use this game to practice our letter recognition, along with the sight words we have learned up to this point (the game is editable, so you could put any sight words you want).
I show my students how to place one letter card in each space on the game board, and roll the die, one at a time. The student who rolls says the name of the letter on that space.
If they say it correctly, they keep the card. If not, they can ask for help, so they might be able to get it on their next turn.
But, if someone rolls an EEK!, it’s midnight and Santa has to get in his sleigh to deliver all the presents… and all of the cards go back into the pile!
The winner is technically the student who has the most cards at the end, but you can pretty much play forever, with no real winner necessary 😉
I also have a Christmas-themed version of the game for number sense, too!
What is your favourite Christmas activity to do with your students before you send them off on Christmas break?
I would love to know!
Drop me a comment below and let me know, or tag me in a picture on Instagram! :)