I love holidays! And I love teaching about holidays in my classroom. Whether a major holiday like Christmas or a less celebrated holiday like Labor Day or Veteran’s Day, I love teaching my students about the history and cultures behind the holidays. The winter holidays are no exception! There are so many different holiday celebrations during the winter months, each giving us a glimpse into the history and culture of different countries. So grab you passport and join us on a learning adventure with holidays around the world.
Teaching Social Studies with Holidays
Every set of social studies standards that I know of includes teaching about different cultures. Teaching holidays is an excellent way to meet these social studies standards in a fun and engaging way.
As we learn about different holidays we are able to share a variety of cultures, traditions, historical events and people groups with our students. It is a great platform for students to learn about others and work on those important comparing and contrasting skills as they identify similarities and differences between holidays and traditions. It is also a great way to add some geography and practice using maps and globes.
Tips for Teaching Holidays Around the World
There are many different ways you can teach this fun unit. Here’s some ideas and suggestions based on my experience. And if you’d like to take Holidays Around the World digital, check out these ideas.
1. Teach one holiday each day
Teaching holidays around the world can generally be done over the course of one or two weeks, depending on the number of countries or holidays you want to include. I’ve found that focusing on one holiday each day works very well. It gives you time to learn about the holiday and complete some fun activities too!
For many holidays, you could easily do more than one day too! It just depends on the time you have available. You can also focus on just one holiday for a week and really dig in deep to the traditions and culture.
If you are working with a team of teachers you can team teach this unit too! Each teacher chooses specific holidays to teach. Depending on the number of teachers and the number of holidays you want to cover, this might be 1 or 2, or more. However, it allows each teacher to have less prep as they will teach the same holiday to all the classes. During a set time all the classes will rotate to a different teacher each day for the holiday lesson and activity.
2. Take virtual field trips
Since traveling around the world is really out of the question, take virtual field trips using videos on the internet. Do a quick search for the holiday or country you are learning about. You will likely even be able to find a video that pertains to the specific tradition or activity you are using in your lesson. Here’s an example:
I’ve found that by adding the words “for kids” to the end of my search I am able to find videos that I can use in the classroom. Make sure that you preview the videos before showing them to your students just to make sure they are appropriate for kids and your grade level.
3. Use the 5 Senses
A great way to really “transport” your students to a different place is to engage them with all of their senses. Use of real world photos and videos is a great way to engage them visually. Find some samples of music that relates to the holiday. I think all holidays have music! Engage their tastebuds with a chance to sample a holiday treat or dish from each country too. If the country has a dance or physical activity that is associated with the holiday, give your students a chance to do it. By engaging the senses your students will feel like they’ve been there without ever leaving the classroom.
4. Have fun with the travel theme
You can really have fun with the idea of traveling during this unit. Students can create a suitcase using an empty cereal box. The suitcase can be used to collect their papers or creations related to each of the countries they visit.
Issue students an airplane ticket for the country they will visit each day. Pair that with a video of an airplane taking off for some extra fun. Students will love “flying” to their new destinations. You can also issue students a passport that they can use for their travels. This makes a great reminder of all they learned.
Make sure that students have opportunities to create souvenirs for each country they visit. Not only will they love it, but the souvenirs will also remind them of what they learned about each holiday. A great way to share their learning with their family when they take them home.
Ready to Use Holiday Around the World Activities
I know that with your amazing ideas and creativity that you could take some of the ideas above and create a wonderful Holidays Around the Wold unit for your students. But, I also know that you might be feeling exhausted this time of year and overwhelmed with everything you have to do. That is why I have put together the resources I use in my classroom for you to use.
This Holidays Around the World Bundle includes a variety of activities for teaching 4 different winter holidays from different countries in the world. Add a day for Christmas and you have a full week of lessons ready to go! The new digital resources give you more choices too! Find out how to incorporate digital activities into your Holiday Around the World lessons.
Whisk your students off to Israel to learn about the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.
This Hanukkah resource is packed with everything you need to teach your students about this wonderful holiday. Teach your students about the holiday with the included foldable book and vocabulary cards. Help them connect their learning with literature using the book Hanukkah Bear by Eric Kimel. Your students will love the crafts and activities. The Hanukkah themed worksheets are the perfect addition for your morning work or centers during your Holidays Around the World unit.
Teach your students about the African celebration of Kwanzaa with these activities and resources.
Students will love learning about this holiday. The included crafts and activities will help them remember the important features of this holiday. Students will love the read aloud My First Kwanzaa by Karen Katz as they learn about this holiday along with the main character of the book.
3. Saint Lucia’s Day
These fun activities will have your students learning all about St. Lucia’s Day.
Your students will love their travels to Sweden as they learn about Saint Lucia’s Day. After learning about the holiday, they can connect their new learning to the story Lucia Morning in Sweden by Ewa Rydaker. Students will love the holiday themed activities and crafts.
4. Las Posadas
Engage your students with the holiday of Las Posadas as they learn about the traditions of many Latin American countries and Spain.
Using the books The Night of Las Posada and The Legend of the Poinsetta by Tomie dePaolo, your students will learn about the important traditions of this holiday. The book based activities and the related crafts will have your students engaged in this wonderful holiday unit.
Adding in some Christmas fun is a great way to help students connect these holidays from around the world to their personal experiences.
This Christmas tree craft will have your students focusing on the season of giving. A fun craft that makes a great gift for parents too!
Fill your lesson plans with these Christmas themed color by code activities. These no prep worksheets cover a variety of math and language arts skills. They make great independent activities in the days leading up to the holiday break.
Save these Holiday Around the World Ideas
Your students will love all of these engaging holiday activities. Whether you just want some ideas or want to save time with the ready to use resources, pin this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can come back when you need them.