Teaching the holidays around the World during this time of the year is very popular. It’s a fun way to engage students, still manage to get some academics in them, and “survive” until break. Plus, you’re branching students outside of their own selves and culture. It’s really a win-win.
Ideas for Teaching Holidays Around the World
Here are some easy and engaging activities that can help you teach your students about holidays around the world.
Guess the Holiday
Students can learn how each country celebrates their holiday, what they call it, their particular Santa, and traditions through an interactive table or chart. This can be created on your whiteboard using masking tape or washi tape or hand it out to your students on a sheet of paper. Then provide students with fun keywords or pictures for students to place inside the proper boxes. Some examples could be for the United States: Ham or for France: pictures of shoes by the fireplace. If you don’t want to have students guess, you could provide them with reading passages and then provide them reading strips to sort.
Where does Santa Really Live?
Using a world map, explore with your students European countries that are believed to be where Santa has come from. These countries are Iceland, Poland, Greenland, Finland, and Norway. Let them know the stories behind where Santa lives. You may even put on a challenge by grouping the students into the countries and have them debate where does Santa really live. Want some writing? Have students write a persuasive piece, persuading others that Santa lives in their location.
Diamond Tail Activity
Provide each student with an assigned country (or holiday) and have them research it. Then have each student provide information about their holiday around the world to the class. Each student would then write a short summary about each country and its holiday. These summaries are then placed in a box and put together to form a diamond tail. When finished it looks something like this:
I always have my students include a picture just for display purposes but it’s not necessary. This is a great way to practice summarizing and speaking and listening skills!
Break students up into groups of 4 or 5. Have each person in the group pick one country to research their holiday traditions. Then each person reports back to the group how their particular country celebrates Christmas, or whichever holiday they researched. Each person in the group takes notes and then creates a creative display to show what they learned. It could be in the form of a craftivity, such as the holidays around the world circle book below, a poster, or some other engaging idea.
Have a Scavenger Hunt
What kid doesn’t love a good scavenger hunt? Provide students with questions related to the various countries and their holidays in the form of riddles, such as “I prepare for Pere Noel (Santa) by placing my shoes by the fireplace.” Then students have to move around the room in a carousel fashion and read about each country’s holiday. When they find that France does this, they will write the answer on their sheet. It’s an engaging way to explore the holidays around the room, and to get students up and moving!
Family Feud “Holidays Around the World” Edition
Just like the TV show, have your students break up into two different groups and quiz each team with questions related to the holidays around the world. Create questions related to the similarities around the countries. For instance, the top foods served around the world during the holidays, top names of Santa Claus, top dates that Christmas is celebrated on, and so on.
Create a Song Variation
Introduce the song “12 Days of Christmas” and have a sing-a-long first. Then group the kids to compose their own “12 days of Christmas” song, but using the traditions that they learned from the holidays around the world. You may modify it by having 12 groups with 1 day designated to each group. If desired, you could change the name to something like the 12 holidays around the world song.
Teach students poems by writing them in patterns of Christmas such as a snowflake, a star, a Christmas tree, a Santa hat, or some other symbol that represents their country or holiday they are studying. This is a perfect introduction to concrete poems, and it’s fun.
Travel the World
My favorite activity is to explore one country each day. Together we pretend we are actually traveling around the world and seeing each destination. I pull out a reading passage each day and we talk about it. Then we create a craft or taste a recipe related to that holiday or country. Then we compare that country’s celebration with ours. Sometimes I will have the students complete a writing activity, create a reader’s theatre, or some other related artistic activity.
When it comes to teaching holidays around the world, there really is no limit to the imagination of what we can do!
Come back next week, as I’ll have more ideas on how to survive until winter break and activities to engage your students. Click here to download your FREEBIE! Enjoy the activities.
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