It’s a week and a half before Christmas. The kids are counting the days, just like us. They are ready to be home, making cookies, playing video games, and celebrating with their families. On the flip side, some students are worried about spending 2 weeks away from school, which is often their safe place. Overall the excitement and the anxiety is building and the teachers are wondering “How am I going to survive?” Today I have for you three simple, free, printable holiday activities that you can have on hand to survive the next 2-5 days (depending on how long your district has you in school). My school district has 5 days left, so please send chocolate!
Printable Holiday Activities for Primary Students
Little students can be the hardest to occupy during this time because for many it is the first or second holiday they actually remember. So teachers go overboard with crafts and fun things and often burn themselves out. When I taught first grade, I used my Christmas Center Packet for the entire last week. I would set aside 45 minutes a day to “Christmas Centers”. There were five centers and students could choose one center a day to work on. (If they finished early, they were allowed to color their page to their heart’s content. They thought this was a treat and I saw as time to work on fine motor skills! Win win!) Each center has an academic focus, so I knew I was getting in SOMETHING academic amongst the singalongs, read alouds, holiday plays and crafts. And it required no prep work besides printing the the packets and stapling them together.
Printable Holiday Activities for Intermediate Students
Now third, fourth and fifth graders have had a little more experience with the holidays, but they get just as excited. When I taught 3rd grade, I would use my Winter Holidays Vocabulary packet for the last week of school, to build their background knowledge, to build their vocabulary and to keep my sanity. There are 4 levels which each cover a different holiday – Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, and Diwali.
When I taught 3rd grade, I would print all 4 levels and each day students would choose a different holiday to work on. I personally am all about choice and let students choose each day which holiday, as long as they did all 4 holidays. Often groups of kids would choose the same holiday so they could work together. I know other teachers who do an assigned holiday a day in order to keep everyone on the same page. Both ways work. Students had all day to complete one packet, and it could easily be picked up and put down amongst the other goings on happening at school.
Don’t Forget to Teach About Holidays Other than Christmas
Not everyone in the world celebrates Christmas, and we should be telling students this. All students. It is important for kids to know that there are other holidays in the world that are as important to other people as Christmas is in the USA. (If you haven’t already, please read the blog post on my main blog titled How Teaching Christmas Around the World Does More Harm than Good.) One way to teach this is to allow students to learn about non-Christian holidays like Diwali, Hanukah, Ramadan and Eid.
This is why I designed my Muslim Holiday Center Packet. I designed it while living in Morocco, teaching some students who celebrated these holidays and some students who didn’t. Although it is labeled for 1st and 2nd graders there are activities within this packet that can be used for kids all the way up to 5th grade. It covers 3 different holidays: Ramadan, Eid al F’tour and Eid al Adha. When I used this packet with first graders, we completed a holiday a day. This gave them 5 separate centers throughout the day. When I used this packet with third graders, we had 3 centers, each center was one of the holidays. Either way, this is a fun way to expose students to holidays that 1.8 billion people in the world celebrate.
The holidays are exciting, and they are stressful. I hope that these print and go holiday activities will help you have a little bit more peace and joy to your final days before a much deserved break. Happy Holidays!