At Christmas time, I love to take my students on a journey around the world to celebrate all the wonderful and diverse ways people celebrate the holidays. It's a great way to introduce them to important social studies concepts in a playful and celebratory way! We love to read books about the different celebrations around the world as we set out on our adventures. Here are a few good ones to start off the journey:
The first stop is Germany, where we read German Christmas stories and discuss German Christmas traditions. Children love to learn that our tradition of the Christmas tree originates in Germany where they are known as "Trees of Light".
I love this version of "Oh Christmas Tree" in beautiful stop motion animation, and the kids do too!
In the "Christmas World Tour: Part One" packet there are even more activities for children. They can practice their math skills with a German advent calendar, learn the words to "Oh Christmas Tree/Oh Tannenbaum", make a Christmas countdown, and learn about other German Christmas traditions.
Now it's time to visit Australia, where the weather is warm at Christmastime and sometimes Santa goes surfing! Since picnics on the beach are an Australian Christmas tradition, we bring towels to sit on and have a Christmas picnic lunch in our classroom. We also watch "Go Santa Go" with The Wiggles to get into the holiday spirit!
In the "Christmas World Tour: Part One" packet children learn about more Christmas traditions, practice phonemic awareness with surfing Santa, sing about "Six White Boomers" and learn how to make Fruit Pavlova.
While visiting Russia we discuss the beautiful nutcracker ballet and how children receive Christmas presents from old Babushka.
While visiting Russia we make nutcracker dolls out of paper towel rolls. For an added bit of STEM, you can challenge the children to give the nutcracker a working mouth. This is how ours turned out using tongue depressors, a crayon, and some tape.
It was fun to see how they turned out, even if there mouths did look a bit like the aliens from Sesame Street!
Some of the other things we do in Russia are make Russian nesting dolls and play a game in the land of the sugar plum fairy that helps children practice answering and asking questions about key details in text.
While in Denmark we celebrate the works of author Hans Christian Anderson, read the Highlights Magazine story A Danish Christmas Remembered, and make red and white Danish Christmas decorations.
Also in Denmark, we play a number sense game with the mischievous Nisse the elf and sing a song about 10 Christmas gnomes.
Next we're off to Spain, where we watch costumed boys dance a dance called Seises and talk about the celebrations that occur around the Feast of Epiphany when the Three Wise Men bring presents to good girls and boys.
In the "Christmas World Tour: Part One" packet there are more activities, including practice writing numbers with Spanish shoes and painting a picture of the Three Wise Men.
England is the birthplace of one of the most beloved Christmas stories, A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. I love the illustrations in Brett Helquist's picture book version for my class! England is also the home of many well known Christmas songs, such as The Twelve Days of Christmas.
While in England we also practice Common Core standards by counting as we stuff English Christmas stockings and write Christmas cards.
Now it's time to go to France to celebrate Le Reveillon. We look at beautiful French Christmas creches and sing the French carol The Friendly Beasts while waiting for the arrival of Pere Noel.
While in France we practice rhyming words while having a Le Reveillon feast and make santons for our nativity scenes.
Now we visit South Africa, Ghana, Liberia, and Ethiopia where oil palms are decorated as Christmas trees and candles are part of the celebrations.
While in these African countries, we practice recognizing groups of tens and ones to meet Common Core standards and make candle art work.
The traditions in Canada are wide and varied and there are a lot of fun Christmas stories by Canadian authors available to read in the classroom.
While in Canada we practice making combinations of 10 while delivering Christmas trees and make Christmas trees from strips of green paper.
Next we're off to Greece, the home of Saint Nicholas, fasting, and feasts.
While celebrating Christmas in Greece, we practice letter sound correspondence as well as decorating Christmas boats (as is traditional in Greece).
You can find all of these activities in our Christmas World Tour Part One packet and supplementary materials in our Christmas Around The World Scrapbook. Both are available here and at our Teachers Pay Teachers Store.
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Our Christmas Around the World tour continues in Part Two!