Friday, 30 November 2018

10 Favourite Christmas Activities for Young Learners


Christmas is my absolute favourite time of year to work in school, I just love it! The atmosphere, songs, activities and excitement make it so much fun! While the run up to Christmas in Beijing isn't quite as exciting, there are still lots of Christmas activities taking place so I'm sharing 10 of my favourites today.

Letters to Santa - A pretty obvious one but I love to write letters to Santa with the children. I usually begin the session. I always begin the session with a personalised video from Santa which gets the children really excited and motivated. I then have some toy catalogues that children can cut up or look at for inspiration when writing their letters. 

I often read the story A Letter to Santa or The Jolly Christmas Postman with the children when writing letters. You can buy them with the link at the bottom of this post.

When they have finished I like to take children on a trip to the local postbox to post their own letters to Santa which creates an experience in itself and makes it much more real for the students.

The Snowman Sensory Play - I love to watch The Snowman with my class. Working in an International School there is a huge number of EAL students and the lack of words in The Snowman makes it accessible to all students. I then set up a sensory area of fake mould-able snow for children to make their own snowmen and role-play the story of The Snowman, or make up their own versions if they prefer. It's easy to link in maths by counting out buttons as well as developing vocabulary.
Dear Santa - I love the story of Dear Santa by Rod Campbell. It's one of those nice activities that keeps children on task at the end of term but is a lovely activity to do. The story is along the same lines as Dear Zoo, with Santa sending lots of wonderful things. It's a great story to get kid's imagination really working and produce some excellent creative writing.
Image by GFT Wood
Christmas Tree Ornaments - I love to make a Christmas Tree ornament with children. Not just one where they can decorate them during free-choice, but an adult-directed ornament that is really special. When I was younger I used to bring a Christmas Tree ornament home every year and hang it on the tree and I think there is something so special about that.

Santa's Workshop - Another obvious but great activity is to set up Santa's Workshop in the classroom. There is so much learning that comes from this activity, from shapes, writing gift tags, communication, role-play and so much more. It also builds so much excitement in the classroom.

Advent Calendars - Making advent calendars is a great maths activity for children and can be easily differentiated for the year group that you're teaching. You could simple ask children to write numbers on the doors or they could write number problems that equal the door number to make the task more challenging. It can be quite a time-consuming activity, so you need to be willing to give a few lessons to it.
Image from The Imagination Tree
Playdough Christmas Trees - I'm a huge playdough fan and always try to have some available in my classroom. At Christmas I like to make screen peppermint playdough and let children make Christmas Trees with it. I think incorporate maths by asking children to select a number card and put the correct amount of decorations on the tree. For more able children I give them number problems to calculate to find out how many decorations to put onto their tree. I sometimes use air-drying clay too so the children have a finished product to take home.
Image by Mavis Butterfield
Christmas Bird Treats - Christmas is a great time to teach about caring for and giving to others. I like to make Christmas themed bird seed with children and let them hand them outside  to feed the birds during the winter. The kids love to do it and it's great to get them thinking about caring for living things. You can get this recipe here.
Image by Cathy James
Gingerbread Men - Isn't the smell of gingerbread the best? I love to make gingerbread men with the kids and let them decorate them. We usually make an extra one to leave for Santa too. If you don't want to make the gingerbread men, they can always decorate shop bought versions, but making them is part of the learning process.
Image by Emma Owl
Christmas Cards - I like to make lovely Christmas cards for the children to take home to their parents or guardians. Children love to give their loved ones gifts and many parents may not get a card without the one from school. It's also a great memory for parents to keep throughout the years. I usually do them as an adult-directed activity.

What are your favourite Christmas activities to do in the classroom?

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