Christmas classroom activities – specifically a school party – come just before a major school break, which can lend a laid-back, “take the afternoon off” air to the event.
You know what I'm going to say about that: resist the temptation!
As with any elementary activity, a party that drags on for too long will inevitably degenerate into one of those not-so-fun activities that does not serve your team-building efforts well.
Besides, a long party is not necessary. Let's cover how to do it right. But first… let's recall the potential issues that some students may have with Christmas classroom activities.
As discussed on the Halloween party page, if you work in a public school, the taxpayers are footing the bill for your salary and the entire district. Some of those taxpayers do not celebrate Christmas for a variety of religious or personal reasons, and they do not want their children to celebrate the holiday, either.
That is why we have “winter” or “winter break” parties. Be certain it is not just a re-labeling; your fun holiday activities must revolve around winter themes, NOT traditional Christmas themes. It is simply the professional thing to do if you teach in a public school.
And even a “winter” party may not be acceptable for those who do not celebrate any parties at all. Be sensitive; you may need to arrange for kids to go to other classrooms or get an excused absence if needed. But talk to parents first and don't assume anything.
Ideas for Christmas classroom activities
The ideal plan is to work winter activities into your lesson plans for a couple of weeks in December, then have them culminate in an educational activity at the party. Winter is easy to tie to curriculum, even if you don't normally get snow for the holidays in your part of the world.
Let's cover some ideas for both “way-too-much snow” and “snow-deprived” areas.
The science of snow
Study “Snowflake Bentley”…the man who first photographed snowflakes. Go to www.snowflakebentley.com to find some short videos. Read science articles on the crystalline structure of snow, and then cut out really fancy snowflakes for Christmas classroom activities at the party.
Don't cut out basic snowflakes when you can create amazing ones using Dave's Snowflakes as a reference. He has collected over 450 designs, which are all available for $12.
Kids seriously love these!
Video tips: standards-based snowflake fun
Other science angles
Consider building lesson plans around the following ideas:
- Animals that hibernate
- Winter in the Northern Hemisphere vs. the Southern Hemisphere
- Major winter weather events (blizzards, ice storms, avalanches, etc.)
- Snow sports
Winter party activity ideas
The winter party is a a quiet time, especially compared to the school Halloween party.
- Start by having the students enjoy a small cup of cocoa and a graham cracker while watching a science video about snow.
- If you are feeling jolly, lead them in a rendition of the carol “Let it Snow.”
Then dive into the culminating project of your winter lesson plan – such as cutting out the snowflakes, as mentioned above.
Another great idea, and one that produces a score-able piece of work, is to have the students write to a winter prompt. You might consider an all-day write (i.e. from notes to rough draft to finished copy).
If you need more than a small winter snack to go with your Christmas classroom activities, keep the focus on healthy food (or at least not-too-unhealthy) while maintaining a winter theme. And for winter, the theme is “white as snow” of course!
- Cauliflower with ranch dip
- String cheese
- Applies with yogurt dip
- Tofu squares
(You know I'm kidding about the last one, right?)