Keeping Students Engaged with Christmas Break in Sight

xmas blog pic

An unexpected perk of teaching home schooled kids is that I can have them do holiday activities next week!  I have never been able to do so before because as a high school teacher we had so many boxes to check in December in terms of content, prepping for finals, and spending 3-4 days actually taking finals, Christmas activities were never able to find their way into the schedule.  We couldn’t even spend a day on the Christmas Truce of WWI because we had covered that before Thanksgiving!

I can all too easily imagine how not into school the kids will be next week, so I asked the director if I could push the actual content material back till after Christmas Break.  Thankfully she was fully on board with this, eager for me to do what I needed to to keep the kids focused on something…anything other than bouncing off the walls.

Since many of my kids overlap in the Tuesday and Thursday class, I knew I wanted two different activities.  I made one myself: Christmas Around the World and Over the Years where they kids will pair up and try to match a Christmas tradition to the country it originates from, and then they will switch pairs and rank a list of historical events that happened on December 25 throughout history from earliest to most recent.  I think it will keep their attention because they LOVE competing with each other, so the whole “I want to get it right first” mentality will kick in and keep them on point for the duration of class.  Oh and of course we’ll have a quick conversation after each segment to fill in any blanks and make sure all the matching/ranks are correct(ed).

For the second activity I found this set of writing prompts.  I think (hope) my kids will like learning about traditions observed by kids their age around the world, and then trying to think outside the box in order to respond to some of the prompts such as: “In Greece, people don’t usually put up Christmas trees. Instead, they have a wooden bowl with a piece of wire around the rim. A cross wrapped with basil is hung from the wire. Create your own Christmas symbol and tell what it symbolizes” and “In Denmark, there is an elf named Nisse who plays tricks on people during Christmas. Nisse wears a red bonnet, red stockings, white clogs and gray woolen clothes. Illustrate a picture of Nisse and write a story about the tricks he plays during Christmas.”

My plan for this activity is to give each student a different country/tradition/prompt.  They will respond to them accordingly, then they will pair up with someone they haven’t worked with yet, share what they wrote, then as a whole class we will discuss the traditions and the students’ prompt responses.  I might be a little ambitious with this activity, on Thursdays we usually end up having 45 minutes instead of an hour, but worst case scenario I’ll email the parents the prompts and maybe they can be incorporated into dinner conversation (another unexpected perk of being part of the co-op).

Especially on Tuesday since that’s when I have the wider age range, I’m not going to lie I’m a little nervous about the classroom management aspect of the day, but I am SOOOOOO looking forward to doing holiday activities, I might even more excited than the kids are about this.  If you’ve got a tried and true “how to survive the week of Christmas Break” tip” feel free to leave it in the comments 🙂  Good luck to all of us this week!!!

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