My challenge to you this holiday season is to promote joy not only in your classroom, but around your school.
Don't let yourself and your students get worn down this season and say YES to more JOY.
One of my favourite things to organize in my classroom or for my grade team is a cooperative games afternoon. Each class has their students assigned to a team. Each team is made up of students from all of the classes in a grade team or a school if you teach in a small school. The team rotate through different classrooms working through different cooperative activities. Students get to practice their collaboration and problem solving skills. Some of my favourite activities are: tarp flip, spaghetti and marshmallow tower creation, yarn spider's web and spoon races (students must go through an obstacle course while holding out a spoon with something balanced on it). A quick Google or Pinterest search will provide lots of group challenges and games that can easily be adapted for classroom use. Some examples of cooperative games can be found here.
Holiday Craft Stations
No matter what the age of your students, they like to build/create things. Using the same teams as the cooperative games or arrange this on a small scale just for your class, have students rotate through different holiday themed crafts i.e. picture frame making, ornament making, card making. Vary the activity by the age level of your students. Another Google or Pinterest search will yield fun and engaging activities.
Turn Curriculum Into Meaningful Holiday Activities
I really like to consolidate lessons with hands on activities that teach my students multiple skills. When I taught math, I liked to end my unit on Circles and Cylinders by having students create felt ornaments or decorations. Students had the option to create a snowman, Santa or a reindeer. Each of these options involved cutting out circles. The students were required to measure the felt, cut it out exactly and find measurements for the different parts of a circle. After all the math was complete, students got to sew their ornaments closed and decorate their creation. For many of my students it was their first time sewing.
School Mascot on the Shelf
I know a lot of teachers like to bring a Christmas representative to watch over their classes during the holiday season. Why not bring school spirit into your classroom by using your school mascot instead? All the same activities you could do with your Christmas representative can still be completed with a small version of your school mascot.
Make Learning Fun
Christmas themed story prompts to get thinking creatively about what might happen in each scenario. Students move around the classroom to answer each other's story writing prompts. At the end each prompt will have a complete story.
If you need a longer writing assignment for December try this Christmas Writing Assignment. Students will select the role of one character: Santa's Elf, Christmas Turkey, Gingerbread man, Christmas Tree or Museum Curator and create a written product (brochure, postcards, infographic, etc) based on the character's specific writing prompt. By using this fun Christmas creative writing choice board assignment, teachers can combine covering the writing curriculum and enjoying the holiday season with their classes.