Inclusive holiday celebrations are important in the middle school classroom. The focus of holiday celebrations and learning should not be solely on the holidays and celebrations important to that teacher.
Reflect Students’ Holidays In Mentor Texts
Classrooms need to be places where students see themselves reflected in the texts being read and the holidays being celebrated. Another important consideration is that teachers need to cover their curriculum expectations (standards) when celebrating or learning about holidays. A way to recognize and celebrate holidays is to incorporate them into your daily lesson plans. Learning about holidays should not be an afterthought or add-on.
Teachers can plan inclusive holiday celebrations by using picture books about holidays as mentor texts for units, offering students creative writing opportunities, reading non-fiction articles and using digital escape rooms. Connect with your school’s teacher-librarian or a children’s librarian from your local public library to find books about the various holidays you will celebrate in your classroom.
Use Non-Fiction Articles
I love to use non-fiction articles incorporated with my weekly Article of the Week lessons to help students learn about various holidays and celebrations. Another option is to use non-fiction articles as different stations and have students rotate through each station to learn about different celebrations.
Survey Your Students
At the start of a new school year, ask students to share on your back to school survey what holidays they celebrate and/or are important to them. Use this information to create a list of holidays that are important to your students so you can have inclusive holiday celebrations in your class.
It is also important to note that not all students and their families are permitted to celebrate holidays for reasons of religion or creed. It is important to reach out to those families and ask what their child is permitted to partake in or what special considerations must be made.
I had a student who did not celebrate any birthdays, holidays, or days of significance. This was a middle school student who could tell me specifically what they were permitted to learn about and take part in. I would send home an email to parents ahead of any holiday-themed lessons to ask for their input. An accommodation I made for the whole class was offering choice in our lessons.
For example, I love giving students the opportunity to work on their creative writing skills. I have nine different choice boards that are either holiday or seasonal-themed. I photocopy, double-sided, the holiday choice board on one side and the seasonal choice board on the other. Students could select any of the writing prompts. They did not have to select a holiday writing prompt if it did not suit their needs. Students of all ages love having choices when completing lessons and assignments.
In this blog post, I have provided inclusive holiday celebrations lesson ideas and suggestions for each month. Check out this list of Canadian holidays and observances for 2023. Once you visit this website, you can change the country to suit your needs.
Note: This is not an exhaustive list of inclusive holiday celebrations lessons. I have put together a list of holiday resources that can be read about from this blog or purchased from the 2 Peas and a Dog store.
Inclusive Holiday Celebrations
Inclusive Holiday Celebrations – January Lesson Ideas
- January Lesson Plans for Middle School ELA – Use these January lesson plans for middle school ELA classes to help reduce your planning workload.
- Lesson Plans For After Winter Break – Try these engaging ELA lesson plans for the week after Winter Break. All your planning is done for you!
- Fun Middle School Winter Activities – Use these fun middle school winter activities with your students to keep them engaged during this cold season.
- New Year’s Goal-Setting Activity and Reflection Sheets – Use these FREE goal-setting sheets to help reset the tone in your classroom after the holiday break.
- Winter Digital Escape Room – This winter-themed digital escape room allows students to work independently or with their peers to solve ten hot chocolate-themed challenges. This is NOT Christmas-themed. All clues are about hot chocolate and its ingredients.
- Winter Sports Digital Escape Room – This winter sports-themed digital escape room allows students to work independently or with their peers to solve ten sports-themed challenges.
- Winter Creative Writing Assignment – Students will select one of the provided character roles: winter coat, ice skates, coffee shop owner, local sledding hill, lost mitten, and create a written or visual product based on the character’s specific writing prompt.
- Snow-Themed Digital Escape Room – This snow-themed digital escape room is 100% editable and should take your students 30-60 minutes to complete.
Inclusive Holiday Celebrations – February Lesson Ideas
- February Lesson Plans for Middle School ELA – Use these February lesson plans for middle school ELA classes to help reduce your planning workload.
- Fantastic Middle School Black History Month Books – February is Black History Month, and reading books with your students is a great way to celebrate the month. This blog post shares the history of Black History Month, book recommendations, videos you can share with your students, and much more.
- Chinese New Year Non-Fiction Article – Help your students learn about different global holidays with this Chinese New Year non-fiction article. In 2024, the Chinese New Year will occur on Saturday, February 10. After reading about this exciting holiday, students will complete three post-reading activities to work on their reading comprehension and writing skills.
- Lunar New Year Non-Fiction Article – This Lunar New Year resource contains one non-fiction article and three post-reading activities to assist with reading comprehension and cross-curricular learning. It works great for sub plans or in-class use and is a perfect resource for the beginning or throughout the year!
- Groundhog Day Non-Fiction Article – Use this non-fiction article to help your students learn why we celebrate this day in North America.
- Free Winter-Themed Digital Escape Room – Try this FREE winter-themed digital escape room. Students must solve the different challenges to escape the art room supply closet they accidentally got locked in.
- Valentine’s Day Unit – This engaging Valentine’s Day Unit for middle school grades contains ten engaging activities to help reinforce your students’ reading, writing, and creativity skills. Students will learn about the historical background of Valentine’s Day traditions and prepare for a Valentine’s Day discussion about current customs.
- Valentine’s Day Digital Escape Room – This Valentine’s Day-themed digital escape room allows students to work independently or with their peers to solve 11 Valentine’s Day-themed challenges.
- Valentine’s Day Non-Fiction Article – Have your students learn about the history of Valentine’s Day in this reading comprehension article.
- Valentine’s Day Creative Writing Assignment – Students love two things about English class – choice and creative writing! In this Valentine’s Day Creative Writing Assignment, students select one of the five writing prompts – Lost Valentine, Candy Hearts, Box of Chocolates, Stuffed Animal and Flowers – to create a written and visual final project.
Inclusive Holiday Celebrations – March Lesson Ideas
- March Lesson Plans for Middle School ELA – Use these March lesson plans for middle school ELA classes to help reduce your planning workload.
- Women’s History Month Lessons – This blog post includes not only books you can read with your students during this important month but also ways to use the books in the classroom, other ways you can celebrate, and videos to show your students if they want to know more about the significance of Women’s History Month.
- Daylight Saving Non-Fiction Article – Help your students learn about daylight saving time with this reading comprehension article.
- St. Patrick’s Day Non-Fiction Article – Have you ever wondered why St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated throughout North America? Your students no longer have to wonder after reading this St. Patrick’s Day non-fiction article.
- Spring Digital Escape Room – This spring-themed digital escape room allows students to work independently or with their peers to solve ten spring-themed challenges.
- Spring Creative Writing Assignment – Students LOVE creative writing! It lets them demonstrate their ideas and personality. In this spring creative writing assignment, students select one of the provided character roles – bear, grass, snow shovel, bird, or professional gardener – and create a written or visual assignment based on the character’s specific writing prompt.
- Ramadan Non-Fiction Article – In 2024, Ramadan begins on Thursday, March 12. Help your students learn more about Ramadan with this non-fiction article. This article comes with both the modified and regular text and an mp3 reading of each article.
Inclusive Holiday Celebrations – April Lesson Ideas
- April Lesson Plans for Middle School ELA – As the days get warmer and brighter, I want to help you beat cabin fever and keep your lessons engaging.
- Informative Sikh Heritage Month Lesson Ideas and Books – In 2019, April was designated Sikh Heritage Month across Canada. In this blog post, you can find many ways to recognize this important day with your students.
- April Fools’ Day Non-Fiction Article – Have you ever wondered where the tradition of April Fools’ Day came from? I bet your students would want to know! Use this April Fools’ Day non-fiction article containing a regular and modified text and three post-reading activities.
- April Fools’ Day Pranks – In this April Fools’ Day Pranks resource, students can either watch four interesting videos and then answer questions based on what they watched, or they can visit various websites that will confuse and delight them.
- Earth Day Non-Fiction Article – Earth Day is important to help students reflect on their contribution to the environment. Use the Earth Day non-fiction article (both modified and regular text) to help students learn about the origins of Earth Day and reinforce their literacy skills.
- Easter Digital Escape Room – This Easter-themed digital escape room allows students to work independently or with their peers to solve 11 Easter-themed challenges. This escape room is non-religious and focuses on chocolate, candy and animals.
- Easter Creative Writing Assignment – This Easter creative writing assignment has students select one of the provided character roles – Easter Bunny, Easter Egg Basket, Zookeeper, Candy Store Owner, or Chocolate Inventor – and create a written or visual product based on the character’s writing prompt.
Inclusive Holiday Celebrations – May / June / July Lesson Ideas
- May Lesson Plans for Middle School ELA – Read this blog post about ideas for May lesson plans.
- June Lesson Plans for Middle School ELA – Use these June lesson plans for middle school ELA classes to help reduce your planning workload.
- Asian Heritage Month Resources for Middle School – To learn more about Asian Heritage Month and explore resources and activities you can use in your classroom, including book recommendations and videos, check out this blog post.
- 15 Exciting End of the Year Activities for Middle School – The end of the year is almost here, and we’ve compiled 15 exciting end of the year activities that your students will surely enjoy!
- Creative End of the Year Middle School Activities – Use these creative end of the year middle school activities to keep students engaged during the last weeks of school.
- End of the Year Mega Bundle – This mega bundle contains nine different end-of-the-year activities for your students. This bundle combines academic lessons (non-fiction articles) and just-for-fun activities (digital escape room).
- Graduation Songs for End of the Year Slideshows – Find school-appropriate songs for your end of the year graduation slideshows.
- Graduation Songs For Ceremonies and Slideshows – Find school-appropriate songs for your end of the year graduation ceremonies and slideshows.
- Creating an Engaging Summer English Project – Ditch boring summer English assignments and projects. Find out how to create engaging summer English projects.
- Summer Creative Writing Assignment – Students will select one of the provided character roles – ice cream store owner, student, tourism CEO, dog, or author – and create a written or visual product based on the character’s specific writing prompt.
- Summer Relaxation Strategies for Teachers – It does not matter what or where you teach; teachers need their summers to relax and recharge their bodies to prepare for the next school year. Here are ten fantastic ideas to help teachers relax and recharge themselves over the summer.
- Public Swimming Pool Safety Non-Fiction Article – Students will learn about the germs in public swimming pools in this non-fiction article. This resource contains one non-fiction article and three reading activities.
Inclusive Holiday Celebrations – August Lesson Ideas
- The Ultimate Teacher’s Guide to Back to School Success – This blog post has everything you need for a successful back to school season, whether you’re a new or a veteran teacher.
- 10 Back to School Supplies Every Teacher Needs – Learn about ten back to school supplies every teacher needs.
- First Week of School Activities For Middle School Students – Engaging and relevant first week of school activities and back-to-school lessons for middle school students.
- How to Set Up a Middle School Classroom – Learn how to set up a middle school classroom for a successful year.
- How to Create an Engaging Back to School Environment – Learn three strategies that middle school teachers can use to help create an engaging back-to-school environment.
- Back to School Mega Bundle – Teachers save time and money by purchasing this back to school mega bundle. You will get access to ready-to-go resources to help you and your students get to know each other during the first week of school. These resources are perfect for virtual or in-person cooperative learning and social-emotional learning.
- Back to School Digital Escape Room #2 – This school-themed digital escape room allows students to work independently or with their peers to solve ten school-related challenges.
Inclusive Holiday Celebrations – September Lesson Ideas
- September Lesson Plans for Middle School ELA – Planning your first month of school lessons can be overwhelming. Here are some ideas for lessons during September.
- Fall Lesson Plans for Middle School – Check out these engaging Fall Lesson Plans For Middle School. Have your students try a fall-themed escape room or give them a chance to showcase their creative writing skills. These fall lessons are fun and educational.
- Fun Ways to Celebrate Fall in the Middle School Classroom – More ways to celebrate the fall season in the classroom, including a digital escape room and creative writing assignment, and ways to celebrate lesser-known holidays, the autumnal equinox, and more.
- Fall Digital Escape Room – This fall-themed digital escape room allows students to work independently or with their peers to solve ten fall-related challenges.
- Fall Creative Writing Assignment – Students will select one of the provided character roles – coffee shop employee, garden rake, tree, family pet, or squirrel – and create a written or visual product based on the character’s specific writing prompt.
Inclusive Holiday Celebrations – October Lesson Ideas
- October Lesson Plans for Middle School ELA – Planning your second month of school lessons can be overwhelming. This blog post shares what I teach during October.
- Middle School Mystery Lessons – This blog post has engaging middle school mystery lessons about famous mysteries, such as Who Was D.B. Cooper, Oak Island, and The Loch Ness Monster.
- Fun Middle School Thanksgiving Activities – This blog post shares Thanksgiving activities, picture books, podcast listening comprehension lessons, and more suitable for use around Thanksgiving.
- Thanksgiving Digital Escape Room – This digital escape room allows students to work independently or with their peers to solve ten food and gratitude-themed challenges. Note: This digital escape room is about food and gratitude. It does not cover any traditional Thanksgiving narratives or stereotypes.
- 8 Spooktacular Halloween Activities for Middle and High School – Halloween activities for both middle and high school students, shared by two teachers.
- Middle School Halloween Activities – These activities are a great way to reinforce literacy skills while having fun with your students. Learn about the history of Halloween, try a digital escape room or have your students work on their creative writing skills.
- Halloween Unit – This engaging Halloween Unit contains five activities to help reinforce your students’ reading and writing skills. Students will learn about the historical background of Halloween traditions and prepare for a Halloween discussion about current Halloween costumes.
- Halloween Digital Escape Room – This Halloween-themed digital escape room allows students to work independently or with their peers to solve 10 Halloween-focused challenges. Students must solve these required challenges to “escape” from the haunted house they accidentally locked themselves into.
- Halloween Stores Podcast Listening Comprehension Lesson – Halloween is everywhere, and students will enjoy learning about those spooky stores that pop up every year in this podcast comprehension lesson.
- 10 Halloween Costume Ideas For English Teachers – Find ten creative Halloween costume ideas for English teachers in this blog post.
- Halloween Costumes for English Teachers – It’s not always easy to think of good teacher costumes that are creative and appropriate. Check out this list for inspiration.
Inclusive Holiday Celebrations – November Lesson Ideas
- November Lesson Plans for Middle School ELA – Find engaging November Lesson Plans for Middle School ELA for reading, writing, speaking/listening and media literacy.
- Teaching Students the Importance of Remembrance Day in Middle School – Find ways to teach students about Remembrance Day in the middle school classroom.
- How to Recognize National Indigenous Veterans Day In The Classroom – This important holiday falls on November 8th every year.
- Celebrate With These Spooky and Fun Halloween Digital Activities – Discover digital activities you can use for your Halloween celebrations in school.
- Remembrance Day Unit – Help your students develop a deeper connection to Canadian Remembrance Day in this two-week-long unit. Teachers are provided with ten in-depth, engaging and relevant multimedia lessons to help their students explore and understand key concepts related to Remembrance Day.
- Diwali Non-Fiction Article – Did you know that over a billion people celebrate Diwali yearly? Despite this, engaging, rigorous lesson plans focused on this holiday can be hard to find. In 2023, Diwali will occur on Sunday, November 12. Use this middle school Diwali lesson to help your students learn more about the celebration in an engaging and informative way.
Inclusive Holiday Celebrations – December Lesson Ideas
- December Lesson Plans for Middle School ELA – Find engaging and rigorous December lesson plans for middle school ELA.
- Tips For Teachers On How To Reduce Holiday Season Stress – The weeks leading up to the holiday break can be very stressful if you don’t plan. This blog post has great tips for reducing stress before, during and after the holiday break.
- Regifting Non-Fiction Article – Students will learn about the pros and cons behind regifting in this non-fiction article. This is not a Christmas-themed lesson. It discusses present giving in general.
- Global Holiday Celebrations Research Assignment – Help students learn about different cultures, celebrations, and faiths with this holiday research assignment. Students will work in pairs to research 1 of the 16 suggested holiday and/or cultural celebrations. Students could also choose to research a local holiday or cultural celebration.
- Hanukkah Non-Fiction Article – In 2023, Hanukkah begins on Thursday, December 7. This resource contains one non-fiction article and three post-reading activities to assist with reading comprehension.
- Kwanzaa Non-Fiction Article – Students will learn about the history of Kwanzaa and its current traditions in this non-fiction article. This resource contains one non-fiction article and three post-reading activities to assist with reading comprehension.
- Christmas Unit – This engaging Christmas Unit contains six activities to help reinforce your students’ reading and writing skills.
- Christmas Digital Escape Room – This Christmas-themed digital escape room allows students to work independently or with their peers to solve 10 Christmas/world geography-focused challenges. Students must solve these required challenges to find the escaped gingerbread men as they travel around the world to avoid being captured. The clues are related to global Christmas traditions or world geography general knowledge.
- Christmas Truce of 1914 Media Analysis Unit – This historical event occurred between the British and German troops along the Western Front trenches in France during World War I. Students will reflect on this significant event during the First World War in this unit.
- Teacher Gift Guides (#1, #2, #3) – Check out these teacher gift guides to help you find affordable and stylish teacher gifts.
I hope this detailed list of inclusive holiday celebration ideas can help with your weekly and monthly lesson planning.