I love Christmas time with my students. Though it is a busy time where I often struggle to keep my daily routines, I love the excitement and energy that this time of year invites. Each year I try to complete the majority of my units before the Christmas break so my students can start fresh when we return to classes in January. Each year I am left searching for meaningful learning activities to fill the time between the final assessments and the beginning of the holiday.
This year, I concluded my social unit a week and a half early, and as a result, I had time to try something new. I came up with was a Canadian Settler Christmas project. The project started with a Venn diagram where my students compared the Christmas they witnessed on an Anne of Green Gables Christmas special to their Christmas. My students were instantly intrigued and to my surprise, they loved watching the film that was 30 years old! The discussions, level of interest and engagement exceeded my expectations.
The next step was letting each student pick the part of a Settlers Christmas they wanted to research further. Students were then put in groups based on similar interests. Upon gathering their information, students designed centers that all members of our class could take part in. Their ideas blew me away, and in the end, our settler Christmas celebration included:
1. Baking biscuits to eat with preserves.
2. Making a balancing acrobat with a cork and skewers.
3. Making almond candy
4. Finger knitting and cat’s cradle
5. Making potpourri satchels.
6. A games center that included drop the hankie, blind mans bluff and square dancing.
When the day arrived I had students dressed in settler themed outfits while others played harmonicas. Some even brought their own preserves and stories about making them; the enthusiasm was contagious. The day was a hit and our finger knitting and chatter about the activities continued well into the afternoon.
Hearing nothing but rave reviews from students and parents alike, I believe I will make settler activities an all-day activity next year! I already have hopes of including a presentation from our local museum on the topic and possibly working with a colleague to get his students to interview their Grand-buddies to enhance the project even further.
Wondering if anyone else has any successful Christmas learning activities that they are willing to share? I am always adding to my idea bank 🙂