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Are you looking for a fun and festive way to invite families into your class during the holiday season? Class parties are fun, but it is great to have activities that involve parents and build learning. A Holidays Around the World celebration is a perfect activity for building family involvement or a cross-curricular culminating activity for a holiday unit.
I like to run my Holidays Around the World celebration in centers. I typically have 4-5 centers, all of which are self-explanatory and do not need my presence in order to be successful. Some parents may sign up to run a center, but I like to set the centers up to be successful if the students are there without a guide too. Before sending students and their family members to the centers, I give a quick overview of each activity. I show a Power Point to explain the Christmas Crackers center, go over the directions for the pickle ornament, review the Buche de Noel snack, and review the directions for playing dreidel and the Kwanzaa Mkeka mat.
Christmas in England
My first center is based on Christmas in England. In England, people exchange crackers or set them on the dinner table for each guest. The crackers are cardboard tubes wrapped in beautiful paper and filled with small jokes, toys, treats, etc. For the classroom center, I collect toilet paper tubes for a few weeks prior until I have enough for every student in my class. I cut small slips of lined paper and put the slips in a basket. Then, I cut sheets of holiday wrapping paper and ribbon for wrapping and tying the crackers. I print out the instructions for the center from the Christmas Crackers Power Point, and the center is set to go.
When students visit the England center, they choose a family member who will be the lucky recipient of the cracker. Then students will take 5-10 small pieces of paper. They will write jokes and compliments on each piece. For example, students have written small notes like “Mom, you make the best lunches!” or “Dad, I love playing catch with you.” When they are done, students will place the pieces inside the toilet paper roll and wrap it up. On each side, they will tape the side and tie it, just as a cracker would be tied. These are fun and inexpensive family gifts too!
Christmas in Germany
Our next center celebrates Christmas in Germany. For the pickle ornament center, I first print the attached “Legend of the Pickle” sheets on a color printer and cut them so that each student will have a paper explaining the legend. Next, I copy the pickle ornament template on green paper so that there is enough for each student. In the center, I put out the legend papers and the pickle papers. I also put out markers, fake jewels, pompoms, glitter, etc. Students will cut out their pickle and decorate it to make an ornament. I punch a hole at the top and students can tie a small piece of yarn to hang their ornament. It’s pickle-perfect! 😉
Christmas in France
The third center celebrates Christmas in France. Prior to the celebration, you will need to purchase or ask for donations of Swiss Roll snacks. They are made by Little Debbie. These will act as yule log cakes, and are made of chocolate cake and white cream. I also get chocolate frosting, plastic knives, plates, napkins and festive sprinkles. Students will each receive a Swiss Roll and a plate. They will then use the plastic knives to decorate the Swiss Roll with chocolate frosting and then add the festive sprinkles. Last but not least, enjoy the delicious treat.
This French center definitely needs adult supervision, and if no one else is present, this is the center I run. This center is the one that may not be used if students have allergies, or if your school does not allow students to have sugary snacks in the classroom.
The fourth center is a Hanukkah center. In it, students read the directions and play the dreidel game. It is tons of fun, and students enjoy playing with one another and their family members too. You can either buy the dreidels or have the students make them using the fun and free resource by The Fun Factory. You can either use bingo chips or chocolate gel for trading as part of the game. I suggest using the FREE printable directions “How to Play the Dreidel Game” by Goldbeard. This is a fun-filled center!
The final center I include is a Kwanzaa Mkeka mat center. You will need black, red, and green construction paper and scissors. In preparation for the center, cut the red and green construction paper into strips about 1 inch wide and 11 inches long. Put them into two containers on the area where you will have this center. Once students arrive at the center, give them one piece of black construction paper, folded in half vertically. Then, have the students cut slits across the fold horizontally about 1 inch apart. Once they are done, the students will then weave alternating green and red construction paper strips to create squares of alternating colors. The mat is now ready as a decoration!
A Holidays Around the World Celebration is a memorable and fun activity for your class to enjoy, as well as a great day to make memories with students’ families.
My name is Kristin Jason, and I am a third grade teacher in New Jersey. I have been teaching now for 13 years, and I absolutely love teaching because I love watching the children grow in confidence and develop a true love of learning. I am also a wife and mother of 2 boys, ages 8 and 5, so I am a very busy and very blessed woman. My Teachers Pay Teachers store specializes in EnVisions Math products for grades 2-4, seasonal activities, and reading units.