Tap into seasonal anticipation with this multidisciplinary topic
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, teachers! Regardless of where you teach, your students are likely pretty keyed up right now. It’s 3 weeks days before Christmas, but I’m sure I didn’t need to tell you that. It’s likely you already have something special planned for Christmas this year, but I’d like to suggest you also help your students learn about the ways that Christmas is celebrated around the world. I, for sure, wasn’t even aware that Christmas was celebrated in different ways until I was studying abroad in college.
First, to get just a brief overview of Christmas traditions in other countries, I’d suggest reading this quick article in Country Living from earlier this year (September) which includes brief blurbs on Christmas traditions in many other countries. This article can help you as a teacher select which countries you’d like to focus on. My suggestion would be to take a look at your December school calendar. I would suggest one country per day, one country every two days, or perhaps one country per day on set days (maybe three or four days per week). Whatever works for you; this should feel fun and exciting, not just another thing to add to your December to-do list.
With students, I’d suggest you check your school library for Christmas Around the World by Mary D. Lankford. This picture book describes Christmas traditions in 12 countries. It’s a good book to begin your Christmas Around the World unit. Obviously, you can either choose to feature the 12 countries contained in the book, or just some of them, again depending on your schedule.
Once you’ve committed to your schedule and selected your countries, it’s time to round up some resources. Obviously, YouTube has a variety of clips available on Christmas in other countries. A quick search on my current country of residence pulls up a couple dozen quick clips, mainly about Christmas markets in different cities scattered around the country. (As a side note, a personal vote for including Germany in your Christmas Around the World unit. It really has such lovely traditions.) I’d obviously heavily suggest that you vet any YouTube videos (or really any digital clips) before showing them to your class. This Rick Steves clip gives a pretty good overview of Christmas in Germany, although it does tend to focus a bit on community traditions more than family traditions:
A larger search for Rick Steves Christmas brings up clips between 5 and 10 minutes in length.
You can find pre-made materials for your unit, you can make what you need, or you can go without any printables or activities. I’d encourage a notebook for students to track new or interesting facts as well as any specific assignments or responses you give them during then end.
Christmas Around the World units can be a fun and exciting way to learn about traditions in other countries. Students can share their favorite holiday traditions, while also learning about how children and families in other countries observe Christmas as well.
Rachel Wilser has spent the better part of a decade in classrooms around the country — in private, public, charter, elementary, and middle schools. Now, she chases twins and drinks coffee while planning her return to the classroom.