5 Ways to Celebrate Before Winter Break that DON’T Include Christmas
While I grew up celebrating Christmas both at home and in school, I also went to a Catholic school where almost everyone was also celebrating Christmas (and kids were there by parental choice). If you have a situation where every one of your students celebrates Christmas, or you are hosting a variety of winter holiday celebrations, then by all means celebrate Christmas…
if you are looking for ways to celebrate that don’t exclude some of your students but are still TONS of fun for all involved, why not try some of these ideas?
Celebrate Solstice Instead with a Sundial Project
Winter solstice is nature’s holiday this time of year! I just love celebrating solstice, and look forward to it every year. Why? It signals the end of the short daylight hours and the stretch of increasing daylight hours that I adore!
What better way to celebrate solstice than with SCIENCE (yes, I know I’m a big nerd)!
Here are some websites to get you started:
Scientific American Sundial
15 Minute Papercraft Sundial
While making a sundial, why not talk about what the solstice is and why we have it? Read a book or watch a video:
Books (Amazon affiliate links, read disclosure here).
The Shortest Day by Wendy Pfeffer
The Return of the Light by Carolyn Edwards
The Winter Solstice by Ellen Jackson
The Solstice Badger by Robin McFadden
The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper
Crash Course Kids: Seasons and the Sun
Curriculum Connection: The solar system!
Celebrate Winter with Snowflakes
Even if you don’t live in a region that gets snow, there are still a lot of ways to celebrate with snowflakes! One of my favorite things to do is to craft paper snowflakes but you can also make crystal borax snowflakes too, which are so pretty, especially hanging in a window so the light can catch them.
Curriculum connection: If you are studying symmetry this is the perfect tie-in!
Snowflake Creation Ideas
Get in my Belly!
This is just one way of fostering connection with kids: baking together! Not only can you sneak in measurement math without anyone noticing, you can create something together that you can all enjoy! Not possible due to food allergies? Why not ask for allergy-free recipes from families, or instead pop popcorn (chemical change! volume!).
Set up an exploration station where students can smell and taste small amounts of ingredients, such as salt, sugar, cinnamon, etc.
Working on sequencing? Have students instruct you how to make hot cocoa, s’mores, etc. and then follow their directions. They will talk about it for MONTHS. Watch this video of a dad making sandwiches instructed by his kids.
Curriculum connection: Sequencing, measurement, senses.
Cozy up with a Good Book
Once you have your baked goods, hot cocoa, etc. have a PJ day or “winter campfire” and read to your students. They might not have someone reading to them at home. Even middle schoolers and high schoolers will enjoy being read to (if it’s the right book). Leave out those holiday stories and choose a book about kindness.
Picture Books About Kindness
7 Middle Grades Books that Teach Empathy
Books that Teach Empathy (all ages)
Curriculum connection: literacy, community, character education.
If you do choose to have a party, pick games that include all! Playing together is truly one of the greatest ways to form connections with your students. While some families play games at home, not all do and many kids get left out of this wonderful past time. We play a lot of games at home, but it helps that both my kids are close in age and there are a lot of games we all like to play as a family.
Indoor party game ideas from Red Tricycle.
Try pin the nose on the snowman.
- If you are brave, have a snowball fight with cloth snowballs.
- Play musical chairs (leave out the Christmas music!)
- Capture the flag.
If you want something the whole class can play without getting too out of hand, try Winter BINGO.
Pin these ideas for later: