Digital Winter Holiday Lesson Plans and Activities for Students

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Find winter holiday lesson plans and activities for students of all ages below.

By Christina Bartolomeo

Winter Holiday Lesson Plans and Resources Celebrating Diversity and Community

This year, we especially need the light and comfort of winter holidays. They reflect our diversity, honor our values, and remind us that despite the tough past months, a spring of hope is right around the corner. The question is, how to bring that spirit of celebration and community to our teaching practice?

Explore new ways to teach your students about cherished traditions and meanings from multiple perspectives with these special winter resources from Share My Lesson. Whether you’re looking for holiday-themed math and science activities or trying to find ways to help your students explore the world’s religions, the resources below and in our curated collection?can help you make the holidays a brighter, more educational, and more inclusive time for all your students.

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Collection: Winter Holiday Activities

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Winter Holiday Lesson Plans and Resources for Elementary Students

The Coal Thief (read by Christian Slater):?Georgie wakes up to a freezing morning in 1920’s Pennsylvania and gets the bad news that ?there is no coal to?heat the farmhouse—and no money to buy more, either. Just after he finds this out, along comes?his friend Harley, who drags him off on an adventure to find some mysterious “black gold.” Before Georgie can catch?his breath, he’s in a pile of trouble. But by the end of the day, he’s learned that sharing with others can help him through tough times. This heartwarming tale of mischief made and lessons learned comes with a teacher guide, including discussion questions, reading response exercises and science, social studies and art activities. It also features an at-home activity guide with Scratch Art craft, message journal, and cooking, science and dance/movement activities.

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winter holiday lesson plans and resources the coal thief christian slater

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ABCmouse Winter Worksheets and Printables Collection:?This collection features coloring pages (snowflakes, ice skating and winter scenes), an “illustrate the poem” activity, and a paint-by-words worksheet. Use these printables during class, or share with parents to use for at-home activities.

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The Storyteller's Candle: Teacher's Guide:?The winter of 1929 feels especially cold to cousins Hildamar and Santiago, who arrived?in New York City from warm, sunny Puerto Rico only months before. Home feels far away, especially with Three Kings’ Day approaching. Then a magical thing happens. A visitor appears in their class, a gifted storyteller and librarian by the name of Pura Belpré. She opens the children’s eyes to the public library and its potential to be the living, breathing heart of the community. The educator's guide includes a book summary, background, pre-, during, and post-reading focus questions, literature circle roles, vocabulary activities, reader-response and other writing prompts, English language learner teaching activities, and interdisciplinary activities (such as helping students research immigration to the U.S. in the 1920s and 1930s through Ellis Island, and immigrant communities in New York at the time. It also includes a biography of Pura Belpré, the woman who inspired the book, and New York City’s first Latina librarian. One teacher’s feedback: “My ELL students enjoy learning about immigrants and tying it to a season or holiday is helpful.” Note: The book is available to order in both English and Spanish versions.

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the story tellers candle winter holiday lesson plans and resources

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Build a Cardboard Tube Menorah:?Shows kids how to build a traditional menorah with cardboard toilet paper and paper towel tubes (and safe tissue-paper “flames”). English/Spanish-language teacher guide includes a simple description of the history of Hanukkah, the eight-day Festival of Lights that celebrates the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem in the second century B.C., after the temple was retaken by the Maccabees (Jewish resistance movement warriors) from the Seleucid Empire, which had invaded and desecrated the temple.

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winter holiday lesson plans and resources cardboard tube menorah

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Winter Holiday Writing Prompts:?Creative writing prompts that run a gamut of situations and emotions (from “When I stuck my tongue to the frozen metal …” to “I could feel my opponents closing in on me, and I skied faster to keep my lead …”). Promotes writing skills, creative thinking, and prompt writing pieces that students can share. Can be used with mini-lessons to teach basic skills, or for assessment of writing skills.

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winter holiday writing prompt

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Kwanzaa Celebration and the Seven Principles:?These two 75-minute lesson plans help students learn about Kwanzaa, the seven-day holiday (observed by millions throughout the world’s African community) that celebrates African heritage and unites Black Americans. The lesson plan covers Kwanzaa customs, music, clothing and food, and compares Kwanzaa to other celebrations and traditions. Students will learn the seven principles that those who celebrate Kwanzaa try to follow in their daily lives: unity, self-determination, responsibility to community, meeting common needs, purpose, creativity and faith. Students will also learn the names of items used in the Kwanzaa celebration and the meaning and significance of those items. Includes an activity for students to make a Kwanzaa mat, or mkeka, using construction paper and the meaning-rich colors of Kwanzaa.

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winter holiday lesson plans and resources kwanzaa celebration

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How to Catch a Dragon Activity Kit:?This kit pairs with How to Catch a Dragon by Adam Wallace and Andy Elkerton (from the New York Times best-selling How to Catch series), which Kirkus Reviews calls, "a joyful ... celebration of Chinese New Year culture." The kit features lots of fun-filled activities as the kids try to capture the elusive dragon! Includes a winter word search, maze, design your own dragon trap, word match with Chinese characters, dragon paperbag puppet, and Popsicle stick craft.

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Winter Holiday Lesson Plans and Resources for?Middle School and High School Students

How the Grinch Stole Christmas Physical Science Problems:?Students can watch the original, animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas (or use the provided PowerPoint presentation) to answer physics problems related to the story. Concepts covered include gravity, mass vs. weight, potential and kinetic energies, friction, magnetic force, work, power, unit conversions, velocity and acceleration. What is the velocity of the Who children’s toy train? If the Grinch lives 3000 meters away from Whoville, how long will it take for the Who’s singing to reach the Grinch’s ears? What force acts on the Grinch’s dog Max as Max dangles over the cliff? Comes with PowerPoint, answer sheet and answer key.

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winter holiday lesson plans and resources grinch

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Murder Mystery for Christmas (Math Class):?This lesson plan is a Christmas-themed mini murder mystery for math class that allows working in pairs to solve math problems and find the murderer, the victim and the when, where and why. (Students will probably require a calculator for the lesson.) Did the murder happen in Santa’s grotto or behind the Christmas tree? Is the culprit the elf, the reindeer, the snowman, the angel, the fairy … or Santa himself?

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winter holiday lesson plans and resources murder mystery

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Winter Holiday Lesson Plans and Resources for All Grades

Support for Children Experiencing Grief over the Holidays:?During the holidays, most of us also think about people we miss, including loved ones who have died. These thoughts and the feelings they evoke can be especially acute for children and teens. They may experience deep sadness, a renewal of grief, or sudden reactions of anger, despair or fear. These responses may happen the first or second year after a death, or many years later—and with the pandemic, in real time. Educators are uniquely poised to observe grief responses, anticipate challenges, and offer support to grieving students over the holidays. This guide from the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement (posted by the Coalition to Support Grieving Students) suggests helpful educator strategies such as asking open-ended questions, accepting (and not minimizing) expressions of emotion, doing class holiday activities in a way that lets students acknowledge the absence of someone who is no longer living or does not live with the family, and leading class discussions about holiday stories with sensitivity.

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Teaching Tolerance During Holidays and Year Round:?This season marks not only Hanukkah and Christmas, but also the month of Muharram (the liturgical new year of the Islamic calendar), Buddhists’ Bodhi Day, the seven days of Kwanzaa, and the Hindu family holiday Pancha Ganapati. These resources from the Teaching Tolerance program offer ways to be culturally responsive and inclusive when teaching about the world's religions and their holidays. Featured are strategies such as using a thematic framework to connect holidays throughout the year (by emphasizing the thematic elements many of the world’s religions share), and finding anti-bias ideas for enjoying holidays in Early Childhood programs. Also included: an activity that asks students to imagine what an equitable school calendar looks like; links to multi-faith calendars; and tips for avoiding the “holiday balance trap” (for example, when your bulletin board or virtual classroom says “Happy Holidays,” but the decorations on it include red and green stockings, Santa Claus, Christmas trees and a few snowflakes). These thought-provoking resources will help you solve the dilemma of how to balance the holidays to create the most inclusive environment for your students.

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winter holiday lesson plans and resources

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If you have additional winter holiday lesson plans and resources you'd like the Share My Lesson community to know about, please share them in the comments below.

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cristina bartolomeo

Christina Bartolomeo is an Assistant Director
in the Communications Department of the American Federation of Teachers.

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