How is it almost the holidays!? It feels like we just started the school year and now we are quickly entering the holiday season. I love the holidays and I love to incorporate them into my classroom. There is such a feeling of peace, joy and giving during the holidays that I love to really bring into my classroom.
This is such a wonderful time of year, but students (and teachers) can sometimes feel anxious for the holiday breaks that are quickly approaching. To help combat some of the “checking out” that can happen to students, here are 10 ways to add some holiday joy to your classroom and keep students engaged!
1. Have students make holiday cards for staff and deliver them
This is probably one of my favorite things to do for the holiday season. Our staff is amazing and I know that I wouldn’t be able to do my job effectively without them! It’s a great way to spread some love to those staff members who may be forgotten by students and teachers during the holidays. It’s also a great way to help students see just how many people help make a difference in their education!
2. Christmas Bell Ringers
Bell ringers are a huge part of my classroom. I love how it creates structure while engaging students in meaningful work at the beginning of class. I am a big proponent of bell ringers so I love using these Christmas bell ringers in my classroom! They are a great way to keep your daily bell ringers while adding some holiday spirit!
3. Connect holiday activities to curriculum
There is something just so fun about having Christmas and holiday themed school work. I have found that it really helps to keep students engaged while tuning into their excitement about the holidays. While the holiday season is in full swing, we still have to make sure that we are actively teaching the curriculum. There are many fun holiday activities that connect to the curriculum. One of my personal favorites is this Christmas Shopping activity that supports students in financial literacy!
4. Plan a visit to your local retirement or nursing home and sing Carols.
Not everyone loves the holidays quite as much as we might. There are some people that feel extra lonely during the holidays and many of them can be found at the local retirement or nursing home. Going with your students to sing carols is a great way to help students look outside of themselves and bring joy to others around them. They’ll feel the extra joy as well!
5. Spread Kindness
I think the best part about the holidays is the opportunity to spread kindness. One of my favorite things to do during the holiday season is to have my students complete one act of kindness a day. I love doing this by creating this bulletin board reminding the students to spread kindness. Then I have students write down the acts of kindness that they would like to do in our school. Each day during the month of December, I challenge my students to complete the act of kindness that day. This is a simple and effective way to really get your middles thinking about others during the holiday season.
6. Donate Old Toys and Clothing
Another great way to help students think about others is to hold a toy and clothing drive. You can do this just in your classroom or see if you can get the whole grade or school involved. I know that helping others with Christmas is one of the things I love to do most. It really helps me and my students see some perspective and brings more joy than any gift I ever get myself. Reach out to your local charities and see if you can work with them as many have toy and clothes drives during the holiday season!
7. Have students decorate their desks
This is a super simple and fun way to get your classroom feeling festive! You may or may not have your own classroom holiday decorations, but your students will love the opportunity to add their own flair to the classroom decor. Make sure that you set expectations and parameters for your students decor so you aren’t dealing with any surprises!
8. Play Holiday Music
I don’t know about you, but I love holiday music! This is such a simple and fun way to get everyone in the festive mood. I love to put on classical or instrumental holiday music while students work. The students love it! I would also suggest trying to be inclusive with your holiday music and move beyond just Christmas to include other holidays as well! I also love to put up a cozy fireplace on my smartboard. It’s the perfect touch to our cozy holiday classroom! Here’s my favorite fireplace video!
9. Make Holiday Wreaths
One of my oldest traditions, that I started my first year teaching, is making holiday wreaths and spreading them around the school. This is a super fun holiday craft that students love and it’s pretty simple! It’s a super fun way to spread some holiday cheer not only in your classroom, but also around the school! I have everything you need to make these super fun wreaths on my blog post here.
10. Set Goals
The last idea I have for a great holiday is to set goals for the new year. January feels like a fresh start and coming back after the holidays can be a great time to have your students make and set some goals. Middles are great at this because many of them are so introspective and want to do better. I like to have my students choose a “word of the year” that summarizes what they want to accomplish and create for the next year. Then I create a super fun bulletin board with all of our words. It’s incredibly motivating to see. You can grab the assignments to help students come up with their words and the bulletin board here!
Read, Set, Spread Some Joy!
I hope that these ideas have helped spark some creativity and excitement for the holiday season ahead! I know as a teacher, this time of year can seem crazy busy, but there are so many simple ways to spread joy to others and your students. Spreading joy to others will make your holiday season one to remember!