Whether your students celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Las Posadas, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year, (or all of them!), they are always excited to learn about other countries and their holiday celebrations too! In this post, you’ll find tons of creative ideas and resources for an awesome and engaging unit on Christmas Around the World!
My students have always loved learning about the holiday traditions and beliefs of other cultures! This topic is filled with opportunities to ALSO teach about geography too! Plus, it’s always great to expand your students’ horizons as they learn about other countries. They will become more culturally aware and the world becomes a smaller, friendlier place for them when they can relate to, and empathize with, other world citizens.
With the excitement of the holidays in the air, it’s a great time to take advantage of the kids’ energy level and have them absorb all they can from some fabulous holiday books! As a reminder, reading stories aloud to our students benefits them in so many ways.
- build vocabulary
- develop an understanding of story structures
- form connections between print elements and genres
- model fluency
- obtain deeper levels of understanding.
Here are a few read-aloud stories that are super-fun resources for teaching about Christmas around the world….
Holidays Around the World – Celebrate Christmas: With Carols, Presents, and Peace
by Deborah Heiligman
This book details the origins of Christmas as well as how it’s now celebrated throughout the world. Great pictures, facts and fun extension activities are to be found just inside!
The Legend of the Poinsettia
by Tomie dePaola
Newbery honor-winning author & Caldecott honor-winning illustrator Tomie dePaola has illustrated the legendary Mexican tale of the well-known Christmas plant. Children will learn a valuable lesson on what makes a worthy Christmas gift.
by Katharine Holabird
Though most likely written for younger kids, this touching story is set in Britain–where Father Christmas visits, not Santa Claus. A beautifully illustrated lesson about a small town and how it works together to take care of one of its special residents. Yet, it also teaches kids to appreciate and value the older generation. Many great discussions will arise from this story…
The Polar Express
by Chris Van Allsburg
An award-winning story with magical illustrations! (One cool way to intro the book is to explore the geography and location of the North Pole.) This is a delightful story of a young boy’s wondrous Christmas journey! Every picture is worth discussing and/or can be used as a separate activity (a story starter) for writing about! You can also learn about the geography of Europe (where reindeer really live) and how to find the North Pole on a map before reading the book. And of course, there is also the classic holiday movie that you could watch and compare to the book.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
by Dr. Seuss
Set in Whoville (what country is that in?)…this CLASSIC Seuss story is one that every kid loves! It emphasizes the values of family and friendship over commercialization in a fun and engaging tale! Your class can delve deeper and analyze, compare & contrast the culture and traditions of Whoville and your home country.
The Legend of Old Befana
by Tomie dePaola
This book tells the story of Befana who brings gifts to Italian children on Epiphany. I love how this book tells such a beautiful legend in an obviously well-researched manner.
Trees of Cranes
by Allen Say
Tree of Cranes is the story of a young boy living in Japan. His mother has lived in California and wants to teach him about the traditions in both cultures.
The Trees of the Dancing Goats
by Patricia Polacco
This book takes place in a village where many of the families have come down with Scarlet Fever. As Trisha and her family prepare to celebrate Hanukkah, they realize that many of their neighbors will not be well enough to celebrate with them. Trisha’s family decides they will take a special holiday dinner and decorations to sick members of their community. I love the example of unselfish giving!
Lucia Morning in Sweden
by Ewa Rydaker
This book is my favorite to introduce my students to the Lucia Day holiday traditions in Sweden.
Do you love holiday books as much as I do? These are some of the books that I share with my students during the month of December. In my classroom, I use the interactive read aloud model to make the time I spend reading to my students more purposeful.
I model comprehension strategies for my students using purposefully written talking points. You can check it out for FREE BELOW.
Love it? Want to see more? Head over to HERE to check it out.
Want to improve your students’ fluency rates? HERE is a perfect set of fluency strips that ALSO educates students about how other countries celebrate. It’s a unique way of getting twice the learning in one resource! Perfect as a literacy center station, these purposeful strips will improve student fluency while also teaching about Christmas around the world.
Looking for an effortless way to give your students access to the traditions and celebrations from around the world? Take a look at these nonfiction reading passages. The are full of kid-friendly information. Students are able to practice locating evidence in the text. They are also able to demonstrate their learning using graphic organizers. Click HERE to take a closer look.
Hurray for HOLIDAY hands-on learning with art!
I was so excited when I found this amazing resource from Art with Jenny K! An agamograph is a series of images that changes when viewed from different angles.
The traditional method of creating an agamograph is very complicated, but Jenny has masterfully created a kid friendly version. All the kids need to do is color the image, fold it correctly, and display their masterpiece. These would go great with mini-research projects on the traditions in each country. I can’t wait to see my students’ masterpieces displayed alongside their learning for this unit. You can check out Jenny’s amazing resource HERE.
Finding one is EASY PEASY! Just take a moment to think about a parent, fellow staff member, or community member(s) who are from another country. You’re sure to find someone who would LOVE to speak to your class about what typical holiday celebrations & traditions are like in their country.
Sing Along to Feliz Navidad! This version also has the text to the song to help students unfamiliar with it.
Your students will have fun learning this French Christmas carol.
This is a collection of videos about Christmas traditions around the world.
This video is full of amazing picture of holiday traditions around the world.
Holiday Foods from Around the World
Any future video stars in your class? Make videos of students (or have them make them with their families) explaining about holiday traditions in their home. They can them to you to share with the class.
Christmas Around the World Word Search FREEBIE
Pick up this FREEBIE as a fun addition to your Christmas Around the World Unit.
I hope you have found this information useful in planning your upcoming unit on Christmas Around the World! Feel free to comment below with any other ideas you have to share!
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