Today I would like to introduce you to a great book for reading aloud to your students during the cold winter months…..Toys Meet Snow by Emily Jenkins.
A little girl goes away with her family on a winter vacation leaving three of her favorite toys at home. Lumphy, a stuffed buffalo, Sting Ray, a plus stingray, and Plastic, a red rubber ball look out the window and discover that it is snowing. The three friends decide to head outside to play. The spend the day building a snowman, making snow angels, sledding, and discovering frozen ponds and icicles. At the end of a fun day of play, the friends watch a beautiful sunset that reminds them of strawberry syrup.
This book is great for teaching character traits because each of the toys has a distinct personality. Lumphy is very curious and always asking questions. StingRay sees the beauty in things and speaks in very poetic language. Plastic has a scientific explanation for everything. Like most stories, the author does not come out and explicitly say a character is bossy, artistic, or studious. Instead, the students can make inferences based on the characters actions and words. Using think aloud strategies will help your students begin to analyze a character’s traits and dialogue to determine the character’s traits. The beautiful illustrations are full of fun details that add their own humorous interpretations of each toy’s differences.
The interactive read aloud and character traits lesson that I use with my students is available for FREE below.
A complete week long unit for this adorable book is available HERE.
Love this book? Pin one of these images so that you will have it at your fingertips when you are ready to use it.
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.
develop an understanding of story structures
form connections between print elements and genres
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
Click HERE and HERE to show pictures of holiday foods from around the world. This can lead to a fun discussion of how geography and food source options affect the foods we eat!
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!
Also, so you’ll always have access to this information, please pin this post to save and share!
Sign-Ups for the 2016 Gingerbread Man Exchange have Closed
Sign-Ups for the 2017 Valentine Exchange will open in early January!
Thanks to everyone for making this year so much fun for the kids!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The holiday season is my absolute favorite time of the year in an elementary classroom. The joy in the children’s eyes is a daily reminder of why I became a teacher in the first place.
One of my favorite holiday activities during this time of the year is participating in a gingerbread man exchange with other classrooms from all over the United States. This year, I am excited to be hosting the third annual gingerbread man exchange.
What’s a gingerbread man exchange you ask? During the month of November, your class will create fifteen gingerbread men and decorate them in any way you would like. No later than December 5th, you will also need to include in the envelope a brief letter from your class telling about your school, the area you live in, etc. This can be a letter that you write together with your students and simply make a copy to send with each gingerbread man exchange. Then, sit back and wait for the gingerbread friends to arrive at your school.
Picture Courtesy of Growing in Pre-K via Pinterest
The kids can’t wait to find out where each gingerbread man and letter is from and to read a little bit about the kids who sent it. I like to display the gingerbread men and the letter with a map so that the kids can get a better idea of where each gingerbread man came from. In past years, I have opened the gingerbread letters and shared with the class on the day that they arrived. This year, I am planning to save all the letters and open them during a special Gingerbread Celebration. We can snack on gingerbread cookies and hot chocolate while we open all the special letters to our class.
Due to the postage expense, participating classrooms must be in the United States. The gingerbread man exchange is also limited to kindergarten through fourth grade classes. By signing up, you are agreeing to have your class create twenty gingerbread men and mailing them on or before Monday, December 5th so that they will arrive at their destinations in time to be enjoyed before the Christmas holiday breaks. If you would like for your class to be part of this year’s gingerbread man exchange, you can sign up by clicking on the image below.
If you are interested, don’t delay in signing up. I ran out of spots very quickly last year. The sign-ups will only be open for the next couple of days or until the maximum number of participants have signed up. Once the sign-up period has closed, I will send out an email with more details to the participants. After signing up, you will receive an email with all the details no later than November 12, 2016.
The concept behind the gingerbread man exchange is simple yet it is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding activities of the year. I want to personally thank the approximately 80 teachers from across the country who joined together to make this exchange possible. Here is a look at this year’s gingerbread man exchange.
During the week before the Thanksgiving holiday, I set up a gingerbread “factory”…..I basically took out all my extra craft supplies and spread them out across the table. Each of my lil’ pups had a chance to create their own gingerbread man using their choice of supplies.
We gathered all of our special gingerbread friends together for a picture before we packaged them up to be sent off to their new homes.
Photo Courtesy of Ms. Hathcoat’s Class
We wrote a letter for our gingerbread man to take with them to their new home. Our letter told a little bit about our school and our town.
We packed each gingerbread man and I took them all to the post office to begin their journey to their new homes.
Then, we waited for our new friends to arrive. Most days we received one or two envelopes containing special friends. We couldn’t wait to see the gingerbread man and really LOVED reading about the class that sent it.
When each friend arrived we displayed them near our class map so we could see where they came from.
My kids just LOVED reading the letters….they have probably read each one a hundred times this month!
Here is a look at our class display. We had a few late arriving gingerbread friends but this is most of them.
Photo Courtesy of Ms. Hathcoat’s Class
Here is another look at a classroom display.
Did your class love the Gingerbread Exchange? Missed out? Well….you are in luck! I will be hosting a Valentine Exchange that will work in the same way as the Gingerbread man exchange. Sign ups will begin on January 3rd. If you participated in the Gingerbread Man exchange, I will be emailing you the link to sign up on January 3rd. If you did not participate in the Gingerbread Man exchange, I will also post the sign up link on my blog. Be sure to follow my blog on Blog Lovin’ if so you don’t miss the sign up window.