We are officially in the holiday season, which makes it the perfect time to start a Winter Holidays Around the World unit! My students always love learning how different countries celebrate the holidays, and I love making it even more memorable for them. I like to imagine that these memories stick with them fondly through the years!
In this post I’ll share some of the best activities and crafts (and several freebies!) to make teaching winter holidays around the world a fun-filled, memory-making time for you and your students!
Winter Holidays Around the World Activities & Crafts
Teaching about winter holidays around the world lends itself to enriching texts, engaging crafts, and cross-curricular connections. It’s a great way to facilitate meaningful learning and to bring different cultures into the classroom. The best part is that it’s so exciting and interesting for students! Here are 15 of the best activities and crafts to make teaching winter and Christmas holidays around the world even more memorable and fun for students.
Send a boarding pass invitation
Get students excited about their journey by sending a boarding pass invitation! Send it a few days ahead of time and they’ll be talking about their journey for days. This is a really simple way to build a ton of anticipation, engagement, and student buy-in.
If you’re teaching winter holidays around the world virtually, try using this digital invitation for Zoom!
Get ready for your trip with passports & suitcases
Take some time to print out a passport for each student. This is a great opportunity to teach students about what a passport is and why it’s important to have one when you travel. You could use little photos of students to add to the passport. If you don’t have access to photos, another option is to have students draw a self-portrait for their passports!
Another item every traveler needs is a suitcase! Have students create their own to prepare for their journey. You can use construction paper, a file folder, or a grocery bag—whatever you have on hand! Students use their “suitcases” to hold their passports, their exit tickets, and their souvenirs from each country.
Make the experience feel real
Continue to immerse students in the traveling experience by acting out a trip to the airport and boarding a plane. Have them store their suitcases and have their passports ready! Then play a video of a plane taking off and landing (don’t forget the audio for the complete experience!).
Here’s a free flight script to use for your trip!
A great way to make this activity even more fun for students is to include snacks from each country as you visit. After all, who doesn’t love snacks?! Try a French baguette to share while you’re in France or some gingerbread cookies while in Germany. Tortilla chips could be a good snack option in Mexico. This activity will really bring the winter holidays around the world experience to life!
See our holidays around the world classroom party and the treats we served in each country!
Use exit tickets as plane tickets home
After your visit to each country, have students complete an exit ticket to use as their plane ticket home or to the next country. A short exit slip can help students be accountable for their learning while still fitting within the fun winter holidays around the world theme.
Make connections to each country, then delve deep into their traditions
Start your visit to each country by having students make connections to the country. Ask them what they know about the country, if they have ever visited the country, or if anyone knows where the country is.
After they share, show this Winter Holidays Around the World PowerPoint. It has tons of information about unique customs, holiday traditions, celebrations, and special foods for 17 different countries. The authentic photos in the PowerPoint really bring students’ learning to life!
Teach a few words from the language of the country you’re visiting
Learn a holiday greeting or the words for “Hello” in the language of the country you’re visiting and teach it to students!
If you’re using the Winter Holidays Around the World PowerPoint, this part will be super easy, since it includes common greetings and holiday sayings in different languages.
Make a craft and postcard to send home from each country
Having a souvenir craft to take home at the end of the day will help students remember their learning about each country. Crafts are a great way to get those artistic students engaged in their learning as well! I love how these souvenir post card crafts give an opportunity for a short writing piece as well as a cute craft that aligns with each country’s traditions.
Compare & contrast holiday traditions
This is another great activity to enrich the learning experience and incorporate standards into your lesson planning! Have students compare and contrast the gift-givers, traditions, foods, and celebrations of different countries. Students can also compare traditions of other countries with their own family traditions!
Decorate your destinations
Transform your classroom into the country you are visiting with simple signs and decorations. You could display pictures of certain landmarks from each country to make students feel more immersed in the culture. Use these free welcome signs to decorate each destination and learn about winter and Christmas holidays around the world.
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Bring your grade-level teachers together to participate
Come together with your colleagues so that you can each represent one of the winter holidays around the world! Students will love rotating classrooms and teachers might find it easier to be in charge of just one or two countries. Each room can be decorated appropriately and it will have students feeling like they’re really there!
Do a winter holidays around the world research project
Assign each student a country and winter holiday to research, or have students work collaboratively in teams to research a country. Then, have students present what they’ve learned.
This Winter Holidays Around the World Research Project resource provides everything you’ll need to get your students working. It includes digital templates for 27 countries with website links on each country’s slides for easy access for students to research.
Extend your lesson with videos & read alouds
Videos and read alouds presenting a variety of winter holidays around the world and the traditions and celebrations associated with them will help students consolidate their knowledge further. Sometimes a video is the perfect puzzle piece to round out a great lesson and extend learning further!
I’ve put together a list of some awesome videos and read alouds that pair great with Winter Holidays Around the World units. Definitely check it out to get some terrific resources that your students will love!
Continue the learning with close reading passages
Small group differentiated lessons are great ways to incorporate the winter holidays around the world theme. These Holidays Around the World Reading Passages are an excellent resource for differentiated materials. It’s a set of 14 winter and Chritmas holidays around the world close reading passages and reading comprehension questions with 3 different reading levels for each passage.
Each passage includes 2 sets of questions: text-dependent questions and text structure-based questions. The text dependent questions help students find evidence by locating information and color coding it in the text. The text structure questions are comprehension questions that address 7 key reading skills, like main idea, author’s purpose, and context clues.
Make it cross-curricular with math, social studies, and science connections
A Winter Holidays Around the World unit can encompass all subjects to create some solid cross-curricular connections. For example, you could include math concepts by discussing distances between countries. These second grade math holidays around the world centers are excellent for addressing math standards! There’s also third grade math holiday centers and first grade math holiday centers.
You can also take some science time to research the landforms in the country you’ve studied that day. What sort of animals might live there? What is the climate like? The possibilities are endless! If you’re looking for a comprehensive science unit to pair with your winter holidays activities, check out this Weather & Climate unit for third grade or this Landforms & Earth Changes unit for second grade!
Celebrate your journey with a class party
A fun way to culminate your unit is to have a holidays around the world class party! Serve snacks and goodies from different countries, decorate a table for each country, and have students share their favorite holidays to learn about and why!
You could even do a holidays around the world math party!
I hope these fun ideas, crafts and activities help you plan for an engaging winter holidays around the world unit for your students. If you’re putting together your lesson plans now, take a look at this extensive Holidays Around the World resource. It includes lesson plans, the teaching PowerPoint I use, craft templates, exit tickets, and more—everything you’ll need to execute an awesome unit!
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