December activities students that don’t celebrate holidays can do
As teachers we strive to meet the needs of all of our students. We make accommodations for students with special academic needs, social needs, and behavioral needs. In my view, accommodating students who don’t celebrate holidays should be no different. Depending on the parent’s wishes, I try to find related, non-holiday alternatives for students who don’t celebrate to do with the class. In this post I’ll share a few of my favorite December activities even students that don’t celebrate holidays can do. You’ll find something to add to your math, reading, and science activities that your whole class will enjoy!
Winter scene pop-up cards
Pop-up cards are literally no prep for the teacher and easy for students to make with a single sheet of paper. Use copy or construction paper to make these simple cards. Students can write word problems, summarize their favorite books, or research and write facts about a winter animal.
Create a background on the top half of the card by having students illustrate what they have written. Make the drawing you want to “pop-out” and cut two slits in the card’s fold. For step-by-step directions with pictures on how to make a pop-up card, check out the post for a simple tutorial that even kids can do.
Click here for more pop-up math card ideas with a gingerbread man theme.
Winter Break Classroom Countdown
Counting down the days until break has been one of the most fun things I’ve done with my class and this picture below is why! Here’s how it works: I get simple, easy to find dollar store treats for my class. I past this chart and roll down it down slightly each day to reveal a daily treat.
Pass out the treats and matching activity pages. Students then use the treats to do the tasks! I usually do this for a Christmas break countdown but the years I have a student who doesn’t celebrate I switch it to this version so my student who doesn’t celebrate can participate. One of my favorite December (and end of the year) activities, students are absolutely delighted, engaged, AND still learning the last crazy week before break!
Speak with your student’s parent first as they may prefer you skip the gift tags with their child. I’ve done it when short on time by simply skipping the tags and passing out treats on paper towels too.
If you would like to do this with your class, I’ve put together kits for Grades 1-4 with chart parts, gift tags and 3-4 activity pages for each day in my shop. All the kits include a separate section with a version of each piece to use for students who don’t celebrate Christmas or holidays. Click here to see the Christmas or Winter Break Countdown Kits.
Check out this priceless post to see what happened in my classroom 5 days before Christmas break!
Conduct a milk & cookies science experiment
This science activity is a fun alternative to decorating Christmas cookies. I have done it with mini Christmas cookies but it can also be done with any kind of small cookies that are easily found at Walmart, the dollar store or the grocery store. It’s a fun experiment that even your students who don’t celebrate can do with the class.
Students test the buoyancy of a variety of cookies after predicting whether they will sink or float.
Visit this blog post to see our experiment using milk and cookies and the scientific method. The student lab sheet is available in this science unit.
Compare non-holiday versions of The Gingerbread Man
I am a huge fan of gingerbread books. Most versions of The Gingerbread Man are not at all holiday related and every December we read and compare our favorite ones. There are so many delightful versions available and they lend themselves perfectly to comparing and contrasting characters and story elements, analyzing how characters respond to major challenges and teaching about literal and non-literal language.
While gingerbread is often thought of as a Christmas traditions, these books are traditional fairy tales and appropriate for students who don’t celebrate holidays. Check this blog post for my ten favorite gingerbread stories plus non-holiday related teaching ideas and activities to do with them.
I’ve written an additional post on using these gems to teach central message using The Gingerbread Man.
I’ve found that using familiar stories like The Gingerbread Man is quite helpful in teaching this tricky concept.
Winter themed games
Winter themed games are a good alternative for students that don’t celebrate holidays. They can easily be added to math centers and partner activities as alternatives to holiday related ones.
These free 100 and 120 chart games requires a dice and a small item for a game piece. It can be played in small groups or pairs to practice addition, subtraction number patterns, and skip counting on a 100 or 120 chart.
Download the FREE Race to the Snowman Games
Accommodating students who don’t celebrate holidays is easier than you might think. With a little foresight and communication with parents you can provide alternative activities for your students. If you need help communicating with parents or knowing what to do when a student doesn’t celebrate holidays this post can help.
I hope you’ve found some fun December activities that not only your students that don’t celebrate holidays can do, but your whole class will enjoy. Be sure to save this post or pin it on Pinterest so you have it when you plan!
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