Create a Christmas display in the classroom that will encourage students to continue to learn and enjoy the holiday at the same time.
Christmas trees are a common symbol of the holidays and can be used in numerous ways in the classroom for educational displays. In young classes, small cut-out Christmas trees can be used to reinforce a variety of math concepts including skip counting, counting by 5s and counting by 10s. They can be used in older classrooms to provide visual examples of more complex math problems.
Christmas trees can be a great way to teach following directions. Here are a few sample directions that students can follow by using crayons, markers or colored pencils:
- Put 3 red Christmas ornaments on the tree.
- Put a star on top of the Christmas tree.
- Add 1 blue ball on the Christmas tree.
Once the teacher has given about 8-10 directions, the completed Christmas trees can be turned in for a grade and then displayed on the classroom bulletin board.
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
After reading ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore [Houghton Mifflin, 1912], use the following bulletin board as a follow up activity. Cut out a large outline of a house and use it for the outline for the bulletin board. Each student should have a small pillow or bed cut out where they will write what they hope to get for Christmas. The display title should read: All the children went to bed with visions of __ dancing in their heads.
Twelve Days of Christmas
To celebrate Christmas as a class and teach some of the traditions that surround the holiday, teachers can have their students help them create a Twelve Days of Christmas Bulletin Board. Using the lyrics to the 12 Days of Christmas, teachers can spend just over two weeks discussing gifts and gift giving with this song about Christmas, while adding a new picture to the display. Students should be encouraged to come up with comparable gifts that could be given today. The twelve days are:
- A partridge in a pear tree
- Two turtle doves
- Three French hens
- Four calling birds
- Five golden rings
- Six geese
- Seven swans
- Eight maid
- Nine ladies
- Ten lords
- Eleven pipers and
- Twelve drummers.
Enjoying the Christmas holiday in the classroom needs to be done carefully and with much prudence to not offend those who do not celebrate Christmas. With a little creativity, though, the commonly celebrated aspects of the holiday can be used for educational displays while bringing some Christmas cheer into the classroom.
Christmas Math Lessons
Teaching math during the Christmas holiday does not have to be the same boring old math lessons your students are used to. Add some holiday cheer and spice things up a bit during those last few days of math class before the Christmas break.
Holiday Graphs and Symmetry
Create some holiday themed graphs and teach symmetry with pictures of snowmen and snowflakes. For the symmetry lesson, have the students create the snowmen and snowflakes first, then teach them how to decide if they are symmetrical or not. Students can also make symmetrical Menorahs. Give each student a copy of half of the menorah and have them draw the other half.
Math Calculations for the Holidays
Students can design a simple light display, and then calculate the number of strings of lights they need based on the length of one string of lights. They can also add up all the gifts from the song The Twelve Days of Christmas. As an extension of this idea, students can practice multiplication and division skills with the same song.
Bring in a variety of store ads and have students go shopping in the classroom. Provide them an amount of money they can spend, and have them decide what they can purchase with that amount of money. They can also have a list of people they have to purchase gifts for, which will make them think carefully about what each person would want, and budget accordingly. As an extension on this activity, the more advanced students can figure out how much they could save with coupons.
Fill a jar with candy and leave it out on a shelf in the classroom. Explain to the students that it will sit there for one week, and everyone must decide how much candy they estimate is in the jar. After the week is up, have everyone write down their estimation, and discuss together how they made their decision. Whoever is the closest to the correct answer wins the jar of candy.
Create Christmas Trees
Have students decorate trees with shapes from pattern block templates. Then have them count up how many of each shape they used. This activity can be time consuming because the students will need to trace, cut, and glue on all of their shapes. Expand on the concept of geometric principals and have them design a winter wonderland based on what they learned.
Teaching Rounding on a Sled
Teach students how to round by drawing a wavy number line that looks like a series of hills. At the top of each hill is the next 5. So the hilltops would be 5, 15, 25, 35 and so on. Discuss sledding with the class, finding out who likes sledding, what kind of sled they like, and so on as an introduction. Then teach them that rounding is a lot like sledding. If the number is 5 or higher they will slide down the hill into the next valley. If the number is 0-4 they slide backwards into the previous valley, just like you would if you were sledding on that number.
These ideas are just a few of the math topics that can be made into Christmas lessons. Any math unit can be changed to add some Christmas cheer with just a little creativity.