When you combine my favorite hobby and favorite holiday together (travel and Christmas), you get one of my favorite winter units to teach…Holidays Around the World! I have switched it up over the years with a variety of lessons and crafts, but this most recent version is aligned with Common Core reading and writing standards AND includes a digital option for distance learning.
I’ll go ahead and dive into the details about the traditional paper/pencil version of this resource first. It could be used if you’re currently back in the classroom in person, or also printed and sent home if your school does materials pick ups for distance learning.
First, you can tell your kiddos to pack their bags for a little holiday adventure! Each student is given their own suitcase to color and decorate, which is used to store all of their mementos from their travels (specifically, all of the work that is created during this journey). The first items that go into the suitcase are their passport, map, and travel guide book.
Their passport, complete with personal information and photo I.D., is where they keep the stamps they earn every time they visit a new place. They also locate each place they travel to on the map, and color code it using the key/legend.
When I say “visit” or “travel to” a new place, I mean that the kids have read about it in their travel guide book. There are Close Reading passages for up to 10 different countries/continents.
You could choose to have them annotate these passages to help with their understanding. Have them circle key words or unfamiliar words and discuss their meaning, put a star next to main ideas, and underline key details.
This poster is a helpful visual I’ve used for students to refer to for Close Reading. It’s a blended combination of different posters found on Pinterest, and then I’ve included the annotations that our grade level uses at the bottom.
Once students have traveled to all of the places in our guide book, this writing prompt is introduced:
In your opinion, in which part of the world would you most like to visit to celebrate the holidays?
They brainstorm some of the favorite places they’ve visited on a circle map.
Once they’ve narrowed it down to their top favorite place, they continue the prewriting process of outlining, creating a rough draft, and editing/revising. Students refer back to their travel guide book, using text evidence from the reading passage to help support their opinion.
These templates are helpful in allowing students to organize their ideas and focus on specific editing criteria.
The x’s on the rough draft writing paper are meant to remind students to skip lines. Skipping lines leaves them more space to make editing marks and revisions.
When they are ready for their final draft, they get the special publishing paper for the specific place they chose. It’s exciting seeing all of the different places they choose and is a great celebration of diversity in a classroom community.
As I mentioned earlier, this Holidays Around the World resource has also been updated to include a digital Google Slides version that can be utilized for distance learning.
Students can be given access to a paperless suitcase, passport, map, and travel guide book.
*Tip: Whether you are teaching in person in the classroom or virtually via Zoom, etc., you can use these digital slides to project or screen share with the class when reading together as a whole group. In the past I’ve always just printed my own “teacher copy” of the travel guide book and displayed them using a document camera, but the Google Slides save the trouble of having to print/copy those pages.
For the writing component, students can choose the matching slide for the place they chose to write about and type their opinion paragraph.
If you would like to take your students on this reading and writing adventure, everything I’ve shared is included in my Holidays Around the World resource, available here in my shop on my website. You can also find it on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Even though there may be less real travel this 2020 holiday season, it never hurts to encourage kids to learn and dream about far off places. Especially when it’s safely from the comfort of one’s own home or classroom. I wish you and your students the happiest of holidays ahead!