December is a magical time of year, filled with twinkling lights, warm cocoa, and celebrations from around the world. Let’s explore holiday books and activities you can use with your elementary-aged students, while keeping diversity and inclusion easily at the forefront of learning. This can be an unforgettable holiday season for your class– in the very best of ways!
Holiday Books and Activities
Diverse Read-Alouds for Winter Holidays
Reading is a great way to introduce children to the richness of different cultures and traditions. By expanding students’ understanding of differences around them, both near and far, you’re encouraging a more positive classroom community and student relationships.
Gather your students around for these diverse and heartwarming read-alouds this month:
Introduce your students to the seven different principles of Kwanzaa through this engaging story about seven brothers who have to learn to stop fighting in order to work together to accomplish a challenge their father left them. This book showcases the values of unity, creativity, and responsibility.
Discover the traditions of Hanukkah with your students as you read this story about a puppy named Latke. Latke finds a loving home during the Festival of Lights and learns to follow the house rules. This book includes a recipe for making delicious latkes too!
Children uncover the excitement of the winter’s first snowfall as they read this classic holiday book. This story is perfect for sparking discussions about the beauty of winter and how children from all backgrounds can experience the magic of a snowy day.
Your students will learn about foods, dances, parades, and poetry associated with the Asian communities’ winter holiday called the “Moon Festival”. This book showcases different families and their diverse ways of celebrating Zhong Qiu Jie, Tết Trung Thu, and Tsukimi.
Diverse Holiday Activities
Help students make more connections to learning through hands-on interactive activities. Be confident that you can target classroom standards while having lots of festive fun in your classroom this December!
Letters to Characters
As a cumulating activity after reading the above holiday books, ask children to write letters to a character that represented an unfamiliar culture to them.
Encourage students to ask follow-up questions from the story and express feelings about what the character experienced.
This is a great opportunity to practice independent writing skills while promoting diversity and inclusion during the holidays!
December Morning Meetings
Use each Friday during the month of December to amp up your usual morning meeting time with your students in order to focus more on building class community, positive student relationships, and social emotional learning.
You could make it a little extra special by calling it “Class Family Friday” (or Class Family Fun Day, if on a different day of the week).
Use the holiday slide decks found in this Our Class is a Family Morning Meeting Resource to tailor the time, especially for the December holidays.
In addition to weekly slides for the whole school year, it has ones that are themed for Christmas, AND a “Holidays Around the World” slide deck to help celebrate diversity in the classroom during the holiday season.
The slides for each week include:
Letter from the Teacher– an editable slide allowing you to write a quick note to your students.
Class Family Quote– a community building quote to be read aloud and discussed.
Class Family Fun– a community or social emotional building activity that is highly engaging but low prep!
- Class Family Conversation– a discussion question that encourages building student connections.
Holidays Around the World- Close Reading and Opinion Writing
Let students travel to new places around the world with this fun reading and writing holiday activity! They “visit” 10 different places by reading about them in a personal travel guidebook.
Have them practice annotating the passages in the Travel Guide Book to help with their reading comprehension. You may have them refer to a visual about Close Reading like this one for easy reference:
After students have traveled to all 10 locations, they’re given a writing prompt:
In your opinion, in which part of the world would you most like to visit to celebrate the holidays?
Templates are included with the resource to guide students through answering this writing prompt and completing the writing task.
It’s exciting to see all the different places students choose to visit. It’s also a great celebration of diversity in a classroom community.
December is a special time for creating memories and exploring the world’s diverse winter traditions. By incorporating holiday books and activities, you can foster a love for learning, strengthen your class family, and promote a deeper understanding of the world around you and your students.
Happy holidays and happy learning!