It’s the day before Thanksgiving Break but my students already have their minds on Christmas. One sweet voice asks, “Can we please listen to Christmas music while we work in our centers?” I feel a little bit like Scrooge, insisting on maintaining rigor during our short week. So I say yes to music, even though I don’t have Christmas in mind as I plan for the week after Thanksgiving.
We have 3 weeks remaining in the quarter and I have a lot to teach. I used to struggle with teaching between the holidays, motivating my students and growing their brains. But between my past experiences and expert advice, here’s what I do now:
Use primary documents. There’s one particular primary document I found perfect for close reads in small group. Most of you have heard the saying “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus?” The phrase is based upon an article written by the editor of the New York Sun in 1899 in response to a letter asking if Santa Claus existed. The reply is beautiful and is a perfect primary document to use for reading along with text-based questions, higher order thinking questions, and writing prompts.
Use great literature. Nothing says Christmas like the character Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. So many standards are addressed in lessons available on TpT, from figurative language, character development, to story elements. Add a little character comparison with the Grinch from “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and you have the workings of a fun and engaging unit.
Engage in Close Reads. Look at these great topics with differentiated reading levels on Teachers Pay Teachers: Celebrating Christmas around the world offers multi-cultural studies, and traditions such as gingerbread baking and snowman building. They both provide valuable and motivating lessons for our small groups.
Holiday Math Tasks. Students love engaging in math tasks with a theme. Think “A Christmas Carol”, a snow fort-building contest, and other great holiday math tasks to use in math small group or centers. They’ll persevere in solving problems because they’re motivated through fun math tasks.
The challenge to keep our students on task can make this time of year stressful. But with intention and planning, we can teach through the holidays with ease. I hope you will share these ideas with your colleagues, and share your own ideas and experiences in the comments section.