One of my favorite lessons to teach is Christmas Around the World, which I follow up with New Year's Around the World right when we get back in January.
For this lesson I focus on teaching Christmas traditions in Germany, France, Italy, and Australia. We watch lots of youtube videos and read fiction and nonfiction books about each country as we study it. I try and include videos and visuals about the food, the decorations, and the musical traditions in each country. Rick Steves has an amazing series of European Christmas videos, and by the end of the lesson my students think they are best friends with Mr. Steves!
By the end of the week, my students have a really well-rounded view of how Christmas is celebrated around the world. This lesson usually takes me anywhere from 3-5 days, depending on how many questions my kids have! I use Diary of an Elf to guide us on our journey around the world- it's a fiction story about an elf who must travel to 5 different countries to find the North Pole in order to save Christmas.
His journey starts by traveling on Air Claus 1 to Australia, where he learns that Christmas happens during the summer! Here are some videos I use to help teach about Christmas in Australia:
Next, the Elf travels to Germany and learns about Christkinde. We learn a lot about German traditions from these videos:
And we also learn a German Christmas carol!
Back in Diary of an Elf, we continue reading as the Elf travels to France, and then Italy.
We learn to sing Jingle Bells in French- so much fun! The very last line says "Bonne annee Grandmere," which means Happy New Year, Grandma. For some reason, the kids get a kick out of shouting that out loud!
And I throw in some Dominic the Donkey for good measure (and fun!).
After the Elf travels through Germany, Australia, Italy and France he ends up in New York City, where he--- well, I won't give away the ending! But I usually find a clip of that year's Rockefeller Tree lighting to share with the kids.
Once we've finished reading the diary entries, we answer the comprehension questions and complete the fun activities that follow. Here's an example!
I let my students choose which prompt to complete- this is also great to send home for Christmas break homework (if your school makes you send work home that week!)
Talk about an engaging and memorable lesson! Not only are we studying world cultures and traditions, we are still working hard on comprehension, prediction, and visualization throughout each diary entry. (Put that in your lesson plan!) Plus, it's fun!! What better way to spend the last few days before winter break?
If you're teaching Christmas Around the World, I hope you're able to use some of these fabulous videos and resources!
Check out some other great Christmas ideas!
Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas!