“Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo.”
All of the above are ways people around the world spread holiday cheer. But just what are these holidays, and how can you teach your students about them? Lucky Little Learners has the perfect resource to help your students become global holiday scholars!
Holidays Around the World is a great unit to teach in the month of December. Take your students on a tour around the world as they learn about the Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali and Chinese New Year celebrations. Let’s take a look at how this can be done in a practical and engaging way in your elementary classroom.
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Start with Books
We all know picture books are an engaging hook for any lesson. Why not kickoff your Holidays Around the World Unit with these wonderful holiday reads.
There are a lot of children’s books out there that are perfect for sharing about Holiday traditions in other countries. One of my favorites is Christmas Around the World. It is filled with a lot of kid-friendly information about 12 different countries, some art project ideas, and some great photos.
Another favorite of mine is A World of Cookies for Santa: Follow Santa’s Tasty Trip Around the World. This is a book that was referred to me from a teacher friend. I bought one, read it, and immediately knew I had to update this post to include the title! It’s a sweet story that brings the reader along for a trip across the globe to see the treats that other countries leave out for Santa.
Hanukkah Bear is an adorable tale of a bear inadvertently celebrating Hanukkah when he is awoken from his hibernation by the delicious scent of Bubba Brayna’s celebration recipes.
Together for Kwanzaa will introduce students to the traditions and practices of Kwanzaa through the story of siblings celebrating this special day.
Binny’s Diwali gives students a great introduction to Diwali, the festival of lights. In this beautifully illustrated story, a young girl named Binny shares all about her favorite holiday with her classmates.
And, try a Diwali themed STEM project!
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Chinese New Year
Bringing in the New Year tells the story of a family preparing for Chinese New Year. Students will love all there is to learn about this holiday!
You also need to check out Winter Candle! This book is about a diverse group of families living in an urban apartment building. Students will learn about several cultures/holiday celebrations in one book. It also teaches the theme of kindness and giving, something we all can use this time of year.
Whether you have technology devices in the classroom or have to go to the computer lab, website research can be a fun and powerful way for students to learn about other countries and their holiday traditions. I suggest choosing one website per learning session and bookmarking that website to the device or computer. I like to show my students the flow of the website before putting them on there. Once they get this quick tutorial, I set them free (well, kind of) and am always amazed at how well they do and how well they navigate! Here are the list of websites that I recommend:
- Why Christmas
- Christmas Around the World Video for Kids
- Christmas Around the World Video Collection
- The Holiday Spot Multicultural Holiday Collection
- Christmas Around the World-NorthPole.com
- Christmas Traditions Around the World
- Holidays Around The World Webquest– Although this site is geared for 4th graders, it would be suitable for younger learners as a whole group lesson.
Holidays Around the World Research and Project
This extensive unit is best taught with only one or two countries being introduced a day. When you get to the non Christmas holidays, it is best to give each holiday its own day. (So much information to share!) The format suggested for your daily lesson is this:
- Introduce the country/holiday of the day with a picture book and teaching slides
- Color in the country on their world map
- Read the fact sheets and passages & answer the research book questions
- Have students fill out the research flip flaps
- Attach the flip flaps to the lapbook
- Glue in the passport stamp
1. Teaching Slides
Brand new to this resource are the digital teaching slides. Filled with amazing images, these slides will be the perfect kickoff each day to your Holidays Around the World lessons.
BONUS: This update includes a navigation slide! Simply tap the country your students are learning about to take you directly to the correct info!
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The map in the center is for the students to track their journey to the different countries. There are now two versions of the map to accommodate a variety of classroom needs.
3. Fact Sheets
The Holidays Around the World Fact Sheets are another great instructional tool. The fact sheets teach the students about traditional holiday foods, family holiday traditions, facts, and Santa (or their version of him). The fact sheets come in full color and black and white. The full color version is great for the teacher and for displaying in front of the class. The fact sheets can be used as a whole group lesson, individual reading practice, partner reading, close reading, or guided reading.
The Holidays Around the World included are:
- Chinese New Year
And, to zoom in further, the Christmas celebrations included are:
The fact sheets correlate perfectly with the different components of the Holidays Around the World Lapbook. Once the students have learned about a country, they can transfer their learning and apply it through their writing.
Start by checking out one lesson at a time. Download our Christmas in America mini lesson from All Access (below). Included in this lesson is a fact sheet about Christmas in America. It covers the traditional food, drink, Santa Claus, family traditions, and other fun facts. The fact sheets are available in full color and black and white.
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4. Flip Flaps
As shown in the image below, the flip flaps for each country have tabs at the bottom of each mini book. Each page provides space for students to write a sentence of information they learned from the fact sheet. There is also space for the students to draw a picture to match their sentence.
Teachers often wonder what kind of folders to get for these lapbooks. It’s actually quite simple – just grab some manila file folders from your classroom or office. I personally used colored folders, but it’s not a must. No folders on hand? No worries – construction paper works just as well. Fold each side of the folder or paper until they meet in the middle to create the front cover flaps, and then tuck the writing activities inside.
5. Passport Stamps
The back of the lapbook is reserved for students to earn passport stamps. Since creating the original version of this resource, 9 additional countries/celebrations have been added. So, if you want to include more flip flaps for more countries, my suggestion would be to store the passport envelope loosely inside the lap book and attach the rest of the flip flaps on the back. After the students finish their flip flap book, they can earn a stamp to store in their pocket at the back of the lapbook. This serves as a great incentive!
Downloaded everything here:
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