Christmas in the Classroom: Ideas for ELA and Math

Blog Posts, Christmas, ELA, Math

Children’s’ eyes light up during the holiday season – especially when they get to engage in special holiday activities at school. But, these days, many teachers are feeling the pressure to continue with regular standards-based instruction.  

Guess what? You can celebrate the holidays and still keep the standards-based learning happening in your classroom! 

Read on for Christmas-themed ideas in reading, writing, and math that will delight your students. And you can feel confident that the standards-based instruction isn’t skipping a beat in your classroom this December! 

Reading 

There are so many wonderful classic Christmas read alouds to share with your students. Here are ideas for how to practice reading standards using some of our favorites. 

  1. The Gingerbread Man 

You can teach your students how to compare and contrast multiple versions of the same story with this classic tale. An easy way to do this is to display a graphic organizer with story elements such as – main character, supporting characters, setting, problem, solution, and other notable details. Fill in the organizer as you read each version. 

You can end the literature study by having your students outline their own version of The Gingerbread Man, using the same blank graphic organizer.

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There are so many versions of The Gingerbread Man to choose from! Here are a few to get you started: 

  • The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup and Matt Tavares
  • The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone
  • Gingerbread Mouse by Katy Bratun
  • Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires and Holly Berry
  • Richard Scarry’s The Gingerbread Man by Nancy Nolte and Richard Scarry
  • The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett
  1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss 

The Grinch lends itself perfectly to modeling how an author weaves in a central message or lesson. Engage in a classroom discussion about what lessons old Mr. Grinch is learning as this tale unfolds – there are many!   

  • When someone believes in you, anything is possible
  • Forgiveness and how important forgiveness is to our happiness
  • Having a big heart, and surrounding ourselves with loved ones are the most important parts of the season
  • Christmas does not come from a store
  1. Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Set up a “Retelling Reporters” news show! After reading this beloved story, (and practicing how to retell it several times) break the class into three groups:

  • Group 1 reports on the beginning
  • Group 2 reports on the middle
  • Group 3 reports on the conclusion

If your groups are too large for kids to be successful, it is easy to create additional groupings. 

  • Group 4 could report on the lesson the main character learned and how he learned it.
  • Group 5 could report on how the setting changes throughout the story.
  • Group 6 could be on-the-scene reporters, interviewing witnesses who heard train noises in the neighborhood on Christmas Eve.
  • Group 7 could be interviews of the other train passengers describing the experience.

You can get super creative with this! Consider recording the broadcast to share with families or invite other classes to watch the broadcast live. Another idea is to end the week with a hot chocolate and pajama day and watch the Polar Express movie.

Writing (& Social Studies!)

Teach your students about how other countries celebrate the season by creating Holidays Around the World Lapbooks! 

Begin by researching popular foods and drinks, family traditions, and what the Santa version is for various countries around the world as a class. Then, compile that information into an interactive book, complete with a map to track the locations you learned about. Go one step further and provide each student with passport stickers for each country! 

If you like this idea, we’ve got a kit for you! All the components you’ll need are included in our Holidays Around the World Lapbook bundle

  • Fact sheets for 19 countries (no need to google or search for facts in a dozen library books!) 
  • Mini interactive flip books for kids to write about each country’s Christmas food, Santa, tradition, and other fun facts
  • World map and country checklist 
  • Passport holder pocket
  • 19 passport stamps for each country
  • Comprehension quest sheets for each country/celebration

All components are included in digital format as well, if you’d prefer to have your students create their books using Powerpoint or Google Slides.

Take a look at this blog post for step-by-step directions on how to make this adorable lapbook with your class. 

Math

  1. Christmas Money Messages

Kids can always use some extra money practice! Your students will read special messages, give each letter a value, and then add up the coins to come up with a total value.

These work well as a morning message challenge displayed under the document camera or from your computer!

  1. December Math Centers

With a little creativity, you can give your typical math centers a Christmas overhaul!

Would your students light up if your centers changed to things like: 

  • Even & Odd Christmas Trees 
  • Telling Time Santa’s Clocks 
  • Skip Counting Candy Canes 
  • 2-Digit Addition Reindeer
  • Comparing Numbers Christmas Cookies
  • Place Value Reindeer
  • Open Number Lines Ornaments

All of the above (and more) are ready for you to print and use (or assign digitally!) in our 1st or 2nd grade December math centers packs.

Bonus Freebie: Math & ELA Christmas Sheets

We’ve got no prep, print and go holiday sheets just for you! You can use them as time-fillers, warm-ups, early finisher activities, center assignments, and more!

These sheets are free to download in our Teachers Pay Teachers store. 

What’s included:

  • Toys Galore (Money)
  • Its’ TIME to Tell the TIME (Time)
  • Light Up Number Patterns (Number Sense)
  • Story Elements (characters, setting, problem, & solution)
  • Happy Holidays Build-a-Word

We hope the ideas in this post help you meet ELA and math standards without sacrificing any holiday fun in your classroom!  Use the image below to save these ideas to your Pinterest board.

1 Comment

  1. Sara Malone

    Thank you for all your activities, ideas, and suggestions! I’m new to second grade this year and am enjoying your blogs and products. 🙂

    Reply

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Hello there! I’m Angie Olson- a teacher, curriculum developer, educational blogger and owner of Lucky Little Learners.

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