All the fun memories you have of celebrating the holiday season as a child in school can be attributed to the tireless efforts of the educators who spent hours upon hours doing research and working hard to put together well-thought-out plans for each and every activity they shared with you.
While the holiday season looks merry and bright to everyone on the outside, it can be a particularly stressful time for educators, who have the challenging task of putting together fun activities for their students without offending their families. If you’re an educator looking for fun and socially-acceptable lesson plans for your preschoolers, read on.
3 Tips for Embracing the Holiday Season in Your Curriculum
Kids love learning about and celebrating the holiday season. Here are three top tips for putting together a holiday curriculum that’s fun for everyone.
Understand What You Can and Can’t Teach
While the holiday season offers a time to reflect and be grateful, holiday celebrations in child care centers and schools can cause tension and controversy. One way to avoid this is to understand your center’s policies on celebrating the season in the classroom. If these policies are vague, talk to other educators or an administrator about what’s typically acceptable.
Know Your Students’ Backgrounds
Understanding your students’ backgrounds is another good way to ensure that you’re creating a good classroom curriculum for the holidays. If you know about what your students celebrate at home, you can be sure to include everyone and avoid controversy.
Have Clear Policies About Celebrating the Holidays
After considering your center’s policies, create your own clear policy about celebrating the holidays. Make a conscious plan with purpose. Focus on intention, strategy and inclusiveness.
Before the holiday season begins, make a list of all the different types of holidays your students might celebrate or holidays you want to celebrate and discuss. Focus on the holidays that are relevant to your students for the year. Embrace and promote diversity by including everyone and exposing your students to a variety of cultures and traditions.
Make Sure There’s Intention Behind Your Activities and Teachings
You can lessen the likelihood of controversy with your lesson plans by consciously identifying the purpose and intention behind each activity and lesson. Even when you’re setting up arts and crafts activities, consider what makes the art project educational. Another acceptable and educational thing to do is look for ways to engage your children and teach them skills by turning low-level activities into high-level ones. For example, you can teach children basic engineering concepts by having them build a mini gingerbread house instead of just drawing or coloring one.
Here are some additional tips to help you create fun and inclusive holiday lesson plans for your preschoolers.
The holiday season offers the perfect opportunities to teach similarities instead of differences. Survey your classroom’s families at the beginning of the year to help determine what holidays they celebrate during this time. This will ensure that your curriculum respects each culture while focusing on the unifying themes of family, love and respect.
Most children are quick to notice differences in beliefs and surroundings, but they might not always feel comfortable talking about the differences they see. Encourage your children to ask questions and share their own experiences.
Books are always excellent tools for teaching children. Incorporate a variety of multicultural holiday books into your lesson plans to explain different holidays to preschoolers. Some of the best books for teaching holidays to preschoolers are:
Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins – Written by Eric A. Kimmel, read this book to teach children about the symbols and traditions of the Jewish holiday with a creative and exciting twist.
My First Kwanzaa – Written by Deborah Chocolate, it celebrates the traditions of this African holiday by teaching children about the food, family and symbols involved.
Christmas Around the World – Written by Mary Lankford, you can use this book to cover a range of cultures through illustrations and descriptions of how 12 different cultures around the world celebrate the holiday season.
Ensure that everyone has fun during the holiday season by being mindful of different cultures, inclusive of all children’s backgrounds, and following the policies put in place by the center you teach at. Celebrating the holiday season without controversy can be a serious challenge, but if you get the balance just right, you’ll be responsible for spreading the cheer.