‘Twas the week before Christmas break, and all through the room, not a student was on-task, the teacher felt doomed.
As the holidays approach, it becomes increasingly difficult for students (and often teachers) to want to be at school. Instead, they are excited thinking about what presents they are giving and getting, the trip they might be going on, caroling, eating cookies, and lots of other fun holiday baubles.
However, academic work still needs to happen that week before break. Many teachers end up feeling like the Grinch as they struggle to have their students do even the most basic academic tasks.
Is there a solution to this?
Since students are so excited about Christmas, why not integrate it into your academic work?
To further explain, let’s use that mean old Grinch as an example.
At the beginning of the day, read Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas to familiarize all students with the book. Then, have the rest of the day themed around the Grinch.
Reading: Besides just reading the book yourself, why not let your students perform in some reader’s theater? This is a great way for your students to practice fluency and comprehension. The best part is, students will be having so much fun, they probably won’t even realize they’re learning.
One reader theater’s script for the Grinch: http://www.thebestclass.org/The_Grinch_Who_Stole_Christmas.pdf
Science: Can hearts actually grow three sizes? If not, what can?
Learn a little bit about the human body. Is it actually possible for hearts to grow three sizes? See what you and your students can discover.
As we know, hearts don’t actually grow three sizes, but maybe there are other materials that can. Have your students experiment with different materials such as sponges, the instant-grow towels (you can usually find these at dollar stores), potato pearls, and more. Just add water and see what can grow three sizes.
Math: We all know that the Grinch lives just north of Whoville, but do your students know their 3-dimensional shapes? Do students know that a Christmas tree is basically a cone and that homes are actually pentagonal prisms?
Depending on the age of your students, they could learn the names of these 3-D figures and actually create them. Using all of these newly made 3-D figures, you can create your own “Whoville.” Or maybe even find the volume of a Christmas tree.
Writing: As Dr. Seuss famously wrote, “‘Maybe Christmas’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas means a little bit more!’” This a great springboard into a journal prompt.
Besides journal prompts, students could also learn to imitate Dr. Seuss’ famous rhyming style. Talking about rhyme, and even writing your own Christmas poem, is another great academic activity that you can derive from the Grinch.
Perhaps academics can include a little bit more? Although the book example and activities in this post are for elementary school teachers, teachers in secondary settings can still use this same principle. If you’re an English teacher, why not discuss Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol? Or if you’re a history teacher, you could discuss the Christmas Day truces during WWI? There’s tons of cool dry ice experiments you can use in science classes as well.
Although all of your teaching shouldn’t focus on the holidays, utilizing them can be a very engaging and academic part of December.