Holidays Around the World in 15 Minutes or Less


Holidays Around the World has always been one of my favorite units to teach. There is something magical about traveling the world, celebrating the holidays of other countries and cultures. But this year, everything is different. Some of us are teaching virtually, while others are having to focus all of their time on playing “catch up” and either can’t or don’t have the time for the “fun” units this year.

What if there was a way to still fit in Holidays Around the World without having to spend a lot of time on it…? This unit has many components you can use (you don’t have to do all of them this year 😉). And hopefully, next year, we will be able to go back to spending the amount of time we love to devote to this awesome resource. But for now, here are some ideas for teaching Holidays Around the World in 15 Minutes or Less.

Pack Your Suitcase

This part takes me the longest when using this unit. But, as it has been one of our only “art projects” this school year, I was okay with it. The students put together their suitcases, added their passports and envelope for their tickets and inserted their journal. This activity always creates excitement for the kids and gets them ready to “travel” and learn about each country’s holiday. It is definitely my favorite part of the unit. ❤️

Holiday Mini Books and Comprehension Questions

The mini books and comprehension questions carry the majority of the information needed in this unit. So, why not combine this unit with your fluency and comprehension goals for the next couple of weeks? Use the mini books as the fluency component and the accompanying comprehension questions as the comprehension part.

This year, I have included the mini book and questions as part of my students’ “daily literacy activities” checklists. Each day, I pass out the new book and questions. The students use their small group time to put the book together, read it, and then answer the questions. If we have time, I try to work in a quick “what did you learn” discussion, or the kiddos write one key detail they remember and post it on a large chart in the classroom. I also use this as a “quick check” activity before moving on to the next subject.

Writing Holiday Research Reports

If you don’t have the two weeks to learn about a country each day as a group, why not let your students each choose a country, read the materials, visit it through the Google Earth piece included in the digital file and then write a report. I have a colleague who brought in a poster board for each of his students, and then let them choose a country. They took all of the materials on that country (mini-book, questions, writing organizer, art craft, and Google Earth slide.

The students are going to gather all of the important information about that country and the holiday that they celebrate. Then they will create informational posters on it that can be posted around the classroom. The teacher is going to then have a “socially distanced” gallery walk for all of the students to see their classmates projects.

Whole Group Holiday Read Alouds

Each of our country “texts” come in large pdf format too, so you could project them onto a screen or Smartboard for the whole class to read along with you. Once the story has been read, you can choose to have students answer the comprehension questions and discuss, or have them complete an Exit Ticket.

When I am crunched for time, we skip the comprehension questions and I have them quickly jot down one “Aha” they had from the story and write it on a sticky note. I have them share in a variety of ways… we may do a “Whip Around”, where each student quickly shares their thought as we move around the classroom. I may also have them read their thought and post it on a Country poster that we can refer back to later when we have the time. Or, I save the Read Aloud for the end of the day and they leave their sticky note on the door as an “Exit Ticket”.

Send the Art Projects Home

Each country has an art project as well. This year, I am sending the projects home with my students. I feel  that they will enjoy completing them at home more than at school with all of the restrictions. And they can share this experience with their family too. I’m hoping that it sparks some dialogue about the country we covered that day. It may also allow families to spend a little bit of time together. 🥰

Teaching Virtually… No Problem

We want you to be able to enjoy some of the “fun” units we have come to love teaching each year. I hope that you have found a couple of ideas to teach Holidays Around the World in 15 Minutes or Less. If you have some ways you are incorporating this into your classroom, please share in the comments below. I know our colleagues would love to hear your ideas!

Written by: Janessa Fletcher

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