Do you have a special set of activities that you do with your students during the weeks leading up to winter break? Are you looking for a comprehensive Holidays Around the World resource to do with your students? Teaching a fun holidays around the world unit does not have to create hours of work for you. With 16 countries in our unit, you can put together the rest of your lesson plans leading up to winter break. You can have engaging lessons and teach Holidays Around the World in 7 easy steps! My students get super excited when it is time for step 3. Put together lasting memories for your students while sneaking in the academics when teaching Holidays Around the World.
Holidays Around the World Step 1 – Create the Suitcase
Each of your students is going to need a file folder to create their traveling suitcase. On the front of the folder, they will cut out and glue whichever suitcase you choose to use in your classroom. (There are four different ones, each containing a different phrase.) Once they have glued that to the front of the folder, it is time to open the folder and put together the inside of their “suitcase”.
Your students will be creating pockets to hold their airline tickets, passport, and a legal-size envelope labeled “books”. These items will go on one-half of the file folder. On the other side, will be the spot for their journal. Putting together the suitcase takes some time, especially if you print out the pieces in black and white and have your students decorate their own suitcases. This will most likely be Day 1.
BONUS TIP *** Glue the map to the back of the suitcase so that your students can track your trip while they color and c check off countries as you visit each one. They can also use it to plan your journey in Step 2.
Holidays Around the World Step 2 – Put Together Your Itinerary
There are 16 different countries you can celebrate with along your travels. You can choose to visit all 16, or if you are limited on time, choose a lesser number. I recommend you as the teacher making the decision on how many countries you will visit. Then sit down with your students and map out your travel itinerary. This is a great way to work on those map and math skills. Which country is the closest to you? After you visit that one, which would be the best to travel to after? And so on? Can you create a path that brings you back to your home state at the end of your trip?
Once you have decided on your flight plans, create an anchor chart or other visual to chart your progress. Your students will have something to look forward to and a reference to look back on throughout your trip. This is a great time to have your students put together their passports. Make copies of the passport booklet and have your students color it and fold it in half. They will be placing the pages of the countries you visit inside with a few notes about each one.
Holidays Around the World Step 3 – Time to Board the Plane
Within your resource, you will find Boarding Passes for your students. Make enough copies, so that each student receives a plane ticket before visiting a country. Your students can fill out the right portion of their plane ticket with their name, the date, where they are flying from and going to. You can also create pretend flight numbers and times that the plane is leaving.
Some teachers have their students line up outside the classroom with their suitcases and pretend to get on the plane by coming through the door and handing you their ticket. You can rip off the part where they filled out all of the information, or you can stamp the back and hand the boarding pass back to them. The tickets can go inside one of the pockets inside their suitcase.
Step 4 – Build Background with Mini-Books
Now that you have “arrived” at your destination, it is time to learn about that particular country and the holiday they celebrate this time of year. Each mini-book comes with 8 pages of information on that particular country and the holiday you will be celebrating there. You can print out the books in color or black and white. The last page of each book has a place where your students can take notes on the important details they read.
There are 3 different versions of these mini-books. Your students can create foldable books, cut each page apart and put them in order, then stapling, and lastly, a large full-page book you can copy, laminate, and place in your classroom library after reading with your class. There is another pocket in their student suitcase for these books. This way they can take them home at the end of the unit and share the information with their families.
Holidays Around the World Step 5 – Comprehension Activities to Dig Deeper
Your students took notes from their mini-books, so now it is time to engage those comprehension skills. I like to incorporate whole class or small group discussions after reading each book. Are there any similarities or differences in how you celebrate compared to how they celebrate? What are the key components of their holiday celebration (food, traditions, clothing, etc.)?
Along with each story, we have included a set of text-specific comprehension questions. You can have your students answer them in written form, or orally discuss responses. I have also assigned a question to each table group in my class, and then after some time discussing, they share their team response with the class.
Step 6 – Holiday and Country Reflection
Your students can reflect on what they learned about that country and its celebration in their Holidays Around the World Journal. Each country comes with its own journal page that can be added to the inside of the suitcase. You can use an adhesive tab and hole punch the journal pages, or staple them to the folder on the top part of the pages so that they flip up like a notepad. If your students need a graphic organizer to help them put their thoughts together before journaling, we have included that as well.
The journal is a great way for your students to go home and share with their families what they learned about that particular country. It is also a way for you to see what your students thought about a particular country. What were their opinions on the celebration? Is it a place they would like to visit? During this time, I like to pull up the Google Earth link on the last slide of the digital set. It gives your students another layer of information about the country.
Holidays Around the World Step 7 – Country Celebration Souvenir
The last activity for each country is a craft specific to that country’s holiday. This is the fun part of visiting each destination… taking home a souvenir. Your students can work on fine motor skills, following directions, and creative expression with each country’s craft. Whether they are creating stockings, crowns, or jingle bells, your students will have a blast adding a little bit of art to their day.
Our Holidays Around the World unit is cross-curricular and can easily fit into your daily schedule while meeting your academic standards. Incorporate math skills by figuring out how many days you will be on your “trip”, as well as figuring out time changes and how long each flight will take. You can also teach your students elapsed time while they are traveling in the air.
Build fluency and comprehension skills with the mini-books and comprehension activities. And your students can hone their writing skills while working on their student journals. The most important piece is that you get to include social studies in your daily lessons without having to find large chunks of time in your schedule.
Check out this video below to see the whole suitcase set-up as well as a glimpse into everything you will receive when you purchase this amazing resource. For only $16.00 (that’s $1.00 per country’s set of materials), you can have three weeks of activities for your students that cover many academic standards. Incorporate Holidays Around the World in 7 easy steps and start traveling with your students today!
Written by – Janessa Fletcher
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