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10 Ideas for Holidays Around the World


Creating ideas for Holidays Around the World each year is so much FUN! There is something magical about putting together activities for traveling the world and celebrating the holidays of other countries and cultures.  Do you have a special set of activities that you do with your students during the weeks leading up to winter break? Still, planning? Well, sit back because we have 10 Ideas for Teaching Holidays Around the World that you can use this holiday season!

The weeks between Thanksgiving and winter break rush by in a blur. Class parties, holiday music performances, staff potlucks, not to mention student and family gifts. Finding time to lesson plan and put together all the things can seem like a daunting task. Let me help with that by providing you with no prep activities that will keep your students engaged until that last bell rings before break. Check out our December resources on ETTC Premium today! 

Ideas to Begin Your Holidays Around the World Unit

We know that the holiday season also promises short attention spans, lacking motivation, and a general sense of rambunctiousness in the classroom as the holiday break draws near. That said, finding activities that help maintain structure and promote learning while still allowing the students to have fun and celebrate is critical.

  • Prompt the class to think specifically about the winter holidays celebrated in December. Ask them to share the holidays they know of or celebrate at that time of the year. Record the holidays on the board.
  • Share with the class that they will learn about winter holidays celebrated worldwide in this lesson by researching the holiday. Then, they will share what they learned with the rest of the class.
  • Next, I tell the students that we’ll learn about how other people celebrate holidays worldwide. I show the students the Holidays Around The World anchor chart and tell them that we’ll be learning about some of the holidays on the chart for the next few days.


Suitcases Packed for Holidays Around the World

One of the exciting parts of the journey around the world is packing! Students can prepare their own suitcase with the essentials; their passport, boarding pass, a journal for note-taking, and of course, a map, so no one gets lost!  The kids love pointing out the countries they would be visiting on the map.


Videos for Holidays Around the World

National Geographic Kids has several short, beautifully done videos that feature holiday traditions in many different countries. I look for additional videos that show the country’s customs and focus on a unique tradition in the country we visit.

Partner Work: After watching the videos, break away from whole group questioning by posting questions on the board and asking the students to turn and talk to a partner. You can take this a step further by asking students to partner up, discuss a question, switch, and discuss the next question with a new partner!


Holidays Around the World Ideas for Class Meetings 

Use your class meetings to introduce different holidays worldwide that you’re studying! You can have students greet each other with the holiday greeting in each language. If you have a student celebrating that holiday, you can ask him/her to teach the class how to say the greeting. If you don’t have an in-class resource, you can find most of the holiday greetings for different December holidays worldwide on YouTube!

Use a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast two of the holidays. Then write about the similarities and differences. I like to incorporate whole class or small group discussions. 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.)?


Or, add in our December Digital Calendar emphasizing special dates for the entire month at a glance or each day!


HATW Ideas for ELA

I include a mini book with questions as part of my students’ “daily literacy activities” checklists. For each country, I pass out a 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 country.


HATW in Math and Geography

Incorporate math skills by figuring out how many days you will be on your “trip” and determining time changes and how long each flight will take. You can also teach your students elapsed time while they are traveling in the air.

Students can also locate places on a map from a book, color that country, and then highlight the holiday for that country with this map activity!

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?



Holidays Around the World Ideas for Art

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.


After studying the holiday traditions in various countries, break your class into groups and assign each group a country. Then, ask each group to use a small room area and turn it into a Holiday in (insert country here). This is the type of activity that truly breeds creativity and allows for total engagement. Meaningful and purposeful learning doesn’t always fit into a neat and tidy box.


HATW Writing

Solid writing skills will be useful to your students throughout their lives. Finding opportunities to improve and practice these writing skills is important. Incorporating journaling into your Holidays Around the World lessons is a perfect opportunity to get those kids writing!

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? The students will gather all the important information about that country and the holiday they celebrate. Then they will create informational posters on it that can be posted around the classroom.

Providing students with either pre-made journals or mini-journals that they assemble and asking them to record information about the “places” that they have been are simple ways to incorporate writing practice into the unit.


HATW is Digital!

We have converted our famous Holidays Around the World resource bundle to digital format so that you and your students can enjoy the adventure and wonder this resource brings.

Students will fill out their plane ticket for each country visited. Students read about each country through mini-books on slides. They then follow-up with comprehension questions and can journal about their favorite parts. Once reading about that country, they can “virtually visit” through Google Earth.


My students are fascinated by what other kids do in other countries, especially what they do for holidays. Activities surrounding kids’ roles are hard to find! But as part of our December Social Studies Unit, we have slides and worksheets on just this topic!


HATW Wrap Up

Graphic organizers are a concrete way to check for comprehension, deepen understanding, and scaffold the entire learning process. If you utilize the mini-books to teach Holidays Around the World, offering a different graphic organizer for each mini-book helps to keep things interesting and make the mini-book learning purposeful!



Want some great ideas from teachers?! Join our Fearless First Grade Teachers Facebook Group, our Fearless Kindergarten Teachers Group, or Fearless Second Grade Teachers!

Written by: Suzanne Kelley


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