In this blog post: Find the best Holidays Around the World activities to help you start planning for your Holidays Around the World Unit in Kindergarten or 1st grade.
The holiday season is upon us which means it’s the most wonderful time of the year! And by most wonderful time of the year, I mean that nobody is listening and everybody is hopped up on thoughts of Christmas – ha!
I learned many years ago to stop trying to fight the holiday energy and start learning into it. And what better way to do that than to learn about the many cultural celebrations that happen all around the world!
Why You Should Teach a Holidays Around the World Unit
As teachers, we help prepare our students to be world citizens, and it’s never too early to get started. A Holidays Around the World unit for lower elementary is often their first exposure to different places, traditions, and customs. And I love being there to witness their curiosity come to life as they embrace these different cultures!
If you have students who celebrate these holidays and traditions, it becomes even more meaningful.
Teaching Holidays Around the World also provides opportunities for students to reflect on their own traditions and compare and contrast them with others. Plus, Holidays Around the World units are easy, fun-filled activities to help you survive until winter break, which is what we all need! Am I right?
Planning Your Holidays Around the World Unit
As you begin planning your holidays around the world unit, there are a few things you will want to keep in mind. First, how detailed do you want to get? This unit can really become an in-depth classroom transformation and basically take over your classroom life, but it doesn’t have to. Students will be just as engaged if you treat it as a regular research unit, I promise!
Here are some questions to ask yourself when planning your HOTW unit:
- How much time can I dedicate to this each day?
- Do I have any students who cannot learn about holidays and need alternative activities?
- How can I align these activities to the standards I need to teach?
- Can I incorporate the HOTW fun into core subjects like math and writing?
- How much prep do I want to do each day?
- How many countries should we learn about?
- Do we have any food allergies that would prevent tasting snacks from each country?
- What books can I use for each country and holiday?
Get Ready to Go Around the World!
To go around the world, students need to get their luggage together along with their passports and tickets. Here are some of the activities students will complete to get started.
Create the Suitcase Craft
Students will create a suitcase to store all of their work in for this Holidays Around the World unit. Grab a large piece of construction paper, print the label and the handles, and have students get their suitcase ready for travel.
Students have a printable or digital passport for the different countries that they visit. Each country has a stamp that students can color and glue on once they’ve finished visiting that country.
Get Tickets Ready
To get to each place, students will need a ticket to get there! Each ticket will include information about the departure and the flight. Teachers will create these for students.
It’s your choice if you set up chairs in your classroom as a fake airplane or just put a video of an airplane on the screen and call it a day.
Personally, I have my students line up outside our room. They give me their ticket and come in to sit at the carpet. We put on a Youtube video of an airplane flying and pretend. Kindergarten students are GREAT at pretending!
Visiting Each Country
As students visit each country, they will complete several literacy activities and crafts. These activities will become predictable (but will contain different content to keep it interesting!) as they go around the world which will help them develop an idea of what to expect.
As we learn about each country, we also make sure to discuss that while some people celebrate these holidays and traditions in that country, not everyone does. Just like our class, everyone is different and has different traditions and that’s okay!
Read a Nonfiction Book
We start off by reading a nonfiction book to learn about the customs and traditions of each country. You can print the book off and bind it like a real book, or display it on the screen to read to students. Each book is packed full of facts about the holiday we are learning about, and how it’s celebrated in that country.
For extra holidays around the world fun, you can also find read alouds that feature that holiday and use them as the interactive read aloud for the day during your literacy block.
Write About the Country
Students will create a book to write what they learned about each country and its holiday. Writing sheets give students the opportunity to color each country’s flag and then write and illustrate three things that they learned about each country.
Differentiated writing pages are included so you can pick and choose what will work best for your students.
Create Crafts and Art Projects
Students will create several crafts and art projects to align with the country such as a lantern for Ramadan in Egypt, a St. Lucia and Star Boy hat for St. Lucia Day in Sweden, and a poinsettia for Las Posadas in Mexico.
Students will enjoy making the crafts and you can model how to create the craft using the digital slides.
Extend the Learning
Students love tasting treats from each country. For example, I have my students close their eyes and put out a shoe. They have to keep their eyes closed as I put candy in their shoe, just like in the Netherlands. They LOVE this! You can also try traditional treats, like bringing in panettone for Italy (you can usually find the store bought kind at groceries stores in December).
Get creative and bring the learning to life for your students. They’ll love it and you will too!
Holidays Around the World Centers
An easy way to lean into the holiday fun is to incorporate holidays around the world into your math and literacy centers. You’re keeping the learning going, but students will be so much more engaged!
Math and Literacy Centers
The great thing about these Holiday Around the World centers is that they include interactive, standards-based activities that are themed to match each country. These holidays around the world centers were designed with pre-k through Kindergarten in mind.
Included are three themed math centers and three themed literacy centers for each holiday. They cover a wide range of skills so that you can always find something that will work for your learners!
The included math centers focus on skills such as addition, subtraction, number sense, ten frames, missing numbers, and more.
The included literacy centers focus on skills such as beginning sounds, CVC words, ending sounds, syllables, letter matching, and more.
These Holidays Around the World writing center printables align perfectly with each holiday while also giving students practice with skills such as labeling, beginning sounds, sentence writing, alphabet writing, story writing, and more.
With 14 differentiated activities included, these activities will be the perfect addition to your writing centers for the month of December.
Are you ready to get started with Holidays Around the World? Find everything you need for an engaging Holidays Around the World unit here:
- Holidays Around the World Unit
- Holidays Around the World Math and Literacy Centers
- Holidays Around the World Writing Center
Want to try out a country for free? Travel to Germany to discover how they celebrate Christmas here: