Creating Lessons from Holiday Decorations - A Big List of Ideas

It's time to decorate the classroom! Or to create fabulous decorations for your students to take home with them! But what other learning can you get from holiday decorations?

 
 

Find the Maths

  • What angles can you find in a 5 point star? A 6 point star? 7 points?
  • What's the circumference of the bauble? The diameter?
  • What shapes can you find in holiday decorations?
  • What nets do you need to create 3D decorations?
  • What's the area of those nets?
  • How many decorations do you need to decorate a classroom? To decorate a tree?

Find the Writing

  • Write about why we need holiday decorations
  • Write about the history of holiday decorations
  • Write a procedure for making holiday decorations
  • Write a short story about holiday decorations
  • Write a newspaper article about how your class is decorated

Find the Engineering

  • Which decorations are the strongest?
  • How can you made decorations stronger?
  • How do you test the strength of a decoration?
  • Can you use decorations to make a machine?
  • Can you make decorations move on their own?
  • Can you create structures out of decorations?

Find the Creativity

  • How can you portray decorations using paint? Pencils? Clay?
  • What recycled materials can you use to create decorations?
  • Can you create a dance about decorations?
  • Can you create a play or a song about decorations?
  • How can you use colour in your decorations?
  • How can you use shapes in decorations?

Don't forget to leave your holiday ideas in the comments!

 
Christmas math and engineering resource using paper chains. Students explore the mathematical topics of measurement, length, perimeter and patterns and engineering principles of creating tests, assessing suitability, exploring materials and drawing conclusions. 

Christmas math and engineering resource using paper chains. Students explore the mathematical topics of measurement, length, perimeter and patterns and engineering principles of creating tests, assessing suitability, exploring materials and drawing conclusions. 

 
 
 

Surviving Christmas in an Australian Classroom

Ah, Christmas. The students are tired. Admin are insisting that it's business as usual until 3pm on the last day. There's activities and performances and assemblies and you never get a full class for more than half an hour at a time. You've just found out you need to move your whole classroom across the school. Oh, and it's swelteringly hot!

Of course, what you need are Christmas or holiday themed activities which promote real learning - while fitting into the spaces of time you get in the classroom!

 
 

Bring on the Games

This is a great time for reinforcing everything you've taught during the year with a series of games. Your students will love you, they'll have a better chance of remembering things into the new year and then their next teacher will also love you! 

Short multiplication games, grammar games and spelling games are great for filling in the 5 or 10 minute gaps before you have to be somewhere. You could also hold a trivia quiz over the last few weeks, breaking the class into teams and covering all sorts of information from the year (things you've covered, books you've read, events you've attended plus general trivia).

Board games and adapted board games can work really well for those times when you're missing some of the students. You can also take the games outside to rejuvenate students. Use the first hour of the day when it's a little cooler, or find a covered or shaded place to play. 

Writing Tasks

Writing is one of those tasks which is wonderfully adaptable to any event or time of the year. Students can create their own creative writing prompts, create stories, poems, songs or plays about Christmas or the holidays. They can respond to articles in newspapers or online. They can write letters to family and friends or write reflections about the year they've had. 

Persuasive writing is now a big feature of Australian classrooms and an excellent technique to work on at Christmas time. Students can write advertisements or letters to the editor or they can respond to a persuasive text prompt.

 
A collection of five Christmas in Australia - themed persuasive writing prompts, this resource can be used for test preparations, homework assignments or as part of whole class teaching or writer’s workshop.

A collection of five Christmas in Australia - themed persuasive writing prompts, this resource can be used for test preparations, homework assignments or as part of whole class teaching or writer’s workshop.

 

Reading

Although the Christmas season might not allow enough time for a Christmas novel, there is enough time to examine Christmas picture books. Students can examine picture books based on old carols and stories or picture books which tell new stories. They can talk about the way Christmas is portrayed, the emphasis which is put on Christmas in the books (is it about Santa? Giving? Where Christmas is held? The food?) or how different Christmas books compare with each other. Alongside the reading discussion, there's plenty of room for accompanying writing and craft activities.

 
Christmas in Australia activities based around An Aussie Night Before Christmas by Yvonne Morrison. This resource pack includes comprehension and vocabulary, writing activities, discussion topics and creating activities. A perfect resource to continue and extend learning in the final weeks of school in Australia.

Christmas in Australia activities based around An Aussie Night Before Christmas by Yvonne Morrison. This resource pack includes comprehension and vocabulary, writing activities, discussion topics and creating activities. A perfect resource to continue and extend learning in the final weeks of school in Australia.

 

Maths Investigations

Christmas and holidays are great for maths investigations. You can plan for Christmas lunch (time table for cooking, menu planning for 4 people or 6 people or 8 people, working out the cost of ingredients and creating a budget.

Or you could create an investigation around wrapping presents - how can you wrap different sized boxes? How much paper will you need? 

Or look at patterns of Christmas lights. What patterns can you create? How does it change when you use different numbers of lights or colours?

There are so many easy to set up and easy to implement ideas to create real learning at Christmas time - even with the heat. And don't forget my Christmas freebie - available here!

     
     

    What are Math Investigations?

     
     

    When we teach mathematics it can be very easy to get caught in the nuts and bolts - the mathematical processes and ensuring that students get the 'right' answers.

    It's important, though, to extend past the basic rules and processes, to get our students understanding how they can be combined and where they might have real-world applications.

    Maths (or math) investigation allow students to apply their maths understanding in various situations. They usually start with a 'real world' mathematical question - big or small:

     
     

    Students then formulate plans to answer the questions, collect data, use multiple processes to solve the problem, communicate the answer and reflect on their learning.

    The joy of maths investigations lie in their flexibility. You can ask students to solve a large question which might take a few weeks to solve, or give them a smaller, more focused question to solve in one lesson. You can provide measurements or partial answers, or require students to collect them themselves. You can combine them with science or engineering or history or the arts. And you can cover a wide range of maths standards.

    Have you used maths investigations? Have you got any good maths questions to share?