5 Teacher Tested Tips to Simplify Christmas in the Classroom
Looking for some simple classroom Christmas ideas to help keep you sane this December? Try one of these 5 Teacher Tested Tips to simplify your classroom Christmas!
During this crazy month of Secret Santa, ugly sweaters, staff parties, reindeer headbands, wrapping paper, goodie exchanges, jingle bell necklaces, glittery crafts, and last minute gifts galore, keep it simple and save some sanity with one (or more) of these Teacher Tested Classroom Christmas Tips!
Classroom Christmas Tip #1: Simplify Student Gifts
With 27, 28, 29 (dare we say 30?!) students per class, finding a budget friendly gift for every student can be overwhelming!
The sooner you get these done and the less they cost the better.
For a FREE (minus ink, but hopefully you have some secret school color printer skills) option, try classroom coupons or top ten lists!
You can read more about budget friendly student gift options HERE.
Another option for very reasonable class gifts is to host a pencil exchange.
The day before break, every student brings enough pencils to give 1 to every student in the class.
Then, you’re only on the hook for 25-30 pencils and every one of your students should have enough pencils to last them through Spring Break.
A word to the wise – if you do a pencil exchange, have students sharpen at least 2 of their new pencils BEFORE they leave for winter break! If you don’t, you will have a mad rush to the sharpener in January.
Bonus: If you do a pencil exchange, one useful (and time consuming) activity is to have students use masking tape and Sharpie to label their brand new pencils. This will keep them nice and busy for at least 30 minutes!
But it also includes entails students Sharpies, so use caution.
Classroom Christmas Tip #2: Engage Students with Special Seasonal Options
Seasonal centers or special holiday fast finishers can be just the thing to motivate students to . . . calm . . . themselves . . . down . . . so they get the privilege of working on something special this month.
Settled students get Christmas perks!
Mix and match 3-4 of these easy ideas:
*Make a Word – give students letters to HAPPY HOLIDAYS, MERRY CHRISTMAS, TIS THE SEASON and have them find as many words as they can that can be made from the letters
*Picture Spelling – students write holiday words or spelling words they need to practice from their writing in a picture of a reindeer or snowman
*Add to Drawing + Writing – students get a page with a squiggly line or a few triangles drawn onit, they then create a holiday picture around the original shapes/lines and write a few sentences about what is going on in the picture (This project also works well as a whole class art activity)
*Letter Writing – students write holiday letters to family (bonus if you let them mail them), friends, classmates, or staff members at the school
*Compliment Writing -(see Tip #4 for RACK sack compliments)
*Story Starters – Write the first line of a holiday book on the board. Students then write a story using this sentence as the beginning of their story.
*Mentor Texts – Students choose a favorite Christmas book or story and use it as a model to write a similar story of their own.
*Partner Reading – You know those Christmas books you’ve been buying for years? Let the kids read them with partners! Call it something fun like Reindeer Reading and let the kids wear a red nose or antler headbands (watch the lice!) while they do it. It’s all about the details.
*Partner Games – Try the triangle tree game included in the December FUN Printables Freebie below.
For four FREE holiday printables, download the December FUN Printables at my TpT store.
If you want more holiday printables you might also like the activities in the December Third Grade Homework pack. The 40+ printables in this pack can be used for in-class centers and fast finishers too!
Classroom Christmas Tip #3: Schedule your Party to Save Stress
This tip is simple. It’s all about timing!
If you have party planning parents or a big holiday shindig that must take place, avoid having this on the last day before break.
If you schedule your class party two days before the break, that will give you one day to get rid of all the dishes/trash/pot holders/extra leftover treats rather than scurrying around trying to send these home on the last day of school in December.
Plus, as an added bonus, you won’t have visitors straggling around your room while you’re trying to get cleaned up and ready to go for your holiday!
Even the most meticulously planned teacher ends up with 1,000 things to do on that last day, and no one wants to go in to school during the holidays.
We know we will, but let’s pretend we won’t.
Classroom Christmas Tip #4: Find Ways to Focus on Kindness
Of course students should always be thinking about kindness, but the Christmas season is a perfect time to really ramp up the kindness and giving talk.
Finding easy ways students can participate in RACK (Random Acts of Classroom Kindness) is a nice way to keep them busy with something meaningful (that they love!) this month.
RACK sacks are my favorite month-long classroom kindness activity!
You can read more about RACK sacks and download a freebie HERE.
You can also have students create bookmarks for students in other grades, write letters to reading buddies, create Top Ten lists as gifts for loved ones, or have students brainstorm other ways they can spread kindness and cheer.
Once you’ve decided on your “go to” RACK activities for the month, throw these in your holiday centers or fast finisher folders (see Classroom Christmas Tip #2).
Classroom Christmas Tip #5: Create a Calm, Cool, & Collected Final Day
This tip seems like common sense, but how do you go about making the last day a calm oasis of non-insanity?!
If you are planning any food or treats, try having a breakfast instead of afternoon goodies.
That way, the food portion of the day is done before lunch and you won’t have kiddos asking you when the holiday treats will be dispersed.
If you take care of the eating extravaganza early, you will be able to divi out leftovers throughout the day and will also have time to clean. Plus it will give you the excuse to pick up donuts on the way to school.
Instead of crazy party games, put on a Netflix fire, let students bring blankets/stuffed animals/jammies, and have a lights off read in.
Students won’t actually read you might be thinking. Mostly true, but some actually will, and if you give the direction that blanket fort building must be silent, you will have a much calmer classroom than you would if playing Minute to Win it games.
Break up the day with guest readers.
Get 4-5 adults (awesomely engaged parents, or wonderful teacher/other school adults if awesomely engaged parents are sparse) to spend 10-15 minutes reading a favorite holiday picture book to the class.
This will break up the read in time and give a clear structure to the day.
Breakfast – Read In – Listen to Guest Reader – Read In – Listen to Guest Reader – Repeat.
Schedule guest readers every hour to hour and a half for best results, and make sure you have 1-2 extra holiday picture books in case one of your volunteers doesn’t get the memo to bring their own.
Do you have any other simple strategies for making December a little less chaotic? Tell me about them in the comments!
Have a fab (holi)day Super Teacher,