By Teachers, For Teachers
Seasonal activities are a great way to actively engage kids in learning, and it’s easier than you might think to create holiday-themed lessons. In this article I’ll share where to find free and inexpensive seasonal activities and how to create your own holiday activities aligned with your curriculum.
When I first began teaching, I thought holiday activities were just for young children and they didn’t have a place in the upper grades. But later I collaborated with several other teachers to present a series of monthly cooperative learning support meetings in my district, and my eyes were opened!
I realized that holidays offer a wealth of content that can be used for instruction, and you can easily create fun, engaging lessons that stimulate higher-level thinking. Kids can get bored with the same daily routines, and including a seasonal activity from time to time sparks enthusiasm in the classroom. Holiday activities also allow you to integrate content across multiple curriculum areas which makes the learning process even more fun and engaging!
Where to Find Seasonal Activities
If you haven’t been using seasonal activities, you might need a little convincing before you’re ready to include them in your lessons. Why not take a look at what’s available, starting with what’s online for February? During this month, we celebrate the Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day, Black History Month, and Friendship Month. I’ve created activities for all of these special days, and those lessons are included in my February Activities Mini Pack.
If you're looking ahead or planning for March, I've also created Black History Character Bio Reports, Dr. Suess Story Map & Blank Hat Pattern, the Lephrechaun luck probability game and plenty of other festive classroom activities for spring.
You can find all of these freebies on the Seasonal page on my Teaching Resources website or in my TeachersPayTeachers.com store, and there are loads of other websites available with even more great resources!
Start your search for additional holiday-themed activities here:
How to Create Your Own Seasonal Activities
After you begin using seasonal activities in your classroom, you may get inspired to create your own! Over the last few years, I’ve written dozens of holiday lessons, and I’ve learned a few techniques to make the creative process easy and effective. Here’s what I do:
1. First, I search for a short story or informational text related to that special day. All it takes is a quick check of the school library or a Google search and I can often find the perfect book, poem, or short text. Asking Facebook fans or other teachers for suggestions works well, too.
2. Next, I conduct a bit of research to learn facts and information about the holiday so that I can weave the details together into a great lesson. I look for ….
3. Then I review my curriculum and instructional timeline to determine what I’ll be teaching around the time of the holiday. If I don’t think the content is a good match for those curriculum standards, I’ll consider turning the activity into a review lesson. I also try to think of cooperative learning strategies that might be effective with the content I’ve uncovered.
4. The last step is the hardest to describe. It’s the creative process of taking those jumbled bits of information and turning them into a great lesson. I usually let the ideas simmer for awhile as I go about my other activities. Then I’ll get a brain flash in the middle of doing something else and I’ll grab a notepad to jot down my ideas. I frequently begin my lesson with the selected text, and then I create spelling, reading, writing, and math activities to go with the text. Finally, I write the directions and create the printables to make the lesson work, adding fun fonts and holiday clipart to make the pages interesting.
Creating your own seasonal activities is lots of fun and very rewarding, but the best part is taking the lesson into the classroom and seeing it unfold, just like you planned! I love seeing students get excited over a candy graphing activity or a seasonal cooperative learning game. Kids are going to be wired up around a holiday anyway, so why not channel that energy into something productive!
What’s your favorite seasonal activity for February or any month? Share in the comments section!