Festival of Lights – December Lesson Planning

Festival of Lights - December Lesson Planning 1The month of December is a celebratory time for many cultures and denominations around the world. It’s a time of history, religion, family, friends, and tradition.

Our December lesson planning blog features general holiday-themed ideas, along with activities that shine on multi-culturalism. The Festival of Lights segment comes from veteran teacher and abcteach staffer, Nancy Elton. She provides ideas that were successfully used in her class, along with lesson plan notes, group activities, and school-wide events.

Festival of Lights

• Break into groups and research a handful of December holidays. Spend time learning the history behind them and how they’ve changed through the years. Examples include: Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Le Réveillon, St. Lucia Day, Las Posadas, Boxing Day, etc.

• With the help of parents, older siblings, or classroom aides…

• Food – Delve into the traditional meals of a country or culture, and pick a dish (or two) to share with the class. Be sure to make enough for the entire classroom to taste, and check with the teacher beforehand for possible food allergies

• Clothing – What is customary dress during this time of year? Are there accessories or small props that can be brought in? What is the meaning behind these items?

• Customs – Special music, dance, lights/candles, rituals… what do these activities symbolize? How long has the custom been practiced? How is it similar to activities in other countries?

• Culminate your monthly research with a holiday party representing all of the countries/cultures that you’ve discovered.

abcteach activities

• Holidays
• Seasonal Clip Art
• Holiday/Seasonal – Languages

Curriculum Resources

• Center for International Studies, UIC – Countries and Cultures Around the World
• ePals Global Community – Holidays and Festivals
• – December Celebrations


• Peace circle – Each week, the entire school would get together for our peace circle time. During the holiday season, we would play music, sing songs, wear festive dress, or display traditional items from a variety of cultures.

• Explore holidays class by class, or by grade. This would allow students to concentrate on various aspects of a singular country or culture. Projects were hung in the hall, and presentations were given in class or during peace circle.

• Holiday Bazaar – We held this event in the gym, but it can be done in various settings depending on how your school is laid out. Each class was responsible for a certain aspect of the holidays (food, music, clothing, etc.), or a certain country. We would have carolers, small craft activities, and treat bags to collect items given out at the booths. In certain years, we held either a multi-grade play or musical. Family and friends were invited to watch and participate, which played a huge role in making sure each activity was appropriately supervised.

Home Holiday Activity Planner Highlights
The following activity ideas are taken from our Family Activity Planners. These themed sets (12 in all) provide fun, age-appropriate learning activities that are intended to turn everyday moments into learning opportunities.

Math and Science

• Make holiday candy and treats. Learn how to follow a recipe with proper measurements and conversions. Enjoy!

• Design a colorful December calendar. Get creative by using as many types of materials as possible, including magazines, clothing material, and food.

• It’s a wrap! Gift wrap together; estimate the amount of paper, ribbon, and tape needed for each item.

Related abcteach Materials

• Fractions
• Fillable Calendars
• Measurement
• Recipes

Social Studies

• Locate the “North Pole” on a map or globe. Learn about weather and animals from that region. What do the trees and landscape look like? How do people dress?  Extend this to any of the other countries which your students are exploring.

• Using a world map, identify where each country is that the students are studying.  This is a great time to introduce the compass rose, prime and intermediate directions and terminology, longitude and latitude, and continents and oceans.

• Have students interview a parent, grandparent, or trusted adult. Have them learn about their childhood holiday experiences. How are their interviewees’ past experiences different from their current traditions?

• Learn about organizations in your community that are helping people in need. Pick a favorite and help the students donate time, money, or needed items to help in their cause.

• Create a time capsule. With your family, fill a container with items (personal and general) that are unique to the season. Fill the container, then save until next year to open.

Related abcteach Materials

• Family Theme Unit
• Weather
• Writing Prompts
• MapsMap Unit (Member Material)
• Grids

Reading and Writing

• Tell a story about a favorite holiday memory. If not old enough, have a sibling write it down. Draw a picture to go with your story.

• Find holiday books and share what was read with friends or family members.

• Create a list of 5 friends or family members to whom you would like to send holiday cheer. Locate their addresses and send them a card. abcteach offers many pieces of clipart to design that perfect card.

• That happened in December? Use the abcteach December journal prompts (Member item) to learn and write about December happenings.

Related Free abcteach Materials

• Patterns and Coloring Pages
• Christmas Books
• Greeting Cards
• December
• Seasonal Clip Art
• Holiday Book Units

Related abcteach Member Materials

• Activities to Favorite Holiday Books

• Clifford’s Christmas
• Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia
• Polar Express How the Grinch Stole Christmas
• Arthur’s Perfect Christmas

• Stories about Global Holidays

• Mikuláš Eve
• Boxing Day
• Al-Hegira
• Diwali

Holiday Activities and Games

• Winter Art – Use food coloring and water to create ‘paint.’ Using a spray bottle or similar plastic bottle and create winter artwork in the snow.

• Pine Cone Bird Feeders – Spread pine cones with peanut butter and roll them in bird seed. Hang them from trees with ribbons or string.

• Puppet Show – Create fun paper bag puppets or paper roll pals and put on a play for family or friends.

Related abcteach Materials

• Holiday Activity Planner
• Paper Bag Puppets
• Fun Activities
• Crossword Puzzles

We wish you the best of luck in the last few weeks, and we hope these holiday activities help support your students and class. If you have any ideas or activities that work well for you, please let us know! We’d love to pass it along to the abcteach community.

Happy Holidays!

Posted by Lindsey Elton and Nancy Elton, abcteach Team

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