Lesson Ideas for the Holidays

It’s almost that magical time of the school year… when candy cane sugar flows through students’ veins and even the best planned lessons are met with distracted, fidgety kids who forgot their pencils (though they did remember their candy canes.) But you can still eke out a few more lessons before the year’s end. Here are…

5 Fun Lesson Ideas for the Holiday Season

…Guaranteed to teach even a little something useful to the most crazed student on the most fractured schedule.

1. Celebrate the Shortest Day of the Year

Winter solstice is the shortest day of the year. This year it is Sunday, December 21. Use the Friday before to celebrate all things short and small with these tiny lessons on tiny subjects.

ELA: Read Hemingway’s famous six-word story, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Using Flocabulary’s song, “Five Things,” review how even such a short story includes or hints at all five elements of a story. Have students write their own 6 word story. Read more six-word stories here for inspiration.

Social Studies: Use this day to practice working with data by looking at the world’s smallest countries. But not just by geographic area—using Wikipedia’s set of international rankings, you can look at the smallest country by GDP, literacy rate, number of patents and more. Ask: Are the same countries “small” at everything?

Math: Use this day as an opportunity to practice with everyone’s favorite tiny numbers: fractions! Depending on your student’s level, add fractions, multiply fractions or divide fractions!

Science: Ask students to think of the biggest thing on Earth. Then remind them–it’s made up of one of the smallest things: Atoms. Review atoms with our newly animated video, or have students present on their favorite tiny element.

2. Take A Mathematical Look at the 12 Days of Christmas

Some of your students might know all the words to the 12 Days of Christmas. But did they ever think about how much it might cost to send your true love everything from French Hens to Geese-a-laying? Here’s a two part lesson to get them thinking.

Estimation: Listen to the song. Ask students to estimate how much they think each of these gifts would cost. Ask them to explain their reasoning.

Percentages: Each year, economists measure the changing prices of goods by releasing a tongue-in-cheek report measuring the costs of the 12 Days of Christmas. They call it the Christmas Price Index. Look at this year’s costs, review percentages with students, and then have them calculate the percentage increases in costs for their favorite gift on the list.

3. Learn About Different World Religions

From television ads to retail displays to school concerts, Christmas dominates December. To help students appreciate diversity and perhaps even find more ways to celebrate, play Flocabulary’s Major World Religions song. Have students click through the lyrics to learn more about each, and ask students to research major holidays from each religion. As a bonus, you could have a class party that includes elements from all the major religions.

4. Analyze the Stories in Holiday Songs

Everyone has a favorite holiday song. And most holiday songs tell a story. Have students bring in their favorite holiday song, or find a link to a version on YouTube. Then, using the Five Elements of a Story Lesson plan and worksheet, analyze the song. For example, Frosty the Snow Man:

Plot: Frosty is a snow man who came to life, but he had to leave town before he melted.
Character: Frosty the Snowman
Conflict: It is sunny out and Frosty needs to avoid melting.
Setting: Winter in town
Theme: Magic, Survival…

5. Enter the Flocabulary & New York Times Year in Rap Contest

Flocabulary has partnered with the New York Times Learning Network to bring you The Year in Rap student contest. We’ll release our own Year in Rap on December 19, but students will have until January 7 to enter their own rap on the 2014’s top events. Learn more about the contest and enter here. There’s even a full lesson plan to help your kids with their entries.

And when it’s an hour before break and you’ve given up on any sort of structured lesson…

6. Watch Your Favorite Flocabulary Videos!

Instead of showing a movie, let students pick their favorite Flocabulary videos from the past few months and watch them during class. If nothing else, they’ll be reviewing important concepts from the year so far!

Happy Holidays from everyone on the Flocabulary team!

Snowman by James Nash, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

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