How to Survive December in the School Library

How to survive December in the school library

Are you wondering how to survive December in the school library? The weeks before Christmas break has always been a challenging one for me, as it is for most educators. But I think it can be especially tough on specials teachers. There are so many different activities going on from classroom parties, pajama day, assemblies, sing-alongs …The list goes on and on. And usually (at least in my school) specials time is never canceled. Teachers need this time to plan, prepare and go to the bathroom! Which I totally understand and agree with. But when you pick up a class right after their Christmas party I can pretty much guarantee that a quiet storytime is not going to happen!

I’ll be honest, there are times when I give in to the temptation of showing a Christmas movie. I think everyone has at one time or another. And that’s fine once in a while, but definitely not something you want to make a habit out of.

In this post, I want to share with you some of the lessons and activities that I have used with my students in the weeks leading up to Christmas break. Maybe they’ll be something you can incorporate in your own lessons over the next few weeks.

Favorite picture books

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There are so many wonderful holiday books to choose from and more keep coming out every year. I could easily read them all year long. Below is a list of a few of my all-time favorites. 

Favorite Christmas picture books

Activites for Lower Elementary

My favorite activities to use are my picture book choice boards with print and digital activites. Each choice board has 6 activites to go along with a Chrismtas picture book. You can choose to do one or all of the activities. And the best part is you can use either the print or digital, depending on your needs.

Gingerbread stories are very popular to read during Christmas time. I also have a Gingerbread picture book bundle to choose from as well.

I also like to teach kindergarten and first grade about winter holidays in other countries using my Winter Holidays Around the World. There is a digital and a print version.

Activites for Upper Elementary

Christmas Around the World Print Activity Pack

Christmas tradition activities - around the world Christmas edition
  • Recommended grades: 2-3
  • 8 nonfiction reading passages about Christmas traditions in other countries
  • One page reading response for each country
  • Set of 24 task cards (color and b/w set)
  • 10-page mini book for students to read and fill out
  • 18 pages of writing prompts, a word search, Venn diagram, ABC order practice and more

I print out the reading passages and laminate them. I will give each table a passage and the comprehension page that goes along with it. After students have finished their country we will come back together and talk about what they learned. Sometimes this will last for two class periods. I do not give a copy of the minibook to each student since I usually have 80 or 90 students in a grade. But I will print out a copy and give a page to each of the groups to complete. Then I will put them together as a class book. 

Christmas Around the World Print Breakout

What is included in this product:

  • Detailed instructions
  • Scenario
  • Brochure with short nonfiction passages (students will use this to answer the questions)
  • Set of 3 challenges (color copies)
  • Set of 3 challenges (black and white copies)
  • Answer sheet and recording sheet
  • certificate for completing the breakout (color and b/w)

Students will work together in groups to complete the activity. They will read the scenario and the brochure. Then they will work on solving each of the challenges.

  • Challenge 1: Students will solve hink pinks (riddles answered by a pair of rhyming words.)
  • Challenge 2: Mapping activity
  • Challenge 3: Multiple choice ELA questions
Christmas tradition breakout activity

Christmas Around the World Digital Breakout

The breakout is accessed through a Google Site. Students will go to the URL for the site to complete the breakout. On the Google Site is the scenario, student directions, links to each of the 3 challenges and a Google form for the students to enter the lock codes.

To learn about the different Christmas traditions students will first need to go to a Google tour builder that I have created. Here they will see an interactive map and read about the traditions in each of the countries. The countries discussed in this breakout: Sweden, Germany, France, Iceland, Australia, England, Italy, Iceland and Mexico.

The challenges:

  • a matching activity in Google slides (students will match the country to a tradition)
  • A multiple choice quiz in Google forms
  • A jigsaw puzzle (once the puzzle is solved students will have to solve the riddle that is in the puzzle.)
Christmas traditions digital breakout