You’ll love these tips on incorporating fun, holiday-themed activities that engage students while strengthening academics. Yes, it’s crazy and exhausting – but TONS of FUN!
In this article, you’ll find strategies for keeping learning on track and engaging Christmas holiday resources for your upper elementary classroom while enjoying the festivities.
Tip #1: Keep Students Focused
Creating a structured routine for your students is crucial during the holidays.
We all know that chaos is sure to happen when our daily procedures and schedules are disrupted.
To keep things running smoothly, I recommend maintaining the regular structure of your daily routines while mixing in fun and festive holiday-themed lessons. This way, you can keep your students engaged while still providing the structure they need.
Tip #2: Holiday-Oriented Lessons
Now is the time to spice up your usual routine.
Try switching out your typical reading material for holiday and seasonal books, stories, and articles.
And instead of the usual math workbook, try some fun and engaging coloring pages to practice multiplication and division.
Need some practice with 2-digit multiplication? These coloring pages make learning multiplication a blast! This set focuses on multiplying 2 digits by 2 digits.
If your students need additional support, check out the coloring set below featuring 2-digit by 2-digit multiplication organizers coloring activities. The problems are challenging but accessible with the support of organizers.
Organizers are a favorite among teachers and students when it comes to keeping students’ work aligned and mistake-free. Plus, they also enhance handwriting legibility and number size.
Organizers are a must-have for students practicing new math skills like long division and multiplication. This is the perfect time to try them out with your students.
These exciting Christmas coloring pages will make learning long division more enjoyable. As your students solve long division problems, they’ll get to color in the quotient boxes and reveal a surprise holiday image.
These challenging problems will test their division skills with 3-digit and 4-digit numbers and even help improve their fine motor skills.
Are your students learning multiplication facts? This fun Christmas tree game will let them “decorate” a tree while practicing their multiplication skills!
Here’s how to play: students can either roll a dice or use the game spinner. The number they roll or spin will be multiplied by the number on their game card.
The best part? This game is stress-free! The products to be multiplied are already listed on the Christmas tree. Students just cover the products on the tree as they go. They’ll win when they fill up their whole card – a fantastic way to improve fact fluency!
This festive and educational game will excite and engage in math. They’ll want to start “decorating” those Christmas trees today!
With this game, students can concentrate on their own progress without the pressure of competing against others.
However, if some students crave an extra challenge, they have the option to compete against a classmate to see who can decorate their Christmas tree the fastest.
This activity is ideal for indoor recesses, fast finishers, stations, and guided math.
Tip #3: Movement in the Classroom
Do your students have ants in their pants, making them dance? Mine did too!
But don’t worry, there’s a fun and educational solution – task cards! They’re versatile and offer a variety of games and activities. There are so many different task card games and activities to try!
Check out these Christmas Math Comparing Numbers by Solving Expressions task cards. With 24 task cards featuring addition, subtraction, and multiplication, these cards are perfect for Christmas games like Scoot and board games.
Change up the pace in your classroom by getting your students up and moving.
Whether you prefer whole-group activities or smaller group work, incorporating movement into your classroom will promote teamwork and communication skills.
These activities can also be done individually, allowing students to focus on improving their abilities.
Tip #4: Crafts and Art Projects
Are you a Pinterest fan? Pinterest has tons of ideas, no matter what topic or skill level you need.
You’ve got to check out the Christmas Scrapbook Keepsake. This activity is hands down one of my absolute favorites for the holiday season!
I love putting a roaring fireplace fire (from Youtube.com) on the Smartboard and creating a cozy atmosphere for students to create their special gifts. Paper bag booklets are fun and unique.
Students enjoy showing off their artistic skills as they write, draw, color, and decorate their one-of-a-kind books.
You can choose a roaring fire from these fireplaces – click on this link: Youtube.com Fireplace with Christmas music.
Tip #5: Behavior Management and Rewards
Sometimes, you need a quick-fix behavior management idea to get through these chaotic days. I’ve got two quick behavior management strategies for you that both work in the short term.
Catch their attention! Try this easy and fun behavior management strategy for the holidays. First, pick a holiday word, like C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S, and write each letter on a whiteboard where everyone can see.
To keep students engaged, erase a letter whenever they get too loud or off-task – no need to say a word! And when they’re caught being good, add a letter back. Challenge them to keep all the letters until the end of the day – it’s a game they’ll love!
Almost as Easy, But Not Quite:
This behavior management tool is a bit more involved but quick and easy.
First, print out a photo the size of a full sheet of paper. Laminate it if you plan to reuse it.
Cut it into 6 pieces. Add more or fewer pieces, depending on your students.
Whenever a student is caught being good, reward them with a puzzle piece.
The goal is for the class to “win” by collecting all the pieces. Plus, you can use this method to reinforce specific behaviors. Check out the picture below for an example with a Santa Claus photo.
Ready to learn more? Click this link to learn how I used this method in class.
Reward Good Behavior – A Lot!
I always loved using simple rewards that cost nothing, like giving extra time for iPad, computer use, or recess.
I also allowed students to choose where they wanted to work in the classroom.
But small rewards can have a big impact during special times like holidays.
You can make the rewards as fancy or as simple as you like. I’ve given out holiday erasers, pencils, and chocolate kisses before, making the holidays even more exciting!
Tip #6: Brain Breaks
When your students need a quick break, here are some fun and energizing activities to try:
For a musical brain break with dancing, try this Youtube Video of the Crazy Santa Dance, or try Just Dance Kids | [Just Dance 3] Santa Clones Crazy Christmas. If you want a song only, start with Up on the Housetop from Little Fox.
If your students are into drawing, at this Art for Kids Hub Youtube Channel, students can learn to draw all kinds of characters and animals.
Tip #7: Remember to Have Fun!
The inflatable antler toss game shown below is a blast!
It’s perfect for rewarding your students or keeping them entertained during indoor recess.
Just click on the photo below to check out the game options on Amazon.
And don’t forget to grab a silly Christmas headband for a few bucks at your local dollar store.
Finally, no Christmas is complete without an Ugly Sweater Contest!
Host one in your class, or let students design their own ugly sweaters. There are some free ugly sweater worksheets on Teachers Pay Teachers to get you started.
Be sure to check out the Christmas coloring page below:
Finally, you and your students will LOVE the multiplication and long division organizers to keep work aligned and neat.
If you like the organizers, check out my Teachers Pay Teachers shop for the complete line of worksheets and organizers to use all year.
Finally – enjoy this WILD and CRAZY time in your classroom!
This truly is the time for special relationships to really take off and blossom and for everyone to chill and remember that kids really do need to be kids.
Students benefit the most from educational and FUN activities that encourage students’ creativity and artistic sides.
Most importantly ~