Merry and Oh So Bright!
Everyone is counting down the days to holiday break – students and teachers alike. To power all of us through the end of the year, we’re bringing you some holiday cheer today. We asked fellow educators, administrators, and Mimio parents to share the holiday traditions that are observed in their schools and classrooms. These stories put a smile on our faces and also gave us some great ideas for next year.
Wonderful holiday traditions bring fun, the joy of giving, and the spirit of learning to one and all. Enjoy!
- End-of-Year Send-off with a Sweet – For the last class before final exams, the teachers take their students to the ice cream parlor to celebrate the end of the year with ice cream. They take photos, remember funny moments they had during the classes, and chat about their holidays. It's a way to mark the end of their course and appreciate the successful completion of another year of studying together.
- Christmas Carols – Our 5th and 6th grade band members go caroling from door to door throughout the school, singing popular Christmas carols.
- Adopt a Family – Our staff “adopts” the family of one of our students for the season. We all shop and pitch in to provide a great holiday for the entire family.
- Food for a Family – At our school we ask all the children to bring in specific food items for the Food Collection. We then put them into food baskets for families in the community. It’s a great way to show the students that their small donation can have a big impact when added to other donations. It also gives them a sense of community and demonstrates the importance of helping out those in need.
- Class Recipe Book – As the holiday season approaches, we ask our students to bring in a favorite family recipe for the holidays. It can be something that has been passed down for generations, or something that is part of their heritage. Once the recipes have been collected, we type them up, bind them into "Our Holiday Traditions" cookbook, and run off enough copies for each student to take one home. Many of the recipes come with stories about why they were chosen. A few days before winter break begins, we hold an International Food Festival. The families prepare the recipes and bring them in for everyone to sample. We usually have lots of mom helpers on that day!
- Adopt a Class Animal . . . and See Where It Goes – Kids love to get their teachers a little something for the holiday. In my science classroom, I tell the kids that instead of giving me a gift, I’d like them to contribute to the World Wildlife Fund and adopt an animal for the year. Each student donates a small amount (from 25 cents to 50 cents). Then we look at all the animals that we could adopt, take a vote on which one to adopt, and then follow through. We get a certificate to display in the room, as well as a small stuffed animal of the animal we chose. I have Special Event days, when one student is chosen to take the stuffed animal home for the weekend and care for it. Over the years, kids have taken pictures of their weekend adventures with our class animal. I do let the parents know what we are going to do before we start.
- Hour of Code – While December is always a big holiday month for our school, it is also the traditional Hour of Code month. I work with all students during this month for an hour at a time to teach them the basics of computer programming. Last week was the Hour of Code week and my students participated in events on code.org. Great learning tradition!
- Support Those Who Serve Our Country – At Cole Middle and High School in San Antonio, Texas, all the students are military dependents. Every student at this unique school has a parent serving our armed forces in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, or Coast Guard. That means that, for many students, mom or dad is deployed overseas during the holiday season. It's hard to celebrate such a festive time of year when you're thousands of miles away from your parent. So, each year our school’s "Student 2 Student" military child support group takes pictures of Santa with any student who has a deployed parent, and sends the pictures overseas. You might think a middle school or high school student would be "too cool" for a Santa picture, but knowing the smile it will bring to their mom or dad's face brings out the little kid in Cole students. What a great way to spread some holiday cheer with the brave men and women of our country who are defending our freedom!
- Christmas Caper Investigation – In my Forensic Crime Science class, right before winter break, I have the students do a “white powders” identity lab as part of the case of Mrs. Claus’s Christmas Cookie Caper.
- Environmental Ornaments – In my Ecology class, we spend December discussing the impact the Arctic and Antarctica have on the planet: e.g., the importance of glaciers and ice sheets for our freshwater resources and sea levels. I also have my students create Christmas tree ornaments from aluminum cans and other recycled materials to hang on the classroom tree and later take home.
- Fa La La La – In my Biology class, the students reword a traditional Christmas carol to explain what was learned over the semester. Each recreated carol must have a chorus and at least three verses. It’s a great way to assess what the students remember about the topics covered during the semester.
- Filling the Month with Fun – Traditions include making parent gifts, adopting a child instead of a gift exchange (it’s important to teach kids about giving), writing to our pen pals in Texas to wish them Happy Holidays, Mimio centers, writing to Santa, making tissue paper Christmas trees, reading holiday books each day, writing Christmas poetry, and brainstorming our New Year’s resolutions.
- Does Santa Work Here? – All staff members wear Santa hats all month long and listen to Christmas music during work time.
- An Ode to the Holidays – We make a book of holiday poems for our parents. These are all original poems that the students write, type, print, and assemble into a book that we bind and wrap. I always hope that these poetry books will follow the children throughout their lives, so that when they are adults they can look back at their 4th grade work and thoughts and smile!
- A True Gift – We write about what we are “gifted” in . . . and write it on a “gift.” They’re allowed to brag just
this one time.
Did you enjoy these classroom traditions? We’d love it if you posted some of your own.
From all of us at Mimio to all you hardworking educators and administrators – who make every month of the school year a month of fun and learning – we send our warmest wishes for happy holidays and an excellent New Year!