Christmas is that word that sends every emotion across the human race. For many, it is excitement, others stress, many the joy of the Christmas story, some a time of much sadness and loneliness, others it simply means holidays. Whatever you think of Christmas it is globally recognised and celebrated and it isn’t going anywhere.
Having been brought up in a Catholic family and raising my own children now, Christmas is all about the birth of Jesus. It is a celebration of the birth of our Saviour. Christmas at our place includes a birthday cake for Jesus as our lunch time dessert where the young and old blow out candles and sing “Happy Birthday Jesus”. No matter how you celebrate it, it is identifiable as an exceptional time of the year.
So, what is then the connection in this post to the classroom? As a teacher for many years, this time of the year came with the stress of completing assessments and reports, cleaning classrooms and the good ol’ Christmas craft! Ok, I think I just felt my heart rate pick up with the “c” word…craft, and worse still, the “C.C” word… Christmas craft. Please don’t get me wrong, a little Christmas craft is lovely, alot of Christmas craft, hmmm, what do I say at this point?
The half finished activities, the excessive amounts of glitter, the put together stencils that have pieces missing half way through the activity. I am not a Christmas craft scrooge…far from it. I just am starting to think we can do better in our classrooms at Christmas time then excessive, photocopiable sheets of Christmas activities. Many of which are irrelevant to our culture anyway. Take for example the snowman cut out. Snowman in Australia at Christmas time is better known as “an apparition”.
So what do I suggest we do? Craft, yes of course but not the amounts that parents cringe at when they come home in large plastic shopping bags waiting to adorn their homes on the last day of school and then stored for “precious” times. Just a few activities would suffice.
What I am thinking is using our parental curriculum learning space to “create” more productive learning activities. Our parents are a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm for their children but many teachers, politely shut them out of the classroom doors.C.C, aka Christmas Craft could be replaced with meaningful, creative lessons including the parental resource so readily available in every school and its free!
Perhaps we can suggest putting together very small food bundles which children could create in a cooking class with parents and present them to St Vincent de Paul or the Salvation Army. Outcome would be to appreciate what others don’t have and learn how to make food at the same time.
Another example, which I know many young children are involved in, is singing at the local nursing homes. That connection between young and old is lost in many families in the modern age. Not only do the young children miss out but so do the elderly members who so often “come to life” at the sound of a young child singing.Better still would be a child with a parent standing beside them “belting out ” a Christmas number with their child to the older members of the community. No glue sticks, no glitter, no scissors, just some time putting songs together.
So you don’t like cooking lessons, or singing lessons but you are the I.T parent type then why not start a blogsite and post stories from all children in the class sharing how Christmas is celebrated in their families. Allow children and families to communicate to each other without the fear of having a truckload of craft creations on your doorstep at the end of Term. Why not extend it and get in contact with classes around the world and share stories of Christmas especially in climates that are the opposite to ours.
Perhaps the maths lesson is more you thing. Ask parents to send in those “million” shopping catalogues they get in their letterbox (including the ones in the letterbox that says “No Junk Mail” that still mange to “slip through”). Ask children to compare and cut out lists of things they would love for Christmas and along side that cut out food items to the equivalent value. An understanding of what a $300 Play Station can buy in food will perhaps allow children to appreciate the value more.
This is not a post of “101 Ways to Create Christmas Class Activities”. It is just a reminder that our classroom time is precious and Christmas is just a wonderful excuse to be creative and look past the photocopying machine to get through the end of Term. As a teacher, surely it is more exciting then preparing craft stations and as a parent, well I will need another house to store my children’s previous craft creations…I just don’t have the room for anymore!
Merry Christmas everyone!