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Christmas Around the World

Compiled By: luv2teach77

It's always fun at Christmas time to learn about ways other countries celebrate. Here's a collection of ideas/activities to use when planning a Christmas Around the World unit for your classroom.

Christmas Around the World Unit
Posted by: Debbie

My collegue and I are currently teaching a Christmas Around the World Unit togehter to grades 1-3. We've talked about doing this for atleast two years, and this year just decided to go for it!

We decided we had enough information to cover 10 different countries (Mexico, Sweden, England, Poland, Holland, Germany, Italy, France, Ireland, and the United States). We typed up a fact sheet for each country with basic facts about their Christmas traditions. Then copied coloring pages, map outlines, flags to color in, etc. for each country and bound them together into a book for each student. We had a Christmas tree pattern that had "Merry Christmas" written in several different languages on it that the students colored and then glued to construction paper for the cover. We plan to spend 2 days on countries like England, Italy, and Mexico that have more information and 1 day on the others. We tried to plan a craft for each country, snacks for some countries, tradebooks to read aloud, etc. Here's a rough breakdown of our plans....

Day 1-2 Mexico
Read over fact sheet together...Read aloud Night of Las Posadas...color in flag, international children pages...enjoy fruit salad snack.

Read Legend of the Poinsettia...make poinsettia craft.

Day 3 Sweden
Read over fact sheet, color in flag and international children Tomten...make St. Lucia "S" shaped Swedish sweet rolls

Day 4-5 England
Read over fact sheet, color in flag, talk about how the Christmas Card tradition started in England...make and send Christmas cards to my fiance who lives in England

Talk about the tradition of Christmas Crackers, which are little toliet paper rolls wrapped up in Christmas paper. You pull them apart and they make a popping noise. Inside is a silly hate, toy, and joke. British families do this before eating their Christmas dinner. My fiance sent enough over for each student to have the 12 Days of Christmas...drink Wassail (warm apple/cranberry cider)

Day 6 Poland
Read over fact sheet, color in flag...Make an angel craft project

Day 7 Holland
Read over fact sheet, color in flag and international children pages...Make a windmill craft project

Day 8 France
Read over fact sheet, color in flag....Make Noel Sign Craft...enjoy a Swiss Roll (Little Debbie Snack)..they looke like the Yul logs (Buche de Noel) the the French enjoy at Christmas.

Day 9 Germany
This will fall on St. Nick's Day. We are having the children leave out their gym shoes for "St. Nick" to leave a treat in.
Read over Germany fact sheet, color in flag...since the Christmas tree originated in Germany, we'll make a mini-tree craft...enjoy snickerdoodle cookies

Day 10-11 Italy
Read over fact sheet, color in flag and international children pages...Read Merry Christmas Strega a "hidden letter" activity

Read La about the legend...complete a La Befana writing activity...enjoy macaroons

Day 12 Ireland
Read over fact sheet...color in flag and international children pages...make a holy wreath craft

Day 13 United States
Read over fact sheet...color in flag...Read Twas the Night Before Christmas...make a Christmas stocking craft...enjoy a candy cane

This is just a rough outline of what we are doing. If something doesn't make sense or you'd like me to elaborate, just let me know. I can also tell you what books we got a lot of our ideas from if you'd like. They are at school or I would've posted the names and authors as well.

As a cummulative closing project, we plan to divide our students into 10 groups (3 kids per group). We bought small fake Christmas trees at Big Lots. Each group will get to decorate a small tree with symbols of the country they are assigned. We've printed off clip art for them to make into ornaments (flags, country symbols, etc.) They can make paper chain link garland with the countries colors to go around the trees as well. Our trees will be on display at our Christmas Musical concert. We had each student donate $2.50 to cover the costs of the materials for this project as well, if you were wondering.

I hope this helps!

Country Search
Posted by: ismile

I am doing Christmas Traditions from around the world with my third graders this year. I have always done Christmas around the world, but seem to change it up every year. This year, will tomorrow, am starting with an introductory activity that will introduce the concept that there are many different ways that Christmas is celebrated around the world. It is a country search where they have to find the country names that go with the tradition in a search activity. Basically, I have all the answers and each student can get one answer from everybody in the classroom. So, since I can give one to each student, it creates a ripple effect with the information. Does that make sense? I have a cold and it's late! I will attach my search and directions...I typed them up today since I am sharing with my grade level. Hope this helps. Let me know if I need to clarify since I am sharing with others anyway!

Here is the student page-

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Teacher page
Posted by: ismile

Here is the teacher page with answers...helpful!

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Direction Page
Posted by: ismile

And finally, here is the direction page...this is the one that I hope makes sense.

I am also doing a tradition booklet, I can share that too if you are interested.

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December Holidays Around the World
Posted by: ismile

Hi All! This is a great thread...I wish I would have come by in sooner! I am planning a unit (along with my third grade team) for December Holidays. I am currently putting together power points for each country. I have two done and since it looks like a lot of us are looking for the same thing, I thought I would post them, but they are too large. The two I have done are for Germany and Mexico. I am willing to email them if you are interested. I also made a passport for the students with the holidays and countries that we are focusing on this year.

Hope this helps!

Oh, and if anyone is doing Christmas in Germany, make sure and include the pickle ornament tradition! I stumbled acrossed it and thought of several fun classroom connections!

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Christmas in Italy
Posted by: Ms

I compare the holiday in Italy to the holiday in the U.S. In Italy they begin the holiday season with a cannon being fired from a castle and here one thing that happens is the tree being lit in Rockefeller Center. We use Christmas trees and they use ceppos with is a tripod like object which holds gifts and angel and a nativity scene. The children write a letter to their father and place it under his napkin to be read aloud at the Christmas meal. We have Santa Claus who brings gifts and they believe Old Befana brings their gifts. We create stars because the star of Bethlehem is what woke Befana from her sleep. Try to read the Legend of Old Befana by Tomie dePaola and you will get an idea of what she stands for.
The stars are made from popsicle sticks because I present this lesson to 9 kinder classes and I need a quick craft to go with the lesson. Make an x with them and then one across its middle. I have them color both sides of the sticks with markers and then decorate on of those sides with glitter to use as an ornament.
Best of luck!

Christmas in Italy
Posted by: msharkey

In my unit, Holidays around the world, we visit Italy and I read "The Legend of La Befana". then, we make little brooms out of brown construction paper - it's real easy.

Have 2 small triangles precut
Have a 2 inch wide rectangle precut (about 3 - 3 1/2 inches long)
Have the kids fold the rectangle in half (the long way)
Then have them tuck in both triangles in between the long rectangle
glue everything shut
(I usually give a quick staple as well to ensure everything is closed)
Then, the kids snip the triangles to give a "broom" look.

We enjoy Pannetone bread as well.

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Christmas around the World
Posted by: Lauren

Our first grade teachers have done Christmas Around the World for years. This is how we do it. We each take a country. We then have a story, an art activity and food for that country. My country is Germany so I read "A Cobweb Christmas". It is a German folktale. Then we make a Christmas tree with diecut trees and rolled up tissue paper for ornaments. Then I give everyone a gingerbread cookie for a treat. We "travel" from room to room visiting each country. We make the kids a "passport" so they can keep track of where they have been. The teacher will give the student a stamp from their country as they walk into their room.It is then glued on their passport. The countries we have represented are:Germany, England, Mexico, Sweden, France, Italy, and Brazil. Of course we also feature the North Pole.The kids learn from all of the teachers. We take 45 minutes per session with 5 minute travel time. We take 2 full days to complete. Of course they attend 'specials' and recess too. Email me for more info if needed. Have fun!!

France and Mexico
Posted by: Amie

We did a similar event throughout our Lower School last year, and the kids really enjoyed it! I was in charge of Christmas in France. We talked about the French traditions (Pere Noel, midnight mass, etc.), sang "Un Flambeau, Jeanette, Isabella," and made mini buches de noel (yule logs).

The buches de noel were really cool and very easy to make. We covered Little Debbie Swiss cake rolls with chocolate frosting and used red hots and green frosting to make holly. Then we dusted them with powdered sugar for snow. Yum!

Our second grade teacher did Mexico. She read the students a story about Las Posadas (I think it was "The Legend of the Poinsettia" by Tomie dePaola), taught them a song in Spanish, and let them make tamales.

You're in luck!
Posted by: Steph

Hi! I just happen to have my Carson Dellosa December book home with me. There is a two page spread on Italy. I'll summarize. If you want more detail on anything, let me know.

Books: The Legend of the Old Befana or Merry Christmas, Strega Nona
both by Tomie de Paola.

Buon Natale (bwon nah TAHL e)

My Ceppo- a small triangular ladder for in Italian homes around Christmas. Instead of a tree, the ceppo is decorated with candles, ornaments, small gifts, family treasures, and most importantly a nativity scene. Ask students to think of things important to them and draw a ceppo. (Triangle with three or angel at the top). Can write a paragraph about why those things are important to them.

Hidden Letter- During the Christmas feast, Italian children often hide a letter in their father's napkin or under his plate promising to be good in the new year. Have students write letters to their parents, explaining the ways they will be good in the year to come. Write each letter on square paper and fold it in half diagonally to form a triangle. Turn the triangle so the long side is on the bottom and fold left and right corners to the outside, making the paper look like a napkin. Students hid letters underneath a parent's plate at dinner.

Quick Quilling- quilling is the traditional Italian art of curling strips of paper and gluing them together to form lacy designs. Give each student several strips of white paper, about 1/4" wide. (Thicker for younger students) Roll the strips of paper into curls and glue them together in fancy designs. Show students how hearts, teardrops, and other designs can be made by rolling the apaper from both ends and pinching folds in the curls. Create snowflake ornaments.

Hope that gives you some good ideas. I've done the letter and the snowflake. I used cardstock and they turned out really pretty.


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Lots of ideas
Posted by: Steph

Hi! Here's some of what I have done in the past. Unfortunately I don't have the directions for some of the crafts here at home. You should be able to find them on line or let me know the ones you're interested in and I can follow up when I go back to school. You can find information about each country on line. I got most of my ideas from Mailbox magazine. If you have access to any of their yearly books, one of them has a christmas unit. There are two pages of ideas for each country along with other recommended books. This is one of my favorite units to do with my 2nd Graders!

Mexico- Read “The Legend of the Poinsetta” by Tomie de Paola. Discuss Mexican Christmas Traditions. Do poinsetta art project. Write and
Illustrate in Christmas Around the World Book. (I usually do a manilla folder or large construction paper with paper inside. The kids journal each day about what they learned in that country and how it relates to them.)
Supplies: Poinsetta: paper bag for pot; dark blue, green, red, constuction paper, yellow beads, green ribbon

Germany-Read “The Cobweb Christmas” by Shirley Climo. Discuss German Christmas Traditions. Decorate class christmas tree or do mini tree project. Write and illustrate in Christmas Around the World book.
Supplies: Mini-tree project- pinecones, glue, green glitter, beads, candies, yellow yarn or
Metallic cording, foil star for top, red strips of construction paper

Italy- Read “Merry Christmas, Strenga Nona” or “The Legend of the Old Befana” Both by Tomie de Paola. Discuss Italian traditions. Write and illustrate in book. Do Hidden Letter project or ceppo project.

England- Read “The Twelve Days of Christmas” by Jan Brett. Discuss English traditions. Make a Christmas card for a serviceman in Afganistan/Iraq. Write and illustrate in book.
Supplies: Christmas cards- constructions paper, art supplies

France- Read “ The Acrobat and the Angel” by Mark Shannon. Discuss French traditions. Make Community Santon’s paper doll from earlier in the year. Write and Illustrate in book.
Supplies: Santon doll- cut outs of friendship doll, eyes, hair

Sweden- Discuss Swedish traditions. Make Santa Lucia Headwreaths and starboy crowns. Write and illustrate in book.
Supplies: Crowns- constructions paper, stapler

Hannakah-Read "Hershel and the Hanukkah Gobblins" by Eric Kimmel. There's another story about a magic dreidel, but I can't remember what it is. Anyway, make a dreidel, sing the song, and play the game. All of this can be found online.

Kwanzaa-Read "Seven Candles for Kwanzaa". Make a Kwanzaa candle display using colored toothpicks as the candles.

USA- Read or Listen to “Twas the Night Before Christmas” Discuss American Traditions and what cultures we may have borrowed from. Write and illustrate in book. Write about their own traditions.

End of unit Festival set up as stations around the room.
Supplies for festival:
Mexico- God’s eyes- popsicle sticks, many colors of yarn
Germany- Christkindl Bells- white fabric, pine needles, gold, red, andyellow ribbon, gold pipe
cleaners, plastic wrap, small bells
France- Pere Noel game- small treat bags- candies, ribbon, wrapping paper
England- Crackers- toilet paper rolls, wrapping paper, ribbon, candies, small trinkets, paper hats
Italy- Quilling- strips of white paper, glue, ribbon
USA- cookie decorating station- cookie cut-outs, icing, spinkles

Food for festival:
Mexican Nut Cookies
German Gingerbread
English Wassail

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Christmas songs
Posted by: Chris

Last year my third graders did German Christmas caroling. It was so fun! They learned first how to say the words, then the tune. When we had it all put together (after LOTS of practice) we did some German Christmas caroling around the school. I did a unit on tradional German Christmas in my room. You'd be surprised at how many traditions began in Germany (Christmas tree, glass ornament balls, tinsel, advent calendars, lights on the tree, etc.) We didn't really celebrate Christmas and the only reason my school allowed me to do it was because we also did some sharing about Kwanze and Hanakah (for those that celebrated those holidays). I can certainly send you the songs if you like. One is "Silent Night" (Stille Nacht), "O' Christmas Tree" (O' Tannenbaum), "Rudolph" (Rudolf Mit Rotem Naschen", and a purely German one "Kling Glochen". You can also search online for carols in foreign languages and they pop up (if you're not comfortable w/German).

Edible christmas tree
Posted by: msharkey

Germany started the tradition of decorating trees so my first graders and I make sugar cone christmas trees. I use sugar cones and color white icing green.

Have the kids ice the "tree" and then I use small candies like mini M&Ms and such to decorate the tree.

the kids LOVE this activity.
FYI, I did this with a 5th grade one year and a 3rd grade another year and both grades LOVED it as well. Who wouldn't love a little sugar rush?

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Holidays Around the World
Posted by: msharkey

Each year I do this unit for the month of December. Each day or 2 we visit a different country and do a project. I intro with a book and I've made a power point that intros the holiday/country we will be focusing on. After completing the activity, I ask them questions about what they have learned and then, stamp their passport. (I have a template, if you'
d like) - can't attach here but if you give me your email, I'd be more than happy to send.
Mexico- God's eyes and paper poinsettas (Legend of the Poinsetta)
Israel- (hannaka) - driedel game and edilble menorahs(various books)
Italy - pannetone bread and brooms (The Legend of La Befana)
England - paper stockings and greeting cards ( Twas the Night Before Christmas)
Africa/America - Kwanzaa - mkeka mats and kinara game (various books)
Germany - Sugar Cone Christmas trees - decorating gingerbread cookies (The Gingerbread Man - The Nutcracker Ballet - O Christmas tree)
France - Babar's Christmas - Bushe Noel
Sweden - St Lucia Crowns
USA - Rudolph Cookies ( Rudolph the red nosed reindeer - I'll be trying Polar Express this year as well)

I'd love to add other countries, if anyone has any other crafts to go along with the countries.

This site is absolutely amazing. You are all so creative!! Thanks so much for sharing your ideas.

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