Teaching the Winter Holidays

Want to teach your students about many different holidays celebrated in the winter? Here are inclusive ways to use media to talk about winter holidays!

It’s that time of year again. The weather’s getting colder, and the kids are all counting down to winter break. In my music class, we are learning about music traditions for the winter holidays. 

Teaching holidays is often a delicate balance. Here are some tips for incorporating the holidays into your classroom.

  1. If possible, find out what holidays and cultural traditions your students’ families honor (this is fun for the whole year, as well). Throughout my years of teaching, I’ve had students who celebrate Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Hanukkah, and many others like St. Nicholas Day and Epiphany.
  2. Start with a short history of the holiday. For younger students, All About the Holidays, a collection of very short videos discussing the history of various holidays is a great place to start. I also like Holiday Traditions with PBS.
  3. Introduce students to traditions from around the world. You can incorporate what you’ve already been learning into this. For example, if your class has been focused on Mexico, take some time to explore Las Posadas, a festival leading to Christmas.
  4. Incorporate music and pictures into your lesson. Many winter holidays worldwide have traditional dances, games, crafts, or foods you can try. This can also be an opportunity to involve your students’ families!

Have a great holiday, and let us know how you’re incorporating students’ holiday traditions into your instruction in our Facebook group!

Abigail Newman is an elementary music teacher in Fauquier County Public Schools and a 22/23 eMediaVA Ambassador.

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