In this post, I share suggestions for easy, fun and inexpensive activities you can do with family and friends of all ages over the holiday period. Most of the suggestions aren’t new but are simply reminders of easy ways to have fun together that are often forgotten during hectic preparations and celebrations. They are great for the lull times and the ‘What can we do?’ times. Enjoy!
A — Acrostic
Write an acrostic poem for yourself. Each person writes their name vertically and writes a word or phrase about what Christmas means to them for each letter.
For example, here’s one for me:
Naughty or nice? Why, nice of course.
Opening gifts — loving the look on recipient’s faces
Recipes for celebrating — pavlova, everyone’s favourite
All the family together playing games and having fun
Home is the place to be.
B — Book
Everyone choses a favourite book, perhaps one received for Christmas, and reads uninterrupted for half an hour (or more!).
Books make wonderful gifts at any time and Christmas is no exception. As a child, I loved nothing more than receiving a new book of my own for birthdays and Christmas. While I borrowed and read many books from the school and local library, there was something very special about having a book of my own to enjoy and treasure.
I loved breathing in the smell of a fresh, new book and feeling the smoothness of its fresh, new covers. But even more than that, I loved its promise of escape and adventure. In a book, I could escape the ordinariness of the everyday and participate in adventures at locations and with friends that I would never meet outside its pages.
If you are looking for a book to gift a special child this year, then I’d love to help you choose. In this post, I list all the lovely books I have reviewed or whose authors I have interviewed for the readilearn blog this year. These are only a small selection of wonderful books that are available.
A year of books on readilearn
In this list, I provide you with a short description of each book and a link to the post where you can find further information, including where to purchase the book.
This is a wonderful opportunity to help everyone get to know a little more about each other, or it would be if we were sharing actual, as opposed to fictional, traditions, which some might of course.
I think learning about each other’s traditions is a valuable way to get to know each other, to expand our knowledge of the world’s people and develop understanding and empathy. It was for this reason that I created several resources for the readilearn collection that help children get to know each other.
One of the main resources for this purposes is a unit of work called Family Traditions and Celebrations. It includes worksheets and surveys to help children learn about the traditions of their own family as well as of other families.
When I was implementing this unit in my classroom, I was surprised that third and fourth generation Aussies thought they didn’t have any traditions to write about, that theirs were nothing out of the ordinary. That changed when I explained that every family has its own traditions and its own way of interpreting the traditions of the wider community. Sometimes, those traditions are secret.
I recently watched a video in which Australia’s popular Coronavirus medical spokesperson explained his family’s secret tradition of Christmas celebrations when growing up Jewish in Scotland. It’s an interesting story, particularly when his family discovered they weren’t the only ones with a secret.
Sadly, I can’t find a way of sharing the video here, but it can be viewed on Facebook.
And if you’d like to know a little more about the man, you may enjoy this interview.
Some traditions may be passed down through generations. Other traditions may change, be abandoned or introduced as families change, combine and grow.
When my children were growing up, we had a quiet Christmas day at home with only us. We would just hang out together (I can’t say ‘chill’ when we sweltered on most Christmas Days), eating and playing board games. We would visit with family and friends on other days, but not on Christmas Day.
This tradition continued when they grew into adulthood and even when they brought partners to share our day. The tradition was interrupted when the grandchildren arrived, and they required a different sort of attention and were too young to play the games. They are now old enough to play so the tradition is re-established.
However, our celebration has now changed from Christmas Day to Christmas Eve (for this year anyway) to accommodate the needs of other families (in-laws) and the grandchildren have decided we need a new tradition.
Last Christmas Eve we celebrated here with both our children, their partners and our two grandchildren. We had a Christmas lunch and an afternoon of playing board games and having fun in the pool. After tea (the evening meal), we opened our gifts. And then the fun began — a wrapping paper fight. Perhaps I should say here that the fight was initiated by Hub, perhaps the biggest child of them all. Everyone scrunched up balls of wrapping paper and threw them at each other. The children thought it was amazing fun and they want to do it again this year. And why not? It won’t elicit the same feelings as the lovely tradition shown in the following video, but it’s a great indication of our family that loves to have fun together.
I think the only one who wasn’t so keen on the activity was the housekeeper who was still finding balls of wrapping paper behind and under furniture six months later. Perhaps she should have done a better job earlier on! 😊
Thanks to Jim Borden for alerting me to this wonderful video.
So, now it’s time to share my response to Charli’s prompt. I hope you enjoy it.
Out with the Old. In with the New.
Lizzie pressed her lips together and shook her head.
“Come on,” said Mum. “Just a little bit.”
“Try it. You’ll like it.”
“You can’t have dessert, until you eat your veg.”
“Dessert first. Then veg.”
“We don’t do it that way, Lizzie. Veg first, then dessert.”
“No! Dessert first!”
“If you have dessert first, you won’t eat your veg.”
Lizzie ate her dessert. Then she ate her veg. A promise is a promise.
Now, when Lizzie’s children’s friends ask why they always eat dessert first, they shrug. “Dunno. Always have,” they say.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.
Here it is December already, the final month in a year unlike any other. We can only hope that things improve as we leave this one behind and step into the new year. But for now, I have some December days and events you may wish to celebrate with your children whether at home or at school.
Eat a Red Apple Day on 1 December is the perfect time to remind ourselves to eat healthy food, particularly as the party season is just beginning. It is also the perfect time to thank teachers for all the hard work they have done during the year.
International Day of People with Disabilityon 3 December aims to develop an understanding of disability, promote respectful ways of relating to those with a disability, and create an awareness of the benefits of an inclusive society that takes the needs of people with a disability into consideration. “Disability Day is not concerned exclusively with either mental or physical disabilities, but rather encompasses all known disabilities, from Autism to Down Syndrome to Multiple Sclerosis.”
When shopping recently, I was reminded of how difficult it can be for some to carry out everyday tasks that most of us take for granted, and how far we have yet to go to be fully inclusive.
December is packed with excitement for children in Australia. It marks the end of the school year and the beginning of the long summer, often called ‘Christmas’, holidays and, of course, Christmas itself.
Once final assessments for the year are done, it can be difficult keeping children focused on learning when their thoughts are turning to imminent adventures.
However, it needn’t be so, and here at readilearn we have a variety of lessons that keep the children learning while having some Christmas fun.
For me, the real meaning of Christmas is being kind and generous in spirit. But of course, those values are not confined to Christmas and hopefully children have been developing their friendship skills and ability to get along throughout the year. Maybe you’ve used some of the readilearn friendship skills lessons to support their development.
Who celebrates Christmas?
Before you dive into Christmas activities, a survey will help you find out which children in the class do and do not celebrate Christmas. While you will already have an idea of which children do, it can be an interesting way to begin the discussion of different cultural traditions celebrated by children in your class.
The main ingredient in any of these discussions should always be respect, and it is important to find ways of making classroom activities inclusive. A generosity of spirit develops when we see that what we share is more important than the ways in which we differ. Learning about each other is an important way of developing understanding.
In my story, I have combined three themes: Christmas wishes, growth mindset and self-acceptance. I hope you like it.
Longing for height, Gnomie joined Santa’s queue in the mall. Unfortunately, the queue hardly moved, and people grumbled when the air became hot and still. Elves demanded everyone disperse. Gnomie didn’t want to disperse. He wanted to be tall. Elves spotted him approaching Santa. “Hey! You there!” He froze. Santa glared, then said, “He looks about right.” The elves quickly explained — in the heat, Santa’s ring had slipped off and into the air conditioner, jamming the controls. No one could reach it. “I can!” said Gnomie, and he did. Elves cheered; Santa smiled, and Gnomie contemplated a new request.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.
It’s almost Christmas again and here in Australia we’re on the countdown to the end of the school year and our long summer holidays. Whether you’ll be enjoying a long break or a shorter break over the festive season, here at readilearn we’ve got many ready-to-teach lessons and activities to support your teaching in the lead-up to Christmas.
Get an early start with these lessons and activities
You will get most benefit from some activities if you begin them a few weeks before the finish of term.
Friendship Trees, one of readilearn’s most popular Christmas activities is best begun three to four weeks before school closes for Christmas. Children make their own friendship trees which are then placed on display in the classroom.
Each day children write anonymous messages of affirmation or friendship to each other and place them in the trees. At the end of term, children take their trees home and read the positive messages contained within.
The trees help to develop self-esteem, confidence and friendship skills and are perfect for those last few weeks when temperatures soar and children can become edgy with excitement for the holidays.
A 3D Christmas tree makes a beautiful focal point of the classroom Christmas display. Children cooperatively construct the tree by contributing leaves made by tracing or printing their hands. It is a visible recognition of the value of teamwork and will be admired (and envied) by many. It makes a beautiful background for photographs of individual children to be given as gifts to parents or other loved ones.
This week I’m visiting with illustrator Helene Magisson to chat about her latest book Sarah’s Two Nativities written by Janine M Fraser and published by Black Dog Books. The book is due for release this month with a launch scheduled for the 21st.
I first introduced you to Helene in 2017 when she chatted about her process of illustrating, especially as it related to the beautiful book of poetry Magic Fish Dreaming written by June Perkins. You can read that interview here.
Since the publication of Magic Fish Dreaming, Helene has illustrated a number of other books and now has eleven published books in her portfolio, with more on the way. I am not surprised that Helene is sought after as an illustrator. I think you’d have to agree that her, mainly watercolour, illustrations are exquisite and possess an almost magical quality.
Although Helene now calls Australia home, she has lived in countries all over the world, including Africa, France, and India. That her travels both inspire and enrich her work is obvious in her delightful illustrations that perfectly complement Janine Fraser’s story Sarah’s Two Nativities.
About Sarah’s Two Nativities
From the publisher:
‘Sarah loves her two grandmas – Grandmother Azar and Grandmother Maria. Grandmother Azar tells Sarah stories from the Holy Koran, while Grandmother Maria tells her stories from the Bible. At Christmas time, Sarah snuggles in each of her grandmothers’ laps and listens to two nativities stories about the birth of baby Jesus. They are the same in some ways, and different in others … but both can be Sarah’s favourite.’