Lesson Plans to Explore the Meaning of Christmas

Explore the Meaning and Traditions of this Favorite Holiday

small Christmas tree on classroom desk

recep-bg/Getty Images

The drive to preserve the separation of church in state in schools has meant that the curricular approach to teaching about Christmas has been watered down to the least common denominator. What is taught in school often has little to do with the real meaning of Christmas. By teaching about Christmas with lessons about Eid al Adha and Hannukah you can teach the history of Christmas as well as the traditions surrounding its celebration.

Day One, Christmas as a Religious Holiday

Objective: Students will name one reason Christmas is celebrated by Christians.

Procedure:

  • Do a KWL Chart with your class
  • Tell the basics of the Christmas Story. Use a crèche, if you have one.

Assessment: Distribute coloring pages. Put a place to write names on the coloring pages: Mary, Joseph, Jesus, Shepherds, angels.

Day Two, Christmas Values

Objective: Children will name ways in which we can live out "Christmas Values."

Brainstorm: What do these values mean?

  • Hospitality
  • Generosity
  • Kindness
  • Tolerance
  • Love

Procedure:

Read The Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco. Discuss the following questions:

  • What did Jonathon Jefferson Weeks learn about Christmas?
  • How did the tapestry change the life of the old Jewish woman?
  • What was the Tapestry, really?
  • Which of the Christmas Values did Jonathon and his father show to the old woman?
  • Did the old woman show to Jonathon and his father?

Day Three, Christmas Gift Givers

Objective: Children will match countries to Christmas Gift Givers.

Procedure:

Perform an internet search and have students find the country for each of the following gift givers.

  • Santa Claus
  • Sinterklaas
  • Christkind
  • Father Christmas
  • Pere Noel

Report: On chart paper, write countries next to gift givers. Place labels on the map.

Day Four, Christmas Celebrations

Objective: Students will compare family traditions surrounding Christmas

Procedure:

Create a chart with the following categories:

  • Tree: When does it go up? What do you put on the top?
  • Presents: When do you open presents?
  • Stockings: Does everyone in your family have a stocking? Are they all still filled?
  • Food: What do you eat Christmas Eve?

Have a tasting. Prepare Wassail with your children, or ahead of time.

Day Five, Christmas Around the World

Objective: Students will compare and contrast practices between an American Christmas celebration and a celebration in another country.

Procedure:

Read about Christmas in another country. If you know someone from another culture, invite them. You may also check out Santas Net, which has narratives about many countries.

Make a same/different chart. Write the things that are different between the two holidays under "different," those that are the same under the "same."