Festive Resources to Try Before Winter Break

From informative videos to interactive games, check out these seasonal picks for K-8.

December 08, 2014
Ivy Lesser
Special Education Instructor
P.S. 130 Abram Stevens Hewitt
Bronx, NY
CATEGORIES In the Classroom

With the holidays right around the corner and students getting restless waiting for the winter break, now is the perfect time for interactive holiday activities in the classroom! You can find tons of fun activities online to help students learn more about Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and other winter holidays.

To help you get right to the good stuff, I've put together a list of my favorites for elementary and middle school kids. From informative videos to interactive games and activities, these free resources will boost the festive spirit in your classroom and keep students engaged and learning until the last bell releases them for winter break. Take a quick look below and bookmark your favorites.

BrainPOPJr (Grades K-3) 
For younger elementary kids, BrainPOPJr has some cute resources for learning about the holidays. The video "Winter Holidays" features characters Annie and Moby explaining how different religions and cultures celebrate these festive occasions. Though it's currently available only to subscribers, BrainPOP says the video will be free in mid-December. Be sure to play the "Holiday Drag and Drop" game afterwards. You can even print a holiday card for students to fill out and color when they're done!

BrainPOP (Grades 4-8)
For older elementary and middle school students, head on over to BrainPOP to watch the free video "Winter Holidays," in which characters Tim and Moby introduce us to the traditions and origins of some of these holiday celebrations. Students can take notes on a printable graphic organizer or complete it on the computer as they watch. After the video, have students complete the "Categorize the Statement" activity independently or as a group. And don’t forget to check out BrainPOP’s new "Make-a-Map" feature, which is a concept map tool kids can use to take notes, organize ideas, create stories, study, and more.

Scholastic Teachers (Grades 1-8)
Visit Scholastic's Holiday Activities page and view the scrapbooks to see how people celebrate the holidays all over the world. They even include a Teacher Guide, online activities, thinking questions, and a few free printable activities, crafts, and clip art! While the Teacher Guide says it's for grades 1-8, most of the reading is for grades 3 and up, but the activities are fun for all ages!

Interactive Sites for Education (Grades K-5)
This useful site curates activities from all over the Web. Search by holiday or season (Christmas, Hanukkah, or Winter) and then browse a selection of fun games and activities. Kids can "Add with Santa," play "Tic-Tac-Dreidel," or "Create a Snowflake."

ABCya! (Grades K-5)
Don’t forget about! Within each grade level page, scroll to the bottom to see a collection of holiday games and activities. Students can "Build a Gingerbread House," complete a Hanukkah word search, "Make a Christmas Tree," and much more.

Primary Games (Grades K-5)
From the Holiday Fun page, click on a holiday to read some background on it, print out holiday-themed coloring pages, send a holiday-themed note or postcard, and play games. Puzzle games for Kwanzaa and Hanukkah include "Kwanzaa Drag & Drop Puzzle" and "Hanukkah Word Jumble." For Christmas, a large selection of games includes "Santa’s Sleigh" and "Crazy Santa Racer."

North Pole (Grades K-5)
As you might guess, hosts a collection of Christmas-themed games, activities, recipes, and stories. The Elf Pal Academy contains puzzles, games, math problems, and a coloring book. And kids can even write a letter to Santa (and possibly hear back from him). Some of these activities require users to log in. I would suggest making a teacher account for you and then one student log-in for all your students to use.

The Jewish Outreach Institute Dreidel Game (Grades K-8)
The Dreidel Game is an interactive Flash-based version of the traditional Hanukkah game. Around the game screen, kids can click on areas to see explanations of what a dreidel is, how to play dreidel, and what the meaning of the game is. I would suggest exploring the Dreidel Game as a class with younger students, since they may not be able to read or understand the directions.

Kwanzaa Activities (Grades K-5)
Can’t get enough Kwanzaa activities? DLTK and offer some just-for-fun coloring pages, craft projects, and puzzles to supplement other Kwanzaa-related lessons.

The holidays will be here before you know it. Take advantage of the free resources available online and make the last few days both educational and fun!

Photo: "Snowflakes" by Alexey Kljatov. Used under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license.