Christmas classroom activities for teachers including sustainable classroom ideas, activities, eco-friendly cards, decorations and more!
Who fondly remembers the festive season as a primary school child? Pretending to sing along to carols in assembly; practising your line as a reindeer for the nativity; watching Home Alone II instead of doing maths… Those were the days! I have to admit, I’m talking about primary schools in the 1990s here. A lot has changed since then… Learning progress is firmly on the agenda until the final bell rings, with lots of pressure on teachers to catch up with lost learning caused by the pandemic disruption. Therefore, it would be easy for teachers to leave creating those merry memories for students to the last minute.
Notably, this year presents a fantastic opportunity to teach students about sustainability. Christmas is, let’s face it, a time when much waste has been generated in the past. Yet, by incorporating a sustainable theme, you can keep your countdown to the winter break learning-focused, fun and great for the environment!
To keep your spirits bright, Prospero has gathered a sled load of free classroom activities and ideas for busy teachers:
Have A Holly Jolly Sustainable Christmas
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… But perhaps not quite as we’ve known it before. As a result of COP26 and the protests around the world, awareness of the need for environmentally sustainable solutions has increased dramatically (as evidenced by the #LetsGoZero campaign for schools to become carbon zero by 2030). The issue of climate change is not lost on many among today’s younger generations. What better time to raise awareness in your classroom?
Globally, we are 25-30% more wasteful during the festive period. Singing ‘It’s the Most Wasteful Time of the Year‘ in assembly doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as the Andy Williams classic. But, we are afforded the chance to teach our students a powerful message.
Let’s not scare students; instead, let them know they can still have a happy holiday while we reduce waste and plastic pollution. Keep reading to find out how…
Deck the Halls with …Recycled Eco-Friendly Decorations?
Start by running a research-led project with your class. Share with students some of the shocking statistics around yuletide wastage as a starting point. For example, the average UK family creates several weeks’ worth of waste to celebrate one holiday!
Then, counter this and empower your students with some sustainable classroom ideas which will have a positive environmental impact:
- Ditch the Glitz! Glitter is made out of tiny pieces of plastic which are harmful to the environment as they don’t break down. The same goes for shiny wrapping paper and tinsel.
- Create persuasive posters aimed at families in the community to reduce waste over the winter containing some of the key messages featured in this blog.
- Design and craft decorations and cards in school made from recycled materials, like these orange juice carton gingerbread houses.
- Students could also design e-cards in the IT suite for their families to send instead of physical Christmas cards
- Encourage a bring and buy sale of second-hand Christmas decorations, re-giftable books & items or unwanted Christmas jumpers. Donate the money raised to your school’s favourite charity.
- If you’re having a Christmas jumper day at school, avoid putting pressure on children buying new jumpers by offering to sew a simple Santa hat, snowman or snowflake decoration onto a plain old jumper.
- Point students and families in the direction of local sustainable businesses that offer alternatives to plastic Christmas decor, which could include natural wreaths, fabric bunting, plastic-free crackers, paper chains and edible tree decorations. Or, even better, make or bake these in class.
Spread Festive Cheer in Your Classroom
Last Christmas, we spent it apart. This year, to save us from tears, many families are planning to make up for it! Whatever your students have planned this year, think about teaching students to show gratitude and thankfulness for the positive things in their lives. They say gratitude is the key to happiness, and it has been proven to boost wellbeing in children as young as 5.
There are lots of activities you can try with students to practice gratitude:
- Alphabet Gratitude – Or ABCDEF…Gratitude. Challenge students to think up something they are thankful for, for each letter of the alphabet. This would work well as a whole class activity for some collective positivity.
- Class Gratitude Jar – invite children to record things they are thankful for on post-it notes and add them to the jar. At the end of the day, share these and see if any other children have a shared appreciation. Is the jar half full or half empty?
- Random Acts of Kindness or #OneKindWord – Discuss with the class how it feels to help someone else or do something kind. Encourage children to practice gestures as small as holding a door for someone or giving them a compliment.
Studies show that gratitude can be broken down into four parts:
- First, noticing all the things you have to be grateful for, no matter how small!
- Thinking about why you have those things in your life.
- Asking yourself, how do you feel when you receive something you are grateful for?
- Considering what you can do to show your appreciation.
Therefore, if you facilitate an activity where these stages are covered you can support your students to feel happier and more thankful.
A note on Safeguarding:
We know that for some of our students, time at home over the holidays isn’t always a happy time. It is an important time of year to be extra mindful of our students. Check-in with any students that you notice are withdrawn or displaying changes in behaviour. Communicate with staff and raise any safeguarding concerns that you may have.
A Selection Box of General Classroom Christmas Activities:
- Have a class party – we love the party plan here including themed areas around the room. All of the resources are made from recycled paper and cards, so you can get the children involved with planning and preparing for the celebration.
- Create an Advent Challenge Calendar – For each of the 25 days of Advent, perhaps each day your students could start the day with a challenge or quiz question to earn a prize or house points. Try incorporating some STEM subject questions, or target the areas of maths or writing you know your class needs to learn.
- For R.E. curriculum links – the BBC have a festive feast of videos and story-based resources suitable for KS1 and KS2 students. The stories include links to the Christian origin of Christmas. They also include carols and dance-along videos.
- Stay active -It’s chilly and it’s dark outside. This makes it trickier to keep motivated for exercise. With you students likely to spend more time in the evenings wrapped up in front of a festive film, it’s time to bring some movement into the warm classroom:
- imoves provide free starter access to their dance and movement videos