With winter break awaiting right around the corner, you are probably anxious to spread holiday cheer throughout your classroom. Depending on your school’s policy, celebrating winter holidays may have to follow strict guidelines. Your diverse students celebrate in ways unique to their cultures and religious beliefs, but classroom expectations may require a secular approach. How can you decorate your classroom and celebrate the holidays while maintaining a non-religious perspective? There are, in fact, countless ways to do just this!
Get started with easy, fun classroom crafts. Cotton ball snowmen are a great craft for young students who are learning about sizes, shapes, and textures. On a sheet of paper, students can draw three circles of varying sizes to make up the sections of the snowman. Have students either draw features like eyes, hats, etc., or have them adhere other materials to the page with glue. Found objects like small twigs or spare buttons can even be used. Once your kids have created their designs, it is time to add the snow.
Students should carefully spread glue within the snowman’s body and head but not over any of the embellishments that are to remain visible. Next, they can pull apart the cotton and stick the thin chunks to their snowmen. Lay the snowmen flat to dry, and then display them on your classroom bulletin board. Cotton ball snowmen will be fun to create and enjoy in your class, but as with all holiday crafts, be sure to send them home with your students before winter break. Crafts like these are a delight to their friends and family.
For older students, try making ornaments using the art of origami. Origami requires one to closely follow directions. Depending on the figure to be made, the steps may require folds ranging from the simple to the complex. Visit a video site like YouTube and perform a search using the keywords “origami ornaments” to find step-by-step demonstrations showing how to create origami snowflakes, stars, bells, cranes, and even reindeer. You will need colorful origami paper. These square sheets are typically thicker than an average sheet of notebook paper and often have different colors or patterns on each side. If origami paper is unavailable, trim sheets of notebook paper or construction paper into squares. Make the squares so that each side is at least four inches in length. Before beginning the first fold, show students the complete video of how to make each fold for the object. Then replay the video as students make the folds, pausing as needed to let everyone catch up. (You yourself will want to have mastered making the ornament so that you can help anyone who struggles. Some students will catch on quickly and then be able to assist their peers as well.) Once students have finished making all of the folds, they can poke a hole through the paper and attach a string for the ornament to be hung. Origami ornaments will dress up the classroom for the holidays plus introduce many to a new hobby!
If you are getting snow in your area, bring your students outside for them to closely examine individual flakes. Students can catch the flakes on black construction paper to get a good look at the design each flake has. Cold paper works best, and magnifying glasses can really help your students see each flake’s intricacies. Back inside, young students can make their own flakes by cutting shapes into folded pieces of white paper. Once unfolded, they will learn that their snowflakes are just as unique as those found in nature when viewed alongside their peers’ creations. Have students explain why no two flakes in the classroom are alike.
Snowflakes can be used in lessons for older students as well. After closely examining flakes in their natural state, ask students to write an explanation stating why they believe each flake from the sky is unique. Doing this is a great introduction to lessons on the weather and the atmosphere. Students can then use the internet to find out if their explanations are valid. They will learn how the variances in the atmosphere affect water particles as they descend to the earth. Students will learn that the parts of the atmosphere are as unique as the snowflakes themselves.
Even though your school may have a strict policy regarding the celebration of winter holidays, the season does not have to be ignored. Have your students written winter-themed haikus? Have they composed and performed original plays focusing on charity? Maybe your class has made artificial snow in a science lab. Share how you and your students have made your classroom all-inclusive during the winter holidays.