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Making Holiday Traditions in the Classroom

Some fun ideas that you might enjoy with your students or family this holiday!

Fill 1Created with Sketch.Jeanette Wilson
Fill 1Created with Sketch.Dec 15, 2021

Some fun ideas that you might enjoy with your students or family this holiday! Enter to win a $1000 Target gift card from MyVillage to help fund all of your holiday traditions.

1. Let children be a part of building traditions

Before Elf on the Shelf was a thing, my 4-year-old son put his vivid imagination to work. One day as the holidays were nearing, I asked him, “What should we do on Christmas Eve this year since we won’t be going back to Michigan for Christmas?” He decided that we should make a TINY door for the elves to enter our house, we should eat TINY foods, use TINY plates/forks/spoons/cups, sit at TINY tables, give each other TINY presents and watch “Elf” the movie. And so the “Elf Party” was born and has been a part of our family tradition for 15 years! The lesson that I learned from that moment was to ask children how they want to celebrate and let them be a part of building traditions. So this year, give it a try! Ask your students or family how they want to celebrate and be ready for their imaginations to run away to the Candy Cane Forest!

2. Wrapped up storytime

Do you have a stack of holiday books that you’ve collected through the years? Wrap each one and put them under the tree. Each day, the children can take turns choosing a “present,” unwrapping it, and they can all enjoy a new holiday story! If you don’t have a stack of holiday books, any books will do – or take a trip to the library!

3. Child-led gifting

I spent several years planning out the perfect craft for children to give to their parents for the holidays or for my own boys to give to their grandparents. Year after year, I watched children struggle through creating the item – with me having to do most of the work to “get it done.” Along came the idea to supply children with a tray of gifts, ornaments, or card-making materials. I would put the tray out day after day, week after week during December and their excitement for creating multiple gifts and “just the right gift” for the right person grew each day. The highlight of shifting to this type of gifting was the way that children would light up when giving the gift!  

Here’s a few favorite items that I included: paint, tissue paper, glue, cardstock, markers, craft sticks, medium canvases, beads, pipe cleaners, cotton balls, wooden “cookies,” foam sheets/shapes, glitter, and more. I often sat down with the children and created gifts too, so that I could model some different techniques that they might want to use. You’ll also want to adjust the types of materials and amount of materials according to the ages and experience levels of the children in your care.  

4. Gift wrap basket

Every year I buy new gift wrapping materials and forget about the stockpile from the year before. One of my favorite ways to use up that leftover gift wrap is to create a gift wrap basket for children to use. It is so fun to watch children put their focus to work as they wrap up gifts for their friends and family.  

5. Homemade Play-Doh

Children love to help bake and often get inspired to practice their baking skills during playtime. What’s better than some homemade Play-Doh for that? I tend to enjoy making gingerbread Play-Doh with children during the holiday because it smells GREAT and it keeps children engaged for long periods of time as they pretend to bake cookies (and it’s even safe if they “accidentally” give it a taste).  

Enter to win a $1000 Target gift card from MyVillage to help fund all of your holiday traditions.

What special traditions do you include in your program or home during the holiday?