Teaching Culture in December + Holidays Around the World

Growing up, there was really only one December holiday I knew about, and that was Christmas. Christmas was the holiday I celebrated and I made the false assumption that everyone else must do the same. Let's be honest, the in your faceness of Christmas when you step out your door doesn't necessarily help with any of that.

Now, don't get me wrong, I loooove Christmas. I'm a christian and the calm, quiet comfort that comes from celebrating the birth of my savior, Jesus, is exactly what I need at the end of each crazy year (especially this one). However; there is beauty in all of the diffferent December holidays and it is important as educators that we do not simply center our own holidays and traditions in the classroom. I firmly believe that students should be exposed to all of those different cultures, and be able to celebrate and share about their own.

Also, keep in mind that in many different cultures, December is NOT the "Holiday Season" and make an effort to teach about holidays YEAR round to help our students cultivate cultural intelligence.

Below, I'm going to share about some of my favorite books I pair with my Holidays around the World unit, as well as how I introduce culture to my students in the month of December.

I will say that I am NO expert on this topic and highly suggest you follow people like LaNesha Tabb from Education with an Apron, Naomi O'Brien from Read Like a Rockstar, and Liz Kleinrock from Teach and Transform.

Introducing Culture:

Before starting my Holidays Around the World unit, I teach my students about culture (we've been talking a lot about culture up until this point because of different holidays in October and November and will CONTINUE to talk about culture throughout the school year). At the beginning of this month we really dive in using LaNesha Tabb's and Naomi O'Brien's CULTURE. CULTURE. CULTURE. resource linked here.

My class specifically creates an anchor chart about culture and what it is made up of. We talk about how culture is made up of our languages, food, clothing, celebrations, traditions, music and art, our homes, and our religion. For these anchor chart pieces, click here!

Then, my students have a week to complete their "All About My Culture" flipbooks at home. We come back to school and share them with one another at the beginning of the following week.

Another great addition to your culture lessons could be this book: "This is How we Do it" by Matt Lamothe which would be so so helpful for students to understand that culture is something that varies from person to person and not necessarily from country to country. It will also help students to make culture connections in their EVERYDAY life and not just in December.

Holidays Around the World:

For our holidays around the world unit I typically use the last fourteen class days leading up to winter break. I swap out a few different holidays each year, but I have used Rachelle Smith's Holidays Around the World Part 1 & 2 Bundle to plan and do crafts. The read alouds I have are independent from her bundle, but I think they pair really well.

As per Rachelle, my students and I create the suitcase and our passports from this bundle on day one and discuss how we will be visiting different countries to check out different Holidays Around the World. **Be sure that you remind your students that culture varies from person to person, and NOT country to country.**

On day two, we "take off" to our first country. I play this video of a plane taking off and act as their flight attendant. Skip to about the 19:40 mark! You can keep this on in the background during their flight.


On the flight over, I read to them about the country/holiday that will be highlighted. I print out Rachelle's info pages/clip art characters. I glue those pages front to back on some construction paper and have the clip art facing the students as I read to them about the holiday.

The activities that we complete once we get to the country vary from year to year, but I often use the ones included in the bundle. Here are some of my favorite read alouds to highlight different cultures' celebrations for different holidays. I love that each of these talk about a particular families experience and traditions for the holiday they celebrate!

I would love to see how you implement culture in your classroom! Tag me on Instagram or Facebook @MrsSmithenwithTeaching. Comment below with ideas and helpful critiques!


The Best Christmas and Holiday Themed Read Alouds and Craftivities

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