Celebrating Holidays Around The World

By Sharon Taylor on December 9, 2011
  • Grades: PreK–K

Wow it seems like only yesterday when I was writing a post about the start of the school year!  It’s hard to believe my favorite holiday is only a few weeks away – Christmas.  This week I managed to finish all of my Christmas shopping for friends and family along with planning some unforgettable holiday activities for my class. 

Learning about various cultures is an important part of my district’s kindergarten curriculum. December is a month of various Multicultural holidays.  It is a great time to teach about our multicultural world.  Students in my class were surprised to learn that children around the world celebrate the  holidays in different ways.  Read on as I spread the joy of the holiday by sharing some of our activities!


Give each of your students a passport and a suitcase.  My students made their suitcases by stapling two large sheets of construction paper on three sides and adding a handle to the top of the pocket.  I allowed my students to decorate their suitcases anyway they would like.  Each day my students pretend they are boarding a plane to a different country with their passports and suitcases.   While my passengers(students) are quietly seated I read them a book related to the county they will visit that day. 


Day 1: France “Joyeux Noel”

Book Selection:  Barbar and Farther Christmas by Jean De Brunhoff

In France it is a tradition for children to leave their shoes by the fireplace to be filled gifts.  Have your students take off their shoes and place them in the hallway.  Have another teacher or parent fill your student’s shoes with a treat of your choice.  Later when students collect their shoes they will be amazed to find a special surprise inside.


Day 2:  Mexico “Felize Navidad”

Book Selection: The Legend of The Poinsettia by Tomie de Paola

The Mexican Christmas festival is a beautiful sight with elaborate decorations and celebrations that last for almost a month.  Have your students make poinsettias to decorate the class.  They can even hang a piñata for Las Posadas.  This year I was fortunate to have the help of our instructional support teacher, Mrs. Arguijo, to help my class make the beautiful pinata pictured below. 


Day 3:  Africa “Happy Kwanzaa”

Book Selection:  Gift of Kwanzaa by Synthia James

My students learned that many of the children in Africa celebrate Kwanzaa.  Kwanzaa means the first fruits of the harvest.  To remind my students of the bountiful harvest celebrated during Kwanzaa we make fruit kabobs.  These are made by simply adding various pieces if fruit such as bananas, pineapples, and grapes to wooden skewers.  Students can also make a Kwanzaa bracelet that can be shared with family or friends.  For this craft you need red, green, and black beads along with pipe cleaners.  You should add three red beads, three green beads, and one black bead in the middle. 


Day 4:  Israel “Happy Hanukkah”

Book Selection:  The Eight Nights of Hanukkah by Judy Nayer

My students learned that Hanukkah is a joyous festival celebrated by the Jewish people.  This celebration is called the “Festival of Lights”.  We made handprint Menorahs in class.  Since the custom of gift-giving is also an important part of Hanukkah holiday our students will collect can goods to give to those in need.   You can use the canned goods and foods to practice counting and sorting. 




Day 5:  Germany “Froehliche Weinachten”

Book Selection: The Cobweb Christmas by Shirley Climo

The Christmas tree is an integral part of German Christmas celebrations.  Students learned that the Christmas tree originated in Germany.  Your students will have a blast creating edible Christmas trees.  All you need to create this delicious treat are sugar cones, green icing, and m&m’s.  Turn the cone upside down and have your students ice the tree with green icing.  After the cone is covered with the green icing have the students decorate their trees by placing mini m&m’s around it.  Gingerbread figures are also a great tradition.  Allow your students to place frosting over gingerbread cookies and decorate them with m&m’s. 



To learn more about how these and other countries celebrate the holidays visit Santa' Net and Scholastic.

There are some wonderful holiday customs carried out all over the world.  I would love to hear about the activities you use in your classrooms to help spread the joy of this wonderful time of the year!


Happy Holidays from My Classroom to Yours!


I want to thank you very much for helping me with my organizational skills and with writing. This is my first year teaching Kindergarten and I was a bit discouraged because of their writing. You have given me a baseline as to where to go from here. Thank you - KC

I think it is great you are teaching this! Just a few things. I believe Kwanzaa is actually an African American holiday not usually celebrated in Africa. And another interesting holiday for students to study is Saint Nicholas Day celebrated in many European countries around December 6th to keep Christmas a religious holiday. Have a great holiday season!

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