Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Activities for the Montessori Classroom: Handy Tips and Tools

christmas activities NAMC montessori classroom wrapping paper
I find it very challenging at this time of the year to come up with a variety of Christmas crafts for my Montessori classroom. At the drop of a hat, I can immediately create a complete set of Montessori learning materials including 3-part cards, control and mute charts, and an ancient Egyptian timeline made out of leftover Christmas ribbon, but I seem to go into holiday stress overload and find myself unable to think of creative means of expression for my Montessori students.

Early in November, I typically begin my holiday mantra “What are we going to do for the holidays this year?” Knowing that I have to find something that will appeal to three different age-levels, not to mention different belief systems, can be a challenge. I start to think “Maybe I’m just not creative”. It made me wonder if I couldn't find some sources to inspire and help me find some exciting, educational activities for my Montessori students.

Christmas Activities for the Montessori Classroom: Handy Tips and Tools

Making Montessori materials follows a pattern; I can do that! As the time draws nearer, I find myself beginning to panic. This time last year Dale Gausman, Founder of NAMC, sent me a link to The Holiday Zone which has been a real life-saver. The Holiday Zone website offers free educational resources for preschool through elementary teachers and students. It’s a great site for Montessori teachers, assistants, and those who are homeschooling. What I like about the site is it has more than just coloring pages. There are songs, poems, language activities, and writing prompts.

christmas activities NAMC montessori classroom wrapping paper holly berriesThere are links to many winter holidays, including: Winter Celebrations, Hanukkah (Chanukah), Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Other holidays include Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Black History Month, Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Spring Celebrations, Easter, Earth Day, Arbor Day, Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Flag Day, Fourth of July, Back to School, Labor Day, Grandparents Day, Constitution Day, Autumn Celebrations, Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving), Columbus Day, Reformation Day, Halloween, Veteran’s Day, and Thanksgiving.

Last year, I was looking for songs for my lower elementary classroom to sing for the parents during our Christmas celebration. I wanted to find both traditional carols and non-religious songs. I printed some that I thought my students would like and we spent an afternoon singing. When we were done, the class voted on their top five songs. Here’s one of their favorites:

Go to Sleep, Please!
Sung as a round to the tune of "Are You Sleeping?” [Frere Jacques]

Go to sleep, please
Go to sleep, please
Close your eyes
Close your eyes
Santa Claus is coming
Santa Claus is coming
Here tonight
Here tonight.

Holiday Zone - Christmas Songs
christmas activities NAMC montessori classroom wrapping paper girls writing
The Christmas Writing Prompts are very useful in the Montessori classroom. I have used some as part of our daily journaling with both my lower and upper elementary students; others lend themselves to longer writing pieces. Children who are still developing their writing skills can dictate the story to someone and trace or re-copy the writing. Children of all ages also enjoy illustrating their writing pieces. My older students particularly enjoy the story starters these one to two-sentence attention grabbers have them racing to their writing notebooks to write their stories. Then, back in circle, they eagerly share what they've written with the rest of the class.

If, like me, you find yourself short on time and creativity for holiday arts and crafts, you might want to explore Oriental Trading. I've found some terrific craft projects and kits for a very reasonable cost. We had a craft party last year where my students made three different crafts and frosted cookies, all for under $5 per child!

When all else fails, bring everyone to circle and read Clement C. Moore’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and watch the “visions of sugarplums” dance about the head of each child as they await the magic that is Christmas. Or for older children, try O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi and watch it turn into a discussion about how it feels to give of oneself. I like to quietly invite the children to return to their seats and illustrate the part of the story they liked best.

Whatever you choose to do this holiday season, take the time to experience it through the eyes of the children. It is truly a special time of the year, and they have so much to teach us. For more, see our 2007 blog : Montessori Classroom: Christmas Activities

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Wednesday, December 10, 2008.

2 comments:

  1. LOVE the ideas! Combine some of them with the last post :-)

    Question: being new to Montessori--how do I stay abreast of what my child is learning, how he is doing, if there is continuity in the work?

    Beyond my constantly badgering my poor son as to what he did in school, I have no clue.

    Are there progress reports or updates? Does any work tend to come home? Beyond the beginning or the year and end of year conferences, how does a parent know how their child is doing and what they are doing?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Shawna,

    Thank you for your kind words. You have posed an excellent question about staying abreast of what your child is learning in the Montessori classroom. I will be addressing that in a new blog or two very shortly.

    Michelle

    ReplyDelete

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