Learning About December Holidays: 25+ Ideas & Resources

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Part of the Cool Sites series
“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love!” ~Hamilton Wright Mabie
In December, people worldwide gather together to celebrate various holidays including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the Festival of Lights. This is the time when your students can learn about various cultures and traditions as well as create meaningful gifts for friends and family members. Below are several free, online multimedia tools to get your students started. These tools integrate images, audio, text, video and have various sharing options (embedding, emailing, or pasting to Facebook). For more ideas on how to use these tools with students, view my slideshare presentation, Holiday Lesson Ideas & Resources!
Lesson Ideas & Tools
Skype/Google HangOut on Air
Try connecting with other classes or guest experts worldwide with either of these free online webcam tools. Have your students learn about various celebrations from those who practice them.
Each class you connect with can teach each other songs, carols, finger chants, or holiday rhymes.
Skype an Author who will read a holiday book.
Have students interview someone from a museum or cultural center about a holiday celebration they are learning about such as Kwanzaa or Hanukkah. Students do the research then prepare questions they will ask the guest speaker.
Invite a guest to teach the class a holiday recipe, craft, or origami. I tried this with my 4 to 6 year-olds in Germany and they loved being taught how to create an origami gift box by a 5 year-0ld in England.
Find schools to connect with and holiday projects at Skype for Education.
Host a virtual holiday party for connecting classes
Create a collaborative holiday story with another class
Create a Digital Story
StoryBird is a great way for students to choose beautiful creative common artwork for an online book they create. This book can be embedded on a blog or emailed.
They can write stories that teach a moral, illustrate their holiday traditions, describe Santa’s adventure delivering gifts,  or retell a way in which a parent or relative used to celebrate the holidays when they were younger. For the last idea, students interview the relative.
StoryBird has various books students have created about Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas.
They can also create digital stories with audio, drawings, and more with Zooburst or Little Bird Tales.

Communicate with Santa
Santabot.com is a site where students can instant message Santa.
Students can send Santa an e-mail online at this site and this site.  He will respond.

Send a Holiday Greeting with These Tools

If you sign-up for free with JibJab, they often email you free video greeting options where you can add the images of multiple people. After uploading, the people will become part of a funny video dancing, singing, and more! Students have a lot of fun creating these. Here’s one Rosco, my pug, and I did.
Animoto is a web tool and free app for Android/I-devices. Upload images, choose a soundtrack from the library (many nice holiday tunes to choose from), and add holiday templates. Sign up for an educator account to create longer videos for free.
Fotobabble– Quickly create and easily share talking photos in 3 steps (Snap or select or a photo, speak into the microphone to record audio, share with friends via email, Facebook or Twitter). There is also a free app for i-devices. You have various holiday themed backgrounds to choose from. Example– Here’s Rosco, my pug’s holiday card to you!
Voki– Students create animated characters that speak their messages through text to audio or by a voice recording. These are great for creating holiday greetings or telling Santa their wishlist. Students can choose from various holiday characters and backgrounds or upload their own.
Other Ideas & Resources
More Bookmarks in my PearlTree
Challenge:Try these ideas with your students and blog about any exciting ways you use them!
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