Lesson Plans for the Holiday Season

Cover of "Holiday Happenings"

Lesson plans are an important part of every educator's day. Some of you may plan every day, while others of you plan your lessons ahead of time. Whatever your lesson planning strategy may be, it can be challenging at certain times of the year. I know for myself, I struggle around the Winter holidays. One reason that I find this time challenging is that I want to stay focused on my curriculum map, but I also want to fit in some fun holiday activities without getting completely off track.
In my second grade classroom, the students catch the excitement of the season early. As soon as the kids come back from Thanksgiving break, they are ready to share their wish lists and all of their scheduled holiday happenings. I must admit that it is easy for me to jump right in and be distracted by seasonal events and activities, as well.
Several years ago my administrator and I had a conversation about ways to include holiday activities in my lesson plans but still focus on teaching the standards. She mentioned a couple of ideas. First, you can adapt many activities to fit your lesson plan needs. For instance, if you are currently teaching an unit on subtraction and find a great snowman activity, then incorporate subtraction examples into the lesson. You may need to change it a bit, but that is what great educators do.
The next point that she emphasized was that you can always use seasonal activities as extensions and homework assignments. Let's say you want to decorate a paper gingerbread man because you read the story for a literacy activity. First, finish your lesson that meets the standards, and if time allows have students do the extra project. If not, send it home with students.
Lastly, have fun and make use of your downtime. There are times of the year that are busy for everyone. Once you find some great lessons that you and your students enjoy, write them into your lesson plan book and highlight them for next year.