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Holidays Around the World Activities

December is a MAGICAL (albeit exhausting) time to be a teacher. I love the innocence of children during this time and all of the ways we can leverage the excitement of the season in our classrooms. Teaching Holidays Around the World is one of those ways! Here are three ways you can teach holidays around the world in your classroom and well as a lovely book list to help you incorporate holidays around the world picture books.

Upper elementary holidays around the world teaching resources for literacy and math. Includes book list and educational projects.

Holidays Around the World Literacy Activities

I searched and searched for literacy resources for teaching holidays around the world. I couldn't find what I wanted, so I set to work creating my own! I finally came up with a way that made me EXCITED for teaching about all the holidays and Christmas traditions around the world! I created letters between pen pals describing holiday traditions in different locations. These letters have proven to be SO engaging to my students. They love reading the original letter as well as the response from another country, which essentially serves as a compare and contrast piece about their holiday celebrations. I have also included several activities for the booklets. This unit will last you all the way through winter break!

Holidays Around the World Books

I love to incorporate multiple sources and perspectives during my holidays around the world unit. I included the pen pal letters, informational text to accompany the letters, and then I supplement with amazing picture books to provide another perspective and source. I have compiled a list of books that I’ve used to teach different countries and their holidays and traditions (all linked with Amazon affiliate links below). You can also see the complete book list in one spot here on Amazon. An asterisk means the country or tradition is also included in my pen pal set.

holidays around the world books

Christmas Around the World Locations, Legends, and Traditions

*Sweden: The Tomten, Tomten Saves Christmas

*Germany: Cobweb Christmas

*Iceland: The Legend of the Icelandic Yule Lads

Italy: The Legend of Old Befana

*Mexico: The Legend of the Poinsettia, The Night of Las Posadas

US: Red & Lulu (Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree)

Nigeria: Christmas in Lagos

*Japan: Tree of Cranes

*Spain: The Story of the Three Wise Kings

Holidays Around the World Celebrations

*Kwanzaa: Celebrate Kwanzaa National Geographic Kids, Together for Kwanzaa

*Hanukkah: Meet The Latkes, Red & Green and Blue & White, Hanukkah Bear, Shmelf the Hanukkah Elf

*Chinese New Year: The Runaway Wok

*Diwali: Amma, Tell Me About Diwali

*Ramadan: The Gift of Ramadan, Ramadan Moon, A Moon for Moe and Mo

*St. Nicholas Day: A Wooden Shoe for Nell, The Legend of St. Nicholas

Christmas Around the World Books

A World of Cookies for Santa

Where Would Santa Go?

My Santa Your Santa

Holidays Around the World Math

I also wanted my students to be able to explore some of the countries we explored even more, and my students LOVE math projects, so my Holidays Around the World Math Project was born! This math project has students exploring so many different locations (all of which are mentioned in the literacy project above), calculating their plane ticket prices, buying souvenirs that are relevant to each location’s holiday celebrations, purchasing yummy traditional foods, and partaking in local activities, all while practicing their math skills!

Students are given a budget, a few trip requirements, and price sheets. It has been differentiated to meet the needs of 3rd-5th graders, so it’s perfect for differentiation within the classroom, too! My students are OBSESSING over this project right now!

More Holiday Activities

If you're looking for more holiday activities, here's the ultimate list of holiday activities for bigger kids and my top ten favorite holiday activities for the classroom. If you're in a rush and looking for super simple print-and-go activities, this bundle of FREE winter math downloads is a must!

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