Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments
Christmas Traditions Unit Introduction
advent calendar, angel tree topper, bells, candles, Christmas cards, Christmas stockings, cookie cutters, evergreen tree (real and artificial), garland, multi-colored and white light sets, nutcracker, ornaments, star tree topper, tree skirt, tree stand, tree topper, various size and shape ornaments, and a wreath.
Possible Vocabulary for this unit include but are not limited to:
almond balls, angel, bell, boot, bows, bright, brownies, Buckeyes, cakes, candy canes, caroling, chimney, chocolate chip, cocoa, cookies, decorate, evergreen, family, fireplace, fun, garland, gift, ginger snap, gingerbread, green, ham, haystacks, holly, icicles, keepsake, light, log, mistletoe, nut, ornament, party, Pecan pie, peppermint, picture, pie, poinsettia, present, program, raisin, red, reindeer, ribbon, rooftop, Santa Claus, shop, shopping, sing, singing, snow, snowflake, song, star, story, swag, tinsel, toffee, top, tradition, tree, tree skirt, tree stand, tree topper, trim, turkey, Wassail, wrapping, wreath, yule log
Possible web categories include:
Christmas foods; decorations; tree trimmings; Christmas activities; traditions, etc.
Christmas Traditions Concepts
Christmas is a holiday observed on December 25 to commemorate the birth of Jesus, the central figure of Christianity. Although it is a Christian holiday, it is also celebrated by many non-Christians worldwide. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift-giving, music, an exchange of Christmas cards, church celebrations, a special meal, and the display of various decorations; including Christmas trees, lights, garlands, mistletoe, nativity scenes, and holly. In addition, several figures, known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, and Santa Claus, among other names, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season.
Discuss common Christmas traditions and encourage students to share their favorite traditions. Discuss with students the history of Christmas and the origins of traditions (hanging stockings, decorating tree, decorating cookies. Talk about how people in other parts of the world celebrate Christmas. Read “Christmas Traditions Around the World”. Compare/Contrast traditions.
Gifts & Santa Claus
Christmas Eve is celebrated by the thought that Santa Claus visits homes while children are sleeping during the night before Christmas morning. Christmas stockings are hung on the mantelpiece by the fireplace for Santa Claus to fill with little gifts (stocking stuffers). It is a tradition for children to leave a glass of milk and plate of Christmas cookies for Santa Claus nearby and a carrot for the reindeer. Presents the family will exchange are wrapped and placed near the tree, including presents to be given to pets.
Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses.
The practice of putting up special decorations at Christmas has a long history. From pre-Christian times, people in the Roman Empire brought branches from evergreen plants indoors in the winter. The traditional colors of Christmas are green and red. White, silver and gold are also popular.
The traditional dinner features roasted turkey with stuffing (called dressing) or honey-baked ham. Potatoes, squash, roasted vegetables and cranberry sauce are served along with tonics and sherry. Mince pies and plum pudding are served in Canada. A variety of sweet pastry and egg nog sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg are served in the United States. Certain dishes such as casseroles and desserts are prepared with a family recipe. Fruits, nuts, cheeses and chocolates are enjoyed as snacks.
In this activity, encourage students to roll or otherwise move an ornament in a given direction on a path. Provide various surfaces on the path and have students determine what surface is easier/harder to roll the object along.
Color Concepts & Color Associations
Discuss the colors of materials associated with the unit (red, green, silver). Are they always that color or can they be different colors (blue, purple, gold)? What other materials are the same colors?
Decorate a Tree
Set up and decorate a real (or artificial if students have tree allergies and fire codes!) evergreen tree. Work as team to assemble tree in stand. Add lights, tinsel, garland, and ornaments such as bells, candy canes and wreaths. Place star on top.
If it is possible for your class to go on a field trip, plan a visit to a Christmas tree farm. Be sure to notify parents to have the students dress in “grubby” clothes for the day as they will probably get tree sap on themselves! Have the students help select a Christmas tree for the classroom or for the school. Once the class has decided on a tree, have the students take turns assisting in cutting the tree with a saw (PROVIDE HAND OVER HAND ASSISTANCE!!). Involve students in the entire process including carrying the tree back to the van or bus, and paying for the tree. Encourage the students to ask the tree farmer how long it takes to grow a full size Christmas tree. How does he rotate his crop? Be sure to take pictures of different stages of finding, cutting down, wrapping, and loading the tree.
If it is not possible to go on a field trip, obtain permission to bring a fresh cut tree into the classroom. Allow students to feel where the tree was cut and to feel the sap. Be sure the tree is treated with a flame retardant. Cut off a small branch for students to take turns touching, examining and smelling.
Choose topic for writing (Favorite thing about Christmas/Christmas traditions) Dictate or summarize for students who need help.
'Twas the Night Twist
Make own version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Leave out key words and have the students fill in words similar to a “Mad Lib” game. Ask students to provide nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, etc. to create your own silly version of the story.
Use small Christmas gift bags with number labels on the gift tags. Write the number in both print and braille if there are any current or future braille readers. Provide tactual dots for those who need additional support. Have students arrange the gift bags in numeric order along the edge of the table.
Match Bows or Candy Canes to Numbers
Have students place the corresponding number of candy canes or bows in the gift bags.
Christmas Tree Number Match
Create a poster or file folder activity by drawing a Christmas tree on the board or creating a tactual Christmas tree. Provide numbered ornaments equally spaced around the tree. Provide a matching set of numbered ornaments or ornaments with the corresponding number of tactual dots. Make the activity more challenging by writing addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division problems on the ornaments for students to solve.
Ornament Number Sequence
Create a number sequencing activity for the students. Using a poster board cut lengthwise, write "Ornament Number Sequence" across the top. Create 10 ornaments using tactual materials and equally space them across the bottom of the poster board. Attach a Velcro dot to each ornament. Create a set of matching ornaments with numbers 1-10 clearly printed on them. Encourage students to sequence the ornaments.
Alternative 1: provide a garland that is securely anchored. Provide the students with ornaments numbered from 1 to 10 (or other given number). Encourage students to hang the ornaments with ornament hooks on the garland in the correct order.
Alternative 2: Create a mantel or use an artificial fireplace. Attach equally spaced hooks along the “mantel”. Provide students with stockings numbered from 1 to 10 and encourage them to place them in the correct sequential order.
How many Candy Canes Tall are You?
Encourage students to lay on the ground and have peers measure how tall/long they are in candy canes. Encourage other students to identify tools used to measure with.
Smallest to largest
Compare the Christmas materials and arrange from smallest to largest. Encourage students to estimate length using inches, feet, centimeters or meters (or nonstandard units). Provide assistance to students as needed to determine how much longer one object is than another. Create a graph to represent the data and determine which items are the longest.
Have a Christmas food taste test (gingerbread, egg nog, cookie, hot chocolate, etc.). BE AWARE OF ANY ALLERGIES & SUBSTITUTE ACCORDINGLY!! Complete a chart depicting each item. Have students taste one item at a time as a group and identify which items they liked and place a smile (or other indicator) on the chart. Engage the students in a discussion about the different tastes and textures. (salty, sour, sweet, bland, crunchy, soft, etc.) Discuss how results may vary if other classes or family members completed the graph. Encourage the students to read the completed graph and develop a summary sheet. What was the most popular item? What was the least popular?
Cookie Characteristic Chart
Ask students what they think is the most common characteristic of cookies. Provide a variety of cookies to the students and have them gather data and compare and contrast shape, smell, texture, holes, type, etc. Have students communicate their findings in a graph or chart. Make a graph: feel, smell, and taste a variety of cookies, noticing such qualities as texture (smooth, rough, or bumpy), shapes, color, size, holes, and type (sandwich, choc chip, etc.)
Visual Efficiency Activities
Provide students with bows from an evergreen tree. Discuss the feel and smell of pine needles and pine cones. Discuss that in December most families decorate their homes with a Christmas tree as well as stores. Inform students that you will be getting a tree to decorate the classroom. Encourage students to use magnifiers to examine pine cones, branches, needles under magnifying glasses
Wrapping paper match
Provide students with a variety of blocks wrapped in various print Christmas wrap. Encourage the students to sort identical prints. Regroup into other categories depending on student's level (wrap with print, wrap with red background, etc.)
Leisure (Arts & Crafts) Activities
Create a snow globe by gluing a winter animal or figurine to the inside of the lid of an empty baby food jar. Fill the jar with baby oil and add white glitter. Seal the lid with glue and allow to dry. Use as gifts.
Puzzle Christmas Tree Ornaments
Spray paint puzzle pieces green. Provide students with a green cardboard triangle cut out. Have students glue puzzle pieces on the triangle. Sprinkle glitter on top. Attach a ribbon at the top. Spray with evergreen scent.
Cut squares from unused Braille instruction manuals that come with APH materials. Paint students hands and place their handprint on paper. Hole punch and tie ribbon on to create unique holiday ornaments.
Make popcorn and cranberry garland for tree. Students alternate stringing red and white beads on a pipe cleaner to make candy cane wreaths.
Literature Related to Christmas Traditions...
The Legend of the Christmas Tree – Pat Matuszak, Rick Osborne
The Legend of the Candy Cane – Pat Matuszak, Lori Walburg
Legend of the Christmas Stocking – Rick Osborne
The Legend of St. Nicholas – Dandi Daley Mackall
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree – Gloria Houston
The Legend of the Poinsettia – Tomie dePaola
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The Polar Express – Chris Van Allsburg
Snowmen at Christmas – Caralyn Buehner
The Christmas Candle – Richard Paul Evans
'Twas the Night Before Christmas – Clement Moore
What is Red? - Mary O'Neill
Christmas Times a Comin'
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Let It Snow
O Christmas Tree
O Holy Night
Twelve Days of Christmas
We Three Kings
Store flyers with seasonal items